Skeletal Cancer in Cats: Everything You Need to Know

Bone cancer, also called osteosarcoma, is an aggressive form of cancer.

It is a relatively uncommon disease, but unfortunately usually with rapid spread in the body.


Cancer is a collective term for a condition, when cell division in the body takes place in an unfavorable and incorrect way. Bone cancer can be benign and malignant, however, this form is usually malignant. Via the blood, these cells spread to other organs and form new tumors, so-called metastases.

Osteosarcoma most often occurs in middle-aged and older cats. Some breeds, such as Siamese cats, are affected more often than other breeds.

This form of cancer is most commonly seen in the front legs, but also the hind legs, skull, jaw, spine and ribs are affected. The cause of the disease is not yet known.


The symptoms are usually acute lameness, tenderness and pain in the area where the tumor is located and a swelling is often seen, which can feel hot. The cat’s general condition may be affected, it is tired and reluctant, and sleeps more than normal. Decreased appetite and possible weight loss can also be seen. It is not uncommon for the cat to have a fever, especially if there are metastases. If the skeleton is broken down due to the tumor, the bone breaks easily.


Today, there are many opportunities to make a diagnosis. Initially, blood samples and X-rays are taken, possibly supplemented with cell samples from the affected area. Different types of scanning can also be a good help in the diagnosis. X-rays are usually taken of the lungs, to draw attention to metastases.


The tumor may need to be removed if it is suitable for it. Sometimes amputation is necessary. Chemotherapy may also be necessary and a plan will be drawn up in consultation with an oncologist, who specializes in tumor diseases.


Bone cancer is a very painful condition. The process is often rapid and spreads to the lungs are common. The surgeon and oncologist may be able to suggest a treatment plan, but the prognosis is often hopeless and euthanasia is recommended.

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