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Finding lumps and bumps on your cat can be worrying, and as owners we often think the worst. Our helpful guide covers different kinds of lumps on cats and what you should do if you find a lump on your cat.

It’s important to remember that not every lump on your cat could be cancer. There are a lot of things that can cause cats to get lumps. They might go out exploring in the morning and come home later with a new lump on them.

If your cat has a new lump, it’s best to make an appointment with your vet to get it checked. Lumps, bumps, funny scabby bits, non-healing wounds – things that don’t belong on the skin and are refusing to go away on their own need attention. This is doubly true if they’re growing, spreading, funny colours, or weird shapes.

Common lumps on cats

Not all lumps and bumps on our cats are the same. There are a few types of lump vets commonly see, including:

  • abscesses – these are usually swollen and filled with pus, caused by a bite or scratch (usually after fighting another cat). They’re very painful so your cat might not let you touch near it
  • cat acne – this is a skin condition which usually starts with small dark specks or bumps on your cat’s chin. Cat chin acne usually goes away on its own but treatment may be required in more persistent or severe cases. Read more about cat acne and other common skin problems
  • cysts – these are raised bumps on your cat’s skin that are quite small. They’re usually caused by blocked hair follicles or bacteria
  • insect bites and stings – just like humans, if your cat is bitten or stung by and insect it can swell up and go very red
  • ticks – ticks can often be mistaken for a skin lump. Read more about ticks on our advice page
  • tumours – there are a number of tumours cats can get on their body, some of which are cancerous. Take a look below for more information on tumours
  • reactions to an injection, such as a vaccine – may swell a little but if swelling persists contact your vet

Skin tumours and cancerous lumps on cats

There are two types of tumour that could be found on your cat’s body: benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Lipomas are non-cancerous lumps. They are fatty tumours that can show up anywhere on your cat’s body. They are more common in older cats or cats who are overweight. These lumps are usually harmless unless they are in a place that is getting in your cat’s way. You can find out more information about managing your cat’s weight on our advice pages.

Cancerous lumps can also appear anywhere on your cat depending on the type of cancer they have. If any new lumps appear on your cat, you should take them to your vet to get checked.

There’s no way of knowing if a lump is cancer just by looking at it so your vet may need to run tests. This might include taking a cell sample from the lump (usually using a needle) which can be uncomfortable for your cat but is over very quickly! Sometimes your vet may need to take a larger sample or remove the lump entirely for further testing.

What to do if you find a lump on your cat

If you find a new lump on your cat, it’s best to book an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. All new lumps should be checked by your vet as they are best placed to assess what kind of lump it is and any treatment moving forward.

It’s best not to take a ‘wait and see’ approach, as some lumps will need immediate medical treatment, especially if they are infected. If your cat has a cancerous lump, delaying treatment could mean that the cancer has time to spread.

Treating lumps on cats

The treatment for your cat’s lumps will depend entirely on what they are and what has caused them. Some treatments can include:

  • antibiotics, for infected lumps (for example, abscesses)
  • draining the lump (again this is sometimes needed for an infected abscess)
  • anti-inflammatories and other forms of pain relief
  • changing your cat’s food (for example, if a food allergy is causing lumps)
  • surgery, may be recommended for either benign or malignant tumours
  • steroids and chemotherapy, for cancerous tumours
  • monitoring. Sometimes your vet may ask you to keep an eye on your cat’s lump and let them know if changes in size, texture or if it starts causing your cat any pain
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