Today is the 2nd anniversary of Blackie's death to mammary cancer, so I thought the best tribute was to re-post the article I wrote when I got the diagnosis, I did this in the hope that it would save at least one cat having to go through this terrible disease, and if it does, I shall be happy. So, in her memory (and also for any newbies who havent seen this before), here it is:
In loving memory of Blackie, who sadly died of this terrible disease.
Most of us understand the importance of spaying for population control; also that it reduces the risk of diseases such as FIV (feline equivalent to HIV, not transmittable to other species though), FeLV (Feline Leukaemia), Pyometra (which is a womb infection, and can be fatal if not picked up on quickly enough) and injuries associated with mating behaviour.
Less well known is the fact that spaying significantly reduces the occurrence of mammary (breast) cancer – this and Pyometra are very good reasons for even ‘indoor only’ cats to be spayed.
Mammary cancer is common in older, un-spayed females and thought to be linked to high hormone levels associated with regular ‘seasons’. The incidence is higher still in cats not spayed but prevented from becoming pregnant or who have only had a couple of litters. If caught early, tumours can be removed (but do tend to recur), but unfortunately by the time most cats show symptoms, the disease is already advanced, and due to the aggressiveness of this cancer, the prognosis is poor. Early detection is therefore vital.
Significantly, cats spayed before their first season are 200 times less likely to develop mammary cancer. This benefit reduces with each season until the age of 2 ½ by which time the benefit ceases – although this shouldn’t deter people from spaying cats, as the risk of pyometra is increased with each unbred season.
So please, please spay your female cats when they’re 5 months old (this should hopefully then be before their first season, although cats can come into season as young as 3-4 months), but also do regular breast examinations, it’s so simple: just run your hands over the chest and tummy. If you find any lumps, bumps or anything different at all (one of Blackie’s symptoms was crying in pain when one part of her belly was touched, even though the lumps were on the other side), take your cat to the vet asap, you really could save her life.
RIP little one, hope you have found your dad and are happy with him.