Brain tumours in cats

A brain tumour is an abnormal growth of cells in the brain. About 75% of brain tumours in cats originate in the brain and are called primary tumours. The most common primary brain tumour in a cat is a meningioma, which is usually non-invasive and self-contained.

Secondary brain tumours, however, are caused by the spread of cancer from another location to the brain. Tumours of any kind can cause brain injury from compression, inflammation, infiltration and oedema.

What are common brain tumour signs in cats?

Early signs include:

  • Behaviour changes
  • Listlessness

Intermediate or advanced signs include:

  • Gait ataxia (walking incoordination)
  • Head tilt
  • Head pressing
  • Walking in circles
  • Vision loss
  • Seizures

How are brain tumours managed in cats? 

Management depends on the brain tumour type, location, signs and treatment cost. Palliative care focuses on keeping your cat comfortable with medications to reduce brain inflammation, minimise seizures and control pain. 

Definitive care involves surgical removal of a primary tumour and/or radiation. Chemotherapy is usually ineffective for primary brain tumours, but research on different treatment modalities is ongoing. 

Discussing a personalised management plan with your veterinarian and veterinary oncologist is important for the best outcome for your cat.

What is the prognosis for cats?

Your cat’s prognosis depends on whether the brain tumour is primary or secondary and the severity of the signs. 

For a primary brain tumour, survival may be between three to six months with strictly palliative care, or 28 to 54 months if the tumour can be surgically removed with no complications. Unfortunately, cats with secondary brain tumours usually do not survive for more than a month.

Management tips for a cat with a brain tumour 

At-home needs include:

  • Consistency with medications, which can be compounded into tasty treats
  • Easy access to food, water, litter box, and a comfortable location
  • Prescription diets and supplements that promote brain function
  • Separation from other animals to avoid altercations or injury
  • Caution with handling, avoiding sudden movements

For end-of-life care:

In a crisis:

Immediately seek help from your veterinarian if your cat suddenly collapses, has uncontrollable seizures, experiences difficulty breathing, behaves aggressively, or vocalises in pain.

It is vital to begin end-of-life care discussions before your cat’s condition becomes unmanageable, or they begin losing their quality of life. 

The team at Goodbye Good Boy offers individualised support to help you and your family navigate this difficult time by providing quality-of-life checks, in-home euthanasia, cremation and aftercare services, and personalised memorialisation options. Our services can even be pre-paid to help ease the financial burden at the time of your pet’s passing. 

To learn more about our pet end-of-life services, give us a call on 1800 953 619 or visit our website

This article was reproduced with permission from Goodbye Good Boy advisor Dr Dani McVety, of Lap Of Love.