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post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
My Abbey was diagnosed with mast cell cancer yesterday. There is a small tumor on her face, and now the beginning stages has spread to her spleen.

I am trying to decide whether or not to do chemotherapy which is what the cancer specialist said I needed to do. I'm taking Abbey to a holistic vet this week to get his opinion and to put Abbey on holistic medicine too...but I'm curious if any of you have put your cats through chemotherapy and what your experiences were.

My cat is 11 years old. She's diabetic and has inflamatory bowel disease, BUT she''s happy and very energetic and at this moment pretty strong. You'd never know she had cancer in my opinion.

I''m hesitant on the chemotherapy because of how sensitive she is with the IBD and the diabetes..and my goal is to make her time her as happy as possible. I'm afraid she will fall into the 10% of cats that get sicker with chemo and it kills them...but what if it helps and puts the cancer in remission?
SO CONFUSED!! I said a prayer tonight for guidance.
Please share your opinions on chemo and your experiences.
Thank you,
post #2 of 22
Thats hard to decide. Ask the Vet what he thinks you should do.
post #3 of 22
I guess that kind of depends on how strong the kitty is, and if you and your vet think this could prolong her life!! Ive heard of kitties doing wonderful on the chemo, and others not! I *think* it also depends on if the kitty is weakened already or not! Im really sorry to hear about the cancer though....
Can they remove the tumor and the spleen? I know humans can live without a spleen but I have no idea if kitties can!! I wish you the best of luck, and please keep us informed!
post #4 of 22
I haven't specifically dealt with chemo, but I have had to make decisions about sick cats. There are lots of factors that go into deciding, including finances and your own personal philosophy about medical care. For me, I was willing to go into debt to find answers or try treatments, even if the answers didn't bring about a positive outcome. With Willow (who had FIP), we tried all kinds of things, even though the odds were low. The same was true with Spot. My parents have a different opinion on veterinary care. They are more likely to try a few small things but to "let nature take it's course" if those things don't work.

Survival rate for a given treatment may also be important, along with the possibility and likelihood of side effects. We had a dog diagnosed with ostesarcoma (bone cancer) a few years ago. While the best treatment option would have been amputation and chemo, it wasn't likely to buy him much additional time as there was a pretty good chance that the cancer had already spread to his lungs. My parents opted to treat his pain rather than amputate. While we were trying to determine what was wrong with Willow, I chose to have a feeding tube inserted as she wasn't eating. We were still running tests, and even though I knew the feeding tube probably wouldn't help, I felt better knowing that she wasn't going to die of starvation.

No one can make the decision for you--ultimately, you know your cat best. You might make a list of pros and cons and discuss them with your vets. They can help you make a decision as well as help you feel at peace with the outcome, knowing that you made the best decision given the information that you have.
post #5 of 22
I recently faced this decision. My Jordan has had up and down health problems. The vets were pretty sure that he had lymphoma, but without exploratory surgery they could not diagnose it for sure. After a lot of thought and prayer I decided against the surgery. Basically I was deciding if I would do chemo because for me I thought why put him through surgery if I wasn't going to do the chemo. I decided against any treatment I felt was extreme, in this case surgery and chemo. Jordan had been through so much with just the basic testing I could not put him through any more. It was the most difficult decision I've ever hard to make. My decision was based partially on fiances, surgery and chemo would have been very expensive. Ultimately, it came down to what was best for him. Jordan HATES being at the vet, and he was there once a week over the summer. His personality had changed. He wasn't himself. The stress of going to the vet so often had changed him. If he has a limited time left I want him to be happy and as stress free as possible. If it weren't for how badly he is affected by being at the vet, I might have made a different choice. Luckily for me it looks like Jordan does not have lymphoma because this has been going on somewhere around 7 months and he is doing great.

I know it's not help, but you know what's best for your kitty. Just listen to your heart and you will do what's right.
post #6 of 22
Rang_27's experience with Jordan would have been exactly like what I went through with my Whiskers, with the exception of the last sentence in the first paragraph. I never got a definite diagnosis but in the end, she had multiple seizures in a short period of time. I knew at that point that we had fought the good fight and it was time to end her suffering as she was not herself and getting weaker. Rang-- I'm so happy to hear that you have had over 7 precious months with Jordan. Sending hugs and continued good wishes to Jordan!

Kathleen - I can't offer much advice as this is such a personal decision and in the end you will know what to do for your kitty. But I I encourage you to think through the different scenarios and ask a lot of questions of your vet. My thoughts are with you.

to Abbey!
post #7 of 22
I am sorry to hear this. I personally wouldnt put a cat through chemo, and especially not one with other health issues, in case it exacerbates them, as well as the fact it has started to spread but it is your choice (I have discussed this with my vet in the past), and one I would make in consultation with my vet, but maybe my regular one rather than the cancer specialist. I have dealt with cancer and suspected cancer, and haven't treated it in either case (I didn't even get hte exploratory done on Tiger, the odds were for it being cancer, and we couldnt treat it even if it was, so didn't see the point in putting her through the pain). Good luck with the holistic vet.
post #8 of 22
I don't have any experience with this with my cats (thank God) but I do have experience with chemo & humans. I don't think I could watch either of my cats go through chemo If it was a guaranteed way to extend her life by say, 10 years, then maybe my opinion would change. It really is a case by case basis for me, and you are the only one who can really make the best decision for you and your cat.

post #9 of 22
One of our neighbors treated her cat, Sparkles with pancreatic cancer with chemotherapy. She lived for another two years, which is pretty good for an aging cat. The lady said it was worth it and she would spend the money again even though it cost her a lot of money.
post #10 of 22
true, maybe you have heard this alot of times but it is truly up to you and the decision is yours.
it will be best if you think about the pros and cons.
here are a few things to think about
1. if you go through chemo, what quality of life will your cat have
2. will you be able to afford future treaments after chemo
3. the risks of chemo, and consider the age of your cat
4. what your cat would want, yes this is hard to decide but deep down you will find the answer.
good luck to you
i know what it feels like as i have been through this before. i decided to take the chance even though she was very old, it did not work out but i feel that all the money was worth it even though i am not rich at all and that my friend and i have tried our best no matter what, my aunt is also diagnosed with cancer but she is fighting for her life no matter how har it is.

bless you and you kitty
post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thank you all very much for your responses. I was pretty much sure I wasn't going to do the chemo until I talked to the cancer specialist today and he said he felt pretty confident that it would help her - and give her more time than not doing it. I am leaving for the holistic vet in a few hours and will report back for other people that have to make this decision. I have a stack of like 50 papers that I outlined yesterday from all the research that I have been doing...so I have LOADS of questions to ask this vet.
Thanks for ALL YOUR PRAYERS!!!
post #12 of 22
We did chemo for my cat who was suffering from intestinal lymphoma. I believe it was the best thing for her. She seemed much more comfortable on the chemo than she did before it. Before the chemo, she didn't want to eat, she was defecating wherever she felt like it, vomiting and not like her self personality wise. On the chemo she was back to acting like her self, eating again, using the litter box, playing with toys again, and and she rarely vomited. I'm so glad we did it. Even if it didn't extend her life that long, her quality of life was clearly improved. Of course it is different with each cat though. My cat did not have diabetes. Do you know if that will complicate any potential treatment? Whatever you and your vet choose as the best course for you and your kitty I wish you luck.
post #13 of 22
Chemo in animals is NOT the same as chemo for people. In people, you are doing anything, and risking everything (including comfort) to get a cure. With animals, quality of life is the goal, and a cure is very seldom attained. Because of this, chemo very seldom decreases the quality of life of the animal beyond what the illness has already caused, and very often increases quality of life.
post #14 of 22
When our 14 year old Turkish Angora developed bone cancer we opted to let her go over the Rainbow Bridge. She was fairly advanced because I just had not noticed how much weight she had lost, for which I still feel guilty for not noticing. She HATED to be handled by strangers and, even as sick as she was, it took two vets and two techs to get blood out of her. We also had to consider the financial end of it, we really couldn't afford it and the vets didn't think it would extend her life for very long. (((((((((((HUGS))))))))**tears** for this difficult decision.
post #15 of 22
Sorry to hear about your furbabies cancer. I belong to a yahoo group for feline lymphoma, we have a website that is extremely helpful and I think it may benefit you to check it out, there are case studies of some of the cats on the list and the cancer they are battling. The website is:

Feline Lymphoma Caregivers Guide

On the menu look for the Case Studies link, the stories are separated by cancer types. I sure hope you are able to come to a good option for you and your furbaby. My Buddie had liver cancer and that is how I found the group many years ago, I lost Buddie a year and month after her diagnosis but I'm still with the group ... I've gotten a ton of support and information from them and the website is always updated with new case studies and lots of information about treating cancer, doctors members use and recommend, just a great many things that can help you make an informed decision.

Take care ...

happiness is being owned by cats ...

Be-Mi-Kitties ... my furkids
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post #16 of 22
Originally Posted by cloud_shade View Post

No one can make the decision for you--ultimately, you know your cat best. You might make a list of pros and cons and discuss them with your vets. They can help you make a decision as well as help you feel at peace with the outcome, knowing that you made the best decision given the information that you have.

I once had a cat who developed an inoperable brain tumor (which, I realize, is different from what your cat has, and is a different circumstance): the vet suggested trying chemo to shrink the tumor (he wouldn't attempt surgery, b/c he thought the cat wouldn't make it), but b/c of the cat's age (he was 14) the vet thought the chemo would cause more harm than good. So when Foxy's quality of life started going downhill, I made the decision to have him PTS. I didn't want to lose him, but I also didn't want him to suffer needlessly. It was a difficult decision to make, but I believe I made the right choice.

If your vet thinks there's a possibility the chemo may help w/o any serious side-effects, I'd say go for it. But it there is a chance of your cat suffering more b/c of it, I think it would be more humane to not prolong her suffering.

& to the both of you for the best outcome..

post #17 of 22
it would come down to ... quality of life vs quanity
post #18 of 22
I have lost 2 cats to cancer, Murphy to an inoperable brain tumor and Calvin to a vaccine site tumor (also inoperable due to it's proximity to his spine). I've never had to make the tough choice of whether or not to get chemo, I just tried to keep my cats as comfortable and happy as possible, for as long as possible. What does your regular vet think about the side effects of chemo in relation to Abbey's diabetes and IBD? Her pre-existing health issues seem like a big factor in the decision process, especially if the chemo would exacerbate them. I wish you and Abbey the best of luck!
post #19 of 22
I am so sorry to hear about your kitty.

I had the most wonderful cat, Angus for about 12 years when he developed lymphoma which manifested itself as a tumor behind his soft palate. After a week or so of soul searching, I decided to try chemotherapy in an effort to save my baby. When we went for his first treatment, he was very very ill and I was praying for a miracle. I got that miracle the next morning, I could not believe what a huge difference the first treatment made for him.

There were many ups and downs in the year and a half that he continued to respond to the drugs but I think it did improve his quality of live. You need to understand though that chemotherapy is a huge invasion of the body, almost as serious as the cancer itself. After each treatment Gus would be violently ill for a couple of days afterwards. His treatment started as once a week, then down to every to weeks, and then once a month. You will need to work with your vet to establish diet, companion drugs, and holistic efforts to help reduce the effects of the chemo (you might want to research spirulina)

Chemo is not cheap by any means, I spent probably between $8000 - 9000 on Guy so your personal finances are an unfortunate thing you'll need to explore too.

Unfortunately after a year and half of chemo, the cancer returned an infected Angus' heart, I really had no choice at that point.

I wish you and your little fur baby all the best, I hope that you will win the battle. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't hesitate for a minute. I miss my baby and there's not a day that i don't think about him.
post #20 of 22
Can we get an update???
post #21 of 22
I am so sorry. It is tough to make the decision.

Talk to the oncologist about which medications will be used. I could easily be wrong about the protocol, but I think it will include prednisone and vincristine. Worst case here would be the prednisone can make the blood sugar go higher, which can be a problem for those with diabetes. Note it doesn't always happen and it can be treated with adjustments in the insulin dosage. You just need to be aware of it as a possibility and be prepared in case it does happen.
Worse case with the vincristine is it can cause some issues with constipation and abdominal cramping, and temporary paralysis of the intestines. This may require some changes in the way you treat the IBD. This doesn't usually occur until several cycles of treatment have been given, if it happens at all.

You want to make an informed decision. Your cat may not have the above side effects, but with diabetes and IBD, these are the things to watch out for during treatment. Be prepared so you know in advance what to do if they occur.
post #22 of 22
I'm so sorry you are facing this situation for your loved one. Our Samantha tolerated chemo like a champ !! She was on Cytoxan, Adriamycin, Gemzar, CCNU and Vincristine. For me, the decision normally ends up with my saying, "Go for it".
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