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Feline Renal Lymphoma

"Feline renal lymphoma involves the renal or kidney region in cats. It is one of several forms of feline lymphomas. Lymphomas are the most commonly occurring cancer in the feline species. The reason might be that there are several causative factors and several different forms of the disease. Lymphomas refers to cancer of the lymphoid tissues. In turn, there are several causes related to the occurrence of feline renal lymphoma, including viruses and the loss of cellular integrity as a result of old age. Symptoms might be typically related to the renal system, specifically kidney problems, including renal failure, abdominal pain, painful and frequent urination etc. For a definite diagnosis, clinical examination, urinalysis, blood tests, x-rays and serological tests for the presence of feline leukemia viruses (FLV) are compulsory. There is no true treatment for renal lymphoma in cats. Chemotherapy is used only to prevent progressive renal failure and to control symptoms. The selected approach towards treatment is based upon expected improvements in the cat's quality of life and to inhibit symptoms. The prognosis, therefore, varies based on the stage of the disease and the type of treatment plan selected."

Causes of Feline Renal Lymphoma:

Years ago, feline leukemia viruses (FLV) and feline immunosuppression virus (FIV) were the most common causes of feline lymphomas. Also, cats 5 years age and older were also considered to be susceptible to lymphomas. Interestingly, in recent years, due to the proper immunization of cats for different viral agents, the susceptibility age has become older. Now the occurrence of feline renal lymphomas and other forms of the disease is more common in older cats that are 8 - 9 years of age.

At one time, 70% of all cat lymphoma cases were considered to be caused by viruses. Now only 20% of cases are attributed to viruses.

In older cats, the kidneys become weaker. Such cats are thus more susceptible to feline renal lymphomas. Two causative factors of renal disease such as cat renal failure and immune system weakness collaborate, and over time, cats may develop cancerous growths in the renal lymphoid tissues. These growths are malignant, which means that they spread to entire renal system, particularly the kidneys.

Lymphomas are malignant in nature. Thus in many cases, it may happen that the occurrence of feline renal lymphoma might not be a primary form, i.e. the renal system might be healthy, but lymphoma might have been transmitted from other parts of the body. Thus, cats with other forms of lymphomas such as gastrointestinal, multi centric, mediastinal (organs inside body cavity such as the heart) or alimentary (digestive system) etc, can develop into feline renal lymphoma; as what is referred to as a secondary lymphoma or a lymphoma that spread from another part of the body.

felilne renal lymphoma picture
Picture of Lymphoma In Cat Kidney

Symptoms of Feline Renal Lymphoma:

Chronic feline renal failure and cat urinary tract problems are symptoms associated with renal lymphoma. Cats with renal lymphomas, usually exhibit two different types of symptoms, i.e. those related to the urinary tract and other symptoms associated with the immune system.

Lymphomas exhibit symptoms which are more severe in cats as compared to other animals. Cats with renal lymphoma usually exhibit typical signs of a urinary tract problem, such as abdominal pain, frequent and irrational urination, the passing of crystals, blood in urine and severe nitrogen toxicity in the blood. However, these symptoms might not be present or not severe. The Severity depends upon the age of the cat and the primary cause of the lymphoma.

In addition, to differentiate the cause, anemia is always noted if the condition is caused by feline leukemia viruses. Similarly, severe urinary symptoms in older cats represent feline renal failure and infections.

Diagnosis of Feline Renal Lymphoma:

In order to confirm the presence of renal lymphoma, it is essential that the diagnostic protocol along with a declaration of stage  be determined. Clinical features, blood and serum profiles, urinalysis, thoracic radiography, cellular studies and confirmation of the feline leukemia virus should be considered. These tests should be followed by stepwise confirmation and elimination of possible causes, which will lead to a determination of the disease stage. Usually, five different stages of feline lymphomas are considered, treatment/management is based upon the declaration of the condition’s level.

Treatment of Feline Renal Lymphoma:

Unfortunately, there is no satisfactory treatment for renal lymphoma in cats. In fact, it is incurable. Only management of the disease can be achieved by using different drugs such as predinisone and doxorubicin etc, as single agent therapeutics. These drugs have been found to be very effective in maintaining cellular strength and to prevent feline renal lymphoma’s further penetration. There are several side effects, which can affect the health status of an affected cat, which are addressed with supportive measures.

Supportive therapies use specific symptomatic drugs and some natural preparations. Nutritional adjustments, supportive drugs and using natural remedies can improve the cat's quality of life to some degree. Two natural products that can be of some help. The first targets the renal system and is called Kidney Support . The second, C-Caps Formula, is designed to strengthen healthy cells and the cat's immune system.

Share Your Story or Ask a Cat Kidney Problem Related Question:

Have advice about a cat kidney problem or renal diet, or want to ask a question about this topic? Share your story or Ask Your Question Here. One question will be answered by our editors each week.

References:

Merck Veterinary Manual (Merck & Co. 2008)

David J. Argyle “What is new in canine & feline Lymphoma” (Presented at; WSAVA/FECAVA Small Animals Congress, 2008)

University of Washington School of Veterinary Medicine

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine

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