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Cancer - advice needed

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hi, everyone. I'm new here. I needed to find a place where I can ask other cat owners my questions. Because I know you care.

My dear kitty Mazik is about 12 yrs old. He had a small lump on his leg (knee area) which I found a year or so ago. The vet drew out cells, and said she wasn't sure if it was cancerous, would need to do lots more (expensive) tests. Since kitty seemed fine, and money was very tight, I said no thanks.

Fast forward to the past two-three months; I pick up Mazik and notice the lump has become larger. A couple of weeks ago, I realized, when he was sitting a certain way, that I could see a pink lump on his leg. I'd been making and re-scheduling his annual appt... lots of scheduling problems. I finally brought him in to the vet today. The doctor said it was cancer. He said the only wat to "remove" it would be to amputate his (back) leg, because it was involved in the tissues and muscles around the lump. I asked how a cat could get around on three legs, and he said that older cats would have a hard time of it. There would be a chance it had spread elsewhere...

Then I mentioned that I'm going out of the country in a month, for over 2 weeks. Mazik has never been boarded, but due to various circumstances, I have to board him. That will cost about $300, but the worse thing by far is the emotional toll it would take on him. He wouldn't understand why he was put there, where I was, whether I'm ever coming to get him again, etc. This place (boarding place) is the best in town, and they let the cats out for a while every couple of hours. By out, I mean they can come out of their container (which is big enought for him to sleep, eat, and use a small litter box, but not really big enough for him). He is used to being indoors most of the day and night, but gets to be outside for a while in the morning and a few hours in the night (until bedtime). He keeps to himself, staying around the front porch, usually. So, being confined for about 18 days would be so hard on him. I've been dreading it. I don't know anyone who would want to (or that I'd let) come over and feed him, and he'd probably freak out and run out the door, so keeping him home isn't an option. The vet said sometimes the older cats are so stressed by being boarded in a kennel that they get very depressed and stop eating/drinking, and then in a couple of days, their kidneys or liver starts failing. I asked what would happen to the lump if I did nothing; he said the tumor would eventually start having discharge, and then, bleeding, possibly heavily. I asked if he could give a timefram, he said maybe 6 mos to a year.

The doctor was understanding about holding off on his vaccinations until I make some decisions about Mazik's care. I am so torn. I have no kids, and Mazik is my only companion (in the home). I love him so much. He doesn't limp, I don't think, so there's no outward sign of pain.

Has anyone been in a similar situation, and if so, what did you do? Should I ... God, I hate this.... choose euthanasia, to spare him from the painful inevitable end from the cancer, and also spare him from the stressful boarding situation? (And my own stress while I'm gone, feeling like he's miserable in the kennel?) I really appreciate your feedback. Thank you.

Tricia
post #2 of 21
As far as the cancer, it's really hard to make a decision without knowing what kind of cancer it is, in other words how likely it is that it has spread. Some forms of cancer don't metastasize readily and others do. I know that the surgery will be expensive... but I would highly suggest getting it removed and biopsied. Then you'll have more information to make an informed decision.

Yes, some older cats can get very stressed from boarding, but some do fine. Are you considering boarding him at your vet clinic, or is it a boarding only place? Considering his history it would definitely be best to have him boarded at a clinic where he can receive treatment promptly if needed. How is he around other people? Sounds to me like he's a shy baby. But you would be amazed the change a cat can go through when being boarded over a long period of time. I've seen the most frightened and aggressive cats turn into cuddle bunnies after a few days after they realize that "Hey, these people are okay! They feed me and will love on me!" I wouldn't worry so much about boarding him. I think he'll be okay. But consider the possibility that he may need medical attention while being boarded. Are you willing or able to take on that extra expense?

As far as trying to make the decision if it's his time.... If you can't get the mass removed, it will get steadily worsen. Discharge, blood...they can get pretty nasty and painful. Depending on what kind of cancer, this can happen within the span of a month or not for a year or more. To me, the biggest issue is how is quality of life? How is he now? Does he eat and drink normally? Is his energy level the same as always? Does he still go about his daily activities with little trouble? Is he leading a relatively pain free life? When the time comes that you're starting to answer no to these questions, you have to make the decision. Consider what is best for him. I know you love him and he's a very big part of your life. But, thankfully, you have the power to ease his pain and suffering when you both decide it's his time.

Sorry this was so long! These are just my opinions and of course, it's all up to you. You know your baby best, nobody else. Definitely keep us updated and the very best of luck to you and your furbaby.
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CatNurse22 View Post
As far as the cancer, it's really hard to make a decision without knowing what kind of cancer it is, in other words how likely it is that it has spread. Some forms of cancer don't metastasize readily and others do. I know that the surgery will be expensive... but I would highly suggest getting it removed and biopsied. Then you'll have more information to make an informed decision." ---- My replies are in green text: The vet said he couldn't remove it, because it involved too much of the surrounding tissue and muscles, so that's why he said we'd have to amputate his leg. Not an option for me.

Yes, some older cats can get very stressed from boarding, but some do fine. Are you considering boarding him at your vet clinic, or is it a boarding only place? I was considering boarding him at a place that's next door to a vet clinic that they're affiliated with. My vet is not a part of the place I'm considering for boarding. Considering his history it would definitely be best to have him boarded at a clinic where he can receive treatment promptly if needed. How is he around other people? Sounds to me like he's a shy baby. Yes, quite the scaredy cat. Won't let others pet him, basically. But you would be amazed the change a cat can go through when being boarded over a long period of time. I've seen the most frightened and aggressive cats turn into cuddle bunnies after a few days after they realize that "Hey, these people are okay! They feed me and will love on me!" Good to know! I wouldn't worry so much about boarding him. I think he'll be okay. But consider the possibility that he may need medical attention while being boarded. Are you willing or able to take on that extra expense? Depending on what was needed, I could leave directions w/ the kennel. Couldn't spend too much, though.
As far as trying to make the decision if it's his time.... If you can't get the mass removed, it will get steadily worsen. Discharge, blood...they can get pretty nasty and painful. Depending on what kind of cancer, this can happen within the span of a month or not for a year or more. To me, the biggest issue is how is quality of life? How is he now? Does he eat and drink normally?
Yes. Is his energy level the same as always? I'd say it's a little slower. He doesn't seem to want to go outside as much, and sometimes he lies on the arm of the couch and looks depressed. Does he still go about his daily activities with little trouble? Is he leading a relatively pain free life? He's not limping, so I don't think he's in pain, but wish I knew for sure! When the time comes that you're starting to answer no to these questions, you have to make the decision. Consider what is best for him. I know you love him and he's a very big part of your life. But, thankfully, you have the power to ease his pain and suffering when you both decide it's his time.

Sorry this was so long! These are just my opinions and of course, it's all up to you. You know your baby best, nobody else. Definitely keep us updated and the very best of luck to you and your furbaby.
Cat Nurse: Thank you so much for writing. You bring up some good points. Will for sure keep you updated. Thanks again! Oh, one more thing.. I'm Irish, and I couldn't agree more with the Irish Proverb on the bottom of your post! It's the truth!
post #4 of 21
I read that it would have to be amputated, just got on a roll when replying and forgot somehow, sorry!

Here's a story that may help with that. I work as a vet tech and we recently had a cat come in that had been hit by a car. He was 10. There was severe nerve damage to his back left leg. He would never be able to use it. The owners decided to amputate. It's been a month and they said his progress is slow, but within the last week or so he's been making excellent strides. He's starting to move around the house and learning to be a three legged cat!

So while it's true that older cats have a much harder time with amputation, there are definitely success stories! It is definitely a very very tough decision.

Just a little happy story. I'm so sorry you're having to go through all these tough decisions.
post #5 of 21
I'm really sorry to hear of your dilemma; it sounds as if you may face some tough decisions in the coming months. You will find a lot of support here if you stick around.

As for your upcoming trip: you may want to consider a petsitting service. I will admit that I have never used one - it's a little freaky to think of letting a stranger into your home, for sure - but I've been considering it lately. Cats of course are all about territory and would much rather be in their own home than anywhere else (I learned this when I moved a while ago; they're all adjusted now, but two out of three were definitely unsettled for a week or two). Your vet might be able to recommend a really good sitter, someone who is reliable and experienced (and who is bonded, of course).

Anyway, that's just a suggestion. Whatever you decide, I wish you luck with your buddy's ongoing medical care and with your trip.
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks to both of you for your concern and caring advice. I have a friend who said she'd consider coming over once a day to feed him, and her son could do it on the weekends. (I'd pay them, of course.) I just am not sure if it he'd be better off in the kennel, where there would be people there all day, or alone at home all day, w/ a few minutes of companionship per day, but in his familiar surroundings (and wondering where I am, of course). Anyway, will think on it some more. Thanks again.
post #7 of 21
Hi there - I see you are in Texas... Any chance you are in the Dallas Area? I would be happy to go there at least once a day to take care of him... If it's far, I can also board him here in my house... You can PM me if you want. I am not a professional pet sitter, just a cat lover... I will be traveling a couple of times in May, but I would be glad to help if I am in town.
You might want to disclose your location too, maybe someone else from TCS is able to help you.
As far as the dilemma of amputating or not, I would do it - but only if the cancer hasn't spread elsewhere. Cats tend to do really well with 3 legs...
Good luck, and vibes for your baby!
post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much, Carolina, for your generous offer. I'm in the San Antonio area, actually. Tonight when I came home from work, my cat was sitting on a chair, under the dining room table, in the dark, beneath the table cloth. He usually would only go there if he were very scared, like if some strange man came in the house, or if I started vacuuming. I coaxed him to come into the kitchen to eat. Once in the light, I could see that the mass/tumor had started to bleed; he had a little bit of very light dried blood near the site.
I called the vet's office (just as they were closing), and they told me I could bring him in first thing in the morning and they'd take a look at him. She (this vet, not the one who saw him Monday) said I may try putting a sock or something like that on it if it bleeds much more. I have asked that they let me know tomorrow an estimate of what an amputation would cost, but I'm fairly sure it's out of my budget. And, he'd still be recovering when I'd have to leave town in a few weeks. The vet said the cat may start licking and biting at the wound site, making it worse. She said I may have to come to some decisions soon.

So, that's where I'm at. I hope the right thing to do comes to me at the right time.

Thanks again.
post #9 of 21
I have known a 19yo have a leg amputated and do fine - and that cat actually had liver issues too, but got through everything. My own experience is of a 10yo having a leg amputated - the vet was unsure with her age and background (we had always suspected something underlying, but never been able to find out what, she had so many tests done), but I pushed for it, cos it was that or euthanase - she was allowed home early, and did really well - I sat in front of her cage the day she came home to give her some company, opened the door and she was out an over my knee in minutes!! After 10 days her stitches came out, and she mastered the stairs and the bed within 2 days, so I allowed her to go outside. SAdly other issues took her a few months later. I Then had a cat with suspected cancer in the knee joint, and like yours, the only 'treatment' was amputation, she was 13. Sadly she had two arthritic hips, and the worst one was the one with the good leg, so the vet refused amputation with her because it would have put too much strain on her hip. She had about 3 months after that, but she had been limping for a good few months before the diagnosis (we had been trying injections etc before going to the specialist, as I Was unwilling to put her through the journey, but then she had stomach issues, so went for everything to be looked at in one go). I would ask for chest x-rays to be done to make sure it hasn't spread, but the one Tiger possibly had, spindle cell tumour, was a slow growing one, and didn't mestastise quickly. She just started acting out of character, limping more and picking at food.
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 
Here's what happened... last Thursday his tumor started to bleed more heavily. I knew there was nothing the dr. could do... he'd said he wouldn't cauterize it, because that doesn't always work. I was going to put him down. I had called a couple of emergency vets, and got prices. I was going to put him in his carrier. He was so pretty out there in yard, and playful, too.
I put it off 'til the morning. I took him in to the vet Fri morning, to have him put down. I was sick w/ grief. A vet came to talk to me and I realized I just had to... choose hope, choose life. So, his left back leg was amputated. He's still at the vet, and I shd bring him home Tues. He is doing pretty well, but hasn't been eating. I went there after work to coax him into eating, but they had "force-fed" him canned food through a syringe-type thing. So, he wasn't hungry when I got there a couple hrs later. Hopefully he'll eat from his dish tomorrow. That's the main reason they aren't releasing him to me, yet. He has a drain that they will remove Tues or Wed. Thanks to all of you for your support. Haven't been hit the bill yet... But, family is family.
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by eliana View Post
Here's what happened... last Thursday his tumor started to bleed more heavily. I knew there was nothing the dr. could do... he'd said he wouldn't cauterize it, because that doesn't always work. I was going to put him down. I had called a couple of emergency vets, and got prices. I was going to put him in his carrier. He was so pretty out there in yard, and playful, too.
I put it off 'til the morning. I took him in to the vet Fri morning, to have him put down. I was sick w/ grief. A vet came to talk to me and I realized I just had to... choose hope, choose life. So, his left back leg was amputated. He's still at the vet, and I shd bring him home Tues. He is doing pretty well, but hasn't been eating. I went there after work to coax him into eating, but they had "force-fed" him canned food through a syringe-type thing. So, he wasn't hungry when I got there a couple hrs later. Hopefully he'll eat from his dish tomorrow. That's the main reason they aren't releasing him to me, yet. He has a drain that they will remove Tues or Wed. Thanks to all of you for your support. Haven't been hit the bill yet... But, family is family.
Oh my God... I am so proud of you for taking this step... no matter what happens, he will always know you love him dearly...
Many vibes for your kitty and you...
post #12 of 21
Fingers crossed he decides to start eating soon and can come home
post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
Carolinalima and Booktigger, thanks for your support. Mazik came home this evening. They had to syringe feed him (canned food) today. I got him to eat a few bites of canned food, and had to squirt some water in his mouth w/ a syringe, as he hasn't been drinking on his own. He seems pretty good, though, overall. He hops around and tries to leave the room... he even jumped up onto a chair when I wasn't looking. Thanks for all the "good vibes" y'all sent!
post #14 of 21
Glad he is taking something - I am surprised he is allowed free access though, all the cats I have known with amputations have had to be caged for the first 10 days while the stitches come out.
post #15 of 21
I'm sending good vibes and wishes your way! Get better Mazik!
post #16 of 21
I am just seeing this thread, I'm glad you chose the surgery. My 12 year old had her leg amputated and she did fine with it, but she had lung cancer that went to her bone, so she didn't make it

Many vibes for your baby
post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks so much to all of you who wrote. Mazik is doing great. I hope to have him around a few more years. I asked the vet if he thought it was bone cancer, and he said no, it seemed to be soft tissue cancer, but to be sure, I'd have to pay $125 more for a pathology report. As it is, the surgery has put me in debt for over $1,000, so I chose not to do the labwork. Again, thanks to all of you for your concern. It's good to know this place is here for all who love kitties and sometimes have questions.
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by eliana View Post
Thanks so much to all of you who wrote. Mazik is doing great. I hope to have him around a few more years. I asked the vet if he thought it was bone cancer, and he said no, it seemed to be soft tissue cancer, but to be sure, I'd have to pay $125 more for a pathology report. As it is, the surgery has put me in debt for over $1,000, so I chose not to do the labwork. Again, thanks to all of you for your concern. It's good to know this place is here for all who love kitties and sometimes have questions.
I just saw the update on Mazik. I'm glad you went through with the surgery. I'm so glad he's starting to get around!! That's excellent news! for his continued recovery!
post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the good vibes, CatNurse! He gets his stitches out Wednesday. Again, thanks to everyone. I'm so glad I made the decision to keep him alive, even with three legs.
post #20 of 21
Hopefully this is somewhat encouraging.

A buddy of mine had a cat with three legs, she was missing a rear leg.

She was an indoor cat but they would take her out, supervised, on a leash. She could get around surprisingly well, certainly well enough that she would catch grasshoppers on these outings.

He and his wife took good care of her and she lived a long and happy life, so I hope you have a similar experience.
post #21 of 21
Thread Starter 
Sorry I just now saw your post. My cat is doing very well, thank God. He is my little "bunny," who hops around quite well on his three legs. I hope I have him several more years. Thanks again to all of you for your care and support.
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