How to Prevent Cancer in Cats
Cancer is a leading killer of pets second only to accidents. It is more known in dogs because cats often have their lives cut short for other reasons, and some cat owners fail to take a sick cat to the veterinarian. Nonetheless preventing cancer in our pet cats is very important and will help our cats to live longer, pain free, lives.
Spaying and Neutering
Spaying female cats, or neutering male cats, has huge advantages when trying to prevent cancers. There are many cancer risks that are completely removed by these surgeries. In females every heat cycle a cat goes through increases her risk for developing breast cancer later in life.
Feeding your cat a correct diet also plays a large role in reducing the cats risk of developing cancer (or other health problems for that matter). Sadly most cat owners know very little and select cat foods that are loaded with known problem causers and carcinogens. Just because a food is approved for production and meets minimal pet food guidelines, does not mean these guidelines are high, in fact most countries have rather low guidelines on what can go into pet foods.
Chemical preservatives BHT, and BHA, have been linked to health concerns such as cancer. Ethoxyquin is of greater concern, not only is it a chemical pesticide (banned from use in some countries such as Japan due it it being so unsafe), but it is of extra concern because it is often hidden on an ingredient list. Ethoxyquin is used to preserve by-products, and as such is considered part of the by-product and may not appear on the ingredient list.
Speaking of by-products, these can even include cancerous tumors (among other dreadful things) although to say that eating a cancerous tumor causes cancer is uncertain.
Cats are true carnivores, but when we look at some cat foods we see they contain a lot of carbohydrates, such as corn, rice, wheat, and so forth. A good cat food would never contain these in the top ingredient positions which should always be specific meat sources (example: Chicken Meal). When we think of cats eating and digesting things their bodies were not meant to eat we should understand that this is stressful, and as such can contribute to them developing cancer.
Chemicals in the House
Chemicals that we use in the house, and that are already present, also contribute to cancer in cats. Studies have shown that the fire retardants used in carpets and fabrics are linked to Hyperthyroidism in cats, and possibly cancer as well.
Indeed the chemicals we use on our floors, carpets, and furniture, sneaks its way into our pets as they walk or sleep, and then groom themselves. As these chemicals accumulate in our cats tiny body they can increase the risk of the animal developing cancer.
Lawn chemicals are also something we must consider, especially pesticides used to control insect populations. If our cat goes outside it is walking on and among a chemical cloud, possibly even eating some insects that have been sprayed with chemicals, and chewing on treated grass. Cats that go into, or sleep in, garages are often breathing in a slew of chemicals all the time.
Two of the authors cats in an outdoor cat enclosure.
Some flea control products have been linked to cancers. Indeed the fewer chemicals we use on, or near, our pets the better. The safest way to remove fleas is to use a flea comb and stick any fleas and flea eggs to tape for disposal. Keeping our cat out of flea infested areas. Chickens eat fleas, and as such some people use free range hens to control the flea and tick population in their yard. Flea collars are especially dangerous and should never be used.
Some family lines have a history of cancer, as such when purchasing a purebred cat it is important to buy from a reputable breeder that can show the cat comes from a cancer free family. It may be that mixed breed cats have lower rates of cancer, providing they were not inbred.
As stress has been shown to increase cancer rates in humans, and most animals, so too with cats. Helping our cats live stress free lives is important. As such we must allow them to live naturally (allow them 16 hours of sleep). If a person feels that their cat is happier if it can go outdoors, they can do so but allow it to be kept safe by building a cat enclosure, rather than allowing it to be loose.