Nays, a 14-year-old female Calico cat, came to see me a few months ago because she had a skin rash that wouldn’t go away. For two years, her previous vet had tried a combination of treatments, including steroids and antibiotics. When I first saw Nays, she still had multiple areas on her body and face that looked like skin infections. They were red and oozy and had crust-like material on them.
My first thought was that maybe this was an extreme presentation of a food allergy, but after trying a strict hypoallergenic diet, Nays still did not improve. We decided that the next logical step was to surgically remove a part of the affected skin rash, under anesthesia and send it to the pathologist for a definite diagnosis. Nays rallied after the biopsy procedure and the area that we worked on healed beautifully. Unfortunately, the answer wasn’t as kind to her. It turns out that Nays has a form of skin cancer called Bowen’s Disease which is rare in cats. It actually behaves similarly to basal cell carcinoma in humans and is related to another cancer that cats can get called squamous cell carcinoma.
About Bowen’s Disease Treatments
No one knows why cats get Bowen’s Disease but there are two types of treatments. One is surgical excision, which is similar to removing a piece of the tissue for a biopsy but we remove the entire affected area instead. If this is not possible, there is a cream that is made for people with basal cell carcinoma that can be applied to shrink the cancerous skin.
Nays had her biggest affected area very close to one of her eyes and we were not able to fully remove it through surgery, so we opted for the cream. Unfortunately, this cream can have its share of side effects and every time the owner applied it, Nays would get sick and vomit and we had to discontinue using it.
The Patient’s Prognosis
Luckily, this type of cancer tends to be very slow-growing, at least in Nays’ case, and she continues to live a wonderful life with her terrific mommy. We hope that her skin cancer continues to move at a snail’s pace and that she will have many more happy years!