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Cat Spinal Cord Tumors

Veterinarian Reviewed on April 1, 2014 by Dr. Janice Huntingford

Cat Spinal Cord Tumors

The majority of spinal cord tumors in cats occur in large and overweight breeds. Approximately 28% of the tumors occur in cats less than 3 years of age. Half of the tumors occur in the bone (Cat Bone Cancer). Tumors on the spine can be the result of pressure from a tumor that originates on the bone.

There are four different types of spinal cord tumors:

• Intradural/extramedullary which occur on the covering of the nerve

• Extradural which cause the spinal cord to be compressed

• Intramedullary, which are the least common, occur in the glial cells. Glial cells are one of the two types of cells that comprise the nervous system. Neurons transmit and receive messages and the glial cells that surround neurons.

Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms vary according to the location of the tumor. They may include any of the following signs:

• Neck or back pain

• Impaired gait

Cat Limping

• Muscle atrophy

• Depressed reflexes


Your veterinarian will begin with a physical examination. This will be followed by blood work that will include chemistry studies. Your veterinarian will be looking for elevations in protein or white blood cells.

Contrast x-rays will be done and possibly an MRI or CT scan. These will allow the veterinarian to identify the location, pattern of growth, shape and swelling of the growth in your cat’s spinal cord.

Treatment Options

The decision as to treatment is variable. It will depend on the number and the location of the tumor or tumors in your cat’s body. They must be in a position that can be reached in order to be removed. Those that originate on the vertebra can usually be successfully treated with surgery. If it has metastasized to the spine from other parts of the cat’s body, the source will be the target for treatment, rather than the spinal cord tumor.

During the treatment for the tumor, you will need to supplement your cat’s diet to give a much needed boost to the immune system. Before administering any supplement to your cat, such as Cat Cancer Dietary Supplements, consult with your veterinarian.
If your cat has exhibited pain as the primary noticeable symptom, your vet may order pain medication which should be administered as directed.


The prognosis for cats with spinal cord tumors is rather poor. There are very few that are treatable. Some Cat Radiation Therapy treatments have been shown to be successful in prolonging the survival time of your cat after surgery. It depends on the location and type of tumor that is being treated. The general survival time for cats with spinal cord tumors is 11 to 23 months.

The deciding factor in your choice of treatment may well be what is best for your cat. Cats are our children in many cases but their survival may be taken out of your hands. It is necessary to consider the comfort of your cat. Will they be comfortable for a prolonged period after surgery? Knowing that the prognosis may be poor, are you going through with risky treatment because you love your cat, or because your cat needs it? It is not an easy choice for any loving cat owner to make, but often the best choice is to let your cat go with the dignity that human’s desire. Above all else, you will need to carefully follow Cat Palliative Cancer Care guidelines to keep your cat as happy and comfortable as possible.

Additional Cat Cancer Pages

Cat Cancer | Cat Skin Cancer | Cat Lung Cancer | Cat Pancreatic Cancer | Cat Cancer Prevention | Cat Cancer Diagnosis | Cat Gastric Cancer | Cat Lymphoma Cancer | Cat Squamous Cell Carcinoma | Cat Mouth Cancer | Cat Brain Tumor | Cat Palliative Cancer Care

Read also: Cat Lead Poisoning
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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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