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September 16, 1974

Cats and Cancer

JAMA. 1974;229(12):1654-1655. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230500070039

LONG before Tom Sawyer warned, "I play with frogs so much that I've always got considerable many warts," man has been attentive to the possibility that exposure to certain animals may result in neoplastic growth. Since animals in a household are exposed to the same carcinogenic agents as their owners, it has been surmised that the occasional reports of cancer occurring in pets and their masters are not coincidental. Moreover, the clusters of cancer cases occurring in various parts of the world have sensitized us to the idea that an "infectious" agent could be the cause of certain human cancers.

Recent data showing that a virus that causes lymphoma and leukemia in cats can spread horizontally to adult cats, have now raised the important question of whether these infectious cat agents pose a threat to man. The concern about cat leukemia/ lymphoma stems primarily from the following facts: (1) the