Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: February 10, 2023 by Crystal Uys


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You’re probably just as surprised as Allegra looks in the photo above, wondering why you’re seeing a book with a dog on the cover on The Conscious Cat. Canine and Feline Geriatric Oncology: Honoring the Human-Animal Bond, is definitely a bit of a departure from our usual book reviews, but I believe that this is an important book and I want to bring it to a wider audience than the one it was intended for. Even though this book is first and foremost a unique text book for veterinarians, veterinary students, interns residents, attending doctors and nursing staff, it is also a fantastic resource for cat parents who are faced with a cancer diagnosis.

This book contains the most important information needed by veterinarians and their teams to deal with geriatric cancer patients and their human guardians. In addition to providing in-depth knowledge about the biology of cancer and aging (cancer is a disease, aging is not,) different types of cancer, how to obtain a diagnosis and prognosis, and the wide array of treatment modalities, this book also addresses the human-animal bond, which affects every step of the journey through cancer for both pet and human. From decision making to supporting the human guardian throughout the pet’s treatment from diagnosis to end-of-life care and beyond, this is an important work that prioritizes honoring the bond between pet and human during the delivery of cutting-edge medicine.

The book is written in a very accessible style so that even the chapters packed with medical information will be relatively easy to understand even for pet parents with no medical background, especially those who really want an in-depth look at the disease process and the various treatment options.

Not surprisingly, this book really shines when it comes to addressing end-of-life and palliative care. “I accepted the provocative invitation to write this book in order to light a high-touch fuse for end of life care,” writes Dr. Villalobos in her introduction. Dr. Villalobos is the founder of Pawspice™ and a well known pioneer in the field of cancer care for companion animals and a founding member of the Veterinary Cancer Society. She believes that vets are obligated to offer palliative and end-of-life care options for terminal pets in addition to the standard options of either top of the line treatment, no treatment or euthanasia. In her opinion, pet owners have the right to be informed that palliative or hospice care is a viable option over no treatment or euthanasia, especially when the family cannot afford the cost of more expensive treatments for their pet.

Dr. Alice Villalobos with Neo

The book also contains extensive information for veterinary teams on how to support themselves. I’ve always felt that anyone who works with cancer patients every single day has to be pretty special, and veterinary professionals who work in the field of oncology face different challenges than their human counterparts: not only are they supposed to be the healers, but in many cases, they’re also the ones to gently ease a pet out of this life. Compassion fatigue has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years, but it’s a very real condition. The suicide rate among veterinarians is disproportionately high compared to other professions. Dr. Villalobos offers a wealth of resources for “helping the helpers.”

I think this brilliant book should be required reading for all veterinary team members who deal with cancer patients. It can also serve as a much-needed decision tool for pet parents who may be overwhelmed with their pet’s diagnosis, because it offers everything they need to know about cancer in pets in one place.

Canine and Feline Geriatric Oncology: Honoring the Human-Animal Bond is available from Amazon.

For more information about Dr. Villalobos and her Pawspice™ program, please visit

*The Conscious Cat is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to products on Amazon and affiliated sites. This means that if you decide to purchase through any of our links, we get a small commission. We only spread the word about products and services we’ve either used or would use ourselves. I received this book from the author. Receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

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3 Comments on Review: Canine and Feline Geriatric Oncology: Honoring the Human-Animal Bond

  1. I fortunately, or unfortunately, was able first hand to have the experience of sarcoma in my cat Flynn. He first had surgery to remove the wet section on his nose, then developed another sarcoma on his lip, which was removed. We opted to give him a chance for survival, as my husband and I both are cancer survivors. Each surgery was a experience and gave us knowledge to carry on his care including 19 treatments of radiation. We felt we had to give him the option to make it through. Cancer is a different breed altogether. He never looked sick, and in his case the sarcomas were from worshiping the sun, which he loved.
    Unfortunately his time became short 3 years ago when he developed another Sarcoma that was inoperable, on his jaw.
    He passed at 12 while in our home care.

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