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Abdominal mass in 3 yr old cat - and not eating much

(29 Posts)
BlogOnTheTyne Wed 13-Feb-13 10:41:00

Got to go back to vet tomorrow for an ultrasound - but posting here today as desperate for some ideas please.

Cat belongs to DS2 who has Asperger's and is obsessively attached to his cat. So if we get bad news, this will be very hard for him indeed.

His cat is a 3 yr old red-spotted British Shorthair. Got gum gingivitis - which we thought was decreasing his appetite. Second visit to vet today led to the news that he has an unknown abdominal mass. I know this could be anything from lymphoma to pancreatitis and various other horrible things, fom what the vet said.

Could it - just - be something he ate that's blocking his tummy - and if it were, would he have similar symptoms - loss of appetite, sleeping/resting a lot.....? The vet said that in a 3 yr old cat, the nastier things were less likely but I'm not getting a good feeling about this.

Can anyone here share any similar experience and the outcome? I'm totally prepared for bad news (though DS2 isn't) but would like to know more about possibilities and symptoms indicating one thing or another, before tomorrow.

tabulahrasa Wed 13-Feb-13 11:38:09

My cat has lymphoma - which caused a mass in her pancreas.

Her initial symptoms were weight loss, a bit of vomiting (enough to warrant checking out, but not enough to be massively worrying) and just generally a bit miserable. She was 7 at the time.

It's treatable, but not curable - she was diagnosed about 2 years ago and potentially could have another couple of years left, though it is a constant state of weighing up her quality of life...for instance she's recently objected to going to the vets for check ups, if she finds it too stressful I'll have to stop taking her, without the check ups I'll have to stop medicating - but it's not fair to keep treating her if it's making her miserable. It's also fairly expensive.

I don't know if that's what you were after, or even useful to you though, lol.

MoreSnowPlease Wed 13-Feb-13 11:49:50

My mums cat has a big mass in her belly, she looks pregnant all the. She's had it for a long time and when they eventually took her to vets they found she was allergic to fleas, had fleas and her glands were very swollen in her tummy (not sure which ones) because she was fighting off an infection from them (or fighting off the fleas) can't remember which. But the cause was allergy to a cat, really!

BlogOnTheTyne Wed 13-Feb-13 14:31:01

Thanks. Yes, I did want to hear from other people who'd had cats with similar symptoms. We know it's not fleas as he's been checked and doesn't have fleas.

I dread to think it's lymphoma. I dread having to decide to what degree he gets treated and to what extent he's suffering too much. I dread the thought of the vet's bills (already around £300 for 2 appointments and the scan tomorrow and then there'll be the potential inteventions). But most of all, I dread having to see DS2's distress.

If anyone else wants to share their own stories, that'd be helpful. Would there be any way of predicting if this is just a benign blockage - either something he ate which got stuck or a benign lump? Can you differentiate this dependent on current symptoms?

tabulahrasa Wed 13-Feb-13 16:42:03

I don't think there's any way of knowing whether it's benign or malignant before tests - they were pretty sure it was malignant in my cat because her blood test had really high levels of calcium.

It's not likely to be something he's eaten I wouldn't think as that would have made him very ill very quickly.

If it is lymphoma, the treatment protocol for my cat is a fairly conservative one because they don't like to do invasive things to cats,they don't cope with it very well. She gets chemotherapy, but it's just tablets that I give her at home once a fortnight and steroids, but she does have to have a blood test every 3 months to check it's not affecting her immune system.

When I say I'm constantly weighing up her quality of life...she's not ill, if that makes sense, lol, she's had a couple of periods where she's been off her food and medication hasn't helped - at those times we've had to weigh it up because I'm not willing to tube feed her or anything like that, but so far every time she's suddenly gone, ach I'm fine I think I'll eat now, I was just pulling your leg hmm she also gets a bit miserable when it's really cold, she's always hated cold, but she seems to feel it really badly now. She's thinner than she was and while she's still a healthy weight, she is at the bottom end of it, so that's something I have to keep an eye on.

For the majority of the time she's been on chemotherapy though, she's been much much perkier than she was just before she was diagnosed, she plays, she goes outside when it's nice weather, she steals food and beats up my other pets, lol.

The biggest expense was the initial referral to the oncologist and the scans and biopsy for diagnosis, steroids are really cheap, the chemotherapy drug is about £50 a bottle, but that's 6 months worth and the blood tests are about £80...but going to see the specialist cost about £1000 and I had to go there for her first few blood tests so that was £200 a go. And of course there have been extra vets visits when she went off her food, to keep an eye on her weight and some that were just me panicking over nothing, lol.

I hope it's something less serious - but I thought I'd give you more information just in case.

BlogOnTheTyne Wed 13-Feb-13 19:23:34

Thanks, tabulahrasa. I know we can't yet know the diagnosis, but it helps me to try to think ahead like this. Our cat hasn't put on weight and has actually lost a bit snce being weighed about 2 years ago - but then his half-brother is the same and has always - until v recently, been the skinny one we all worry about. So the loss of a plush, cuddly 'look' on DS2's cat is more worrying.

Thinking back, he's always been less boisterous than his brother but in recent times, has really done nothing but sleep between meals. His brother, by contrast, is really 'in your face' and plays, demands attention and love and is the dominant cat of the two.

Now I'm seeing things in a different light and thinking that DS2's cat has erhpas been ill rather than 'well-behaved'.

I really hope he's going to be OK. I also hope he hasn't got something that his half-brother also has - ie contagious. They are both indoor cats - have always been so, as there's a 'killer' fast road outside the house - so are less likely to have picked up viruses from other cats.

I'll just have to hope that things aren't too bad tomorrow. He's got to be shaved and scanned and I know it's going to look awful to DS2 when his cat loses a lot of fur.

werekitty Wed 13-Feb-13 21:30:51

My cat was diagnosed with intestinal lymphoma about 3 years ago when she was 9, she lost a lot of weight and was very lethargic. She started chemo, the mass has completely gone and she's just come off the chemo drugs as they were making her ill and suppressing her immune system. Have to wait and see if the lymphoma returns now but at the moment she's lively and having fun.

The treatment and all the tests and scans were very expensive, if I didn't have pet insurance then I wouldn't have been able to afford it. Think it has cost the insurance company about £4k.

Hope you have better news tomorrow.

tabulahrasa Thu 14-Feb-13 18:52:08

Hi, just wondering if there was any news?

BlogOnTheTyne Fri 15-Feb-13 05:22:04

Thanks for asking. The scan found nothing of note, except a slightly enlarged liver and spleen but the vet said he might have been born like that. No tumours and no problems with any other organs. They took tissue samples from his liver and spleen and blood samples. We'll get the blood test results tomorrow and the tissue ones next week.

So he's back home with a very bald abdomen and sides, which has upset DS2 again. The vet also put him on a Royal Canin Duck and Rice food. However, the other vet, 2 days ago, had said on no account change the food right now. So I was quite cross about this change. The vet food is extremely expensive and the bill so far, over the last 3 days, is close to £500!!!

He ate the food at the vets and a bit more at home but has lost some weight, they said and is clearly still not got a huge appetite. I keep thinking could it all be down to his gum gingivitis, as his gums are sore and when he tries to eat, he puts his head on one side and you can hear his teeth clashing v loudly together. But the vet said that as he's had gum problems for a long time, it can't just be that.

So it's better news than it might have been - but actually no real diagnosis yet at all. I have a sinking feeling that there'll still be no real diagnosis after the tissue and blood samples but only because we once went through a similar endless investigation for a dog and after loads of invasive tests reaching into the thousands of pounds, the conclusion was - we don't know.

At least they haven't diagnosed anything horrible but they did mention the word lymphoma as a possibility. May get more news today from the blood tests. \feel so sorry for him because it's pretty traumatic to spend a day at the vets and have lots of testing and shaving. Feel even more sorry for DS2 who is now trying to believe that it's alll fine and he can get back to normal, as he can't countenance change and adversity. He had a horrible day waiting all day long for news yesterday.

Fluffycloudland77 Fri 15-Feb-13 08:14:57

Are they going to treat his gingivitis? I remember our cats having teeth out due to it years ago.

tabulahrasa Fri 15-Feb-13 08:33:10

I know that one of the possibilities for an enlarged spleen is an infection, which is much more treatable than lymphoma - it was one of the things the oncologist raised my hopes with, before ruling it out, lol.

Funnily enough my cat has dodgy teeth that were cleaned and she had one taken out while we were monitoring her weight loss.

My eldest has AS, luckily while he likes the cat - she's not one of his obsessions, but when she first became ill it was weeks after we'd had to have our dog put to sleep because he had cancer (nothing we could do without removing a leg and he was too old to put him through that) it was all massively stressful.

tabulahrasa Fri 15-Feb-13 08:36:10

Oh and the food isn't likely to help, royal canin isn't a fantastic food for the amount it costs, vets are just really heavily marketed to by the manufacturers.

BlogOnTheTyne Sat 16-Feb-13 05:34:45

Not great news...We waited all day for the phone call from the vets with blood test results. They said they'd call first thing, so DS2 was right by the phone from 6.30am. I phoned 3 times across the day and we all called into the vets once where I begged again for some indication of the results - which had been there all day. They kept saying until one particular vet was free, they couldn't say anything.

At 9pm, seconds before DS2 went to sleep - by that time, assuming 'no news is good news', the phone went. DS2s cat had 'worrying' results. His red and white blood cells are normal but his biochemistry is abnormal. He's got low urea and low to normal albumen and a raised enzyme associated with liver damage.

Apparently, all this means that there's something wrong with his liver - which could be cancer or lymphoma etc. We're now waiting again this time for the tissue sample results to indicate a definite diagnosis of lymphoma or some form of hepatitis or 'unknown'.

Meanwhile, our cat perked up during the day today, happily ate more of the new food and had normal poos and wees and appears to be 'getting better'. However, he's been much less lively than his half-brother - life long and sleeps most of each day.

He's only going to be 4 yrs old in April and the vet thought it was unusual to have these symptoms in a v young cat. I'm now wondering about the cat breeder we got him and his bro. from. His brother had issues with diarrhoea for ages and has always been small and skinny and recently lost fur - although ironically, since his bro. has become ill, has got fatter and sleeker himself.

DS2s cat still looks as if it hurts his gums when eating but no vet has suggested doing anything about this.

I've googled all kinds of liver disease. Spent an hour cuddling DS2 last night, as he's so distressed. He's also shocked as he never really expected anything to be wrong with his cat. This is his first pet and he relies on is cat as a kind of inner, calming focus when he gets anxious or obsessive worries ( because of his Asperger's). I'm really upset about our cat but even more concerned about DS2.

It's the 'waiting' that's hardest of all. The tissue results won't be out till sometime next week and as I'm working all the time, it'll be harder to get hold of the results. I get the impression though that we may still not have definitive answers and that the vets will just start trying possible treatments like steroids, which I know can actually cause liver problems anyway.

I suppose I'm left wondering why our cat looks as if he's 'getting better' - plush gingery fur, clear eyes, appetite returning, more curious and active last night etc - IF he has something pathologically wrong? Will he go up and down in health for several months until we're having to decide on his quality of life....? Will DS2 have to continue to go through lots of worries and uncertainties until the end?

How have other people handled something like this with their DC?

Devilforasideboard Sun 17-Feb-13 08:52:04

Been lurking here and just wanted to say I'm thinking of you and DS. I lost a cat to a different condition a couple of weeks ago and know all too well the rollercoaster you're on now. Really the only thing you can do while you wait for results is take each day at a time. If the cat is eating well and playing that's a good sign, fingers crossed he continues to pick up. I'd definitely pursue the gum issues if I were you although I'd wait til you get the test results back. The cat we lost (also a 3yr old BS) had gum problems but the vet was reluctant to treat until we knew what else was going on. My other cat had a couple of teeth removed plus the rest cleaned due to gingivitis and it made a massive difference to the amount he could eat. He has to have his teeth brushed daily which is an interesting experience to say the least.

BlogOnTheTyne Tue 19-Feb-13 10:59:54

I am getting so angry with the vet! The tissue results are in but they were refusing giving me the results until the second vet who saw him last week was back in - on Thursday. Apparently, the vets don't like any colleague to follow-up but only themselves, even though this vet wasn't the one who saw our cat first.

Meanwhile, our poor cat is continuing to lose weight and not eating. He does go towards his food some of the time but again seems to find it impossible to eat and only licks the jelly.

I got more cross/assertive on the phone last night and begged them to at least give me some idea of the results and whether some medication might help him. At last, a different vet again spoke to me and said that the results were indeed there and were inconclusive. There were some indications again that something was wrong but neither ruled out or diagnosed lymphoma.

She said that the vet who scanned him would want to reach her own conclusions and decide the next step. I asked what I should do in the meantime, as our cat is still losing weight and not eating.

She said I'd have to wait till Thursday when the other vet is there but that vet may have not decided by then on the best course of action.

Is it normal practice at vets to refuse to give out test results that the cat owner has already paid for - and to refuse to begin any treatment, until a specific vet decides what to do?

There are loads of vets in the practice and all have different days/shifts etc and I just feel like, given I'm paying out so much money and given our cat is so ill, can't they just pass me to another colleague, so that, if there is anythign I can do to help our cat, then this can be done NOW?

DS2 has been anxious since last week and asks every day for news. I am currently working flat out daytimes and evenings, otherwise I'd just go to the vets with our cat and stand there until he was seen. Even when the whole family called in on Saturday about the blood test results, which were there, the receptionist, who actually had the results printed out in her hand, whisked the sheet away from me and refused to let me see.

Again, is this normal practice? Given I've paid for testing, given our cat is clearly ill, given all the results are now there, can't the vet - or even a vet nurse - just pass on a conclusion and a decision about possible treatment? If our cat might benefit from steroids (which is something that has been suggested), why can't he be started on them now instead of Thursday - or even later, if the vet hasn't reached her conclusions yet?

cozietoesie Tue 19-Feb-13 11:17:14

.....but they were refusing giving me the results......

Huh? You're paying them. Go to a different vet.

I think he may have tooth problems. In the interim, try some Gourmet pate food. Seniorboy has virtually no teeth left (he's very old) but has now adopted pate food. (Sainsbury's and Coop.)

Devilforasideboard Tue 19-Feb-13 11:44:47

I'd get a copy of the results and go to a different vet. Any of the three vets at our place were happy to see the cat/discuss results/treatment plans they just made sure they left detailed comments on his record.

Have they checked his Coronavirus titer in case he has FIP? It's uppermost in my mind as that's what my cat had but it can produce the symptoms you describe and is very difficult to test for (the Coronavirus is the non-mutated form which can mutate to FIP, a high Coronavirus titer would not give a definitive result but would warrant further investigation).

Whatever it is I hope you get to the bottom of it quickly. In the meantime would he take some recovery type high calorie food? You can get powdered stuff that you mix up to a liquid which may be easier for him to take if his teeth are hurting him.

cozietoesie Tue 19-Feb-13 12:04:39

....... Any of the three vets at our place were happy.........

Thanks Devil. Blog - if you're not happy with your vet then change them. And also report them professionally. Others will advise on the appropriate way.

BlogOnTheTyne Tue 19-Feb-13 12:55:50

So this isn't normal practice then? The vet's receptionist refused to give me the results. I tried to look at the sheet the receptionist had in her hand but she quickly snatched it away and said she would check with one of the vets - and then came back and said they couldn't tell me anything till the one who'd scanned him was free.

So I can't take any results to another practice. Also, the other vet may want to start their own testing again (bill so far is £550.00 in last few days and got no pet insurance).

Re. food, our cat is now on prescribed duck and rice pate Royal Canin but is still only licking and not eating - although he was eating a whole pot of this a day about 2 days ago. I also tried him on fresh cooked salmon last night but he only licked it.

Not heard of Coronovirus or FIP but will definitely ask the vet about this.

If he's still not eating by tomorrow, I'm going to try to get an emergency appointment with one of the vets and whilst there, beg them to suggest an initial intervention - if there is something at all they can do. I'll also mention FIP and see what they say.

tabulahrasa Tue 19-Feb-13 13:16:16

My vets will try to keep the same vet on a case or sometimes wait till the next day to look for a second opinion on something - but not to the extent of not discussing or treating something for a week shock

miggy Tue 19-Feb-13 13:31:46

Am a vet and FIP would be first thing I would be looking at too, especially in a youngish pedigree cat.
Sorry to hear you are going through this. I bought dd a lovely siamese cat for her ninth birthday and we lost her to FIP, I know how horrible it is when kids are involved too.
Can see why the receptionist wouldnt give you the results, she may not be able to interperet them and doesnt want to mislead you but a vet should have spoken to you.
You can change at any point if you wish to, just choose a new practice, go there and they will contact your vets directly for the history.
If insured and its complicated case, you can also ask your vets for a referral to a more specialist practice. Be aware though that you will possibly be looking at 1000s rather than 100s bill wise.
Foodwise anything is better than nothing, when our siamese was ill we found she would eat the little tins of Applaws, chicken and cheese/pumpkin etc

BlogOnTheTyne Thu 21-Feb-13 11:19:26

Just got back from the vets and wondering what to make of this: the pathologist couldn't rule out lymphoma but also couldn't say that it was lymphoma.

The vet I saw today could only say she didn't know what was wrong except that our cat has some mildly abnormal results. However, she then suggested that this might even just be due to gingivitis/inability to eat enough but on the other hand, as the pathologist had said lymphoma couldn't be ruled out, then it might still be that - or something else. She did however rule out FIP, saying our cat doesn't have those symptoms.

So I was left having to try to make sense of it all and make some decisions. I decided not to go with a full biopsy but to start by exploring if gingivitis could be the cause. So our cat is back into the vet on Monday morning for a general anaesthetic and teeth clean and exploration of back of his throat.

The vet said that IF teeth problems was the cause, then he would likely get 'back to normal' within a week, once his teeth are clean. If he doesn't, then we can assume it's something else - but still don't know what.

I don't want to leap to anything too invasive yet as our cat is still eating and holding his weight and at times is 'normal' but at other times not eating at all and v sleepy. She said that treatment for lymphoma involved thousands of pounds, including the initial biopsy and then weekly trips to the vet and medication. If it IS lymphoma, is it fair to go that route?

What I really don't understand, however, is how a possibly cause for everything (and now £580.00 down the line and more £££ to come on Monday), might simply be gingivitis? How would that give mildly abnormal liver tissue sample results?

If anyone has any suggestions or expertise or shared experience again, I'd very much appreciate it.

tabulahrasa Thu 21-Feb-13 16:47:22

Well like I said I am treating lymphoma, so I'm obviously biased on the is it fair aspect, lol.

I have spent thousands though... The initial referral, ultrasound and scan didn't give me any change from £1000, I then had to go back for a check up after a fortnight, then after 3 weeks, then after that it was 8 weeks and after that one it was every 12 weeks but at my own vets. They charge about twice what my vet does and medication costs more.

She about 6 months into treatment stopped eating for a week, she went in for another scan to see if it was something new, that was another £750... They then wanted to keep her in and possibly tube feed her, I took her home knowing that if she didn't eat over that weekend realistically I was going to have to have her put to sleep - she decided to eat.

Other than that period of not eating, she has the odd day where she's a bit off her food, she has the odd day where she's a bit sleepy - but overall she is fine and better than she was before she was diagnosed. (the second scan showed that although she still had visible changes, the growths from the first scan had shrunk right down)

After the first few months of closer check ups, she has a blood test every 12 weeks and just other visits as you'd normally use the vet. ( she's had conjunctivitis, diarrhoea once and she has a bit of arthritis)

I've definitely never had to take her every week. Medication is just tablets at home, yes the chemotherapy ones are expensive, i think the last bottle was about £75 (they wnt up) but that's for 6 months supply. The steroids cost about £2 every couple of months.

BlogOnTheTyne Mon 04-Mar-13 14:44:24

Update: our cat had his teeth cleaned under GA last Monday and was prescribed a week of antibiotics and painkiller (which he's still on). Within 24 to 48 hrs, he was better than before and currently has a voracious appetite, is playing and grooming, pooing and weeing normally.

I'd like to think that all that was wrong was his teeth were hurting him but I'm still completely confused about what's going on. The vet kept emphasising that, "there's something wrong with his liver - that's clear". So that of course is hugley worrying. Why is he currently thriving and better than normal, if there's something wrong with a key bodily organ?

With my permission, the vet who did his teeth, took some further blood tests/ samples and sent them off to a lab. hundreds of miles away from even more expensive testing - for everything from FIT to FEVT etc etc.

No results back yet and they say they'll phone me when they come in. This time, I asked them to let me have the results even if the vet can't give them to me herself and they v v reluctantly agreed - but I'm not holding my breath.

I arranged the follow-up appointment with a much nicer vet, who is the one who did his teeth and who explained everything much more clearly to me on the phone when she called, after his teeth were done. Unfortunately, she's not going to be in that day or any other this week, after all and I've been forced to see the horrible ice-cold one for the follow-up on Friday, as they wouldn't let any other vet do this.

I fail to understand why it's OK for a different vet to do his GA and teeth and follow-up phone call and potentially the follow-up consultation, yet return to the obligatory -"only the vet who's mainly dealing with him" for the next follow-up? I really don't trust her at all nor do I like her non-existent bed-side manner.

At least our lovely cat is currently bouncing around and eating more than he ever did. I really hope we get some defintive good news soon.

PureedGoodness Mon 04-Mar-13 15:03:40

Firstly so sorry to hear about ur cat.

My cat had an intestinal mass confirmed on an ultrasound scan. He was much older though at age 14. We took him to the vets as he had lost so much weight. We had noticed the decrease in weight and put it down to his age and perhaps stress since we had just had our baby son so thinking the disruption of this new being in the house was causing our already insecure cat more stress.

Anyway the vet did a blood test and this showed he had anaemia but what was worrying to them was the fact that our cats body wasnt trying to mend itself with the low haemoglobulin. An ultrasound confirmed this intestinal mass and due to his age they didnt feel it appropriate to operate.

We brought him home and we just gave him the best few weeks we could and treated him to his favourite foods and kept him comfortable. He had good days and bad days. On his good days he would run up to us and pur and devour everything we gave him. But on his bad days he would curl up under the radiator and keep himself to himself. He wouldnt have much appetite and he would have diarrhoea about a dozen times a day. Got to the point where it was just mucus coming out as there wasnt anything left coming out.

Advice from our vet was to keep going until he was having more bad days than good days. The vet reassured us that he wont be in any pain but he will just be feeling lethargic due to his low blood count and also nauseous with the mass pressin on his belly.

Within a few weeks our beloved cat died in my arms at home. I was devastated but glad i didnt have to make the decision about having him put down. My heart goes out to those who have to do that. of course i would have gone down that route if our cat was having more bad days and if he looked like he was in pain. That morning on the day he died he was all spritely though and full of energy so it was a complete shock when he took this bad turn.

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