Melanoma in Cats

Common info

Melanomas are malignant tumors often found in dogs’ and cats’ paws, skins, and mouths. This type of cancer is severe and can spread to other  body parts. The affected cat will exhibit some strange behaviors, such as frequent eye rubbings due to the pain in its eyes, facial swelling, eating less, etc.


Although the cause of melanoma in cats is unknown, the genetic modification in melanocytes does likely play an influential role.


Melanomas are caused by melanocytes development, which is known as the pigmented cells in skins and tissues that tend to grow extremely fast.  In some cases, bleeding sores may present in the affected areas. Melanoma in cats is often found in the eyes and can also develop on its toes, ears, and mouth.  The condition is most experienced in the eyes, causing color changes as well as the black and white spots develop in the cat’s iris. The affected cat will exhibit some strange behaviors, such as frequent eye rubbings due to the pain in its eyes.


  • Eating less
  • Pain in its eye
  • Foul breath 
  • Loosened teeth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Facial swelling  

The symptoms melanoma in cats includes foul breath, pain in its eye, facial swelling, excessive drooling, loosened teeth, pain in the mouth, eating less or unable to eat, swelling of the foot and groin, dark spots or lumps on skin, gum or in the eyes.

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment depends on the area the tumor found and how it spread. The veterinarian will make a diagnosis and give treatment accordingly, which includes surgical removal. In case the tumor is not that large, laser surgery may be prescribed to eliminate the cancer cells. Some other options are also available, such as radiotherapy, cancer vaccine, and electrochemotherapy.

  1. Wagwalking | Malignant melanoma
  2. Cat world | Melanoma in Cats – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
  3. A. K. Patnaik and S. Mooney. 1988. Feline Melanoma: A Comparative Study of Ocular, Oral, and Dermal Neoplasms. Vet. Pathol. 25: 105-112.
  4. Safety of administering canine melanoma DNA vaccine to cats with malignant melanoma. 2017. Advances in Small Animal Medicine and Surgery, 30(12), 6–7.
  5. Morges, M. A., & Zaks, K. 2011. Malignant Melanoma in Pleural Effusion in a 14-Year-Old Cat. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, 13(7), 532–535.
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