I am not a veterinarian but I can rely on Ben the Vet on TikTok and other veterinarians to provide a good answer to the question in the title. And, actually, it is quite a straightforward question to which I am able to provide a good answer.
There are two key points:
- Limited or no side effects
Limited side effects – low dosage
Chemotherapy for pets is not administered for the same objective as it is for humans. The objective for pets is to improve their quality of live not to cure the cancer. For humans the objective is to save their life by getting rid of the cancer. And in doing this, there will be side effects such as hair loss as the dosages are high.
The side effects of chemotherapy for cats are much less severe compared to chemo for humans and the chemo doses are half to a third of those administered to humans.
On the basis of healthcare without consideration of the cost, chemotherapy for cats is worth it.
But Ben the Vet in his video (below) highlights an issue which is as important. The treatment requires an oncology consultant which pushes up the cost.
A cat owner is going to have to weigh up the advantages of improving their cat’s quality of life against the disadvantage, which is the cost. Pet health insurance comes to mind immediately.
If a cat owner has pet health insurance and if it covers chemotherapy treatments, there is no doubt in my mind that chemotherapy is worth it for cats.
Successful chemo for low-grade cancer can extend a cat’s quality of life for 16 months to 2 years on average and sometimes longer according to one veterinary website. The picture on this page comes from that website – Tufts University Catnip. It is of a tabby cat receiving chemotherapy. The cat lives in San Antonio, Texas, USA and their caregiver is Leila Lovercheck.
The cat had been diagnosed with gastrointestinal lymphoma. She was asking a veterinarian whether she should put her cat through chemotherapy. The advice was that she should on a healthcare basis. She clearly had the budget or health insurance to pay for it.
Perhaps an intermediate decision might be made such as trying out chemotherapy to see if your cat responds positively. Apparently, treating gastrointestinal lymphoma with chemotherapy either produces a quick response or it doesn’t work in which case it can be discontinued.
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