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My Cat Has a Lump on Their Back Near The Spine—Is It Dangerous?

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	Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Every pet parent is familiar with the alarm of discovering a sudden change in their pet. It can be very scary to find a growth on their body, and oftentimes our brains immediately jump to cancer since that’s a fairly common reason for new lumps. However, there can be many possible reasons for a lump on your cat’s back, and many of them are benign. You still want to get your cat checked out by a veterinarian because some back troubles can have terrible consequences if you don’t deal with them quickly.

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The 5 Possible Causes Why Your Cat Has a Lump on Their Back Near the Spine

1. Cancerous or non-cancerous growth

Unfortunately, cancer is one of the most common diagnoses when your cat has a lump on their back, especially if the lump is hard. However, cancer isn’t always the end. Your cat may have a positive prognosis depending on the type of cancer and how far it had progressed before it was discovered.

Interestingly, 85% of cats with spinal lymphoma test positive for feline leukemia. The FeLV vaccine is designed to protect your cat against feline leukemia, and it’s recommended by most veterinarians. Even so, the FeLV vaccine isn’t 100% effective.

Cats can also get lipomas, which are fatty growths that can occur near the spine of elsewhere on the body. These don’t require treatment and are unconcerning.

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2. Spondylosis Deformans

Some cats may develop bony growths. Spondylosis Deformans is benign and won’t cause permanent harm to your cat, but it might cause back pain.

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3. Infection (Abscess)

A lump may form on an injury that hasn’t been treated properly. Your vet may prescribe antibiotics depending on the type of infection. Any injury should be treated as soon as possible to prevent infection, especially near the spinal cord since it’s closely connected to the brain.

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4. Injury

Your cat could have a lump on their back due to an injury, such as falling or being hit by a car. If you have an older cat, you might need to evaluate their living space to eliminate the possibility of them jumping to dangerous heights and injuring themselves, such as an inviting bookshelf leading to the precarious peak of a cabinet.

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5. Congenital Disorders

Although somewhat rare, there are a range of genetic disorders that your cat may have been born with that could cause spinal issues. Signs of a congenital disorder generally appear by the time your cat is two years old but will require a diagnosis by a veterinarian.

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When Should You Take Your Cat to the Vet for a Lump Near Their Spine

While you don’t necessarily know if the lump is life-threatening, you should always take your cat to the vet as soon as you discover any issues or lumps near their spinal cord. The central nervous system is crucial to the health of your cat, and an early diagnosis lends to a more hopeful prognosis.

When you visit your vet, be sure to take all of your cat’s medical records and tell them about any other unusual symptoms your cat may have been experiencing, including other mobility issues. Your veterinarian will likely conduct extensive diagnostic testing such as running blood tests and scans in order to rule out cancer and other serious diseases.

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A lump on your cat’s back may be caused by anything from an injury to a life-threatening illness. You should always take your cat to the vet to be evaluated as quickly as possible. The sooner they reach a diagnosis, the sooner you can put your cat on the road to recovery, or at least make them comfortable for as long as possible. Unfortunately, cancer and FIP are common diagnoses, but there’s also a chance that your cat is having mobility issues due to intervertebral disk disease or injury. Acting quickly could save their ability to walk and enjoy a greater quality of life.

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Featured Image Credit: Christin Hume, Unsplash