Cats' Brain Tumors

Tabby and white cat with senior male

Unfortunately, cats can develop brain tumors, a dangerous but uncommon kind of cancer. Since these tumors are inside, it is impossible to view them without sophisticated imaging, but that doesn't mean you can't keep an eye out for the symptoms they produce. You may aid your cat by getting medical attention as soon as possible by being aware of the signs that brain tumors in cats might produce.

What Are Brain Tumors?

A tumor in your cat's brain is a growth of abnormal cells. These growths are usually classified as primary or secondary.

  • Primary brain tumors are ones where the abnormal cells originated in the brain or its membrane.
  • Secondary brain tumors are usually cancers that have spread from other parts of the body, known as metastases. It can also relate to cancer in another part of the body (such as the nasal cavity) that impacts the brain by local extension.

Symptoms of Brain Tumors in Cats

While your cat may have a variety of symptoms from various tumor kinds, they are often divided into two categories: (affecting the nervous system) and (affecting body movement).


  • Excessive pacing and circling
  • Eyesight problems
  • Seizures
  • Disturbed sleep patterns


  • Head tilt
  • Weakness and balance issues

Excessive Pacing and Circling

Most commonly you will see compulsive circling and excessive pacing, especially if the tumor is located in the forebrain.

Eyesight Problems

Issues with the cranial nerves will cause problems with eyesight and eye reflexes and may result in a cat bumping into things.


An aggressive sign frequently noticed in a cat with a brain tumor is a seizure. It is frequently one of the first symptoms of a sick cat.

Disturbed Sleep Patterns

Some conditions occur depending on the location of the tumor. If the tumor is swelling or painful it can cause sleep abnormalities in a cat.

Head Tilt

Nystagmus, or unfocused rolling of the eyes, a tilted head, and other common symptoms of vestibular issues can potentially signal vestibular illness rather than merely a brain tumor.

Weakness and Balance Issues

Pressure may be placed on numerous regions of the brain that regulate body activities when the tumor in the brain develops. As a result, if your cat develops a brain tumor, it might unintentionally trip over. In a cat with a brain tumor, weakness and ataxia (stumbling or staggering while a cat walks) are also frequently observed.

Causes of Brain Tumors

The causes of brain tumors in cats have not been well studied. However, it is believed that genetics, environmental triggers, food, certain viruses, and stress might all have a role. Numerous cats from the same litter may possibly get this frequent form of tumor, according to growing research on familial meningioma in cats. However, further research is required to establish this possibility.

Diagnosing Brain Tumors in Cats

Taking your cat to the veterinarian is the first step in determining if it has a brain tumor or not. Your veterinarian will talk with you about the symptoms you are experiencing at home, watch your cat in the examination room, and do a comprehensive physical examination to look for any abnormalities. Additional tests can be performed if a brain tumor is still thought to exist, including:

  • X-rays of the chest to look for lesions in the lungs indicating the cancer has spread
  • CT scans or MRI scans of the head to look for the actual tumor
  • Blood work to analyze organ function
  • Blood cell and platelet counts
  • Surgery or a biopsy to get a sample of the tumor for testing

Some cat owners want to have these diagnostic tests done so they can fully diagnose and treat their cat's condition. Others decide against testing and instead decide to provide palliative care to keep their cat comfortable.


Chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery may be options that are discussed to treat your cat's specific brain tumor. Even without running diagnostic tests, some of these options may still be available.

Intracranial meningiomas make up more than half of the brain cancers discovered in cats. The best course of action for a cat with this sort of tumor is frequently surgery since it may be possible to entirely remove it. Although meningioma is slow-growing and seldom recurs, it nevertheless affects your cat's nervous system and may be regarded as a benign tumor.

For many brain tumors, though, there is no cure, but some treatments may buy you some extra time with your cat by delaying growth and spread.

Palliative care is a treatment strategy that aims to control brain tumor symptoms as long as feasible. It may contain painkillers and steroids and tries to preserve or enhance your cat's quality of life.

To choose the best course of action for you and your cat, you should talk to your family, your veterinarian, and others about your options and what they entail. Not all cats respond well to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or surgery, and many therapeutic alternatives include specialized at-home care for the secure evacuation of excrement as well as a rigorous schedule of medicine delivery.

Prognosis of Cats With Brain Tumors

The kind, severity, stage, and selected therapy will all affect the cat's prognosis for a brain tumor. For instance, some cats with meningiomas may survive up to 10 years after having the tumor surgically removed, whilst other cats may only live one or two years.

Regardless of the choice of therapy, it is crucial to keep an eye on your cat's quality of life. You should keep an eye on your cat's appetite, use of the litter box, socializing, enjoyment of favorite toys, and other typical behaviors. Sadly, it might be time to talk to your veterinarian about euthanasia when these tasks can no longer be done on a regular basis.

How to Prevent Brain Tumors

There is no prevention for brain tumors in cats. Both males and females are equally at risk, and older cats may be more likely to develop brain tumors.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.