Cat Lipoma & Skin Tumors

Key takeaway

Cats can develop a variety of growths, including lipomas. This is a benign growth that can develop on any part of your cat’s body; the majority are not dangerous and painless. However, proper diagnosis from a veterinarian can help ensure your cat is healthy. 

Cats can get a variety of growths on their skin. They can get warts, skin tags, abscesses, even acne. But cats can get another kind of growth on their skin that’s called a lipoma.

A lipoma is a benign growth that can appear anywhere on a cat’s body. A majority of lipomas are noncancerous and painless for your kitty, and getting them treated is only necessary if they pose some sort of discomfort for your cat. Even though most lipomas are harmless, it’s a good idea to get all skin lumps on cats checked so you can make sure it’s not something more serious, like a tumor. It can be easy to mistake a cat skin tumor for a cat lipoma, so you’re always better off being safe and  bringing them to the vet to get checked.

To help you get a better idea of what cat lipomas are, we’ve compiled important information about them and other skin tumors. In this blog post, we’ll be talking about what a cat lipoma is, what can cause it, how you can treat it, and more. Continue reading to learn more, or use one of the links below to skip to a section of your choice.

What is a Cat Lipoma?

A cat lipoma is a benign mass made up of fat cells that can appear anywhere on the skin of a cat. Lipomas are not very common in cats, but if they do happen, they happen mostly to middle-aged and older cats. Older, neutered, Siamese cats are most at risk for developing lipomas.

Although lipomas are typically benign and not dangerous, they should not be ignored, especially if they grow or change shape over time. Lipomas can easily be confused with liposarcomas, which are cancerous cat tumors. We’ll discuss the differences between the two below.

What’s the Difference Between Lipoma & Liposarcomas?

Lipomas are benign tumors that are made up of fatty tissue. They’re usually soft and thin and will easily move when they’re touched. Lipomas usually form with a fat tissue next to them, but they are mostly well-defined. A cat can also have multiple lipomas located throughout their body.

Liposarcoma, on the other hand, is a malignant cat tumor. Liposarcomas are more rare in cats and can be lumpy, soft, or firm. Liposarcomas can invade tissue and spread to other parts of your cat’s body, which poses a dangerous threat to your cat’s health. If your cat has any strange or changing lumps on their skin, you should bring them to the vet to get them examined. If the lump turns out to be a liposarcoma, your vet will most likely recommend getting it removed. It’s common for this type of cat tumor to come back, so radiation may also be required.

Identifying the differences between these two types of skin lumps on cats can be difficult, as they can look pretty similar. If you’re nervous about a lump on your cat’s skin, it’s never a bad idea to bring them to the vet so you can get it examined further.

Cat Lipoma Causes

The exact cause of cat lipoma is not known, and it’s typically just a natural part of aging. However, some studies believe that obese and overweight cats are more likely to develop lipomas.

Diagnosing Cat Lipoma, Lumps & Skin Tumors

If you notice any sort of lump on your cat’s skin, you should bring them to the vet so you can get a proper diagnosis. While it may just be a benign, harmless skin growth, it can also be something dangerous. So, you’re always better off playing it safe and bringing your kitty to the vet to get checked.

When you bring your cat in to get a lipoma examined, they will likely start by collecting a sample of the lump with a fine needle aspirate. This involves putting a needle into the lump and extracting cells, which will then be further examined under a microscope. The cells will be put onto a microscope slide, stained, and then prepared for examination. This will help determine if the lump is cancerous or not. 

If the sample taken from fine needle aspirate is not large enough, then your vet may need to do a biopsy. This will help give a more definitive answer if the lump is malignant or benign. A biopsy is a more invasive surgery, so your cat will most likely be put under anesthesia.

What Does a Lipoma Look Like on a Cat? 

Lipomas can look different for every cat, but for the most part, it will be round or oval in shape. They form under the skin, look well-defined, and are typically soft and slow growing. Lipomas are most commonly found on a cat’s chest or abdomen.

How Do You Treat Lipoma in Cats?

Since lipomas are usually benign and harmless, treatment is not required. Your cat probably won’t even notice they have a lipoma, which in this case, you can just let them be. But if a lipoma is large or if it’s in a location that limits your cat’s mobility, then getting it removed is a good idea. If your cat is already undergoing anesthesia for another procedure, your vet may also recommend removing any lipomas at the same time.

If you and your vet decide to remove a lipoma from your cat’s skin, your vet will first need to run a series of tests to make sure your cat is healthy. Your cat will need to be put under anesthesia for surgery, so your vet needs to make sure they can handle that. 

Some of the tests that your vet may run include: chemistry tests to assess their organ function; antibody tests to see if they’ve been exposed to ticks or other infectious diseases; a blood test to rule out any blood conditions; and urine tests to determine if any other diseases are present. If your cat’s results come back normal for all of these tests, then they should be good to go to proceed with surgery.

When a lipoma is surgically removed, this usually prevents it from regrowing in that particular spot. But some lipomas can invade the muscles and other tissues, which makes them more likely to come back, even if they’ve been surgically removed. In this case, your vet may recommend radiation to prevent the lipoma from regrowing.

Most cats should make a speedy recovery after a lipoma removal. Keep note of any changes in their skin or additional symptoms they exhibit.

If you and your vet decide against removing a lipoma, that doesn’t mean you should completely forget about it. It’s still important to monitor the lump on your cat’s skin to see if it changes or grows in size. If any changes occur, you should contact your vet and get it checked again.

Final Notes

Seeing a lump on your cat’s skin is undoubtedly going to be scary– even if it’s just a harmless lipoma. Just keep note of the lump and bring it up to your vet the next time you see them. And if the lump changes in size or appearance, make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible, as this could indicate something more serious, like a cancerous tumor.

And if you need help landing an appointment with your vet, you can use Dutch.com. Dutch.com is an online, telehealth service that allows pet owners to connect to licensed veterinarians. Dutch-affiliated vets are trained to help with various pet health situations, such as diagnosing worms in cats, prescribing treatment for cat bronchitis symptoms, or figuring out why your cat is pacing. No matter what it is, Dutch-affiliated vets are here to help your cat get the care they need to get better.

To get started, all you have to do is sign up online, complete a questionnaire explaining your cat’s situation, and you’ll be connected with a Dutch-affiliated vet within 24 hours. This vet will help get to the bottom of your cat’s condition and prescribe you any medication. If medication is prescribed, it will then be sent directly to you within 7 days. So whether you’re dealing with where to pet a cat or how to help a cat with a swollen belly from worms, Dutch will always be there to get you the care you need.