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Cancer or hairball?

Species: Cat
Breed: Domestic calico shor
Age: 11-15 years
Mama Kitty has a lower abdomen mass. She is 5 lbs. The vet suspects cancer, although blood levels are normal. She excessively grooms her son, a 20lbs black Long haired cat who sheds like crazy.

When I asked the vet about the possibility of it being a giant. Hairball she was condescendingly doubtful. ("I see.. You read about thricobezor, so now you think she has that. She is old and we should have a plan in place for her departure. Would you like the cremation option?"


Kitty is alert, playful, very hungry, but doesn't seem to absorb nutrients. She throws up foam and drops bowl movements, now and then.

She used to vomit hair balls (black long hair, Baby's, i think) about once a week but doesn't do that or groom him anymore.

I wonder if my vet is afraid of performing exploratory surgery on my 14 yr old cat.

Any input is appreciated, as I watched you perform surgery on a cat abdominal obstruction on youtube.

We also have the ability to fly for free. Could be another youtube video?

I'll email photos subject Kitty n Baby

Warm Regards,
Mama Kitty, Baby & Mindy


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Aw, I'm sorry to hear about Mama Kitty. I really don't like it when I feel an abdominal mass in any cat, and more so in an older cat.

I have had one time in my career where a cat had a hairball that I was able to feel in the abdomen. This one was very large - about 5 inches in diameter. However, it was quite obvious to me that I was feeling the stomach which is very high up just behind the rib cage. I suppose if this was the area that your vet was feeling the mass in then surgery is an option BUT, I would think that the chances of this being a hairball are very small. When cats get a hairball that is large enough to be palpated, it means that there is an underlying issue. In my case the cat had severe inflammatory bowel disease.

Now I have felt a large number of abdominal masses and I can tell you that every single time I felt one in an older cat it was very bad news. I'm so sorry to have to say that. They almost always mean either an intestinal cancer, pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer or something similar.

It's not wrong to have someone do an exploratory surgery. But, I think that the chances of finding something that is fixable are very small.

Thank you for the offer to come and see me. :) I am on maternity leave now and not currently working. But even still, if you do want to have surgery done it is really something that a local vet should be able to do.

I wish I had better news for you.

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

Hi Dr. Marie,

Thank you! I decided to take Kitty to an internest who did a sonogram. It was taking hours because she was amazed that she couldn't "find cancer", so she kept looking and looking.
She believes the "mass" is probably bowel movement; constipation.

Her diagnosis was severe IBD -- just as you mentioned was a slight possibility. She explained that just because she couldn't find cancer doesn't mean it's not there and also that there's a sort of concurrent diseases between IBD, lymphoma and...something else.

She prescribed prednisone for inflammation and reglan for nausea. She said she could think of 10 million reasons not to try any exploratory surgery and very few in favor of anything invasive.

Kitty seems much more comfortable: eating, pooping normally and playing.

I appreciate your response, as it was on target and very helpful! Congratulations on your *little *miracle* -- I feel like Kitty and I have one too, a little more time together.

Warm Regards,
Mindy







Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Well how about that! You know, I believe I have had a similar case where I thought I could feel a mass and it ended up being stool. I think I had assumed when you first asked your question that an xray was taken. Stool will turn up really well and is quite obvious on an xray.

I hope Kitty continues to do well!

Dr. Marie.



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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.