Skin Cancers in Cats

Skin cancer is a scary but often treatable condition in cats.
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Skin cancer can bring about an abundance of concerns. When your beloved cat receives a diagnosis, the specific type of skin cancer is a contributing factor in treatment. According to the ASPCA, your feline friend's risk of skin cancer is reduced if you limit his sun exposure.

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is the most recognized type of skin cancer, appearing beneath kitty’s skin as small nodular growths. These lumps and bumps often present in volume; they can usually be spotted on your cat’s back, upper chest or head. If lumps are present, your vet may take a needle biopsy to remove a tissue sample for diagnosis. Basal cell carcinoma is more common in oriental Siamese cats, as well as some domestic longhair breeds. Pet parents will be relieved to hear that this type of skin cancer does not typically metastasize. Your little Garfield should be back to his mischievous ways shortly after surgery is performed to remove the growths.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

If your fun-loving cat presents hard, flat, cauliflower-like ulcers that appear greyish in hue, he may be suffering from squamous cell carcinoma. This neoplasm is often localized in areas of frequent skin irritation or around body openings, such as kitty’s ears, nose or mouth. While this form of skin cancer in cats is commonly malignant and invasive in nature, the condition can be treated if caught in the early stages. If your cat loves the outdoors or prefers to lounge in front of the window for hours on end, this bad habit of long-term sun exposure may be the cause of your pet’s unfortunate diagnosis. Cryosurgery may be recommended for smaller tumors, while surgery is generally recommended to remove larger areas of cancerous tissue.


That cute little mole on your cat’s skin may be more than just your average blemish; it may be a melanoma. Melanomas can form when pigmented areas of the skin begin to spread or enlarge, or when these areas raise or bleed. This type of skin cancer can be found anywhere on your kitty, including inside his mouth. Cancer can develop in any breed of cat, but older cats and felines with white heads or ears are more susceptible to cancer. Melanomas spread quickly, making it important to seek immediate veterinarian attention for your cherished pet. Treatment typically involves removal of the pigmented area of skin before the melanoma has a chance to spread.

Mast Cell Tumors

Cats with neoplasms on the lower abdomen, scrotum or hind legs are often given the diagnosis of mast cell tumors. These can be either single-node or multi-node growths, often no bigger than 1 inch. Your poor pet may experience a variety of outcomes from this type of skin cancer. Some cats will develop malignant mast cell tumors that can spread to other organs. In some cases, cancerous cells attack the spleen, resulting in enlargement of the spleen and vomiting. Your veterinarian may prescribe cortisone to reduce the size of your kitty’s mast cell tumors. Surgery is also an option to remove the cancerous growths. Contact your vet if you suspect that your feline friend is showing signs of skin cancer or poor health.

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.

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