Original Question: "Our 19-year-old cat has had a lump on her tail for a few years now. It has never bothered her in any way. This evening when I was petting her I noticed that (for the first time ever) the skin is raw looking and seems to be leaking a bit of fluid/blood. She had an abscess at the base of her tail when she was very young which burst and was subsequently treated (through our vet) with antibiotics because she was acting unwell. I’m assuming this lump is not an abscess considering how long she’s had it but it’s clearly draining something. I’m wondering if we should take her to the vet to have it drained/checked out or let it drain on its own and just keep an eye on her for signs of feeling unwell - she’s acting completely normal as of yet and still doesn’t seem particularly bothered by it and is just licking at it every now and then." - Danica
Thanks for your question.
It sounds like a very bothersome issue you're dealing with here. The first point I'll make is that I cannot tell you what this lesion is on your cat. It sounds like a lesion that is relatively stable but repeatedly flares up. There are a few possibilities that come to mind, such as a stable tumor that repeatedly gets infected, a previous infection that has created a pocket and unhealthy tissue that repeatedly gets infected, or some other lesion. If you recall that this area was infected years ago, my guess is that this is residual unhealthy tissue that may have created a pocket, which more easily allows the infection to recur. That is simply speculation but it makes sense to me.
To get a confirmed diagnosis, an aspirate or biopsy would be necessary. I would assume that although she appears to be acting normal, I would worry that something like this actually causes pain. Cats are very good at hiding pain and soldiering on. In addition, if this is a lesion that is getting repeatedly infected, it will certainly cause you to visit your veterinarian often and will likely turn into a significant expense. For these reasons I would recommend that you speak to your veterinarian about having it surgically removed. The ideal scenario would be to have it sampled or biopsied first to determine if it is a mass that needs further workup before surgically removing it. I know it may be a scary and expensive treatment plan, but a lesion like this that is repeatedly flaring up may end up costing you more and negatively impacting your cat's health worse in the long run if it is not surgically treated.
I hope this helps. All the best.
Dr. Clayton Greenway
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