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Differential Diagnosis: Peripheral Lymphadenopathy in Cats

Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM, Oncology), The Schwarzman Animal Medical Center, New York, New York

Internal Medicine

June 2022
Peer Reviewed

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Following are differential diagnoses for cats presented with peripheral lymphadenopathy.

  • Neoplastic
    • Lymphoproliferative
      • Lymphoma
        • T-cell-rich B-cell lymphoma1 
        • Hodgkin-like lymphoma2
    • Metastatic neoplasia (common causes)
      • Carcinoma (eg, mammary gland carcinoma, oral squamous cell carcinoma)
      • Mast cell tumor
  • Reactive
    • Infectious 
      • Systemic fungal infection
        • Blastomycosis (Blastomyces dermatitidis)
        • Histoplasmosis (Histoplasma capsulatum)
        • Coccidioidomycosis (Coccidioides immitis)
        • Cryptococcosis (Cryptococcus neoformans)
        • Sporotrichosis (Sporothrix schenckii)
      • Mycobacteriosis (Mycobacterium avium complex; Mycobacterium bovis, Mycobacterium microti-like)
      • Vector-borne disease (coinfection is common) 
        • Ehrlichiosis (Ehrlichia spp)
        • Cytauxzoonosis (Cytauxzoon felis)
        • Leishmaniasis3 (Leishmania spp)
        • Tularemia4 (Francisella tularensis)
        • Hepatozoonosis (Hepatozoon spp)
        • Plague (Yersinia pestis)
        • Bartonellosis (Bartonella henselae)
      • Toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasma gondii)
      • Hemotrophic mycoplasma5 (Mycoplasma spp)
      • Retrovirus 
        • FeLV
        • FIV
  • Inflammatory or immune related 
    • Autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome of British shorthair cats
  • Drug reaction
    • Phenobarbital-induced pseudolymphoma
    • Zonisamide-induced lymphadenopathy8 
    • Methimazole
  • Idiopathic
    • Plexiform vasculopathy of cervical or inguinal lymph nodes10
    • Generalized lymphadenopathy resembling lymphoma11
    • Distinctive peripheral lymph node hyperplasia of young cats12


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