Hard decision to make: happy cat, mass in abdomen

(26 Posts)
Auriga Tue 15-Apr-14 19:34:51

Our DCat is probably about 17.5 yrs (not sure - rescue). Took her to vet recently because she was drinking a lot: turned out her thyroid hormone level was at the upper limit of normal. After two weeks of anti-thyroid treatment she's her happy self again. But vet also found an ill-defined mass in her abdomen. Could be lymphoma. We have to decide whether to put her through ultrasound and biopsy, then maybe cytotoxics, possibly oral ones with steroids, to prolong her life.

Does anyone have experience of this? I wonder if it would be better to give her lots of meat and fish (usually rationed for the sake of her teeth), cuddles, cat milk and toys, as long as she's happy. Trying to buy more time will involve vet visits, blood tests etc which she hates. She is insured so we could probably claim most of the costs; that won't dictate the decision.

Can anyone advise?

OurMiracle1106 Tue 15-Apr-14 19:40:51

You need to follow your heart.

Do you want to put her through the pain of treatment for a longer time with you or do you want to spoil her until her health is at a point that letting her go is for the best for her? She's had a good long life. She will go happy and loved.

If you were in her shoes what would you want done.

It sounds like you have already made the decision to spoil her tbh and let her go

Auriga Tue 15-Apr-14 19:56:16

I think we've decided that we wouldn't put her through IV chemo. But I don't know how tolerable the oral treatment is and wondered if others have experience?

The vet said if it is lymphoma she could have chlorambucil and steroids by mouth. She said this would be in lowish dose and cats have fewer side effects than humans.

Of course, if she tolerated treatment well we could still spoil her (more than we do already) grin But I definitely don't want to put her through the investigations if we're not going to treat her.

<off to buy cat milk>

cozietoesie Tue 15-Apr-14 20:05:32

I seem to remember that someone posted about this in the last few days (their cat having chemo) and it seemed to be pretty unintruding. Of course I don't know what kind of cancer their cat had and what the chemo was that they were administering. Maybe they'll see your thread and post.

cozietoesie Tue 15-Apr-14 20:06:53

PS - I've just chucked a mostly full bottle of cat milk down the loo. sad Seniorboy won't touch it.

cozietoesie Tue 15-Apr-14 20:30:19

Here is the thread. ( tabulahrasa was the poster.)

Lonecatwithkitten Tue 15-Apr-14 23:32:40

I'm sure your vet has been through the stats that if it is high grade lymphoma the prognosis is very poor and if it is low grade lymphoma the prognosis is much better and several years is not uncommon.
However, low grade lymphoma is usually a diffuse disease tending not to give masses and on exploratory surgery just looks like slightly thickened guts not dissimilar to inflammatory bowel disease. High grade lymphoma tends to be the lumpy disease.
To get good diagnosis the best course of action is exploratory surgery to get full thickness biopsies. Endoscopy and fine needle aspirate often do not yield a full diagnosis.
Balancing all of this up as a vet I wouldn't put my 17.5 year old cat through this, I would just put the cat on steroids and enjoy the time I had.

timtam23 Tue 15-Apr-14 23:38:40

I have a 17 yr old cat and also had one who died last year aged 18. I wouldn't put a cat through too much at that age - I would do tablets/keeping comfortable, maybe a blood test if it would lead to some beneficial low-intervention change for the cat. If steroids are possible, that sounds ideal.

Give her a happy time with lots of yummy food & lazing around in the spring sunshine (this is what we are doing with my old boy who is blind, kidneys packing up & we think he is not far off being on his last legs, although we did think the same last summer too and he is still here!)

Auriga Wed 16-Apr-14 06:19:11

Thanks everyone. We're inclining towards the spoiling and keeping her happy as long as possible I think.

cozietoesie Wed 16-Apr-14 06:51:34

I've pretty well agreed with my vet that if Seniorboy were to become ill, we wouldn't go for any heroic treatments but for palliative care only. So I'd agree with your approach. It's all about the cat and making them happy, particularly when they become elderly.

All the best to her and your family.

KittieCat Wed 16-Apr-14 06:56:12

Our girl had chemo and for GI lymphoma. She tolerated it extremely well to the point that if you didn't know she was having treatment you wouldn't have guessed. It got rid of her cancer and she lived extra years. That said, she was a few years younger than your puss.

I'd be happy to answer any qs where I can.

Auriga Wed 16-Apr-14 07:00:24

Kittie, vet said that treatment wouldn't cure but only prolong life. Interested to hear your cat tolerated it so well. Was it lots of tabs? And did she need lots of vet visits and blood tests?

KittieCat Wed 16-Apr-14 09:42:38

She had a three drug chemo protocol, some intravenously, some tablets in addition to daily steroids. She was (the most fabulous) feisty tortie, not known for her patience! But she coped amazingly, as I mentioned.

I think that is in part because, as the specialists told me, with animals the equivalent dose given is a lot lower than that given to people, so the cancer is kept at bay but quality of life isn't affected too badly, and our girl really didn't seem bothered by it all. She meant the world to me and I wouldn't have seen her suffer.

She did have to go to the chemo centre for treatment and blood tests regularly but the frequency of visits will depend on the drug protocol.

We chose to take her to a specialist centre with state of the art equipment as we're fortunate that we were less than an hour away. The main thing is that you trust the person treating your animal and that you ensure you're aware of any changes that might show they aren't coping happily.

Also it was an expensive commitment. Made more expensive for us as our girl did so well and went on for years!

To add she was NEVER one for taking tablets but we devised a cunning method that worked for her and us so it wasn't too much of a horror and we all got used to it!

If you want to know anything else, just ask. But whatever you choose for your puss will be the right thing and don't be scared that chemo or treatment will necessarily be awful. It definitely wasn't for us.

KittieCat Wed 16-Apr-14 09:44:13

Sorry that was such a long message!

Auriga Wed 16-Apr-14 21:39:02

Thanks for taking the trouble to post Kittie

KittieCat Wed 16-Apr-14 22:08:54

No probs, Auriga, hope you're all doing ok.

tabulahrasa Thu 17-Apr-14 02:37:01

My cat is having treatment for lymphoma - she has two tablets of chlorambucil every two weeks and a prednisolone tablet every two days.

She's been on that regime for 3 years and is doing very well, her fur is finer and paler and she dislikes the cold more than she did, but wasn't exactly keen on it to start with, lol.

But, she did have a couple of periods of not eating early on which meant more vet visits and she has to have blood tests every 3 months (it was more frequent to start with). She was 7 when she was diagnosed and isn't particularly stressed by vet visits. Only the first few visits were to the specialist, my own vet does her blood tests and prescribes her medication now.

The actual treatment she really has tolerated well - I was also told about it being a much lower dose than any human treatment.

If you think your cat will cope with visiting the vet at least every 3 months, it might be worth a try - bearing in mind that if there are any adverse side effects the drugs can just be stopped.

I'm happy with her treatment and I'm glad we did go ahead with it for her...My other cat is unhappy for days after her boosters, I wouldn't treat her if she became ill with something similar although she's much younger as it just wouldn't be fair on her, so it's very much dependant on the individual cat I think whether it's better for them to treat it or not.

SecretWitch Thu 17-Apr-14 02:53:21

Ahhhhh, bless. You will make the right decision for your lovely girl. My old lady cat is snuggled in next to me. She is struggling with kidney disease. Everyday with her is a gift. Sending love and hugs to you and your dkitty

Auriga Sat 19-Apr-14 09:08:57

Tabulah, thank you for that, it's very helpful. It does sound quite a gentle regime. But DCat has already learnt to spit out her thyroid tablets, even though they're well mixed in with meaty treats. And she fought hard against having the second blood sample taken last week; she ended up with several shaved patches and a big bandage on her leg, which she hated. I don't think she'd be a good patient.

Still, I suppose as you say if she wasn't more accepting after a couple of months we could just stop. Will give myself a few more days to decide.

Auriga Sat 19-Apr-14 09:10:24

Oh and thanks, Secret. Best to you and your familiar smile

tabulahrasa Sat 19-Apr-14 12:29:41

Mine thankfully takes tablets well, I just shove them in and wait for her to swallow.

All her treatment is reliant on her being ok - I've discussed lots of things over the past 3 years with the vet, she's not having any more hospital stays (they kept her in to do the ultrasound and needle biopsies and she hated it) so if any more tests like that are needed I'll stop treatment, anything that can't be treated at home or with a quick vet's visit either means no more treatment or having her put to sleep...the last time she stopped eating for example, they were talking about tube feeding her, I said I'd rather have her put to sleep as I didn't want anything that invasive, but I think she heard me because she started eating that night, lol.

She has objected to the blood tests - they had to give her a little bit of gas a couple of times, currently that's happened two or three times, but with about a year or more between her doing that, if it became a regular occurrence, then again I stop treatment.

So it's always done on a - she's fine right now so ok to continue basis and if anything changes then we rethink what we're doing.

So the decision to treat her isn't a we treat no matter what, it's that we treat her while she's well and happy, if it makes her ill or too stressed at any point we stop and it's out of her system within a week of her last dose.

TalkinPeace Sun 20-Apr-14 15:22:42

tab might even remember back on the old ebay board days

when old cats sister was ill - the tumour in her abdomen was the size of an orange and utterly inoperable
she LOATHED going to the vet so we decided not to treat
pills were half an hour of battling every time : she'd spit them out up the garden otherwise

she lasted two years - until at her final weigh in she and it weighed the same
she died of a stroke in the garden age 17

old cat himself was on thyroid pills for his last two years, combined with metacam

compost cat is currently technically only being treated for her arthritis because the kidneys are too far gone
but she has started into shut down mode so its just a matter of days now
warmth and company are all she needs now

Auriga Sun 20-Apr-14 18:21:02

Thanks Talkin. Compost Cat looks great in your pic. Hopes he snoozes off peacefully. Our old lady is asleep beside me here, with a tummy full of rabbit and cat milk smile

2kidsintow Sun 20-Apr-14 18:25:55

Auriga, your cat and mine sound similar.

Mass found when he wasn't himself this weekend. He's 18.5. Too old to biopsy. Too old to operate and remove the mass. If we wanted a scan to see what it was we'd have to have a scan at £400 (and more importantly, the added stress of sedation) then probably chemo that would slow things down, but not fix anything.

Instead, he's been given some steroids and we're making him as happy as possible.

Auriga Tue 22-Apr-14 22:45:18

I think we'll do the same, 2kids. She slept in DD's room last night, is happy and seems comfortable. She's loving all the meat and cat milk and she's demanding lots of cuddles.

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