Urinary Bladder Cancer in Cats

Urinary Bladder Cancer in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Most common symptoms

Anemia / Bleeding / Blood In Urine / Increased Urination / Vomiting / Weight Loss

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Rated as serious conditon

25 Veterinary Answers

Most common symptoms

Anemia / Bleeding / Blood In Urine / Increased Urination / Vomiting / Weight Loss

Urinary Bladder Cancer in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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What is Urinary Bladder Cancer?

Urinary bladder cancer in cats is characterized by an abnormal growth of cells within the urinary bladder. The most common type urinary bladder cancer seen in cats is rooted from a tumor called transitional cell carcinoma (TCC). This type of cancer-causing tumor forms from the cells lining the thick wall of the bladder and can quickly spread to the lymph nodes, kidneys, lungs, and bones as well as adjacent urinary tract organs (vagina, prostate, urethra, ureters). Urinary bladder cancer is a rare disease in cats, as a near 1 percent accounts for all TCC feline cases, but this type of cancer is fast acting and deadly. 

Like most forms of cancer, urinary bladder cancer in cats is an abnormal growth of cells that has occurred for idiopathic (unknown) reasons. Urinary bladder cancer is most commonly seen in female cats around the age of seven, but is also seen in males. Urinary bladder cancer in cats mimics the same symptoms as a bladder infections, which makes it critical for pet owners to have their feline examined by a veterinary medical professional. 

Urinary Bladder Cancer Average Cost

From 463 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $8,000

Average Cost

$6,000

Symptoms of Urinary Bladder Cancer in Cats

The first signs of urinary bladder cancer mimic those of a bladder infection and most pet owners interpret straining to urinate, frequent urination, and urinary incontinence as a simple bacterial infection. Urinary bladder cancer, however, easily spreads to other areas of the body and may soon show the following symptoms:

  • Bloody urine
  • Urethral obstruction causing an inability to urinate
  • Pain upon palpation of the back or pelvic regions
  • Weakness
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Polydipsia
  • Polyuria with only a small amount of urine passed
  • Vocalization upon urination 
  • Coughing 
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Anorexia
  • Weight loss

If the feline has an obstructed urethra, the cat will have a full bladder without the ability to urinate, which becomes an emergency situation instantly. If your cat is continuously going to the litter box to urinate and no urine has been passed, seek emergency veterinary help immediately. 

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Causes of Urinary Bladder Cancer in Cats

Urinary bladder cancer in cats, as well as in all other mammals, occurs for idiopathic reasons. Cancer itself is the result of mutated cells upsetting the body’s routine regulation of cell replacement, but the particular reason why this happens is not straightforward. Veterinary specialists have reported that obese felines have a higher chance in developing the disease, but excessive weight is not directly linked to this condition. 

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Diagnosis of Urinary Bladder Cancer in Cats

Diagnosing urinary bladder cancer in cats begins with a physical examination, blood tests and urinalysis to rule out the possibility of a urinary bladder infection. However, a urinalysis can also detect the signs of urinary cancer too, as traces of cancer cells can occasionally be found in the urine. A feline’s blood work often has a normal result even if he or she does have urinary cancer, but a blood analysis is helpful to evaluate other organs the cancer may be affecting. Your veterinarian may choose to perform a VBTA test, or veterinary bladder tumor antigen test, a type of urine screening test to detect a bladder tumor. The VBTA test will either show a positive or negative result. If the result is positive, your veterinarian may proceed to perform the following diagnostic exams: 

Ultrasound

An ultrasound of the abdomen can help the veterinarian determine the size, location and activity of the tumor inside the bladder.

X-ray

An x-ray may be used to detect where the cancer has spread throughout the body, but may prove ineffective for locating the bladder tumor itself without a highlighting element (cystogram).

Cystogram

A cystogram is a test that introduces a special dye that will highlight the insides of the cat and highlight the tumor on x-ray. 

Biopsy

Once the tumor is located, a biopsy can be taken from the mass to evaluate if it is malignant or benign.  

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Treatment of Urinary Bladder Cancer in Cats

Treating urinary bladder cancer in cats can be attempted through surgical removal of the tumor, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy. 

Surgical Treatment

Surgically removing the bladder tumor is only possible when the mass is located in a non-invasive area. If the tumor is found within the urethra or ureters, as in most cases, surgical removal would not be advised for these are vital structures. In that case, the veterinarian may perform a debulking surgery which would simply reduce the tumor in size. Debulking is only a temporary treatment to alleviate symptoms, as the mass will continue to grow back. 

Chemotherapy Treatment

The perfect chemotherapy drug mixture is still to be decided for effectively treating urinary bladder cancer, as less than 20 percent of felines respond to the current protocol. 

Radiation Therapy Treatment

Radiation therapy has proven to be more effective than chemotherapy in treating urinary bladder cancer in cats, but radiation rays often damage urinary structures.  

Treatments for urinary bladder cancer in cats are performed to give a feline a better quality of life, but there is no cure for this disease. 

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Recovery of Urinary Bladder Cancer in Cats

Whether you choose to seek treatment for your cat’s urinary bladder cancer or not, the overall prognosis for an affected cat is poor. Cats that have received treatment are estimated to live between six months to a year, whereas untreated cats often pass at four to six months. 

Your veterinarian may prescribe an anti-inflammatory drug, such as pirioxicam, to relieve bladder pain and provide a better quality of life for your cat. Ask your veterinarian about the best recovery and management options for your cat, as each urinary bladder cancer case is different. 

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Urinary Bladder Cancer Average Cost

From 463 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $8,000

Average Cost

$6,000

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Urinary Bladder Cancer Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Ask a Vet

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Henry

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tabby

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11 Years

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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

Drinking Very Little No Bowel Movem

Henry is 11 years old. He was diagnosed with a UTI a month ago..We took him in because he was spraying..which he never had before..and there was blood. On Wednesday of this week he starting spraying again and there was blood again. It was noticed that he was having pain while in the box. On Thursday our vet diagnosed Henry with a cancerous tumor in his bladder and advised there was nothing more that could be done due to where the tumor is and the age of Henry. We were told to make him comfortable and watch for signs of bad quality of life..not eating lethargy and especially no urination. Today is Saturday and he only urinated twice, both times very bloody. He has been eating but drinking very little and he hasn't had a bowel movement in days. I don't know what to do..it is sad to see him so inactive but yet he is still cleaning himself. His urine smells very bad..Do I put him down before the pain gets worse?

Sept. 16, 2018

Henry's Owner

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Kitty

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tabby

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15 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Blood In Urine

Hello, my cat began having blood in her urine in January. At that time they removed a tumor and it was diagnosed as TCC. They felt that they got it all but explained that this type of cancer would likely come back within weeks or months. It has been eight months and she now is has blood in her urine again and ultrasound showed a small mass which may or may not be a tumor. They said it could be a blood clot. They gave her an anabiotic injection in case of uti, which was three days ago but she is now going more frequently and there is what appears to be a large drop of bright red blood on top of each clump. Before they removed the tumor in January she was beginning to get very ill and needed a blood transfusion. I hate to see her go through any of this again not to mention it was quite expensive at about $5000. I would very much appreciate an honest opinion as to what her prognosis would be if this is a cancerous tumor again. Thank you.

Sept. 11, 2018

Kitty's Owner

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Nibbles

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short hair

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11 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

Blood In Urine

Nibbles is 11 years old,since December she has been on several antibiotics for blood in her urine. The blood seems to go away for a few days after she finishes her meds. She has lost about 2 or 3 pounds since the blood started. She's still active, but strains and sits in the cat box along time. We had a ultrasound done(she peed just as they took her to do it) they said they didn't see any stones or crystals, but their was a thicker side of her bladder. I've had her since she was born and she's never peed outside the litter box but has recently started to. What do you think?

Aug. 22, 2018

Nibbles' Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

It is possible that Nibbles has a sterile cystitis, idiopathic inflammatory cystitis, or cancer in the bladder lining. If she has not had a thorough urinalysis run, those can tell a lot of information, and there are medications that can be used in many of these conditions.

Aug. 22, 2018

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BJ

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dsh

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15 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Blood In Urine

My 15.5 yo DSH cat BJ just had bladder surgery to remove a mass later identified to be transitional cell carcinoma. It was not in the trigone area. Although the mass was successfully removed, the pathologist's report stated the following: "This mass is a transitional cell carcinoma that is predominantly exophytic at this point and also spreading along and replacing the normal urothelium adjacent to the mass. Local recurrence is likely. There will likely be metastatic potential as well with common sites of metastasis including lymph nodes, liver and bone. Mitotic activity is low (two mitoses per 10 HPF). The cells are spreading along the urinary bladder mucosa and extend to the surgical margins. There is not yet evidence of significant invasion into the submucosa and no evidence of invasion of muscularis." His diagnosis was urinary bladder transitional cell carcinoma, low to intermediate grade, incompletely excised. I have two questions, the first regarding the definition of metastasis. Does the TCC cell spreading in the bladder equal metastasis? You wrote to another commenter: "If the transitional cell carcinoma was removed with good margins and no metastasis, then prognosis is excellent; time and histopathy will tell." Since in BJ's case the TCC cells are spreading in the bladder and extended to the surgical margins, would this be considered metastasis? I am wondering if "good margins" means no cancer cells evident and if because of their presence, BJ's prognosis is consequently poor. We are trying to decide whether to give BJ piroxicam or piroxicam along with chemo beginning in another week. BJ had slight visible blood in his urine occasionally for a few days following surgery, which I was told was to be expected. He has finally been allowed out of confinement and has had several normal urinations and defecations in his litter box. Just this morning, however, along with defecating, he had blood in his urine again. Is this still acceptable one week post surgery or should I be worried? He is acting normally, but then again, the only sign before diagnosis was very occasional blood in urine. He didn't exhibit any of the other signs commonly associated with TCC, and his mass was found incidentally. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Aug. 16, 2018

BJ's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

I'm sorry that that is happening to BJ. From your description, the cancer may not have metastasized, as that means it has spread to a different location, but with this particular cancer, it seems to be moving and travelling, and the chance that it will recur at the same spot is high. If Piroxicam and chemotherapy will increase his chance of long term survival, that would probably be his best option, but your oncologist will be able to advise more on that. The blood in his urine might be a little worrisome if it was gone after surgery and started happening again, and a urinalysis would be a good idea to see if things are moving more quickly than expected. I hope that he is okay.

Aug. 16, 2018

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Mister Dave

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short-haired tabby

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17 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Painful Urination
Straining To Urinate
Sore Bladder
Polyp In Bladder Via Ultrasound

At midnight, Mr. Dave was straining to urinate and vocalizing which hasn't happened in 10 years. I took him to overnight ER and they gave us a pill of gabapentin 25mg, and we went home. We were at the opening of our regular vet's office and the opinion was that he had crystals, but his labwork and urine didn't agree. The vet did an untrasound and found a polyp in his bladder near the head, which was causing the blockage. Since my cat survived thyroid cancer, my vet wants to try the antibiotics and gabapentin and renal diet (that my cat has refused repeatedly to eat). His appetite and water intake are fine. Only once have I had to assist him express. Thank you google! I believe it's cancer due to previous symptoms of coughing, repeat rhinitis. When the gabapentin doesn't have him conked out, he seems like his normal relaxed mellow self. The vet did not get a conclusive diagnosis when he inserted a needle in the bladder to try to get cells..maybe he didn't hit the tumor, I didn't see that part. I don't want his life extended if this is cancer and he's going to be zoned out on painkillers while he slowly dies. He's a high risk for surgery and the polyp is in a poor location at the head of the bladder. Am I doing the right things for my little friend?

Aug. 3, 2018

Mister Dave's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

It is unfortunate that tumours and benign growths in the bladder occur at the neck which makes emptying of the bladder difficult and makes surgical removal more tricky; I cannot say specifically whether it is a benign polyp or something more serious. You may always send the ultrasound images to a board certified Radiologist (PetRays) for a second opinion. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM http://petrays.com/specialists/radiology/

Aug. 4, 2018

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Deeder

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Cat

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17 Years

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Urinating Outside Litterbox

My cat Deeder is 17 years old, actually almost 18. I thought he had a bladder infection and my vet treated him with antibiotics. It didn’t go away so I took him back and finally did an ultrasound. It showed a very large mass. At first we thought it might be a blood clot and hoped it would resolve but after 10 days another ultrasound showed it had grown. I made the decision to do surgery. Very hard decision considering his age and the risk but the other alternative was worse. He is a very young 17 year old. Lots of energy left and still jumps. I was a nervous wreck and on Veterans Day my vet went in. Prayers for Deeder were being said by many friends and family members. My vet said we could lose him today. He removed the mass and part of his bladder. Then had to reconstruct the bladder as well. He made it through the surgery and spent one night at the vets office on a catheter. My vet said he had a 50/50 chance of this being a success. I saw the tumor. Size of a golf ball. It was transitional cell carcinoma. His kidney values went up also after surgery which was a concern. However he started eating real well the next day and urinating. He came home and sailed through his recovery. I kept him caged while recovering which he didn’t like but it gave him time to sleep and recover. I am laying in bed now and he is by my head on my pillow. It has been 5 weeks now. Best decision I ever made and and I am very grateful to God for hearing our prayers. Deeder is also a diabetic. He was in remission for a year before the tumor was discovered and now has to take insulin. I can cope with that because I have another diabetic as well and I am used to caring for diabetic cats. He does well on his insulin and I am anticipating that he will go back into remission again. I am not going to do chemo or peroxican as I am afraid they will hurt his kidneys. I am giving him herbal medication. Stasis breaker to stop cell growth and shred tumors. Wei qui booster to build up immune system and stop cell growth. Both medications have been know to help dogs, cats, horses, and people also. There are a lot of stories that I’ve read where these ancient Chinese herbs have done wonders. After the holidays I will be taking Deeder back for another ultrasound. Please include him in your prayers for good results, and a cancer free bladder and body. This is our story. He is my baby and I didn’t want to say goodbye. I moved forward in faith and gave him a chance.

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Baby

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Persian

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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

Lethargy
Incontinence
Bloody Urine

I adopted a 6-year-old Persian/mix from the local SPCA four days ago. The second night I woke up at 3.30 a.m. with the covers wet on top of me, where the cat had been lying. Turned on the lights to find red blood everywhere. The cat was bleeding. Later, the vet told me it was her urine that was pure blood. A sonogram revealed a mass in her bladder, and the vet took a blood sample and a urine sample and gave antibiotics. There were no crystals in her urine and no bacteria. The blood results aren't available yet. The first day of antibiotics, she did well. No blood, and she began using her litter box as usual. Today, I'm noticing dark red spots behind her, and she's slept all day and not visited her litter box even once. Could this be bladder cancer? This is my first pet, and I am heartbroken. P.S. The SPCA told me she was only spayed 12 days ago, and they did not see any mass in her bladder then.

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Viggo

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domestic shorhair

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16 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

Bloody Urine

Although the diagnosis isn't 100%, 2 ultrasounds show what appears to be a tumor in my kitty's bladder. We have been using Clavamox on him for quite a while now off and on. Every time we stop, he starts peeing blood again about 2 days later. Blood tests don't show infection, so how and why is Clavamox stopping the bleeding of a tumor, if that's what it's doing, and why can't we just keep him on it?--my vet is hesitant about this as it's been more than 30 days.

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Joey

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Domestic cat

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15 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Blood In Urine

My cat has been peeing blood, and he had two ultrasound, but they couldn’t tell if he had a tumor, so they did to do a biopsy.... I am sooo upset and scared right now!!

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Charlie

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Tuxedo

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2 Years

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Blood In Urine

My Charlie began showing blood in his urine at 1.5 years old. He has been treated for the last nine months with various antibiotics and various steriods. Finally, last week he was given an ultrasound , and a mass was found. The tumor was removed and proved to be Transitional Cell Carcinoma. He is so young, and we love him so much. Is there hope that the cancer won’t return? I keep reading that the life expectancy is less than a year.

Urinary Bladder Cancer Average Cost

From 463 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $8,000

Average Cost

$6,000

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