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It can be hard to detect cancer in cats because our feline friends are very good at hiding their discomfort. Therefore, it is important for you to be proactive and vigilant in your cat’s care. By making scheduled wellness visits to your vet, performing a regular examination of your cat, and keeping an eye out for irregular behaviors or changes to your cat’s physical health, you can ensure that your cat stays healthy and that signs of an illness, including cancer, can be detected at an early stage. 

To help prevent your cat’s chances of developing cancer, you can incorporate a healthy and balanced diet. A diet that is free from carcinogens (cancer-causing compounds) and provides all the essential nutrients to cats is necessary to maintain their health and strengthen the immune system. Because cats are carnivores, vets usually recommend a diet that is low in carbohydrates, moderate in proteins, and moderate to high in fat content. Increasing evidence also suggests that supplementation with certain kinds of fish oils can prevent cancer development in cats. When it comes to a raw diet (meat, eggs, vegetables, and milk), some reports suggest that raw food carries a risk of bacterial contamination, so be sure to do your homework before considering a raw diet for your cat. 

Besides nutrition, regular physical activity can exhibit profound health benefits and reduce cancer risks. A sedentary lifestyle in cats predisposes them to obesity, which is a high-risk factor for cancer. Your cat’s exercise needs vary by age, weight, and current activity level. It is generally recommended that a cat engage in at least three five-minute intense play periods each day. Since cats are natural predators, it is important that these short play periods mimic their predatory nature in the wild. This may include activities such as stalking, chasing, pouncing, and biting.

Prevention of cancer is what you, the pet owner, strive for, but if your vet diagnoses your cat with cancer in the early stages, it can be treated. A significant portion of cancers that are detected in the early stages go into remission for years and do not relapse, enabling the cats to go on to live long and happy lives.

The Pet Cancer Foundation’s Website Editorial team is comprised of veterinarians, veterinary oncologists, and veterinary technicians, as well as scientific writers and editors who have attained their PhD’s in the life sciences, along with general editors and research assistants. All content found in this section goes through an extensive process with multiple review stages, to ensure this extended resource provides pet families with the most up-to-date information publicly available.

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Last Updated: May 10, 2022

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The following sources were referenced to write the content on this page: 

Bertone, ER, Snyder, LA & Moore, AS 2003, ‘Environmental and lifestyle risk factors for oral squamous cell carcinoma in domestic cats’, J Vet Intern Med, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 557-562.

Blackwood, L 2013, ‘Cats with cancer: where to start’, J Feline Med Surg, vol. 15, no. 5, pp. 366-377.

Herron, ME & Buffington, CAT 2010, ‘Environmental enrichment for indoor cats’, Compend Contin Educ Vet, vol. 32, no. 12, pp. E4.

Kananub, S, Pinniam, N, Phothitheerabut, S, & Krajanjlikit, P 2020, ‘Contamination factors associated with surviving bacteria in Thai commercial raw pet foods’, Vet World, vol. 13, no. 9, pp1988-1991.

Roudebush, P, Davenport, DJ, Novotny, BJ 2004, ‘The use of nutraceuticals in cancer therapy’, Vet Clin Small Anim, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 249-269.

The Pet Cancer Foundation’s medical resource for pet owners is protected by copyright.

For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.