When to Euthanize a Cat With Lymphoma

Feline lymphoma is a type of cancer that emerges among cats. This cancer can be difficult to treat and therefore, the survival rate is relatively low. The loss of a pet is devastating, so it’s best to make sure you understand the guidelines on when to euthanize your cat with feline lymphoma.

Cat lymphoma when to euthanize

Feline lymphoma when to euthanize

These are the signs that it’s time to put your cat down. Your cat shows:

  • Severe weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Chronic vomiting and diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Incontinence or urinary accidents
  • Respiratory distress (labored breathing, coughing)
  • Increased respiration or difficulty breathing

Takeaway: Lymphoma is a very nasty disease in cats. It can be extremely difficult to treat and most cats that are diagnosed with this cancer have a short time left to live. Many veterinarians will recommend that you euthanize the cat to end their suffering, but you can make the decision on your own.

How long can a cat live with lymphoma without treatment?

Generally speaking, because it is a cancerous tumor, when you discover lymphoma in your cat, it is already too late. The disease typically progresses rapidly from this point on and most cases prove fatal within 6 months or less.

How fast does lymphoma spread in cats?

Treatment of lymphoma depends on many factors including your cat’s age, the type and grade of the lymphoma, and whether or not it has metastasized. Lymphoma can be treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination of both. This kind of treatment is usually only successful when it is performed in the early stages of the condition.

If your cat has been diagnosed with this cancer and they have not had treatment yet, you should consider putting them down. If there has been any metastasis from their lymph nodes to other areas in the body such as their liver or lungs, then chemotherapy or radiation therapy may not be effective in these other regions either.

Can a cat survive lymphoma?

The goal of chemotherapy is to control the cancer and prolong your cat’s life but it can’t cure the disease. Usually, a combination of drugs is used to fight off lymphoma in cats and they may include prednisone, cyclophosphamide or vincristine.

Cats that are treated with chemotherapy live an average of 1 year after diagnosis but some will live longer than that depending on how aggressive their treatment plan is. The sooner you start treatment the better chance your cat has at beating this type of cancer.

Should you put your cat through chemotherapy?

A cancer diagnosis for your cat can be devastating. There’s no way to sugarcoat it, but there is hope. Some cats with lymphoma, in particular, can be treated successfully with chemotherapy.

The question you have to ask yourself, though, is whether treatment is worth it for your cat and the quality of her remaining life.

Chemotherapy isn’t perfect. It doesn’t cure lymphoma in all cases, and it doesn’t work miracles. But it has proven to be an effective treatment that may extend the lives of many cats with lymphoma who would otherwise be euthanized because there was nothing else to do.

Takeaway: As with many forms of cancer, lymphoma is often considered incurable once a diagnosis has been made. However, there are treatments available for some forms of lymphoma that can improve your cat’s quality of life for a time (months or years). If you choose to treat your pet with chemotherapy, it’s important to understand the many side effects associated with this treatment before you start.

What is feline lymphoma?

Lymphoma is a cancer of the immune system and is most commonly diagnosed in older cats. It can occur in any part of the body but affects the gastrointestinal tract most frequently (accounting for 50% – 70% of cases). The other common sites for lymphoma to occur in the body are the lymph nodes, chest, and kidneys.

Lymphoma can be either high-grade or low-grade. High-grade tumors grow more quickly and invade surrounding tissue more aggressively than low-grade tumors. Low-grade tumors are slower growing and can often be managed successfully with chemotherapy treatments.

Why did my cat get lymphoma?

The cause of lymphoma is unknown, but it has been linked to exposure to chemicals, or viral infections such as feline leukemia or feline immunodeficiency virus.

Because lymphoma may not show up until the cat is quite ill, it’s important to have your cat examined by a veterinarian at least once a year—more often if you notice anything unusual, such as weight loss or lack of appetite.

Conclusion of euthanizing a cat with lymphoma

Cancer treatment can be long, drawn-out, and expensive. If the cat is young, it may be worth the fight! I would expect that the vet would want to do some x-rays or an ultrasound to see if cancer has spread (metastasized) to any other organs. Also, if the lymphoma has spread to bone marrow, this also makes it harder to treat.

Lymphoma can be treated in a variety of ways: chemotherapy is one option, but there are also other methods of treatment that are less invasive for the cat but still effective. Remember that you don’t have to go with a conventional medicine approach – there are holistic vets, who believe that healing should work with the body instead of against it.

Lymphoma can be treated successfully in some cats and, in addition to improved survival times, most cats experience an improvement in their quality of life. For many cat owners, it is worth trying chemotherapy at least once to see if their pet might benefit from treatment.

Unfortunately, although many cats do respond well to chemotherapy initially, a cure is rarely obtained. As such, it is important to consider how long you will continue treatment if your cat develops side effects or if the tumor disappears but then comes back later. As with any cancer therapy, there are risks involved and it is important to discuss these risks with your veterinarian so that you can make an educated decision about whether or not chemotherapy should be attempted.

The decision to euthanize is never easy. It is always a judgment call on the part of the owner and the veterinarian, but with the appropriate information, this can be made more easily.

Best wishes for your kitty!

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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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