Feeling a lump under your kitty's skin while you stroke his belly is probably enough to scare you into making an emergency call to the vet. While you should consult a professional about any unusual growth you find on your pet, not all mysterious lumps pose a serious health risk.
Lipomas in Cats
Lipomas can appear in cats of any age, but they are more common among very old felines. Old, neutered Siamese cats are at a higher risk of developing lipomas than other breeds, according to The Merck Manual for Pet Health. These tumors are composed of fat cells, so they are nothing like the malignant growths caused by cancer. This doesn't mean that they are no problem at all, but chances are your pet does not require immediate treatment to remove them.
Some lipomas form directly beneath your pet's skin and are easy to locate simply by running your fingers through his fur. These tumors tend to be consolidated masses, some may even feel hard, that can be moved by placing slight pressure on them. These lipomas tend to appear on your cat's belly, but they are also prevalent on his limbs, sides and spine. These lipomas can grow larger over time, so your vet may recommend minor surgery to remove the growth of fatty cells.
Lipomas can also appear between layers of muscle inside your cat's body. While these internal tumors are more invasive than the superficial variety, they still do not usually pose a significant risk to your pet's health. These lipomas can cause localized pain as well as respiratory difficulties in some cats. Internal fatty tumors tend to be less defined than superficial ones, so they may not be as obvious or easy to locate, according to Broadway Animal Hospital.
Diagnosis and Treatment
You should have a vet check out any lumps that appear on your pet, even if you think it is benign. It is very hard to distinguish between lipomas and malignant tumors. Your vet may take a biopsy or withdraw cells with a needle and examine them. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, he may recommend surgery to extract it. Most lipomas are not dangerous, so removing them may not be worth the risks and trauma of surgery in some cases.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.