Cats Galore in Istanbul

Cats, cats, cats, lots of cats in the street of Istanbul. This week I had the pleasure to give a couple of lectures about cat surgery and oncology at the First ever Cat Congress of Turkey. Warmly hosted by Dr. Mustafa Aktas and his team, we were welcomed and treated like royalty (although I did refuse an official picture with a sultan outfit). Cats are everywhere on the streets and they are treated well, they seem happy, well fed and allowed to prowl the streets without interference. As a matter of fact, Istanbul seems a cat capital as dogs were few to be found.IMG_6224

I was asked to talk about a couple of typical cats problems and the ones I chose will not surprise you: cat skin and the differences with the D-word. Cat mammary tumors and Cat SCC. I also had the pleasure to do a combi lecture with the famous Dr. Craig Clifford. We teamed up to talk about cat liver tumors, cat thymoma and injection site sarcomas.

As we have discussed a few of these issues on our podcats, I will link these lectures to our podcast in this blog. Here is my 3-second take on each disease:

  1. Injection site sarcoma. Seem to be less common which is good, but is a bad tumor in general, so watch it where you vaccinate! No more vaccines in between the shoulder blades, on the chest and hip regions! We like to vaccinate in the periphery of the cat, ie distal limbs and tail
  2. Feline liver tumors. Ever heard of the lucky cat syndrome? That certainly normally does not apply for feline tumors. They tend to be nasty, except liver tumors. The most common tumor is relatively benign and can be cured with surgery. I love those pedunculated masses!
  3. Cat thymoma is also most likely not invasive, Craig said if you open up the cat and hold it upside down, they tend to fall out! Typical medonc statement, obviously, but there is some truth to it. They tend to be noninvasive but do expect some adhesions. With careful dissection, most will come out in one.


  1. Cat squamous cell carcinoma is a tough disease, especially around the face. Big margins are often not possible and hence a tendency for recurrence and progression. We referred to a recent article in which PDT (photodynamic therapy) was used with success in smaller lesions.
  2. Cat mammary tumors are almost always malignant (85% of the cases) and should be treated aggressively. We just did a podcast on them so if you are interested just download our podcast and start listening to number 7. In short, (staged) bilateral mastectomies is the way to go!
  3. Last but not least, we discussed some cat reconstruction techniques of the face. Cat skin is awesome to work with but there are some major principles you need to think of. One of these is the importance of the subcutaneous layer in your closure. Always close with a solid subcutaneous suture pattern to prevent wound complications. Listen to our podcast with Dr. Bryden Stanley for more tips.


Istanbul is a great place to visit, for work or for holidays. It is safe, people are friendly and there is lots to see. We would definitely recommend it, especially if you like cats!


Published by jollenl

Veterinary surgeon interested in cancer. Author, cat & dog lover with a focus on evidence-based medicine

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