What is Fatty Tissue Tumor?
Fatty tissue tumors are defined as infiltrative or non-infiltrative. Non-infiltrative tumors remain only within fatty tissue. Infiltrative fatty tissue tumors can spread into connective tissue or muscle. They are usually not so well-defined as non-infiltrative tumors.
Fatty tissue tumors are called lipomas. They are usually benign, made of fat and grow slowly. They feel like soft, round masses below the skin, and can occur as single or multiple tumors.
Symptoms of Fatty Tissue Tumor in Cats
A lump on the smooth surface of the cat's skin is the most common symptom. The bump can be oval or rounded with a slight definition. The animal may not show any signs of discomfort, and the tumors are usually found on the abdominal area.
Causes of Fatty Tissue Tumor in Cats
There are multiple causes of skin masses in cats, so it is necessary to determine the underlying origin of the tumor.
Common causes of fatty tissue tumor include:
- Hormonal changes
- Sun exposure
- Chemical exposure
Diagnosis of Fatty Tissue Tumor in Cats
Even though most fatty tissue tumors are benign, a lipoma should always be biopsied. This is because other tumors, such as infiltrative lipoma, a more invasive tumor, may feel like a benign, fatty lump to the touch. A lipoma biopsy is made by inserting a thin needle into the tumor and aspirating a tiny sample of the tissue. The tissue is placed under a microscope to determine whether the sample is benign or malignant. The vet may perform a complete blood count, a chemical blood profile, an electrolyte panel and a urinalysis. The blood and urine analysis plus biopsy will predict treatment options.
Treatment of Fatty Tissue Tumor in Cats
Lipomas in fatty tissue often grow slowly. Some pet owners may opt not to do anything about the tumor if it is not large or bothersome. Sometimes the tumor will continue to grow and become troublesome because it may infiltrate other bodily structures and impede normal function. Even if fatty tissue tumors are benign, a veterinarian may suggest removal, because they are rare in cats and are not easily distinguished from infiltrative lipomas.
The pet must be given no food or water in preparation for the surgery. The surgeon will need to record what medications the animal is currently receiving. The cat will be given a sedative right before the surgery, intravenous medications, and anesthesia. The surgical site will be shaved. The surgeon will remove the fatty tissue of the tumor and some of the tissue around it to ensure the most beneficial outcome.
If a hollow place is left where the tumor originated, a drain may be placed to prevent fluid buildup in the space.
When the surgery is completed the cat will be given medications to relieve pain. These will be a combination of anti-inflammatory anesthetics and narcotics. Fluids will be administered intravenously to promote proper hydration.
If a more invasive surgery was performed for a larger tumor, the pet may be required to spend the night in the hospital to make sure pain is controlled.
It is rare for a simple lipoma to recur after surgical removal. Infiltrative lipoma is infrequently found in cats, but requires very aggressive removal. They are found within muscle groups and can return. Sometimes followup treatment with radiation will be recommended for infiltrative lipoma. Another variant of infiltrative lipoma may be cancerous and is caused by feline leukemia viral infection. These tumors are also capable of returning, so follow-up radiation treatment is necessary.
Recovery of Fatty Tissue Tumor in Cats
At home, the cat should be monitored and the surgery site checked for infection. A collar can be placed around the animal's neck to prevent interference with the surgical site. If this is not done, the cat may open the sutures and cause an infection. Licking will impede the healing process because of bacteria transferred from the mouth.
The animal should be restricted from much exercise for three or four weeks after the surgery is performed. This may mean that food, water and litter box must be placed in an easily accessible area for recovery time.
Cats may not have much appetite after surgery, and refusing food for the first day or two after surgery is normal. Stomach upset after surgery may cause vomiting, as well. Make sure that plenty of water is available. If appetite continues to be low, smelly, canned foods may perk interest. Strained meats for babies can be inviting, also. If the cat still refuses to eat, a small amount of strained food administered into the mouth with a syringe may be effective. The food may be warmed a bit in a microwave to enhance the smell, but make sure it is not too hot. Petting and stroking may also stimulate the appetite.
If the cat attempts to hide or cries in pain, consult the vet for remedy. Do not give over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen to a cat, as cats cannot metabolize the drug and may die.
Completing follow-up visits to the veterinarian is very important after a surgical procedure to monitor healing and general health.
Fatty Tissue Tumor Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
A kitten we found a year ago and has stayed small in size we have noticed a small bump in her abdomen, it can be moved around. She has not been fixed yet and does not seem to be in any pain but when you pick her up she will let out a little squeak, but jumps up on counters and into the bathroom window. She has gone into heat twice so far.
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I just wanted to ask a second opinion. My rescue kitty had a surgery done today after we discovered a semi-solid lump about the size of a ping-pong ball on her neck/upper chest area around a week ago. Not sure how long it had been there due to normal projection of chest bones and no changes to her behavior/eating. (last week) A aspiration had been done with no clear results after send off. X-ray didn't show anything either. We tried about 7 days of board antibiotics just in case with no change but an annoyed kitty. (today) Blood work was really good. When surgery was finished, it was said to be soft and spongy that kinda fell apart during removal which makes me believe it was a Infiltrative lipoma. It was much larger than the external inspection and went past collarbone. Vet said it was a difficult surgery and involved muscles/tissue also which made it impossible to get every single piece out due to look-a-likes. It didn't affect throat or jugular either thankfully. We don't know if they were able to completely remove the tumor. I have been looking all over the internet trying to give myself a chill pill since this is one of my babies (devoted cat mom). The entire specimen is being sent off for biopsy which will not come back for a few days. What I wanted to know is, if this is a Infiltrative lipoma, what are the real chances of her requiring chemo or some other painful treatment to keep it in check aside from repeat debulk. Almost every article I have found says it can reoccur 30-50% chances. I don't want to put her through anything she doesn't have to have.
In cases of infiltrative lipoma, the mass needs to be removed with wide margins to ensure that all tumour cells are removed; sometimes in certain locations like the chest wall, a wide margin isn’t always possible and some cells may remain behind. Approximately, up to 50% of cases may recur within eighteen months after surgical excision. Post operative management is quite limited and usually involves checking the area for recurrence; chemotherapy has no effect on infiltrative lipomas, radiation therapy may help limit recurrence or speed of recurrence but is considered on a case by case basis and would be recommended by your Veterinarian if suitable for Punkin. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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My 2 year old spayed rescue cat has a lump about the size of a ping pong ball on her left side. Last week it was about the size of my palm with extra bumps. Her appetite is good and she doesn't display signs of discomfort when I touch it. Should I be alarmed? I can't afford a vet right now.
The varying size of the lump is concerning for me, last week it was the size of your palm and now the size of a ping pong ball; if it is on the side of the chest it may be caused by air trapped under the skin which may indicate more serious issues. Due to the changes in size (may be air, fluid or blood), I would recommend visiting your Veterinarian regardless of the cost to get a diagnosis and an idea of future treatment and cost. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
Can Lipomas grow back?
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I'm a Vet Tech at an animal hospital with a question. This week the Dr. removed 1.6 lbs of excessive fatty tissue (a lipoma?) from inside the body cavity of a 15 lb spayed female cat. No organs were involved, we did send some tissue out for a biopsy (results pending). The fatty lumps were very small to several cm's in size and all connected. No other lumps or masses were found. Have you ever seen this and if so what would the medical name for this abnormality be? I have seen my share of masses/cancers but never something like this.
Thank you for your time,
As you will know there can be a lot of intra abdominal fat especially around the omentum and mesentery. I haven’t seen lipomas connected to each other, but have seen lipomas around the omentum, mesentery and liver. The histopathology will be able to tell you more. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
My daughter's cat is 14 and has always been healthy. She had a large fatty tumor, which tested benign, removed at the end of May. the cat recovered quite well but then started to have breathing issues. She took her back to the vet (not the surgeon) and he removed a lot of pinkish milky fluid from around the lung. The vet said it was hard to see the lung because of the fluid in the pleural cavity. After removing most of the fluid (he said he could not get it all) the cat is behaving nicely. However, the vet stated the fluid will probably come back quickly. Is this due to the removal of the tumor? Should my daughter go back to the surgeon; shouldn't this be part of surgery follow up? I have heard of chlothorax but wonder if she has fluid build up due to surgery? Thank you.
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My cat started growing a small bump on his head (between his ears) a year ago and it has increased in size very gradually, becoming rounder and more filled out but still only less than a third of an inch wide. It doesn't hurt him and he doesn't seem to notice it. But I'm wondering if the fact that it is growing (slowly) could mean it's cancerous and also wondering how much that would cost to test it and remove it?
Testing of masses can vary; a fine needle aspirate by your Veterinarian would be relatively low cost, whereas a biopsy and analysis by a Board Certified Veterinary Pathologist would be considerably more. The cost will vary depending on your location; we get questions mainly from the US, but also from around the world. Calling your Veterinarian’s Office and asking the general cost of a biopsy or lumpectomy would give you a more accurate price range. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
Hello Dr. today I just found a very small lawn about an inch away from my female cats nipple The vet said to keep an eye on it whether it gets bigger or not and he wants to do a biopsy which is gonna cost $4oo-500 that I don't have. It's just taking a small amount with a needle be OK ? I'm not working at the time and I'm very limited to money and I do want to help her but I'm just wondering if he could just take a small amount out of it
I'm sorry the words to not come out right . Is just taking a small amount with the needle be sufficient and test it ?
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