increased appetite in cat with advanced mammary cancer--why?

by Kirin
(Evanston IL)

Hello again, Doctor,

You kindly wrote an answer to my question about my cat Sophie's mammary cancer, when I wrote to ask about whether aspirating her tumor would reduce its size.

She seems to be dealing with ordinary, familiar life pretty well; she sleeps a lot, jumps into the sink (a recent behavior) to drink from the faucet, uses the litter box faithfully, and even plays a little. I give her plenty of affection. She has now outlived her vet's prognosis by about a half year. He thinks she must have some other disease in addition to the cancer, since a tumor of the size she has (apparently) wouldn't cause such dramatic weight loss.

I hope you can help me with another question about Sophie. Her tumor is now quite a bit larger--about the size of a walnut-- and looks painful. It hasn't ruptured, but the area around the nipple is dark pink. Sometimes Sophie appears to be avoiding lying on it, because she crouches (but it isn't the crouch that seems to indicate abdominal pain, I don't think).

How can I alleviate her pain?

Her weight has stabilized at about 7.4 lbs (she is very thin, but not emaciated). Recently she has been begging more for treats, looking for little bits of cat food left behind in her bowl, and generally behaving as if she is quite hungry. What could this be indicating?

Thanks for your help. I hope you will let me know your opinions and suggestions.

Dear Kirin,

I am delighted to hear from you and hear that Sophie has outlasted everyone's expectations.

There's not much you can do about the growing tumor unless you have it surgically removed except know that she will avoid pressure on the area if it hurts and also watch for signs of infection (red, hot, swelling, pus) for which she may need antibiotics.

We must, as veterinarians and owners, take care not to get tunnel vision when our pet has one known condition. Just because Sophie has a mammary tumor doesn't mean she can't also develop kidney disease or diabetes or hyperthyroidism or all three for that matter.

Her increased appetite could be from cancer, but it could also be that she has developed hyperthyroidism or diabetes which are both treatable. I would recommend new blood tests to see if she has any other disease that needs treatment.

Let me know if I can be of any further help.

Dr. Neely

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