Squamous Cell Carcinoma In Cats: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

If you are interested to learn about Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats as well as finding out the causes, symptoms, and Treatment of Feline Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma, you have come to the right place.

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is common skin cancer in cats and dogs too. SCC is typically described as a tumor of skin cells and it occurs from squamous cells with tumors developing anywhere that these cells are present including the nail bed, ear tips (pinnae), nose, and corner of the eyes.

To learn more about this disease, ensure you read through to the end.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma In Cats: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

The skin is set up in a way that it has several layers. The outermost layer of the skin is the epidermis which contains scale-like cells referred to as squamous epithelium.

It is the aggressive replication of abnormal cells originating from the squamous cells in the epidermis that leads to squamous cell carcinoma.

Usually, Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats appears as a single lesion in one location. However, multicentric squamous cell carcinoma occurs as many lesions in multiple locations on the body, including the mouth. Nonetheless, Multicentric Squamous cell carcinoma is rare in cats.

Furthermore, there are two predominant forms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats, they are the skin version and the oral version.

The skin form of SCC is caused by excessive amounts of sunshine, so the disease is prevalent over Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats.

The Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats is typically aggressive, as opposed to the skin form. 90% of felines suffering from Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats are dead within 12 months of been diagnosed.

The reason has been due to the delay in diagnosis because cats hide problems, and it is not easy for owners to look into their cat’s mouth.


Causes Of Feline Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

Pictures of Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats
Pictures of Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats

Knowing the cause of feline squamous cell carcinoma will help in formulating definite treatment options for Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats.

Like most cancer cases, there is no known cause for squamous cell carcinoma yet.

However, some believe that there are several contributing factors leading to the cause of the disease such as environmental factors especially exposure to ultraviolet rays or sunlight has been attributed to the development of SCC in cats.

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Also, genetic or hereditary factors like exposure to papilloma-like viruses are believed to contribute to multicentric SCC leading to Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats and other areas of the skin where squamous cells are present.

Symptoms otf Squamous Cell Carcinoma In Cats.

Feline Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Feline Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma

The essence of finding Signs of Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats is to help you quickly detect whether the disease has occurred in your cat.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats can be terrifying but prompt action by observing your cat and quickly reporting Symptoms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats to your veterinarian will help to arrest the situation at an early stage thereby prolonging your cat’s life.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats usually present signs that can be seen in sparsely-haired and lightly pigmented areas of the skin, particularly the eyelids, the nasal planum, lips, and ears, as well as other areas of the body that have greater exposure to ultraviolet rays/sunlight.

Furthermore, Signs of Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats involve multicentric SCCs to appear on pigmented areas on the skin which become ulcerated (open) and bleed.

These areas become painful and with scabby appearance sometimes. Also, they can expand across the skin.

More so, SCC typically appears on the facial area of the cat, however, other areas can be affected including the toes especially the tumor growing on the nail bed, which can cause swelling, pain, loss of the nail, and lameness. Cats are likely to lick or chew the area and cause self-trauma.

Symptoms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats that can be seen on the skin are usually single, small, and poorly delineated, with uneven, toughened borders.

Also, the nearby area may be slightly pink, and there may be hair loss as well. Growth on the skin is apt to be bleeding and ulcerated. The surface may be either concave or bulging.

Diagnosis Of Squamous Cell Carcinoma In cats.

Diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma in cats is the immediate step when the Symptoms of Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats is detected to help formulate favorable treatment including Treatment of Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats.

Since squamous cell carcinoma is a surface disease, a diagnostic approach that is required is a microscopic examination of the affected tissue.

Also, cytology can be used to diagnose the disease. It is a rapid, easy, noninvasive method that is commonly attempted as the first diagnostic technique, especially for cutaneous lesions.

However, the best method depends on the location of cancer and its gross appearance.

Biopsy through the use of Fine-needle aspiration to collect cancer cells is another diagnostic approach especially when histopathology may be required to obtain a definitive diagnosis if cytology is nondiagnostic or equivocal.

Also, surface imprints and scrapings are commonly used to collect samples from shallow or plaque-like lesions.

Treatment tof Squamous Cell Carcinoma In Cats.

Treatment of squamous cell carcinoma of all forms including Treatment of Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats is best treated when it is diagnosed early before it becomes malignant and spread to other body sites and organs.

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There are different treatment options available that can be attempted to treat the disease in cats. They include:

#1. Surgical Removal.

Surgical is most of the time the primary is the primary treatment option for most cats with SCC. It is involved in the complete removal of the tumour however it depends on factors such as the size and location of the tumour.

The removal is an effective local treatment option for cats with SCC. Surgical removal often goes with chemotherapy and or radiation therapy.

#2. Radiation Therapy.

Radiation Therapy is a local treatment modality that is generally recommended as an effective treatment typically recommended for incompletely excised tumours or employed as a primary treatment for inoperable tumours.

It is considered the best treatment option for tumours of the nasal planum, nasal cavity, and oral cavity.

#3. Chemotherapy. 

Generally, chemotherapy is not the best treatment option for squamous cell carcinoma because generally squamous cell carcinomas are not considered to be thermoresponsive.

However, chemotherapy may be recommended under varying circumstances such as inoperable tumours, anaplastic, or metastatic (spread) at the time of diagnosis.

#4. Cryotherapy.

Cryotherapy is another form of local control treatment of small, superficial tumours or incomplete excised tumours. It is affordable compared to surgical excision and it is readily available providing excellent cosmetic results.

#5. Plesiotherapy.

Plesiotherapy is a topical application of a radiation source to a targeted lesion. Plesiotherapy treatment is limited to superficial or incompletely excised tumors, predominantly those that originate at the nasal planum or ocular region.

Prevention Of Feline Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

Preventive measure to protect cats from developing this serious and aggressive cancer is sought after.

There is yet to be a defined preventive measure but there are cat three things you can do to help prevent your cat from developing the disease.

Always perform an oral exam on your pet. If you can’t do it yourself, ensure the veterinarian helps you out. This will help in early detection and treatment.

Also, take your cat for a yearly Wellness Exam. In addition, you can have your pet’s teeth cleaned, whether with anesthesia or without anesthesia with the use of non-anesthetic dental.

Importantly, it is best to limit the amount of time that your cat spends in the sun. This will help reduce the high chance of developing SCC since extreme exposure to sunlight and UV light is considered to be contributing factors for the disease to occur.

It is equally important to prevent your cat to rub, scratch, lick, chew or bite the affected area. This may cause trauma and further increase the risk of secondary infection.

Prognosis Of Cat With Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

Squamous cell carcinoma may appear not to be fatal, but it largely depends on the size and degree of the disease. The prognosis for Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats is poor due to a lack of sustainable treatment options.

Treatment with surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy can give your cat a survival period of about 2-4 months with or at most 1 year.


Folloinwg oral cancer in cats, here are the common questions being asked with respective answer given to it.

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How Long Can My Cat Live With Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

Life expectancy is estimated to be between 1and 1/2 and 3 months on average, according to studies. When the tumor is located in an area that may be surgically removed, such as the cheek or the jaw, this is the case.

Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma Painful For Cats?

Yes, it is painful especially if it is found in some areas it will make it Painful and scabby, these places are prone to abrasion and infection.

One-and-a-half inches (4 cm) in diameter, they can spread across the skin. A cat’s facial skin cancer (SCC) is most common, although it can arise everywhere – even on the toes.

Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma Deadly In Cats?

If caught early, this disease is very curable, but if left untreated, it can be fatal. The importance of a fast diagnosis cannot be overstated.

Most likely, the veterinarian will thoroughly examine the animal’s face and softly stroke its nose and ears during a regular medical examination of your cat.

What Does Squamous Cell Cancer Look Like In Cats?

Although the appearance of SCC can vary, it is most commonly described as a red, swollen region of skin or a scab when it first develops.

Some cats may traumatize lesions when they are palpated. As a rule, tumors in cats tend to develop on the face and pinna of the ears, but they can occur anywhere on the body.

Is Squamous Cell Carcinoma Common In Cats?

Cats with feline oral squamous cell carcinoma (FOSCC) account for 70 to 80 percent of all oral tumors. A squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) develops in the oral cavity from normal squamous epithelium.

What Kind Of Cats Are More Likely To Get Squamous Cell Carcinoma?

More cats with squamous cell carcinomas live at high altitudes or spend a lot of time in the sun. It is more common for light-colored or white kittens to get these tumors than other types of cats. This type of cancer is more common in cats over the age of ten.

When Is It Time To Euthanize A Cat With Oral Cancer?

When cats become too deformed to eat or breathe, they are put down. Still, there are possibilities and certain scenarios are more beneficial than others in this situation.

Tumors on the lower jaw may be removed by removing the tumor-containing portion of the jaw.

What Causes Tumors In Cats Mouths?

An oral tumor’s source is unknown, however there are a number of potential risk factors, including secondhand smoke as well as gum disease.

The occurrence of oral masses in cats who wear flea collars has been found to be increased in some circumstances.

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Squamous Cell Carcinoma in Cats is a serious disease, but if diagnosed early enough, the outcome of treatment is favourable.

Howbeit, vigilance on the part of pet owners is the key to noticing any abnormalities warranting a physical and laboratory exam by your veterinarian.


Author: David Arthur

David's lifelong passion for animals blossomed into a dream profession in 2020. He founded Petscareway Inc., a professional pet care company situated in the Texas. Several veterinarians have educated him in Pet First Aid and CPR since 2003. David decided to become a certified Pet First Aid and CPR instructor in 2011 after completing an instructor training course. David decided he had to be a part of ProPetHero when he discovered them in 2016 and saw how they were offering ER veterinarian-led training to everyone. As a result, he became a member of the ProTrainings family, the designers of ProPetHero. He volunteers and fosters for The Boxer Rescue Inc in his spare time, is a health-conscious Boxer breeder, and is a member of the Middlesex Boxer Club and Wachusett Kennel Club. David has served as a mentor to many people in the pet industry and in the small company world. When he's not working or helping, he's competing with his dogs in agility, lure coursing, and conformation trials across the country. David can be seen training with his puppies, hiking with them on trails, or playing in his backyard when he is not at a trial or trying to find a nice home for a Boxer through the rescue.

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