If you’re a cat owner, you know that cats aren’t just pets. They are often an essential part of your family, and keeping them healthy is a top priority.
Like humans, cats can develop conditions like tumors. One type of common skin tumor that cats can suffer from is mast cell tumors. Diseases due to mast cells commonly affect older cats. Learning all you can help you pick up on the symptoms and get your cat the veterinary attention that they need to get treatment.
While mast cell tumors can be cancerous or benign, it’s still crucial to know as much as you can about mast cells. If your cat develops a tumor, you’ll be able to make informed decisions. Keep reading the guide below to learn what you need to know about cats with mast cell tumors.
What’s a Mast Cell Tumor?
First, it’s vital to understand precisely what a mast cell tumor is. Put simply, a mast cell tumor consists of mast cells.
Mast cells are white blood cells found in body tissues. Among other things, mast cells release a compound called histamine, which many people will recognize as the compound responsible for allergic reactions.
Mast cell tumors form masses or nodules in organs, although the most common location is the skin.
There are three types of tumors due to abnormal mast cells:
About 20% of these skin neoplasms are cutaneous, which means they are in the skin. These mast cells are common skin tumors and usually harmless, with about 90% diagnosed as benign.
As these forms of mast cells can be external, cat owners usually detect these early. They are also usually itchy and uncomfortable for your cat, so it’s common for them to chew and itch the bumps formed by mast cells.
Visceral: Internal Organs
About half of these tumors from mast cells affect the spleen, meaning that they are visceral. It’s also possible for the mast cells to affect the intestine, but the spleen is much more common.
Intestinal: Small Intestine
This form of mast cells is the most severe version of the tumor. When this is the case, the tumor has often spread to other organs and the lymph nodes, which results in fluid in the cat’s abdomen.
What Are the Symptoms of Mast Cell Tumors in Cats?
The symptoms of mast cells depend on whether the feline has mast cell tumors that are visceral or cutaneous.
As mentioned above, a standard indicator of cutaneous mast cell tumors is hard, hairless bumps on the skin. Because tumors affect histamines, this formation can result in side effects common in allergies like itching.
If the feline develops a visceral tumor, you won’t see anything physically wrong with your cat. Instead, common symptoms include:
If your cat has the most severe form of feline mast cell tumor, which would be in the intestines, then the symptoms of mast cells will be more severe.
These could include: