At Just Cats, we believe you as the owner are an essential member of your cat’s health care team and that there are active things you can do at home as part of their preventive care plan. The easiest is the at home lumps and bumps check. We recommend it for cats of all ages as a way to make sure you notice anything new on your cat’s body. This month, our practice manager Kristin, also shares her story about her cat Eloise.

One of the most important things when you find a lump or bump on your cat (or dog for that matter) is timing – how long has it been there and has it changed in that time? By conducting regular monthly lumps and bumps checks, you’ll know in relation to the last check whether the bump was there and if it was, whether or not it’s changed.

To begin your monthly lumps and bumps check, first find a position that’s comfortable for your cat – whether that’s lounging in the sun, sitting on your lap or on a tabletop – wherever they’re comfortable. Next gently pet your cat from top to bottom, applying light pressure. Do this at your cat’s tolerance level – if they are used to being loved on and petted, they’ll likely enjoy the attention. Continue applying light pressure making sure to get every inch of your cat – checking legs, paws, and their under belly. Pay special attention to under the arm pits and the base of the tail – common spots for bumps to appear.

If you feel anything that’s different or not smooth, make a note of the location and try to be as detailed as you can so you make sure you or your vet find it again. If your cat will tolerate it, try to part the fur to see if you can get a better look at the bump. Is it on the surface, just under the skin, any scabby areas, tender to the touch? All of this information can help your vet later when you describe it. Typically we recommend that anything that’s out of the ordinary should be seen so once you’ve finished your lump and bump check, call your veterinarian to set up an appointment.

I recently discovered just how important these home checks can be with my own cat Eloise. I’ve always been a big proponent of checking all my pets for any bumps at least once a month. It makes me feel more in control of their well-being – just the knowledge that I’m hopefully not missing anything. So once a month, I would sit her on my lap and proceed to rub her down for a few minutes mainly just doing it for the purrs that would follow. And then in June, I felt something and my heart sank. Working in this profession can be a curse because you don’t immediately think “oh, it’s a bug bite”- you think “oh my god this is the end!”

Even while panicking, I took comfort in the fact that whatever it was we caught it early because I knew it wasn’t at last month’s lump check. Since the bump was under the skin with no other obvious cause or diagnosis, the safest plan was to remove it and send it off for testing. Lucky for me and for Eloise, Dr. Laura was absolutely right! Turns out the bump had potentially cancerous cells and had we not removed it, it would have grown larger and could have turned into cancer. Removing that bump early not only potentially saved my cat, but it also minimized the incision site, and made me aware that she may develop these bumps in the future.

No matter what its cause, early detection is essential so make sure you take a few minutes to do your monthly lump and bump checks on your cat (or dog!).