Feline Brain Tumor
"A Feline brain tumor is not always diagnosed since advanced imaging equipment is needed to make a diagnosis. Cat brain tumor symptoms include seizure if your cat is over 5 years of age as well as other signs of changes in behavior. Treatment includes surgery, radiation, chemotherapy or only focusing on the symptoms."
A meningioma is the most common type of feline brain tumor. It is a tumor of the meninges, the membrane that lines the skull. Meningiomas are usually benign, meaning that they are non-cancerous. The problem is that there is limited room in the skull, and the pressure of a tumor can cause brain damage.
There are other types off tumors including Gliomas. The giloma tumors are in the cells of the brain and go by the names astrocytomas, oligodendrogliomas, glioblastoma multiforme and ependymomas. Tumors can range in severity from those that grow slowly to others that are highly malignant (grow quickly) which are called glioblastoma multiforme.
Secondary Brain Tumors in Cats
This type of tumor is caused by a problem elsewhere in your cat's body that spread to the brain. These tumors go by the names hemangiosarcoma, mammary carcinoma and melanoma. The chance of curing these types of tumors is low since it means the cancer in your cat is systemic or throughout the body. Your veterinarian will check your cat's stomach with x-rays to see if there are tumors in the abdomen.
Cat Brain Tumor Symptoms
Cat brain tumor symptoms vary based on the location of the tumor.
Forebrain feline brain tumor symptoms:
- Behavioral change and forgetting of behaviors your cat has already learned
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Increased or decreased thirst
- Constant pacing
- Loss of awareness or vision on one side of your cat's body
- Bumping into doorways
- Acting as if your cat is in pain
Brainstem cat brain tumor symptoms:
- Loss of balance (ataxia - primary sign)
- Weakness on one side of your cat's body
- Difficulty Swallowing
- Voice changing
- Eyes do not move
- Paralyzed sections of the body
- Head tilt
- Leaning and falling to the side of the head tilt
- Circling to the side of the head tilt
- Involuntary flicking of the eyes (nystagmus)
- Loss of appetite
- Abnormal eye position (strabismus)
Cerebellum cat brain tumor symptoms. Note your cat will have all its strength will experiencing these symptoms:
- Uncoordinated gait (hypermetria)
- Head tremors that are worst when your cat wants something such as food. They don't appear when your cat is relaxed (called intention tremors)
- Swaying of the body
- Wide stance
- Head tilt
Diagnosing a Brain Tumor Feline
Your veterinarian will examine your cat thoroughly, take a detailed history from you, and draw some blood for analysis. He or she will run various tests, depending on your cat’s symptoms. Once a brain tumor is suspected, the veterinarian will need to get a look at it.
If your cat is older than 5 years old and is exhibiting some of the symptoms listed above, then your veterinarian will suspect a brain tumor that started in the brain (primary tumor) and possibly a tumor elsewhere in your cat's body that caused a brain tumor (secondary tumor).
To view a feline brain tumor, a CT scan or an MRI will be necessary. An x-ray will not be able to see through the thick layers of the skull in order to get a picture of any tumors that may lie within. An MRI is preferred because it allows the vet to see fluid build up, bleeding, and other soft tissue changes.
In cases of cancer, brain tumors often spread from other locations. So your vet will probably do x-rays of your cat’s chest and abdomen, looking for other tumors.
Treating Feline Brain Tumor
There are three basic treatments for feline brain tumor. Which treatment is best for your cat will depend upon the type of cancer your cat has, the exact location of the tumor, and how advanced the cancer is.
Chemotherapy is often not a good option in the brain because something called the blood/brain barrier can keep the chemotherapy agents from getting to the tumor. Cats tolerate chemotherapy well and with advances in its use it could be used. Recent advancements in drugs that may help include the alkylating agents lomustine (CCNU), carmustine (BCNU), and temozolomide. Veterinarians have had some effect on gilomas in particular.
Surgery is a good option for meningiomas and other tumors that are not too integrated into the brain. It’s a useful treatment for tumors that are confined to the brain. If tumors have spread throughout the body, chemotherapy will be a better option.
Radiation is the third treatment option. It is often used in conjunction with surgery. The tumor can be removed surgically and then radiation can be used to treat any remaining cancer.
Your veterinarian may also suggest not treating the tumor but just focusing on your cat's quality of life. In this approach only the symptoms are addressed so that your cat doesn't have to suffer.
Prognosis for Feline Brain Tumor
It is hard to determine exactly how long your cat will live. Some live days while others live for years.
NC State University
College of Veterinary Medicine