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Should WE try to figure out what's killing our pets?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
My last three cats, possibly four have died from various forms of cancer. The fifth, Bullseye, is still with us for another month or two. The vet now tells me that cancer is the #1 killer of cats and his receptionist confirms that they’re seeing more and more animals for this reason. Twenty years ago you never heard of animals having cancer. We reason that they always had it, but because of the changes in the way we now care for and keep our pets, they’re living longer and that’s what happens when they live longer. When I was a kid none of our pets probably lived long enough to develop cancer and if they did, they either went off and died or we had them put to sleep because they were old and sick.

But as I’m reading more and more about cancer in animals, unfortunately because I have to in order to treat mine, it just seems like there’s got to be more to it then the fact that they’re living longer. This morning I see an article about whether flea products, diet or tobacco smoke could be a possible cause for squamous cell carcinoma and I’m wondering what if I’m actually killing my cats. Anyway, I had this thought and if it’s a place you think we ought not go, no problem.

When my pets have been diagnosed with cancer no one has ever taken a great deal of detailed information about their environment or care. They maybe ask me what they eat and one or two other questions, but that’s about it. I wondered if we created a questionnaire to document information about our pets that are officially diagnosed with various forms of cancer whether we could learn anything. I know our results wouldn’t be the product of any scientific controlled experiment, but there are thousands of us here and on other boards. Maybe information is being compiled and centralized by oncology clinics across the country, I don’t know. I do know that of my three cats, who were diagnosed with and died from cancer, no one asked me about whether they came from a smoking household, what flea product they used, what their food bowls were made of, whether they went outside, what they ate, had they been vaccinated multiple times, etc.

It’s just a thought. Putting together a questionnaire would require quite a bit of research and would probably need to be a collaborative effort. And it goes without saying that we still can’t be certain of any results we gather, although if a there were obvious trends, we might at least start to ask questions.

Anyone have any strong opinions either way? And if all this has already been discussed before and dismissed...never mind.
post #2 of 14
If you're serious about such an undertaking, I would talk with a well-respected, high-volume, possibly chain of vet clinics and vets that would be willing to publish the results in an academic journal. It would be expensive and time-consuming, but you could really be on to something here. This is what we do with humans, and we've teased out some causative agents in humans, why shouldn't we do it with our pets? I think it's a wonderful idea.
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
It's true Godiva, it would be a major undertaking that would require quite a bit of work to get off the ground. A few things that come to mind without even starting to research it would be what kind of offboard documentation (names, addresses, etc) would need to be kept to give the information collected any validity. As you mentioned, support/input from a veterinarian(s) would be important. Admins would have to be willing to update totals. The questionnaire in itself would be a job to put together. Like I said, it would have to be a collaborative effort.
post #4 of 14
Thats a fantastic idea. I'm in full support of this, because we need things like this in the veterinary medicine community. The "whys" need to be answered (just as importantly) along with the "whats" if we want to learn how to prevent this in our pets. The same reason we do it for humans, really.

Don't know how I could help, but let me know if you need it!
post #5 of 14
Just a thought, but surely, someone somewhere is looking at this, if for no other reason, than how it relates to human cancer studies. I saw on the news, (I think it was the news ) where they are trying out a vaccine for a skin cancer in dogs that appears to be working in both curing current cancers, and preventing new ones, and how it may be put to use in helping people .
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
You're absolutely right, catsallover, there are people working hard to find both the cause and treatments for animals with cancer, both for the animals themselves and as it pertains to possible advances for humans.

I don't know whether companies like Ft Dodge or Schering would actually ever raise their hand and say, "woops, big mistake, don't give your kitty that anymore", or if a new improved version just takes it's place. (just an example, not accusing them of anything) Maybe it doesn't even matter. What's done is done.

I hate it when I hear that we will never cure cancer because it's too lucrative of a business to treat it instead. As much as I would love to be able to cure my pets of this disease, I would also rather not be responsible for bringing it upon them in any way. I guess I have just grown suspect of too much now days.
post #7 of 14
There are so many variables you'd need to consider: what do they eat, where do they live, what sort of cleaning solutions you use in the house, even what your furniture is made of (don't laugh: formaldehyde in plywood could be a trigger.)
It's a worthwhile study but it would take a lot of time...perhaps there are graduate students interested in having a subject for theses?
post #8 of 14
I, too, think it is a good idea, but there is still so much more that you need to consider.

For example, are the feed companies using genetically modified grains in the animal feed? No has been able to prove that they are safe and some of them have started to cause allergy attacks in humans. Remember the flap about the Tacos and the Star corn? Do we REALLY know what the additives are that are put in the food

I live here in Tucson, Arizona. On the Southside, where I live, they have what they call a SuperFund. This is because the carcinogen, TCE was found in the water. They will tell you that <>2% won't hurt you, however, there has been NO safe limit of TCE set. We also have an abundance of sodium. How do I know that that wasn't partially responsible for my losing a 6 year old, a 7 year old and an 11 year old cat to renal failure.

If there is anything I can do, maybe help with some research or somthing, let me at it.
post #9 of 14
Hi Cinder, do you smoke in your house? I'm not sure about the other products you mentioned but I think that smoking increases the chance of lymphoma by about a third.

If you don't, that's really bad luck. I don't think it is THAT problematic in my area, although there are quite a few cases. This is in the UK. I guess there are many different causes. Another good question would for the study would be the rates of cancer in each different state/county/country.
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
No, I don't smoke and no one has ever been allowed to smoke in the house. I don't really think the high rate of cancer in my cats is bad luck. However, I did have two diabetic cats at the same time, which is pretty bad luck IMO.

Originally Posted by KittenKiya View Post
How do I know that that wasn't partially responsible for my losing a 6 year old, a 7 year old and an 11 year old cat to renal failure.
post #11 of 14
Originally Posted by Cinder View Post
No, I don't smoke and no one has ever been allowed to smoke in the house. I don't really think the high rate of cancer in my cats is bad luck. However, I did have two diabetic cats at the same time, which is pretty bad luck IMO.

I meant that it is bad luck that you and your cats have had to go through this so many times. I agree that there must be some unnatural cause behind it to be causing such a high cancer rate. What is the cancer rate amongst people in your area? That would be something else to consider in the study.
post #12 of 14
Very sorry to hear of your loss...

Vaccines, diet, toxins, etc. are a huge contributing factor in the increasing cases of cancer in felines (and canines).

Very intersting articles regarding cancer:
post #13 of 14
There are so many things that cause cancer in our modern world, more than likely your study would find that living in an industrialized nation is the cause... What with all our numerous radiation-generating household items, pollution, environmental toxins, as well as the extremely poor diet most domestic pets have today (and usually their owners think they're feeding them the best they can).

Then again, if cervical cancer is caused by a virus, who knows what other kinds of cancer are. Maybe there is a pandemic of cancer-causing feline virus right now that we just don't know it.
post #14 of 14
That's interesting! I had no idea that it was the number 1 killer, but my last cat died (about 2 yrs ago) from cancer.

I wonder if there arent current studies, if not there certainly should be.
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