Papillomatosis in Cats
The term papillomatosis is used to describe a benign tumor on the surface of the skin. Caused by a virus known as the papillomavirus, the growth is black, raised, and wart-like, with an open pore in the central surface if the tumor is inverted.
There are instances where the papillomatosis can progress, causing common forms of skin cancer. It is also possible for invasive cancerous cells to penetrate and begin eating the underlying tissues. In cats, the most common papillomavirus often multiplies (metastasizes), and may progress to an invasive carcinoma, or cancer, which will then affect the cell structure. They are usually located around the lips, mouth and tongue. However, the skin can be affected at any age.
Papillomatosis can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like would like to learn more about how this disease affects dogs, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.
Symptoms and Types
Symptoms related to this disorder include bad breath associated with oral papillomatosis, bleeding from the mouth, increased or decreased appetite, and excessive excretion of saliva. In cats, papillomas will appear around the head, neck and limbs, and will be either solitary or in multiple groups.
Papillomatosis is contagious in nature and in older cats, this disorder can arise due to the immune system being suppressed through the use of medication, surgery, or in some instances, disease. There are some cases where the wart virus is genetically related by breed.
Your veterinarian will take a biopsy of the lesions if the papillomavirus is oral in nature. When there is evidence that the papillomatosis has affected the skin, or there are visible changes to the skin and cellular structures, pathology tests will be required. Further tests associated with the immune system will establish whether viral antibodies are present within the lesions.
Oral lesions will generally disappear of their own accord. Surgery may be performed to remove any oral tumors; however, your cat will not be able to eat comfortably for a period of time after the surgery. Your veterinarian will advise you on what foods will be most appropriate for your pet during the recovery process. Use of medication may also aid in the removal of warts, but this treatment will be discontinued if the condition recurs.
If the papillomavirus is persistent, vaccination against it may be beneficial to your pet. Your cat should also be examined for any signs of immune disorders.
Living and Management
To ensure that malignant changes do not occur in the tumor, your veterinarian will schedule follow-up visits to further monitor the lesions for alterations.
Due to the contagious nature of this disease, it is important to separate infected animals from those that are not infected with the papillomavirus. Oral vaccination can be administered as a preventative measure against this disease, and is routinely used in commercial kennels when outbreaks do occur.