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Eyelid lumps in cats

When a tumour grows on the eyelid it presents different challenges to other locations in the body. An eyelid tumour may appear as a lump on your cat’s eyelid. Eyelid tumours in cats are more likely to be malignant and more difficult to treat than in dogs, so prompt examination by a vet is imperative. Here is some advice from one of our vets.

This article was written by a FirstVet vet


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What are the problems associated with eyelid lumps in cats?

  • Ulcer - rubbing on the eye surface can cause an ulcer of the surface of the eye (cornea)

  • Infection - the tumour may reduce the eye’s natural defences to infection and allow bacteria to grow leading to infection

  • Conjunctivitis - inflammation in the eye leading to weeping eyes, red and swollen conjunctiva and sometimes squinting

  • Surgical challenges - small eyelid tumours (less than a third of the eyelid margin) are easier to remove. When they are bigger than that they can be more challenging to remove and can lead to cosmetic changes

Types of eyelid lumps in cats

If your cat has a lump on its eyelid it can be one of several different types. The most common are:

  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) - most common in non-pigmented skin (white cats) and can appear pink, irregular and sometimes ulcerated and involve the conjunctiva, eyelid or third eyelid

  • Fibrosarcoma, adenocarcinoma and melanoma can all be seen in cats

  • Cyst - these can occur usually in a Meibomian gland where the gland becomes blocked, swollen and filled with fluid. This type of cyst is often called a chalazion

  • Feline lymphosarcoma-leukaemia complex - this tumour affects both eyes with systemic signs of illness and the eye itself will appear abnormal

What should I do if my cat has a lump on its eyelid?

If your cat has a lump on its eyelid it is important to make a note of when it first appeared and how quickly it is growing, it may be useful to take pictures for comparison.

Make an appointment to see your vet as soon as possible to have the lump checked. Your vet will do a full examination of your pet including looking at the eye, and this may include staining the eye to look for ulceration and close up examination with an ophthalmoscope.

Treatment for eyelid lumps in cats?

It is often not possible to take a sample from these lumps as they are often very small and close to the eye. In cats surgical removal of these masses is always important due to the risk of malignancy.

Surgery aims to remove the mass and a little bit of normal neighbouring tissue, which helps to ensure that the whole lump has been removed. The lump will be sent for analysis to determine whether it is cancerous or not.

A highly malignant diagnosis may lead to revision surgery being required to take away more tissue. The aim of this is to reduce the chance of any cancerous tissue being left behind. Sadly, in some cases this may also require removal of the eye. Any associated inflammation or infection will be treated with eye drops.

Prognosis for eyelid lumps in cats

Unfortunately eyelid tumours in cats have a high rate of malignancy and therefore the prognosis isn’t always favourable. Some tumours may only carry a survival time of a few months. For this reason, early intervention and decisive treatment is key.

Further reading

Still have questions?

If you would like more advice about a lump on your cat, please book an online video appointment to have a chat with one of our FirstVet vets.

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