Lymph Node Inflammation in Cats

Lymph Node Inflammation in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Most common symptoms

Diarrhea / Fever / Limping / Poor Appetite / Vomiting / Weight Loss

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Rated as moderate conditon

27 Veterinary Answers

Most common symptoms

Diarrhea / Fever / Limping / Poor Appetite / Vomiting / Weight Loss

Lymph Node Inflammation in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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What is Lymph Node Inflammation?

The production of too many immune cells at once is what causes the lymphadenopathy. Either a solitary nodule can be effected, or a group of nodules. When this occurs in younger cats, it is generally due to an infectious disease. Swollen lymph nodes are a common finding in many sick cats. Infections and other complications signalled by inflamed lymph nodes need to be treated by a veterinarian as soon as possible for the best results.

Lymph nodes are ducts within the body that are used to collect fluid and return it to the bloodstream. Inside the lymph nodes, lymphocytes (white blood cells) destroy bacteria, fungi, viruses, and cancer cells. When the body faces infection, the lymph nodes located closest to the infection will swell or enlarge. This is referred to as lymphadenopathy.

Lymph Node Inflammation Average Cost

From 473 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$850

Symptoms of Lymph Node Inflammation in Cats

As lymph nodes swell from many different types of infections all over the body, various symptoms can occur. Below are the most common symptoms associated with lymphadenopathy.

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Tender or painful lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Mouth abscess
  • High temperature
  • Limping
  • Dull hair coat
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Causes of Lymph Node Inflammation in Cats

Generally, the cause of swollen lymph nodes has to do with a nearby issue in the body. These issues can range from minor to life-threatening and should be evaluated by a veterinarian. Causes are as follows:

  • Bacterial infection
  • Fungal infection
  • Viral infection
  • Parasitic disease
  • Allergies
  • Reactive Lymphoid Hyperplasia (benign lymph node swelling)
  • Cancer of the lymph nodes or nearby organs
  • Neoplastic Infiltration (meningitis caused by cancer cells)
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Diagnosis of Lymph Node Inflammation in Cats

The first thing that a veterinarian will need from you is your cat's extensive medical history. This can give clues to underlying problems that may have developed to cause the swelling. A physical examination of the cat will be completed to try and locate the affected lymph nodes by feeling key areas of the body. Often this will include the submandibular (where the jaw meets the neck), the axillary (armpit of the front legs), the prescapular (where the front leg joins the shoulder) and the popliteal (on the rear legs opposite of the knee) areas. If there is any pain in these locations, that is an indication of swollen lymph nodes. 

The vet will rule out all possible harmless syndromes by assessing all symptoms. Blood work will be done to get an overall picture on the cat's health. A complete blood count will show how many blood cells are present and indicate if cancer is the cause. A biochemical profile will show other substances in the blood. Urinalysis can help detect bacteria that may be causing infection. A lymph node biopsy to collect samples for microscopic examination may be needed if cancer is suspected. 

X-rays and ultrasounds can be used to detect tumors or other abnormalities on the lymph nodes. When any lymphadenopathy is present, Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus should be tested for. A fecal parasitological exam may be needed if parasites are suspected. The vet may recommend more extensive testing until a cause has been identified.

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Treatment of Lymph Node Inflammation in Cats

To restore lymph nodes to their normal size, the underlying condition that is causing the inflammation needs to be treated. There are a number of different treatments depending on which ailment the cat is suffering from.

Bacterial Infection 

The corresponding antibiotic will be prescribed to eliminate a bacterial infection. Antibiotics are often prescribed for 2-4 weeks.

Fungal Infection 

Antifungal medication, shampoo, or cream will be prescribed to eradicate a fungal infection affecting the cat. 

Allergies 

In the case of allergies, tests or the process of elimination will be used to identify the allergen. Once identified, the allergen will be removed from the cat’s environment or diet.

Viral Infections 

Most viral infections can only be treated symptomatically. The cat may need to be hospitalized for supportive care while fighting a viral infection. Intravenous fluids may be administered to keep the cat hydrated. Other care may be administered to keep the cat as comfortable as possible.

Cancer 

Cancer of the lymph nodes is very serious and needs to be treated aggressively. There are three main ways to treat cancer of the lymph nodes.

  • Surgical Removal: This may be possible if the cancer has not spread out of the lymph nodes. If the cat is in good condition, a general anesthetic will be administered and surgery will be performed. Depending on the location of the lymph nodes, the surgery can vary in its overall risk. At home care will be needed upon discharge.
  • Chemotherapy: This treatment can slow the progress of lymph node cancer in cats. It should be noted that cats are not treated the same way as humans. If the chemotherapy will drastically reduce the cat's quality of life, it will not be used.
  • Radiation Therapy: This treatment is often used in combination with surgery. It can focus on the microscopic occurrences of cancer that cannot be surgically removed. 
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Recovery of Lymph Node Inflammation in Cats

Once your cat is home, take care to administer all prescriptions exactly as requested. This can help ensure all infections are properly treated. If symptoms are not going away, further treatment and tests may be necessary to find the root of the issue. A check-up appointment will be needed to gauge if lymph node swelling has gone down. 

Once an infection has cleared out of the cat’s system, the lymph nodes should return to their normal size. If the cat has undergone surgery, extra care should be given to keep the incision clean and decrease all stress inducers during the healing process. It should be noted that in cases of lymph node cancer, prognosis is not great, with the maximum survival being about two years.

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Lymph Node Inflammation Average Cost

From 473 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$850

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Lymph Node Inflammation Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Bdub

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Domestic shorthair

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling
Clingy
Anxiety

My cat’s front leg swells frequently, probably off and on for the past year. I’ve noticed that his back leg has started swelling as well 2 days ago. It has gone down since then. Today I noticed a large lump under his chin. Either than that, he has a healthy appetite. He has good energy but I’ve noticed that he does seem a little more sleepy than normal. He is bottle fed and I’ve raised him since he was 2 days old so I’m not sure if it’s a stress reaction whenever I leave the house, allergies or something more serious. He also chews at his skin and has 2 little bald spots on his back leg joints from grooming.

Aug. 16, 2018

Bdub's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It is difficult to say what is causing the swelling in this case; lymph accumulation, inflammation among other issues may lead to swollen limbs but without examining Bdub myself I cannot start to think of an possible underlying cause. You should visit your Veterinarian for an examination and possibly a blood test and go from there. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 16, 2018

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Chico

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Short hair domestic

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Not Eating Or Drink
Not Eating Or Drink Just Wants To Sleep

My cat is 6 years old. He has not been eating or drinking for about a couple of weeks. The vet has now kept him in as he had a temperature to. They found a lump and some kind of mass. One is saying it's not cancer, another say it is still a possibility. They are now awaiting the results of the biopsy and will contact me. I hate the waiting but I know it's the right thing to do.

July 26, 2018

Chico's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

The waiting is difficult, it is true. It does seem in this situation that you just need to wait and see what the results of the biopsy are, so that you know more what is going on with Chico and can make the right decisions for treatment for him. I hope that all goes well for him.

July 26, 2018

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Munchkin

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Rescue, unknown

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3 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Ticks
Lethargy
Glands

My cat has swollen glands under his jaw, both sides. Seems lethargic and has had 10+ Grass(?) ticks in the last month (its winter and he has tick spray on which helps but not enough to fully stop them) about 2 months ago he was very sneezey No other symptoms can be seen.

July 22, 2018

Munchkin's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

You should take Munchkin in to your Veterinarian if the lymph nodes are swollen and there has been a history of tick in the past few months; without examining Munchkin I cannot say whether the cause is due to a tick borne disease or another cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 22, 2018

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Ryuk

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Grey and white tabby

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2 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Neck
Sore Neck

My cat's neck is swollen and he cries when I touch it. It happened just recently. He is about 2 years and 9 months old and he has no other visible symptoms. He still eats normally.

July 19, 2018

Ryuk's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

There are many structures around the neck including glands (lymph nodes, thyroid, salivary glands etc…) as well as other possible causes for a swollen neck; without examining Ryuk I cannot determine the specific cause of the swelling or a specific treatment. You should visit your Veterinarian so that the cause may be determined. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 19, 2018

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Arimis

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American Short Hair

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5 Months

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Moderate severity

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3 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Lymph Nodes
Watery Eyes

Kitten about four months has swollen lymphnodes in his neck. He was put on anti boitics for a week. We did as the doctor said and he was getting better while on the anti biotic, but since we took him off, his voice has gone away and now his eyes are watery and bothering him. Lymph nodes are still enlarged. What can this be? He was tested for filv and fiv and it came back negative and he has had his first set of boosters.

July 18, 2018

Arimis' Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Lymph nodes typically swell in response to infections, inflammation, allergies, cancer among other causes; if there has been improvement on the antibiotic it may be worth giving another course of antibiotics to see if there is any further improvement. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 18, 2018

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Fluffy

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Domestic shorthair

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2 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lack Of Appetit
Constipation, Lymph Nodes, Lethargy

PLEASE HELP! My cat Fluffy is a year and a half old. She’s typically very vocal and active but the last week shes been sleeping a lot more, she’s lost weight, doesn’t have an appetite, doesn’t drink fluids, and doesn’t poop. She doesn’t usually eat anything abnormal besides her cat food and human food on occasion. She doesn’t sit on her stomach to avoid putting pressure on it and barely walks anymore. On Friday I took her to the vet and they did an X-ray. It showed a bit of swelling in her intestines and a good amount of poop in her colon she wasn’t releasing. She also had a slight fever. They gave her an antibiotics shot (convenia), a vitamin b-12 shot, and a fluids SQ shot to keep her hydrated. He told me to give her 1/4 teaspoon of Miralax to help her bowel movement. The next day, I saw no improvement, appetite decreasing more, and she was meowing in pain a lot so I took her back to the vet. They gave her an enema and another fluids SQ shot. The vet told me she didn’t have a fever anymore which was good. He also told me to keep an eye out for her right back leg because he saw weakness it in and was afraid it was a clot indicating heart disease. I kept an eye on her. The next day I felt like her breathing became a bit more rapid so I took her to the animal hospital. They put her on oxygen and told me the rapid breathing is most likely from the fever (which had returned and was bad it was 105.2) because cats don’t sweat like humans so breathing rapidly is the only way they know how to cool themselves down. They did a blood test and everything came back normal. They kept her on fluids and gave her pain meds throughout the night. Today her fever went down from 105.2 to 103.1. She wasn’t eating until I came and fed her and she ate a good amount (better than she has been eating all week). They did an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed lymph nodes in her abdomen. They aren’t sure what it’s from. They also found a small issue with her spleen. I’m very scared it could be something fatal, but I’m not sure what more to ask the vet. All she said was we have to keep her away from whatever is causing the lymph nodes, but how am I supposed to know what caused it in the first place? The only thing that changed in the house recently is the room with the cat litter being changed. Also, I recently saw one of my other cats develop dandruff and now Fluffy has it too. (Not sure if there’s even a correlation). The vet said it could be due to the rabis vaccine that she was recently given on the 29th of October, but then how does that cure itself and how can I know if it’s from that or not? Please help!

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Mr Juicy

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American Shorthair

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14 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Weight Loss
Swollen Lymph Nodes

I just learnt my 14yo kitty might have carcinoma. He is very cancer prone and already had fiber-sarcoma that caused him a leg and skin cancer at the back of his ear before. He has been losing weight (20% of his weight), having diarrhea and swollen lymph nodes. His biopsy came back non-conclusive but pointing toward carcinoma. But he is too weak to get another biopsy with a surgery, so the vet just gave him Leukeran 2mg & prednisolon for 2 weeks to see if it helps with his inflammation. I just wanted to know if anyone has similar experience and might be able to point us to the right direction. Should I get him an oncologist directly?

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Morty and Callie

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Cat

dog-age-icon

5 Months

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Redness
Sneezing
Nasal Discharge
Eye Discharge
Normal Appetite
Playful
Swollen Lymph Nodes In Neck

We found these kittens in the shed and brought them in. They were very close to death and we mistook Morty for actually being dead. They have had some eye and nasal discharge off and on, and we discovered that Callie is deaf. The discharge comes and goes but it never seems to bother them. They're both very playful and crazy. I realized that Callie had swollen glands a few days ago, then just today, Morty does too. This is after finishing a round of oral antibiotics. The discharge is much better but still there, slightly. As I said, this does not affect how they act. They are rambunctious and playful, eat well, and basically are typical crazy kittens, one just happens to be deaf. Why the swollen glands!?

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Tiggy

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Indian calico

dog-age-icon

14 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Runny Nose
Swollen Lymph Node
Appetite Reduction

My 14 year old cat has recently tested positive for FPLV and while her physical symptoms are less, she has swollen lymph nodes on one side along with a runny nose and watery eye. Her neutrophils count is low and she also seems lethargic. She is eating although not as much and seems uncomfortable. Her antibiotic recently changed from Clindamycin to Augmentin. Any input will be greatly appreciated.

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Ouija

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Tuxedo cat

dog-age-icon

2 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Hot Ears
Sleeping In Unusual Place
Hard Lump On Bottom Jaw

Just noticed a marble sized lump on the left side of my cats bottom jaw. Also noticed his ears are radiating heat and he has begun sleeping in the corner of the room on the floor. However, as of now, he has no other noticeable symptoms. He is eating, drinking, playing, has clear eyes, and seems to have adequate energy. What could be happening ? How do I help him? I can’t afford a vet.

Lymph Node Inflammation Average Cost

From 473 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$850

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