Lipomas are benign fat-filled tumors that evolve slowly and are generally nothing to worry about for your feline friend. Our Vets in Lebanon vets explain what cat lipomas are and how they are diagnosed and managed.
What Is a Cat Lipoma?
Lipomas are generally known as fatty tumors in animals.
They are benign, non-cancerous, slow-growing tumors that develop from fat cells.
While lipomas can occur in all animals, they are much more common in dogs than cats. When they are diagnosed in cats, it's usually in older cats.
Symptoms of Cat Lipomas
If a cat develops lipomas, only one may be visible, but it's common for several masses to form.
The lesion is most often found on the cat's chest, abdomen, neck, back, and upper legs, but no location can be ruled out. These masses are often found in the subcutaneous tissue beneath the skin but can also develop on internal organs.
These fatty masses are often mobile and soft to the touch, but they can also be firmer and adhere more closely to surrounding tissues.
The skin surrounding the masses is normal and does not present any discomfort, and the temperature is normal.
In dogs, these masses may become so large that they exceed their blood supply, and the tissues begin to die. Although this is possible in cats, it is very rare.
Causes of Cat Lipomas
We don't fully understand why cats get lipomas and why dogs get them much more than cats.
Obese or overweight cats are more likely to develop lipomas than healthy cats.
How Cat Lipomas Are Diagnosed
If you notice a mass on your cat, the most important thing is to have it examined by your vet,
Your vet will probably recommend a test called fine needle aspiration (FNA) and cytology. Most vets perform this test in-house but it may be sent to a reference laboratory.
Your veterinarian will remove a tissue sample from the mass with a needle and examine it under a microscope to establish a formal diagnosis.
Lipomas are often easily diagnosed by their classic appearance under the microscope. A larger tissue sample, called a biopsy, is required to confirm the diagnosis. This is a slightly more invasive procedure, requiring brief surgery, but is still extremely safe.
Can a Lipoma Burst
When a lump on a cat's skin bursts, it's because it's filled with blood, pus, or decomposing tissues and is under pressure. This is not the case with lipomas.
Lipomas differs from other skin problems, like cysts that can burst, as they typically stay comfortably contained within their skin capsule and do not burst in the same manner.
Treatment for Cat Lipomas
Most lipomas require only monitoring. There's usually no reason to treat cat lipomas, as they pose no threat unless they're bothersome due to their large size or uncomfortable location.
The growth of most lipomas is quite slow, giving you time before making the hasty decision to remove a lipoma if you're hesitant surgically.
Larger lipomas that grow rapidly or invade surrounding tissue may be suitable candidates for surgical removal. Invasive lipomas make surgical removal more difficult and are likely to recur.
It is important to obtain an accurate diagnosis to ensure that the mass is indeed a lipoma, not a malignant liposarcoma, as their treatments are radically different.
Recovery and Management of Cat Lipomas
Generally, there's no need to panic if your pet has been diagnosed with a lipoma. The result is very good.
Your vet may suggest that you first monitor the lipoma and its growth, as they are not cancerous and do not usually bother your pet.
It's also important to take the time to inspect the fatty mass every couple of months and note any changes in shape, firmness, or skin lesions. Changes may indicate the need to re-evaluate the mass with a biopsy.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.