How worried should I be about my cat?
March 19, 2011 6:35 PM   Subscribe

How worried should I be about the lump on my cat and the inconclusive results of a needle aspirate biopsy?

I noticed a grape sized lump on my cat's upper leg/hip about a week ago. I can only feel it when he is standing up, and it is not totally solid. It is on top of his muscle or in between his muscles. He is a 4/5 year old male who is otherwise healthy but overweight (19 pounds on a large frame).

I took him to the vet on Thursday. The vet felt it for a long time and performed a fine needle aspirate biopsy. Today he called and said the test didn't grow any cells, and it could be a fatty tumor. I am supposed to bring him back in if I notice the lump grow, or bring him back in a month so the vet can feel it again and maybe take another biopsy.

I still can't help but feel very worried. I have read that fatty tumors are not common in cats, and usually only effect older cats. Is there any possibility it could be cancerous even if the test didn't show it? Should we get a surgical biopsy in a month when we take him back? I realize I should have asked the vet this on the phone but I was too nervous at the time.

I trust that the vet performed the test correctly and knows what he is talking about. We have gone to this vet for 10 years and he dealt with fatty tumors in my dog.

Does anyone have any similar experiences with lumps on their (young, otherwise healthy/showing no symptoms) cat?
posted by shoreline to Pets & Animals (8 answers total)
Has he gotten any vaccines in the last few weeks?
posted by troublewithwolves at 6:49 PM on March 19, 2011

I'm not your vet.

Please don't hesitate to call your vet back and talk to him about this. It is impossible to tell you how worried you should or should not be without seeing the cat, feeling the mass and looking at the slides. It is totally expected that when a diagnosis is up in the air that one phone conversation is not going to cover question and concern you have. In fact, it would be out of the ordinary NOT to hear back from the client. Just call first thing in the morning on Monday, and wait for your vet to call you back. Please be aware that Monday morning comes complete with a stack of long messages and patient files, so it may be Tuesday before he gets back to you.

Coming to a decision about doing a punch biopsy or taking the wait and see aproach should be a two way conversation.

I hope everything turns out for the best with your little one. Will keep you both in my thoughts.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 7:34 PM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

My kitty had needle aspiration done on a similarly sized tumor when she was about 6. I opted not to do the surgical biopsy because if it was cancer, it was likely to be a bad kind (at an injection site for a previous vaccination and very near her spine) and not very treatable. It's been two years now, and kitty still shows no other symptoms and still has the tumor. I'm going to have the test done again this year just to check again because I can't tell if it's gotten bigger or harder or not, but she has been otherwise healthy the entire time.

It sounds like you have a good relationship with your vet, so he's the one you should really talk to. I'd especially ask about treatment options if it is cancer before you do a more invasive biopsy. When I first found the tumor, I wasn't in a place where I could spend thousands of dollars for aggressive cancer treatment that may or may not have worked, so that was a factor in my decision not to do the surgical biopsy.
posted by BlooPen at 7:35 PM on March 19, 2011

Yes, talk to your vet again. My cat had a lump on her back near her spine and they didn't get any conclusive results from the needle biopsy, so I elected to have it removed surgically (warning, staples! very mild). They then examined the whole mass and it turned out to be a cyst. Within a few days she was fine.
posted by clone boulevard at 8:20 PM on March 19, 2011

I'm not a vet but:

You only need to worry about the lumps that are hard and sharp, like a rock embedded under the skin. If it feels firm but soft, he's fine. It's either a fatty tumor or a cyst. It might rupture on it's own, or become a new feature on your cat.

One of my cats has a lump about that size on his lower back. He is 14, about 17lbs, and has had it for a couple years without any change in size or texture. Lumps like this are so common in cats that I'm not alarmed. Bringing my cat to the vet over this would cause him undue stress, as would a procedure to drain it or remove it, so I've left it alone.
posted by autoclavicle at 2:09 AM on March 20, 2011

Yes, I think they've overplayed the "rarity" card on non-cancerous masses. There's lots of benign (if sometimes troublesome) lumps, cysts and the like that can occur in cats. (For instance, we had issues with cysts on organs, which were benign, but impairing.) Don't be too nervous to talk to your vet more! Also you will be very happy with yourself with second and third opinions and consultations, when needed.

Also as a former owner of a formerly enormous cat, I think you should look at new options for his food. (This is me being intrusive, sorry!) I only say this because levels of protein, carbs, etc. do have long-term health impacts, including when there are cysts present.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 7:53 AM on March 20, 2011

One of our cats got a lump like this a few weeks after having one of his annual booster shots (sorry, can't remember which one). The lump wasn't exactly at the site of his shot, but it was about the same place you say it is on your cat.

Vet said it was a reaction to the shot -- I think she said it was a precancerous cyst. Apparently it's not unusual. He had surgery in the next few days, and was fine for years until kidney failure eventually got him in old age.

I'd say you should ask the vet to cut out the lump, just for your own peace of mind.
posted by vickyverky at 10:49 AM on March 20, 2011

I am not a cat. However, I have a lump on my thyroid that a fine needle aspirated biopsy likewise found inconclusive. Biopsies like that can really only tell you if it is cancerous, it can't tell you that it's not. It's a bit like fishing: just because you didn't catch anything doesn't mean it's not there. What to do then? Get it checked periodically for changes. For me, this is is semi-annual ultrasound in order to measure size and shape.
posted by holterbarbour at 5:11 PM on March 20, 2011

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