When the world first started talking about breast cancer it was a very very good thing. Too many people suffered in silence. Back then one simply did not talk about any part of the body that was even remotely sexual, so if anything went wrong with them you were embarrassed and hid away from the world to deal with it. Today it is such a common topic that it has almost turned into a punch line.
Terms like 'pink-washing' are starting to permeate this 'save the boobies' culture and we are starting to see that a lot of what is going on in support of breast cancer is a sham. This is also a good thing, but I hope that because of all this people don't stop talking and learning and saving people with breast cancer.
But in all of this, and as a cat blogger, I want to say: Do not forget the cats.
Mammary cancer is thought to effect 1 in 4000 cats, roughly half the rate that it does in dogs, but when it happens in a cat it is often malignant. It is the third most common form of cancer among cats and it generally strikes cats between the ages of 10-12 but is not limited to that time frame. Siamese, Oriental and DSH are affected more frequently.
Mammary cancer in cats is hormone driven. Cats who are spayed before their first heat cycle have a 91% reduction in their chances of developing it and cats who are spayed before their first year have an 86% reduction. Be aware that there is still a risk. Also, having a male cat doesn't exempt you from keeping an eye out for this. While it is rare, male cats can and do develop it.
Discovering mammary cancer is as easy as patting your cats belly. Some cats love this and some cats don't, but it is necessary to put your hands on your cat on a regular basis so you can feel the lumps and bumps on your kitty and find any new ones while they are small and hopefully easier to take care of. It is a good idea to do a self kitty exam on a fairly regular basis, not only to discover any possible tumors, but also cysts, matted hair, even arthritis.
I am guessing you are probably thinking that you have no idea what you are feeling, and if so you aren't alone. It isn't important that you know what you are feeling, but that what you are feeling feels the same as it did last week and the week before. Not sure if a lump you are feeling is 'something', make note of it. Try to make a reference in your head of what size it is; is it the size of a lentil? pea sized? lima bean sized? You will want to see if it grows over time - but do yourself a favor, don't play with it every day, you'll obsess. If you can't ignore it, then it is time to get your kitty to a vet for a professional assessment if it is an issue or not.
Early detection is key. Knowing your cat is key to being able to detect these things early. So manhandle your kitty and do it in the name of keeping them healthy.
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