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Is What They Say About White Cats True?

white-cat.JPGAnd what do they say about white cats? That they’re more susceptible to feline skin cancer

“Just like fair-skinned people are more likely to have problems with skin cancer, white dogs and cats are more prone to skin cancers, especially on the areas of their body that are thinly haired, such as the belly on dogs, and the ear tips and around the eyes on cats,” Chun said.

But not all feline skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun. Chun added that viruses, hormones, genetics, vaccines and burns are also associated with skin cancer. Those risk factors are not limited to white cats.

“In cats, fibrosarcoma can be caused by vaccination against rabies or the feline leukemia virus,” Chun said.

Symptoms Of Feline Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is relatively easy to notice, compared to other cancers, because the signs are easily visible.

  • Tumors or lumps under the skin.
  • Blemishes, scaly areas or change in color. Squamous cell cancer is characterized by redness of the area and a crusty skin.
  • Abnormal behaviors like scratching or chewing the affected area.
  • Color changes and irregular areas in your cat’s eyelids, lips and the inside of her mouth.

Grooming with a fine comb, along with lots of good petting, helps to find any abnormalities right away.

How Can You Prevent Skin Cancer In Your Cat?

Dr. Chun mentioned several ways cat owners can prevent skin cancer. “White cats and cats with white on their face should not be allowed outdoors during sunny days” Chun said.

If it’s not possible to keep your white kitty out of the sun, you can use SPF 50 sunscreen on her nose, and the inside and outside of her ears. Try to avoid letting her out at mid-day, when the sun is strongest.

Preventing skin cancers associated with vaccination in cats is approached a bit differently because vaccination against rabies is unavoidable, Chun said.

“The vaccine should be given in the right rear leg to ensure that if a tumor does arise it can be easily removed surgically,” Chun said. “Studies have clearly shown that if all the vaccines are given over the neck or back or between the shoulder blades, a tumor is more likely to develop and it is more likely to be fatal to the animal because it is harder to remove.”

Many vets are now recommending that the rabies vaccine be given every three years, instead of yearly, to reduce the risk of vaccine associated sarcoma. Check the laws in your state, as some states still require yearly rabies vaccinations.

How Is Skin Cancer In Cats Treated?

If your cat is diagnosed with skin cancer, surgical removal of the tumor is the most common treatment. Radiation therapy, cryotherapy (freezing the tumor), and chemotherapy are treatments also used by many vets.

Holistic treatments provide your cat with what her body needs to heal from within. Even if the cancer can’t be cured, holistic options do offer a better quality of life for your pet. If you choose to go this route, try to find a holistic veterinarian by contacting the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association.

Diet and nutrition

You’ll also want to work on strengthening your cat’s immune system. Pet Alive C-Caps, which contain astragalus, milk thistle and other tonic herbs, can help with this.

Homeopathy can be very helpful in treating cancer. You’ll need to work with a vet who is trained in using homeopathic remedies. You can find one through the Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy.

Acupuncture can help with pain relief, as well as stimulating your cat’s immune system. For a list of practitioners in your area, visit the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, or the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association.

For more information on skin cancer in cats see:

Cats And Dogs Are Just As Susceptible To Skin Cancer As Humans

Holistic Cancer Prevention And Care in Your Pet

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  1. 8 Comment(s)

  2. By Richien on Jan 18, 2008 | Reply

    This a very thorough and intelligent discourse on the subject. We have several cats. Two of them are aging well, but they are both over twelve years of age. I will inspect them carefully to see if they have any indications of skin cancer. Thanks

  3. By Andrea on Jun 28, 2008 | Reply

    I have a white cat and try to keep her indoors but she loves to be outside. So I use sunscreen on her and don’t let her out during the hottest part of the day. So far so good.

  4. By Randall on Sep 26, 2008 | Reply

    I wish I had found this wonderful site before today. My beautiful fur-baby of 16 years lost her heroic battle with malignant carcinoma today.

    Five days ago I got the terrible news that her very recent *cough* was not a particularly resistant hairball, but the result of massive pulmonary edema secondary to a fast spreading cancer that had spread through her entire little body like a ravening hoard of locusts. Our Vet kept her overnight to run an entire series of horrendously expensive tests, and the following day told me to take her home and keep her comfy and that she would in all liklihood not last the night. Good Gods, the most I had anticipated was constipation (and had just figured that the tests were a good idea anyhow, particularly because of her ag) and now I was faced with a ready-to-die-any-minute-now kitty!

    This morning, after 4 days and nights of NO sleep for either of us, gut-wrenching hours of lying in bed cuddling her, carrying her to the litterbox and cleaning her afterwards because she was too weak to do it herself, feeding her liquid food suppliment with an eyedropper, holding a bowl of cool watter to her mouth and watching her struggle to lap and swallow it, something inside me snapped this morning and I broke faith with our Vet ( who said something to me like “Umm… Well, animals can be unpredictable. These things take time.” And the winner was when she said this could last maybe another week!

    I broke 9 1/2 years faith with her and called another small animal Vet. I could no longer tolerate watching Basti fight to live, panting, purring, being so loving, and patiently bearing with my shattering grief and Bansidhe-like howling/crying/sobbing a majority of the entire time. I wrapped her in her cashmere pashmina and took her for the shots. She died very quickly without a sound or movement. I am still dying inside.

    I did all the right things. Had a Pet HMO membership for her, had regular “senior kitty” dental and physical exams 2 a year, fed her the best diet possible, kept her weight down by diet and exercise, and STILL lost her to Cancer. If I myself were not a Medical Professional I would be torturing myself wondering if the outcome would have been different if I had taken her in sooner. After seeing her X-rays and ultrasounds , I know otherwise. Most regular Well Pet Maintainance Vet visits don’t include X-ray and ultrasound examinations, unfortunately. I am now going to tell ALL my friends with “senior fur-babies” to come to this site and educate themselves on pet cancers.

    Maybe my comments will cause another owner to insist on full body X-rays and abdominal sonagrams yearly for their “gracefully aging” fur-friends.

    ~Basti’s Grieving Mommy~

  5. By Elina on Sep 26, 2008 | Reply

    I have 7 cats and I always make sure I observe them carefully. My cat had fibrosarcoma due to new rabies vaccine. We had to amputate her leg immediately and I was giving her 2 drops of agaricus blazei extract for 8 months after the surgery. It was recommended by Dr Villalobos and I purchased them at Due to being prompt with the diagnosis and amputation she is alive and well now.

  6. By admin on Oct 3, 2008 | Reply


    I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. Please don’t second-guess yourself. You did the best things you could for your precious Basti throughout her life. At the end, you did what had to be done to end her suffering.

    Thank you for sharing with us, even through your pain. I lost a very dear feline friend a couple of years ago. At first I thought I would never get over it, but time does bring healing. My sweet little BlackCat left me way too soon, but now I can think of her and smile when I remember things she did. She’ll be waiting for me on the other side, and Basti will be waiting for you too.

    I’ll keep you in my prayers.


  7. By admin on Oct 3, 2008 | Reply


    Your kitty is lucky you’re so observant. I’m sorry to hear about her leg, but I’m glad she’s doing so well now. I hadn’t heard of agaricus blazei extract before. I’ll have to check it out.

    Thanks for sharing this info. It may help other cat owners, too!

    Best wishes,


  8. By Carol Henry on Nov 1, 2008 | Reply

    My 7 year old cat has separation anxiety and tries to bite me everytime I leave the apt. Do you have any suggestions about how I should handle this. Thanks, Carol

  9. By Stephanie on Jan 4, 2011 | Reply

    My white cat got skin cancer on the tips of her ears and had to have them amputated. This is very serious. That was 35 years ago. I know better now, my cats stay indoors and are VERY healthy!

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