Research Shows 3 New Viruses Could Be Linked to Feline Cancer

Research Shows 3 New Viruses Could Be Linked to Feline Cancer

Health & Safety

If your vet has just diagnosed your cat as having cancer, one of the first things you might want to ask your vet is "why" your pet developed the disease and was there anything you could have done to prevent it happening. In truth, there are certain things you can do to reduce the risk of a cat from developing this dreaded disease but all too often a tumour or other type of malignant cancer will take hold and nobody really knows why.

A Hard Task to Know Why

One of the hardest tasks for a vet has to be explaining to pet owners that much as with humans, cancers seen in pets and why they develop still remains very much of a mystery. The good news is a lot of research is being carried out and with the advancement of technology and veterinary medicines, treating many feline cancers is a lot more effective today than it was in times past.

Why Some Cats Develop Cancer

Studies have shown that it is probably a combination of factors that result in a cat (or other pet) from developing some form of cancer with genetics, environmental factors and sadly a lot of bad luck being high on the list. There are of course instances when the reason can be explained and this includes when a cat develops a sarcoma or a cancer on an area of their body where they have been given an injection. This is typically associated with some kind of retroviral infection – but it has to be said that thankfully cases like this are relatively rare.

New Veterinary Research Leads the Way

However, recent research in the States at Colorado State University has found a connection between cancer and cancer causing viruses which they discovered in native wild and domestic cats. These results led researchers to think that undetected viruses may well be responsible for some forms of feline cancers that have been diagnosed in domestic cats in the past.

The research involved testing blood from 300 felines from three different areas of the United States using rescue cats in animal shelters as well as domestic cats. The results found that a great number of the cats carried viruses that had only recently been identified – namely "gamma herpesviruses" which cause both Kaposi's sarcoma and lymphona in people and more especially anyone with HIV-AIDS or other conditions that compromised their immune systems.

This led scientists to think these new feline viruses were linked to cats developing the dreaded disease although further research would need to be carried out to establish whether this is the case or not. However, researchers believe there is a strong possibility that it does and that gamma herpesviruses are responsible for causing certain cancers in our feline friends. The research is important and offers a lot of hope because establishing a link between a virus and how a virus might be transmitted from cat to cat as well as how a cancer establishes itself in the body, is the first step in preventing infectious diseases from taking hold in the first place.

How Viruses are Thought to be Transmitted

It is thought that these cancer causing viruses could be transmitted from feline to feline when they have fight and with male cats being predominantly the ones being infected with the virus which then in turn could be responsible for them developing some form of feline cancer. The research also showed these male cats tended to be older too. But with this said, it is still unclear how these gamma herpesviruses are transmitted from cat to cat whether in wild cats or where domestic cats are concerned with more research needing to be done.

A lot of people don't like letting their cats outside because they are "fighters" and when they do go exploring they often come back with a few battle scars and for the moment, this is the one of the ways that researchers believe a cat could be infected with a gamma herpesvirus. However, with more research being carried out, it is hoped that vets would be able to know how these nasty and cancer carrying viruses are transmitted from cat to cat but for the moment the jury is still out. If you are at all worried, it is best to err to the side of caution and keep your pet indoors especially if they often get into a fight with other cats.


The new research and results of these studies are brilliant because although the link between these viruses has not be fully established as yet, the studies have bought to light three new viruses that affect our domestic cats. The family to which these viruses belong are known to be the root cause of some forms of cancer as well as other serious conditions and diseases seen in many different species including people. The results would in turn help vets answer the frequently asked question of "why" a beloved pussy cat develops this horrid and much dreaded disease whereas other cats stay healthy throughout their lives.



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