Cat eating

Older cats and purebreds at higher risk of mammary tumours

Mammary tumours in cats are relatively rare, but they can be highly aggressive when they do occur.

A study at the Royal Veterinary College has examined the frequency and risk factors for mammary tumours in female cats.

Based on a sample of 259,869 female cats under veterinary care in the UK in 2016, the researchers found that the average age at diagnosis for mammary tumours was 12 years.

The proportion of cats diagnosed with a mammary tumour was 0.1% (270 cases from 259,869 cats).

Ulceration in the mammary region (18%), weight loss (17%), hard mass (16%), loss of appetite (10%) and discharge from the mammary region (7%) were the most common clinical signs of mammary tumours.

Cats aged 8 to 15 years or older were more likely to be diagnosed with mammary tumours than cats aged 5 to 8 years, and tumour cases were over 1.5 times as likely as controls to be purebred.

Two-thirds (65%) of the cats diagnosed with mammary tumour did not undergo surgery. Of those that did, the most common types were tumour/mass local removal (23%), followed by unilateral mastectomy (11%) and bilateral mastectomy (2%).

The average survival time after mammary tumour diagnosis was 18.7 months.

The researchers hope that their findings — published in the Journal of Small Animal Practice — will help vets to identify cats at greater risk of mammary tumours and advise on management and survival after diagnosis.

Like us humans, an older cat can develop age-related illnesses and become more susceptible to disease. At Petwise we offer specialist cover to help protect your cat during their senior years.