Your having a nice moment with your feline friend, petting him, when you notice a lump under your cat's chin, or on his side, or anywhere on his body. You cannot tell what is going on simply by feeling it. Your cat could be suffering from an infection, a parasite, or a more serious condition. Today, our Springfield vets discuss skin lumps on cats and what they can mean.
How a Lump on a Cat Forms
Lumps on a cat can fall into four basic categories, each with its own way of how it forms:
- Traumatic lumps: These can form if your cat gets a puncture wound.
- Parasitic lumps: Parasites, like burrowed fleas and ticks, can also create bumps on cat skin.
- Inflammatory lumps: Inflammation or allergic reactions can lead to welts, ulcers, and abscesses.
- Cancerous lumps: These lumps occur when a cat's cells lose their ability to regulate themselves.
Common Types of Lumps on a Cat's Skin
These are the most common types of lumps and bumps on a cat's skin:
A minor injury can result in a bump. It could heal on its own, but it could also become infected. A cat who has been given a shot may also have a lump for a few days. If it doesn't go away after that, consult a veterinarian.
An abscess is a pus-filled, swollen spot on the skin that can form id your cat bites has been scratched or bitten. Because they are frequently red and painful, your cat may avoid being touched. A warm compress may provide some relief for them. Your veterinarian may prescribe an antibiotic and anti-inflammatory medication to treat the abscess.
Fatty tumors, called Lipomas, can appear anywhere on a cat's body. Lipomas are not cancerous and should not be removed unless they impede your cat's mobility. They are more common in older or overweight cats. Your veterinarian will take a sample of the lump to check for cancer. If it's just a fatty tumor, they may advise doing nothing and watching the tumor.
Mast cell tumors can also appear on the skin of a cat, most commonly on the head or neck. They may itch or be red. Approximately 10% of these tumors are cancerous.
Fibrosarcomas are cancerous tumors that can develop anywhere in the body. They occur as a rare side effect of any injection given. Inform your veterinarian if your cat has a lump at the site of a recent vaccination. They will immediately want to examine your cat.
Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in cats. Because approximately 85% of these tumors are cancerous, don't put off taking your cat to the vet. If you spay your cat before they go into heat for the first time, you will reduce its risk of breast cancer by 90%.
If your cat has cancer, it will almost certainly require surgery to remove the tumor and the surrounding tissue. Your veterinarian may refer you to a veterinary oncologist for treatment. The removal of the entire mammary gland may be the best treatment for breast cancer. Following surgery, some doctors recommend radiation or chemotherapy.
Blackheads can appear on the chin or face of some cats. These can feel like very small bumps beneath the skin's surface. If your veterinarian determines that your cat has acne, they may advise you to use a specific wash, wipe, or medication on them. Plastic drinking and eating bowls may also cause cat acne.
Ticks & Bug Bites
Ticks can get inside through cats or humans who spend time outside. If a tick remains on your cat's skin long enough to embed itself, it can resemble a lump. If it's a tick, your veterinarian can remove it safely. You and your veterinarian will then decide how to proceed.
Cat bumps can be caused by mosquitoes, bees, wasps, spiders, and ants. The ears and nose may react more strongly than other body parts. During the summer, keep your cat indoors at dusk and dawn to avoid mosquito bites. Make sure to provide flea treatments for your cat.
How Vets Diagnose Skin Lumps
Your veterinarian may be able to perform a physical examination or collect a tissue sample to assist in the diagnosis of the problem. Among the tests your veterinarian may recommend are:
- A skin scrape or impression smear: These tests involve taking a sample from the surface of your cat's lump and using a microscope to help identify its origin.
- A fine needle aspirate: This test requires inserting a needle into the skin lump to extract cells for evaluation.
- A biopsy: A biopsy is a small surgery to obtain tissue samples. A board-certified pathologist should always review these samples.
Treatment for Skin Lumps
Based on how your cat responds to treatment, a vet can often confirm the diagnosis of a lump or bump. Treatment is entirely dependent on the cause: if the lump was caused by trauma, your veterinarian will likely provide direct wound care and prescribe antibiotics. Parasitic lumps should be treated with topical or systemic parasiticides. In addition, if your cat has a cancerous lump, treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.