Cats that have intestinal lymphoma, a malignant tumour that develops from lymphocytes, can have both small and large intestine involvement. Because of how frequently its clinical presentation mimics that of other digestive illnesses, it is crucial to perform a comprehensive differential diagnosis to distinguish it from other pathologies that share a similar clinical presentation. It is crucial to distinguish intestinal lymphoma from other illnesses with comparable symptoms in order to give the cat the precise treatment and intervention they need.

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Intestinal lymphoma in cats is defined in the following AnimalWised article, along with its causes, signs, and available treatments.

What exactly is a feline intestinal lymphoma?

A kind of cancer called lymphoma develops from lymphocytes, vital immune cells found all over the body. Intestinal lymphoma is the form of lymphoma that affects the intestine.


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The most frequent tumor in feline cases is lymphoma, with gastric lymphoma being more common in older cats. This tumor can manifest in one of two different ways:

Focal presentation: This variation manifests as one or more masses that invade the intestinal lumen and cause localized obstruction and discomfort.

The intestinal wall thickens widely as a result of the tumor in this scenario, affecting larger areas and perhaps causing more serious consequences.

Furthermore, two forms of lymphomas are distinguished based on the degree of tumor cell maturity:

These lymphomas, also known as small or mature cell lymphomas, are frequently low-grade and are distinguished by a slower rate of cell division.

Large or immature cell lymphoma: in contrast, these lymphomas are frequently high-grade because the cells quickly proliferate and behave more aggressively.

This other article, which goes into more detail on what to expect when caring for cats with cancer, might be of interest to you.

Cat Intestinal Lymphoma: What Is a Cat Intestinal Lymphoma?

causes of feline intestinal lymphoma

Based on the reasons that cause it, intestinal lymphoma in cats is divided into two types:

Intestinal lymphoma that develops spontaneously has no recognized cause. It is known that a genetic material mutation occurs, which causes the lymphoma to manifest.

intestinal lymphoma with a viral etiology: infections brought on by the feline leukemia virus (FeLV) are primarily linked to this kind of intestinal lymphoma. The development of this type of lymphoma is thought to be significantly influenced by the presence of the FeLV virus.

These lymphoma kinds seem to occur more frequently as people get older. Cats over the age of seven years are more frequently affected by spontaneous intestinal lymphoma than younger cats. On the other hand, younger cats, often those under the age of two, are more likely to contract the viral form of the illness.

Furthermore, the prevalence of the viral variant of intestinal lymphoma appears to differ according to gender. It has been noted that male cats tend to have this variation more frequently.

One explanation for this might be that male cats show more “stray” habits, which exposes them to more diseases like FeLV.

We suggest reading this supplemental article to learn more about the feline leukemia virus (FeLV).

signs of feline intestinal lymphoma

It is true that the signs of intestinal lymphoma in cats might vary depending on the tumor’s degree of maturation and how it presents (focal or diffuse). However, there are a few typical clinical symptoms that are frequently seen in cats with this illness.

In general, cats with intestinal lymphoma display a digestive profile that includes:

Vomiting: Cats may vomit frequently or continuously, which can be a clear sign of digestive pain.

Chronic or intermittent diarrhea

Appetite changes: Cats’ appetites can change, exhibiting either increased hunger (polyphagia) or decreased appetite (anorexia).

Rapid and considerable weight loss: Cats with intestinal lymphoma usually have rapid and significant weight loss, which causes a notable deterioration in their general state of health.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that these signs may point to a variety of gastrointestinal problems, making a full veterinary examination necessary for a proper diagnosis and course of treatment.


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Cats with Intestinal Lymphoma – Signs and symptoms of feline intestinal lymphoma

intestinal lymphoma in cats is identified

Similarities exist between the clinical manifestation of intestinal lymphoma in cats and other gastrointestinal conditions, such as chronic enteritis, parasitism, hyperthyroidism, and other malignancies. A comprehensive and precise differential diagnosis is therefore essential.

A thorough diagnostic process that includes the following tests can be used to establish a conclusive diagnosis of intestinal lymphoma:

Blood analysis is crucial to determining whether a cat is a good candidate for a chemotherapy regimen or other therapies, even though it may not be able to confirm the lymphoma diagnosis.

Imaging procedures such as endoscopy and ultrasonography are essential for viewing the digestive tract and identifying any anomalies or potential malignancies.

Puncturing the bone marrow is one way to examine whether or not it is producing blood.

A final diagnosis is only established by taking a sample of the afflicted tissue and studying it under a microscope, despite the fact that the earlier tests can still be very informative. This procedure helps identify intestinal lymphoma from other gastrointestinal illnesses and enables accurate tumor type identification.

It’s critical to be aware that intestinal lymphoma can coexist with other intestinal conditions, which might make a diagnosis more challenging. This underscores how important it is to use a variety of diagnostic instruments and a trained veterinarian evaluation to provide a conclusive and correct diagnosis.

Treatment for feline intestinal lymphoma

The type of lymphoma, the location of the tumor inside the intestine, and the particular segment of the intestine affected all have an impact on the treatment and prognosis of feline intestinal lymphoma.

There are primarily two methods for treating intestinal lymphoma in cats:

When cats have big, isolated lumps in their intestines, surgical intervention may be a possibility. To remove restriction and enhance the cat’s overall health, the lump may be surgically removed.

The most common form of treatment for feline intestinal lymphoma is chemotherapy. For the treatment of feline gastrointestinal lymphoma, numerous chemotherapy regimens are available. Chemotherapy seeks to contain the cancer, slow the disease’s course, and enhance the cat’s quality of life.

It is surely difficult for caregivers to decide whether to continue with therapy for intestinal lymphoma. The decision-making process is made more difficult by the fact that it is not always possible to predict how a particular animal will react to therapy. It’s important to remember, though, that the first reaction to chemotherapy is frequently a sign of the treatment’s eventual efficacy.

Typically, the condition of the cat will change within 1-2 weeks of beginning chemotherapy. This quick answer can help caregivers make wise judgments and offer insightful information on the effectiveness of the treatment. Therefore, it is advised to undertake chemotherapy if there is any doubt about moving further with the treatment.

It is essential to closely monitor the cat’s reaction to medication and regularly communicate and work with the veterinarian to develop the best possible strategy for managing intestinal lymphoma. Every cat is in a different circumstance, and individualized care can significantly improve the cat’s comfort and quality of life while undergoing therapy.

We recommend reading this supplemental article for a more thorough knowledge of cancer in cats.

This essay serves only as information. AnimalWised lacks the legal right to diagnose a condition or recommend a course of therapy for animals. We encourage you to take your pet to the vet if they experience any pain or illness.