Mouth Cancer in Cats

Updated November 21, 2016

Mouth cancer in cats is a treatable condition, if it is identified early. There are several types of the cancer and not all are fatal. The cancer can be removed through surgery and cats respond well to chemotherapy treatments. Many animals that are treated successfully go on to live healthy, normal lives.


There are four types of mouth cancer in cats. The most common is called squamous cell carcinoma. The three other less common forms of mouth cancer are lymphoma, malignant melanoma and fibrosarcoma.


The early signs of cat mouth cancer include drooling, bleeding from the mouth, loss of appetite, bad breath and lethargy. In addition, the cat may not groom itself anymore. As the disease progresses, vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss and swelling of the lymph nodes will be present.


A veterinarian will need to perform a test for cancer to determine whether it is benign or malignant. To do this, the cat is usually given local anaesthesia and a sample is taken from the skin within the mouth. The sample is then tested for cancerous cells. An additional test, known as the chemo assay, may also be done if the cat is a candidate for chemotherapy.


When the cancer is in an advanced stage and it cannot be removed, the recommendation is usually to euthanize the animal. Cancer that is identified early may be removed surgically, then treated with a combination of pain medication and chemotherapy.


Mouth cancer in cats can be difficult to treat. When caught early, the animal has a chance at survival if the cancer can be removed and the chemotherapy is successful. In some animals, even after the cancer has been removed and treated with chemo, the cancer returns.

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