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Why You Should be Checking Your Cat's Belly

Updated on October 12, 2015

My Kitty Tigger Before He Got Sick

Monthly health checks are important for your pet too

Last November, we noticed our thirteen year old cat could never get enough to drink. He suddenly stopped eating and lost a lot of weight. We made an urgent appointment to take our beloved pet to the vet. He ran his hand over our kitty Tigger's belly and his face fell. We had suspected cancer could be the problem due to his rapid weight loss.

The vet took our hand and had us stroke over Tigger's belly. You could feel knots under the skin. He explained to us that stomach cancer is rare in cats but most often fatal because people do not know to do a check on their pet. If you run your hand over the fur on your cat's belly, the fur and skin should feel smooth. If you feel any knots or lumps, you need to make an urgent appointment with your veterinarian. He explained that he had just had to put one of his cats to sleep the month before for the same type of cancer.

The best thing to do for our beloved Tigger was to hold him as they gave him medicine to calm him as he died. My husband and I were heartbroken. We learned that day about the importance of doing monthly checks on our kitty's belly. If we had known to check his belly for lumps, he might have been saved. We have a new kitty now, a little black beauty named Pooky. Every month we check her belly. She thinks we are playing and tries to attack our hands, but we know the importance of the belly check now and it is now routine in our house.

Our New Kitty Pooky Gets A Monthly Belly Check

Why Did We Suspect Cancer?

Our beautiful kitty Tigger always devoured wet cat food. When he got sick, he suddenly stopped eating. We tried to stimulate his appetite by giving only canned cat food, but he rejected it. Swallowing seemed painful to him. He licked at the food then walked away. In a short period of time, he lost a drastic amount of weight. He had weighed eleven pounds. At the time of his death, he weighed only five pounds and his ribs were showing.

He also began to crave large amounts of water. If we got in the shower or tub, he would try to climb in with us and begin drinking water. We knew that this was not normal. The veterinarian confirmed that he also had an issue with his thyroid. This is what was causing the extreme thirst that we saw in the end.

Signs and symptoms of cancer in cats include: sudden weight loss, fatigue, lethargy, not eating or drinking, extreme thirst and changes in personality or energy level. Tigger was an extremely active cat till a month before his death. He never acted like he was in pain. He was very good at hiding the pain, but I can see the pain in his eyes in the photo below.

Here Is My Kitty Watching Television With Me

Not Knowing Can Hurt You...

I thought my kitty Tigger was just a big Tom cat. He gained weight after being neutered. I assumed that his large belly was from the fact that he enjoyed eating so much. In the end, the veterinarian asked if he had a large belly before he got sick . When my husband and I told him that Tigger had always been a large cat and had a full belly, the veterinarian explained to us that his belly had been rounder due to tumors. Until that point in time, I never knew that a cat could get stomach cancer.

The veterinarian explained to us that pets can get almost any condition that people can. However, stomach cancer is fairly rare in cats. It is often fatal because cats hide their pain or do not show any signs of being ill until they are critically ill. In the photo with the remote you can see that Tigger's fur on his belly looks knotted. This was an indicator of his stomach cancer. I was so happy and content the day I took this photo. I had no idea of the turmoil that I would experience during the months following this photo.

I Can See The Pain In His Eyes Here

Older Cats Are More Susceptible To Cancer

My kitty looked healthy to me so I assumed that he was healthy. Tigger was thirteen when we had him euthanized to end the pain and suffering that cancer was causing him. He still played like a kitten till a month before his death. He chased balls around and jumped at flies and ate them. My husband and I laughed and referred to him as "that silly ass cat." Tigger was our baby. We mistakenly assumed that he did not need veterinary care because he did not seem sick and was up to date on all shots and neutered. If we had been more educated on proper care, we would have known that veterinarians prefer to see cats that are over the age of seven on a regular basis so they can see if they notice any changes in your cat. Continued veterinary care is important for senior cats. If our kitty had seen the veterinarian regularly, he may have noticed some of the signs and symptoms of cancer that we missed. We noticed that he was slowing down, but we thought that he had arthritis and supplemented with fish oil. It did not seem to help our beloved pet.

Senior Care Is Important For Your Pet

Treatments Are Available For Your Pet If the Cancer Is Not Advanced

There are medicines available that may help your pet if the cancer has not become too advanced. If your pet is in the later stages of cancer, he may be prescribed pain medication or injections to help with his pain. Most likely, the veterinarian will refer you to a specialist called a veterinary oncologist. The oncologist will review options available to you, the budget that is available to you for your pet's care and come up with the best treatment plan for your pet. My husband and I skipped this step and had our kitty euthanized because we could tell he was suffering. He was starving to death and we loved him too much to let him go through that. Last November, our beautiful kitty crossed the Rainbow bridge as we stroked his fur and held him. It was one of the hardest decisions that we ever made but it was the right decision and we found peace in our hearts that we were doing what was best for him by letting him go.

The Rainbow Bridge Poem Brings Comfort To Many

This Youtube Video Explains Treatments For Cats And Dogs

Dealing With Guilt

Like many pet owners, I blamed myself when my cat became ill. If I had known what to look for, he would not have died from the cancer. This is faulty thinking. I did not kill my cat. The cancer is what killed him. Please do not fall into the guilt trap and blame yourself for your pet's death. If you decide to have your pet euthanized, most likely you did so out of love for your pet. Cancer is an awful disease and causes intense suffering. Deciding to have an animal euthanized is one of the most difficult decisions that you will ever make. You must weigh what options are available to you and make the decision that is best for your family and your pet. My husband and I could not bear to see our cat suffer so we decided on euthanization. Recently, a family member faced the same issue with her dog but she chose to bring him home so he could live his last days at home. Ultimately, what works for one family is not right for all families. You must make the decision that you are most comfortable with. You might consider your budget, whether or not you would be comfortable administering medications at home, if you have to bury your pet then are you allowed to do so within the city statutes?


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