Brain tumours in cats

Julia Dicconson
Content Manager
September 25, 2021

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. 

Don’t wait until the very end. It’s important to consider your pet’s end-of-life journey early, so that you, your family and your pet are all supported through the process.

When the time comes, we’re here for you. Goodbye Good Boy provides a range of end-of-life services to make the difficult process of saying goodbye a little easier. 

We offer quality of life assessments from qualified vets, specialist grief counselling, at home euthanasia from dedicated end of life veterinarians, as well as cremation services and memorial options to help remember your pet for their unique character.

We are with you at every step of the journey.

To find out more, you can call our team of passionate pet lovers on 1800 953 619.

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