Mr. Biscuit

Cat Tips

When you adopt a new cat, be sure to ask for its health records. Then schedule a general checkup with a veterinarian to ensure your kitty has a clean bill of health.

read more

Cat Cancer Study Sheds Light on Human Cancer

By Jennifer Viegas

Cat Cancer Study Sheds Light on Human Cancer

Cancer is the leading cause of death in cats, according to the Pet Cancer Center. Among humans, cancer remains a primary cause of death around the globe, the World Health Organization reports, with up to 84 million people projected to die of cancer by the year 2015.

Such statistics are daunting. But for reasons not yet fully understood, cat cancers tend to be among the most aggressive among mammals. It’s possible that we’re just not detecting them early enough. Researchers, however, are learning more about cancer, with treatments improving with advanced science, knowledge and technology. Kim Selting, an associate teaching professor of oncology at the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine, shares some of her latest findings, which could also apply to our health.

The Mammal Cancer Connection

Researchers, like Selting, are working to establish connections that can benefit all mammals suffering from cancer. “Recent initiatives in medicine emphasize the fact that despite differences in anatomy, the basic parts are the same across species, especially mammals,” she explains. “And despite minor differences in physiology, those parts have very similar functions and responses to disease across species.”

As a result, her university has created the One Health, One Medicine initiative. It emphasizes research on numerous animals -- not just rodents, which used to be the norm for cancer studies. Selting recently coauthored such a study, published in the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association. In it, she suggests that the following five factors can apply to cancer in cats, dogs and humans:

1. Genes Selting explains that “breed affects cancer risk just as race/ethnic origin can do so in human medicine.” This is because the genes among individuals in certain pet breeds, or human populations, are likely to be similar. “If said genes, such as tumor suppressor genes, are faulty and are related to the risk of acquiring a certain cancer, then it follows that these cancers will be overrepresented in a given population.” Siamese cats, for example, can be predisposed to intestinal and breast cancers.

2. Environment Selting suggests that cats that breathe tobacco smoke, for example, may have a heightened risk for lung diseases. “Cats are fastidious groomers, and every environmental contaminant that is present in the air and settles on the fur is then exposed to the cat’s mouth and system as they lick their fur.”

3. Diet Food may also contribute to disease prevention or instigation. “Feeding a good-quality diet logically can improve health, though no particular diet is known to abrogate cancer,” says Selting.

4. Lifestyle Countless studies conclude that exercise and stress levels can impact cancer.

5. Medical Care No tests can currently predict cancer occurrence in cats, but “early detection often offers a better prognosis,” says Selting. “Any change in a cat’s health should be investigated.”

Cancer Prevention for Cats and Humans

While much about cancer still remains a mystery, the new studies at least suggest a course of preventative action.

  • Pay attention to genes. Consult with your doctor and your cat’s veterinarian and discuss the risk factors related to your ethnic origin and your cat’s breed.
  • Do not smoke, and keep your home clean and free of potentially dangerous chemicals.
  • Follow the latest research concerning food and cancer prevention.
  • Both you and your pet need to exercise. Our bodies evolved to handle ample activity, so talk with your doctor and your cat’s veterinarian about what exercise would be best.
  • Note physical changes in both you and your cat. Schedule regular medical appointments, which can detect cancer before symptoms even surface.

While Selting and others prove that studying cancer in cats can shed light on human cancer, researchers are also driven to learn more about cats. “Companion animals rely on humans for food and shelter, but they repay the favor with devotion and companionship. We are their voice and are responsible for their quality of life,” says Selting.

Jennifer Viegas is the managing editor of The Daily Cat. She is a journalist for Discovery News, the news service for the Discovery Channel, and has written more than 20 books on animals, health and other science-related topics.

Rate This Article
* * * * *

Click a star to rate this article

Posted on February 7, 2012

power says: Ihave reeently lost mybeloved black cat Bentley to cancer and am devistated,I know more grief over him than others I know. He threw up a lot but I thought this was hair balls. For sometime before his death I thought he was in pain but the vets (to many) just changed his diet.yet again. He was an indoor out door cat. I live in an apartment and each day took him out by himself for at least two hours. I feel so guilty that I had him in the morning and he was put down in the afternoon. He was diagnose withincurable cancer and tho offered, I think, steriods, which were supposed to help him and elivate the pain, I thought that was not a kindness to delay his eventual painful death. Where does all this start, I do not smoke, he ate only the Vet subcribed diet. Though each vet seemed to chnge it every time I went there. I believed in them!!! Then!!! I look back and am horrified at myacceotance of their opinions. He never had store bought food. I am going on ninety and feel that I just cannot own another animal to die. I intend when the time comes to adopt a middle aged cat who needs loving. I miss the loving. For information I am extreme healthy and have no aches or pains and trust that I can care for another cat, it will be hard. I would appreciate any adivse on diet etc,I am now prone to the normal diet now. I have rambled but it has helped me to verbalise. Any advice would be gratefully accepted Tho I would pay anything to help him,I apalled the cost incurred by the vets, IO have spent thousands. P

Posted on May 1, 2012

Liolena says: My parents had the same porlbem.They stopped using the cat flap.Eventually, the other cats will get the message and go away.Also, try giving her just enough food that she will finish it all so there isn't any food for the other cats to come in, which gives the cats no reason to come in.

Posted on May 25, 2012

Diane from Calgary says: My female cat was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 12, I didn't even know cats could get that disease, she eventually stopped eating & then I had to put her to sleep. It's sad but the vet explained the mammary glands run the length of their bodies so they really can't take them out, or there would be nothing left of her. I have many great pictures & memories of her, but I still miss her!

Follow Us

      © Copyright 1999-2006 CatHelp-Online.ComAboutContactDisclaimerPrivacy Policy