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Cat’s bone cancer can spread to spine, nerves

May 21, 2017 GMT

Q Our old cat was diagnosed with bone cancer in her right rear leg. The vet cancer specialist said that the tumor would grow into her hip since it was located near the top of the thigh bone. We can see the swelling getting bigger, but recently our cat has had trouble having a bowel movement. We can’t seem to figure out why that might be since what she is producing doesn’t seem exceptionally large or hard. We tried adding a stool softener to her diet, but it only makes her movements softer, and she is still struggling. Are we nearing the end? Could this be related to her bone cancer? She otherwise doesn’t seem to be doing too poorly. We don’t want her to suffer and know that it is only a matter of time before we will have to let her go.

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A While I cannot tell you whether things are getting to the point where you may need to think about letting your cat go, I do have a suspicion as to what is going on. Bone cancer known as osteosarcoma is highly metastatic and can spread to both proximal and distal sites in the body.

Given the location of the tumor as you describe it and what your veterinarian informed you, I would not be surprised if the tumor has spread to the spine and begun to affect the nerves that come off of the spinal cord and connect to the distal large intestine or colon, as well as the rear end of your cat. With a lack of proper nervous stimulations to various muscles, both smooth and skeletal, the cat may not be able to defecate at all. While it does not sound from your description as if she is constipated, that should be ascertained by your veterinarian and can be done by simply palpating the abdomen. If she is constipated, that will need to be addressed.

When it gets to the point that she strains so much and still cannot produce feces, you may have your difficult answer at hand. Keep her comfortable and speak to your veterinarian about proper pain medication and how to assist her at this time. Good luck!