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Cat Esophageal Cancer

Veterinarian Reviewed on April 2, 2014 by Dr. Janice Huntingford

Cat Esophageal Cancer

The esophagus is the transportation tube that carries food from the mouth to the stomach of your pet. Cancer is very rare in this part of a cat’ body. Cat Cancer is much more likely to appear in other areas of the digestive tract than in the esophagus. Neoplasia is a very aggressive type of cancer and spreads quickly to other areas of the body. Symptoms can appear quite suddenly and immediate attention is necessary.

The most common types of esophageal cancer are fibrosarcoma, sarcoma and Cat Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Often the symptoms to not occur until there is some type of blockage or involvement of other organs.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms are very variable from cat to cat. Generally there will be difficulty swallowing, nausea and Cat Vomiting and Cat Lethargy. Malnutrition becomes a real threat due to the cat’s inability to swallow and/or keep food down. Due to the Cat Loss of Appetite there may also be significant Cat Loss of Weight as well. Pneumonia is also a possibility. Due to the cat’s inability to swallow properly, they have the potential to regurgitate food and have the potential to inhale.

It is also possible to get pneumonia after a needle biopsy is done.


Diagnosis is done by the veterinarian after an accurate medical history is obtained. This is followed by a physical examination. If the vet feels the need, a needle aspiration may be performed. And open biopsy may also be necessary to gain access to the other organs in the chest.

Normally a veterinarian will prescribe radiographs. They would generally reveal the presence of gas in the esophageal cavity that is produced by the mass. The mass will be further examined with a contrast x-ray. This will give the vet a better picture of the tumor. A biopsy that shows some tissue death may also be performed.


The nature of this horrific condition makes conventional therapeutic options almost impossible. There have been chest surgeries performed but without success. It is possible to remove tumors that are located at the opening of the esophagus that leads to the stomach.

Attempts can be made to replace the portions of the esophagus that have been removed with sections of the small bowel or the colon. Their success is also limited.

Short term relief is practically all that can be expected. This can be accomplished by a gastrostomy. This is a permanent opening into the stomach through which food is inserted. This will help maintain the desired nutritional levels of the cat.


The prognosis for esophageal cancer is not good. If the lesions are found to be non-malignant, the potential for removal is greater. Due to the extremely high rate of metastasis with esophageal cancer, the success rate of surgical procedures is negligible.

Most important points to consider are observing your cat for unusual eating habits. Be aware of an increase in vomiting or lack of appetite. The weight loss associated with this lack of appetite will cause this to happen quickly. Take your cat to the vet at the first consistent sign of any abnormality.

Read also: Cat Aggression
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Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
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

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