Cat Cancer Prevention
Veterinarian Reviewed on April 2, 2014 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Cat Cancer Prevention
We all love our cats, and would do anything to keep them well. Although you can’t always prevent Cat Cancer, you can certainly do things that will reduce the risk of cancer occurring.
Most often, cancers occur in older cats. In addition, cats in particular are at risk for Cat Acute Myeloid Leukemia or Cat Lymphoid Leukemia at any age. Feline Leukemia Virus is very contagious, so vaccinating your cat against feline leukemia is imperative if he or she is an outdoor cat. Paradoxically, however, if your cat lives his or her life COMPLETELY indoors, and there are no other cats around that have been exposed to or have feline leukemia, it’s a good idea NOT to vaccinate your cat against feline leukemia; it’s been shown that there is a small risk of developing cancer at the injection site as a result of the feline leukemia injection. Nonetheless, this is a small risk if your cat has the potential of being exposed to feline leukemia, so make sure you do vaccinate if this is true.
Besides the feline leukemia cancer risk in cats specifically, there are other cancers that are common in cats. Again, you can’t necessarily completely prevent cancer in cats, but you can do things to reduce the chance that they’ll get it. Here are some things to keep in mind:
Spay and neuter
Cats that are regularly allowed to go into heat or that experience the hormonal surges that facilitate reproduction are much more at risk for reproductive cancers than cats that have been spayed or neutered. Therefore, spay or neuter your cat before he or she ever has a chance to go into heat or to become sexually active. Kittens should be spayed or neutered by the time they’re about six months old, or whenever your vet recommends.
Feed your cat a healthy diet
A healthy diet is imperative to keeping cancer at bay. High-quality cat foods with “human food grade” ingredients like chicken, rice and fresh or dried vegetables instead of cheaper foods with lots of additives or byproducts are worth their weight in gold. Even though you’ll pay a little bit more at the price register for these high-quality foods, you’ll save money in medical bills for your cat — and your cat will be healthier and happier, too.
Make sure your cat gets plenty of exercise
Make sure your cat gets plenty of exercise to maintain a good weight and have a good cardiovascular system. Remember to provide your cat with lots of opportunities for activity, especially if he or she is an indoor-only cat; cats love to climb, jump and run, and there are lots of toys and furniture like cat trees that can help your cat have a healthy and active lifestyle even if completely indoors. (By the way, cats especially benefit from having a “buddy,” so if it all possible, keep two cats together. They’ll entertain each other and will help each other exercise, too.)
Reduce exposure to chemicals
Whether they are chemicals used on the lawn or in the household, or flea or tick products, constant exposure to chemicals can be harmful to your cat, including facilitating the development of cancer. Use Cat Fleas control chemicals sparingly and only under the strict supervision of a vet. (Natural alternatives like brewer’s yeast added to the diet may also help keep ticks and fleas away — and your cat will love it, too.)
Watch those vaccinations
Although some vaccinations are absolutely necessary and may be required by law (like rabies vaccinations), it’s known that over-vaccination can actually damage cats’ immune systems and may facilitate the development of chronic diseases like cancer. Talk with your vet and set up a vaccination schedule that will give your cat ONLY those vaccinations he or she absolutely needs at the lowest frequency possible while maintaining protection; eliminate any vaccinations that aren’t absolutely necessary.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan