Kitty's spleen aids in filtering his blood, but it's not crucial to his survival. That's why if he suffers from certain diseases or his spleen is damaged through trauma, your vet can perform a splenectomy, or surgery to remove the organ. Kitty can do well without his spleen.
Splenic tumors are relatively rare in cats, but do occur. If Kitty suffers a splenic tumor, the good news is that as a splenectomy can increase his survival time. Cats with splenic tumors might lose weight, become depressed, suffer from diarrhea or constipation, stop eating or throw up on a regular basis, although not every after every meal. His abdomen might swell up. If Kitty exhibits any of these symptoms, take him to the vet as soon as possible. Since these symptoms occur in various feline diseases, it could well be something else other than cancer affecting Kitty. Your vet makes a diagnosis through blood work and other tools, such as X-rays and ultrasounds. Cats with splenic tumors often are anemic.
In cats, mast cell tumors are one of the most common reasons for a vet to perform a splenectomy. While mast cell tumors located in other parts of Kitty's body don't have a great prognosis, if these tumors are located in the spleen a splenectomy can buy a cat a considerable amount of time. Older cats usually suffer from mast cell tumors. According to Veterinary Partner, the median survival time after a splenectomy for a cat with splenic mast cell tumors is 14 months. Cats with splenic mast cell tumors who don't have the surgery generally live between 4 and 6 months. Although removing the spleen is not a cure, it takes quite some time for the mast cell tumors to grow back. Other types of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy, don't seem to make much difference in survival time for cats undergoing splenectomies, so Kitty might avoid that. As with any surgery, it should take your cat a couple of weeks to recover. If your cat underwent a splenectomy because of trauma, such as getting hit by a car, he might be just fine if he didn't suffer any other serious injury.
Hemangiomas and Hemangiosarcomas
While hemangiomas can occur in a cat's spleen, these tumors are benign so a splenectomy should take care of the problem. Don't confuse this benign version with the similarly-named but malignant hemangiosarcomas. The latter probably already have spread throughout Kitty's body before surgery. Cats with hemangiosarcomas generally live three to nine months after splenectomy.
While most cats live over a year after a splenectomy for mast cell tumors, several prognostic factors must be taken into consideration. Cats who lost a great deal of weight before the surgery don't recover as well or live as long as cats of normal weight. If Kitty doesn't eat well after surgery, that's also not a good sign. Male cats undergoing splenectomy for cancer might not do as well as females.
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.
- Pet Place: Splenectomy in Cats
- VetInfo: Mast Cell Tumors in Cats
- National Center for Biological Information: Outcome Following Splenectomy in Cats.
- Michigan Animal Hospital: Spleenic (Spleen) Mass Removal
- Veterinary Partner: Mast Cell Tumors
- Veterinary Society of Surgical Oncology: Splenic Mast Cell Tumor
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.