What in the world could that lump be? Finding a subcutaneous mass on your kitty is scary, but many are just harmless collections of fat cells beneath skin. Get it checked out by a vet though. Lumps can become problems later on and they may represent a bigger health issue.
Panniculitis and Lipoma
Tumors from panniculitis aren't cancerous at all. They are produced by an inflammation of the fatty tissue beneath your cat's skin. Panniculitis often is caused by a wound or skin infection that damages the fat layers beneath the epidermis, according to VCA Animal Hospitals. Lipomas are an unnatural overgrowth of fat cells that become a distinct, solid mass. Subcutaneous lipomas are much like tumors from panniculitis. You can locate them pretty easily while petting or grooming your kitty, but they don't pose a significant risk to your cat.
Mast Cell Tumors
Mast cell tumors aren't benign like fatty tumors are, but they aren't as aggressive as most other cancers. Mast tumors tend to stay local. These tumors are very dangerous in dogs, but are considerably less serious in cats. Less than 20 percent of feline mast cell tumors reappear after surgery and only a fraction metastasize throughout the patient's body, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual.
Unfortunately, it's possible that the lumps under your cat's skin actually are cancerous. Sarcoma's start as subcutaneous lumps that expand rapidly within a small area and eventually can spread to the rest of your kitty's body. Their development is associated with vaccinations, according to University of Missouri Scott Endowed Program in Veterinary Oncology. Lymphoma also can produce lumps just about anywhere, although they tend to be located near lymph system centers. Lymphoma and other aggressive cancers often produce tumors around the neck, armpits and stomach.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you find a lump on your cat, don't hesitate to schedule a vet visit for your furry friend. Even aggressive cancers are treatable if caught early and confirming that the lump is benign will put your mind at ease. Diagnosis requires a cell sample taken with a syringe or biopsy. Your vet may not recommend any treatment at all if the lump is benign, because the operation can be more dangerous than the benefits of removal. Surgery is recommended for mast cells, as well as for lipomas and panniculitis that are located in sensitive areas. Chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy are all options when treating aggressive cancers like lymphoma. Remission is not guaranteed, but there are plenty of success stories of kitties recovering from cancer. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.
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.