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Lump on My Cat's Neck - Causes and Treatment

María Besteiros
By María Besteiros, Expert veterinary assistant and canine/feline hairdresser.. Updated: November 30, 2023
Lump on My Cat's Neck - Causes and Treatment

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A lump on a cat's neck can be due to a cutaneous of the skin or a subcutaneous issue which affects the tissue underneath. The former can present in a single lump or multiple bumps appearing on the skin. Under the skin, swelling of the lymph nodes are a common type of lump on a cat's neck. This swelling is often the result of a systemic problem, although it is possible to be localized to the lymph nodes. Serious conditions such as tumors can be the cause of the lump, but it is important to know there are many causes with similar symptoms. This is why taking the cat to a veterinarian to have the lump diagnosed is so important.

In this AnimalWised article, we look at the various causes of a lump on my cat's neck. In doing so, we will discover the role the lymph nodes play in your cat's immune system, how the consistency of a lump affects diagnosis and many other factors.

You may also be interested in: Why Does My Dog Have a Lump on Their Neck?
  1. Lump under a cat's chin
  2. Lump on a cat's neck under the skin
  3. Lump on a cat's neck after vaccination
  4. Bumps on a cat's neck
  5. Thyroid gland in a cat's neck
  6. My cat has a lump on their face

Lump under a cat's chin

One of the most important factors in determining the cause of a lump on a cat's neck is its location. For one thing, what we might think of as an abnormal lump might actually be an important part of the cat's anatomy. Cats have submandibular lymph nodes. These ganglia (clusters of nerve cells) are part of the cat's immune system. They function to defend the organism against disease. If we notice our cat has a lump on their neck, it is important to know we could be feeling these natural and important parts of their body.

The cat's lymph nodes are located on other areas of their body, but the submandibular lymph nodes are under the cat's chin. They are not very large, but you can still feel them if you try. When a cat's immune system is defending against a disease, the lymph nodes often swell in response. If you find a lump o your cat's neck in this region, but have never noticed it before, it is possible the lymph nodes have swollen. This is another reason you need to take the cat to the vet as they are able to differentiate between a normal lymph node and one that is swollen.

A well-functioning immune system should be able to control the infection. In these cases, the swelling should go away as well as other symptoms of infection such as discomfort, fever, discharge, etc. In cases where the cat is unable to stop the pathogens on their own, the disease might develop to the point medical intervention is necessary. An increase in the size of the lymph nodes is a symptom of various diseases, which is why we need a vet to examine the cat. They may need to carry out diagnostic tests such as blood screening, ultrasounds or even biopsies. If they take a biopsy of the lymph node itself, they can better understand the chances of malignancy[1].

Learn about a common disease which affects a cat's immune system with our article on feline infectious anemia.

Lump on a cat's neck under the skin

A subcutaneous lump is the scientific term for a lump under the cat's skin. In this case, we mean the abnormal presence of a proliferation of cells which is not a lymph node or other type of ganglion. If we discover such a lump in our cat's neck, we should take them to the vet immediately to determine the cause.

Hard lump on a cat's neck

The texture of the growth can help us understand its nature. Often, a hard lump on a cat's neck might be a cyst or a tumor. A biopsy of the lump involves taking a small part of the lump and examining it on a cellular level. Doing so can help determine if the lump is a benign tumor or a malignant feline cancer. The treatment of a tumor will depend on whether metastasis (the spread of cancer cells through the lymphatic system) occurs. Surgery, chemotherapy or other interventions may be carried out.

Any abnormal and excessive growth of tissue is known as a neoplasm. They can be malignant or benign. However, even otherwise benign neoplasia can cause problems if located on the neck or throat. The excessive growth can put pressure on the cat's trachea and/or esophagus. This can limit respiration and/or food intake, respectively. In these cases, the likely treatment will be surgical removal of the growth.

Take a look at lumps on another part of a cat's anatomy with our article on why a cat has swollen testicles.

Soft lump on a cat's neck

A lump which is soft and malleable to the touch might be an abscess. An abscess is an accumulation of pus and other fluid under the cat's skin. These lumps occur due to the body's reaction to an infection. Bacteria may enter the skin either through a pore or a wound which has appeared. The latter often occurs more in cats with access to the outside. Fighting with other cats or cutting themselves on sharp objects can result in wounds which can become infected. Bacteria in the mouth or on the claws of another cat can get into the wound through bites or scratches.

Abscesses can grow quickly or slowly, depending on the advancement of the infection. Treatment will often be in the form of first draining the abscess of fluid. This can leave the wound open and susceptible to bacterial infection. Draining in a sterile veterinary environment is required to best prevent secondary infection. A vet will also be able to prescribe antibiotics or any other medication necessary for treatment.

If your cat scratched open a lump on their neck, it is likely to be an abscess. They are often accompanied by pain when touched, whereas this is not always the case with neoplasia. The abscess will also be closer to the outer part of the skin and therefore can be opened more easily by the cat scratching at it.

Lipomas are another type of soft lump which can develop on a cat's neck. These are benign tumors which are made up of adipose tissue, i.e. fat tissue. Their causes are not well-known, but often veterinarians will not even treat them as their removal will cause more stress to the cat than leaving them alone.

Lump on My Cat's Neck - Causes and Treatment - Lump on a cat's neck under the skin

Lump on a cat's neck after vaccination

The most probable causes of a lump in your cat's neck have been mentioned above. There are some less likely causes which nonetheless should be mentioned. One might be due to the cat receiving vaccination. Injection sites on cats are usually on the back of the neck which is why the lump might appear in this region.

When the cat is given the injection, it should be located between the shoulder blades. However, if it is given higher up on the neck, you can sometimes observe a small nodule appear on the skin. This inflammation should disappear after 3 to 4 weeks. If it hasn't, the chronic inflammation can give rise to something known as fibrosarcoma. This is a type of cancer which can be very aggressive.

Treatment of a fibrosarcoma is tricky as it is so invasive. The tumor needs to be removed with some of the tissue around it to best prevent reoccurrence. This means the surgical intervention itself is similarly invasive. Surgical treatment alone does not usually provide the best outcome, but life expectancy can be improved if radiotherapy is also implemented.

While this is an aggressive and potentially fatal cause of a lump in a cat's neck, it should not put you off vaccinating your cat. That vaccinations are the pathogenesis of the disease is still only theoretical, even if t is the most likely reason. Still, the probability of developing feline injection site sarcomas (FISS) is between 1 and 10 out of 10,000 vaccinated cats[2].

Bumps on a cat's neck

We have already made the distinction between a cat having lumps under the skin and those on the outer layer. The latter are cutaneous lumps which often appear as smaller bumps on the cat's neck. These often point to a possible skin condition, although it is possible for bumps to appear as a result of an underlying systemic problem. With these factors in mind, we look at the causes of bumps on a cat's neck:

  • Dermatitis: dermatitis is a general term for inflammation of the skin, but there are many different types of dermatitis in cats. For example, atopic dermatitis in cats is a result of an allergic reaction to something in their environment. Treatment requires removal of the allergen, but antihistamines may also be required.
  • Bites or stings: a similar type of skin inflammation which causes bumps is feline miliary dermatitis which is often the reaction to a flea bite, a parasite which commonly attacks the neck of cats. Bites or stings from other insects or parasites can result in skin bumps of varying size. They will usually present as one single bump if there is no allergic reaction.

  • Ingrown hair: when a hair grows the wrong way down into the skin, it can cause a bump. It is usually very mild, but it can be complicated by secondary bacterial infection which requires antibiotic treatment only in very serious cases.

  • Sebaceous cyst: these also usually present as one single bump and are the result of impaction in the sebaceous glands. They are fluid-filled lumps, so they will be soft in texture and are usually not treated.

  • Papilloma: these are benign tumors which appear as warts on the skin of cats. They are a result of a viral infection. Although the papilloma are not harmful, the viral infection which causes it may be.

  • Lipomas: another type of benign lump or bump on a cat's neck. In this case, the soft lump is due to the buildup of adipose tissue which is usually of idiopathic origin.

It is possible for certain subcutaneous lumps do extend out through the skin. This is the case when an abscess in cats forms under the skin and purulent buildup occurs. Since this pus needs to escape, a fistula occurs to create a passage between the abscess and the outer skin. This occurs when the abscess is advanced. Treatment may include lancing in clinical conditions, as well as antibiotics to treat the underlying bacterial infection.

Thyroid gland in a cat's neck

If your cat has a lump on their neck, it could be due to an issue with a different type of gland known as the thyroid. This is located in the cat's neck, but you can't always feel it if you are petting your cat. This is not the case if the thyroid becomes inflamed. The reason for increase in the thyroid's size is sometimes due to a benign tumor. The consequence is an increase in the secretion of hormones, something which produces hyperthyroidism. Feline hyperthyroidism has various consequences for the body and behavior of the cat.

An affected cat will present symptoms such as hyperactivity, increased hunger and thirst, weight loss, vomiting, poor coat quality and other nonspecific symptoms. It can be detected by hormone analysis and treated with medication, surgery or radioactive iodine.

It is important to note that these lumps on a cat's neck are usually large singular masses, although this is not exclusive. If you ask why does my cat have bumps on their neck, it is more likely to be a skin condition such as dermatitis. This will present as swelling of the skin itself and not as hard lumps. If there are multiple hard lumps, it may be a cluster of tumors or another type of neoplasm.

Lump on My Cat's Neck - Causes and Treatment - Thyroid gland in a cat's neck

My cat has a lump on their face

Finally, once we have exhausted the possible reasons for discovering a lump on your cat's neck, it is also possible a lump might appear on their face. If the cat has lumps on their face, it could be from an abscess in their mouth. If the lump looks more like a lesion on their face, it could be the result of a squamous cell carcinoma (a type of cancer) or the less common disease cryptococcosis.

All require immediate veterinary treatment. Dental abscesses can be treated like other abscesses, but may also need tooth extraction. Cryptococcosis is treated with antifungal medication as it is the result of a fungal infestation. Carcinoma can be operated on and may need follow up radiation treatment. As always, early intervention improves prognosis, so they should be taken to the vet as soon as the symptoms are observed.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Lump on My Cat's Neck - Causes and Treatment, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.


1. Christopher, M. M., & Ku, C. (2018). Likelihood of Neoplasia for Diagnoses Modified by Probability Terms in Canine and Feline Lymph Node Cytology: How Probable Is Probable? Front. Vet. Sci., 5:246.

2. Zabielska-Koczywąs, K., Wojtalewicz, A., & Lechowski, R. (2017). Current knowledge on feline injection-site sarcoma treatment. Acta Vet Scand., 59(1), 47.

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Regina Pearson
I am worried like crazy. I woke up this morning to my cat Charlie having a lump, Hale the size of a golf all on the back of his neck. This lump formed over night because it was not there yesterday. I hug and kiss him everyday and would have noticed it. It is squishy like jelly is inside. Please help!!!
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Regina,

It could be a number of types of lump. If it is squishy, it is possibly a lipoma. This is a benign fatty tumor which a cat can often live with without problem. However, we cannot diagnose the problem and you will have to speak to a vet in case it is something more serious.
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Lump on My Cat's Neck - Causes and Treatment