Cat with Cancer; Advice Requested
My 15-year-old cat was diagnosed with cancer Friday. The vet strongly believes it is lymphoma that has metastasized to the liver. Without a biopsy, he can’t be sure of the disease’s origin or spread. The cat has lost some weight but is otherwise fine in appearance and behavior. She goes through all her daily rituals with my wife and me, wagging her tail and purring the entire time. While I certainly don’t know if she’s masking pain, by all appearances she is enjoying each day. The vet believes this to be true.
Our options are limited. Do nothing and she’ll slowly die over the next couple of months. Give prednisone, and we’ll perhaps buy an extra month. Or chemotherapy. And here is where my wife and I are struggling. …
For cats, chemo is given in very low doses, intended only to send the disease into remission; not eradicate. So its side effects are usually mild. The vet said she would have a day of sleepiness, poor appetite and maybe diarrhea or vomiting, after which she would be back to normal. She would go once a week for eight weeks, for anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, depending on the medication needed. If the treatment is successful, the vet projects eight to 12 months of life the way she is now. If not, she would still likely gain an extra couple of months. Of course, we could stop at any time if she reacted poorly.
The catch is, chemo can’t be properly prescribed -- or prescribed at all -- without a biopsy. The vet estimates a 75 to 80 percent rate of the cat surviving the biopsy, followed by a five-to-seven-day recovery. There’s a slim chance that, during the biopsy, we could see that the cancer hasn’t reached the liver and is thus much more treatable via chemo.
We’ve wrestled with this for days, trying to separate our desire to see the animal have as many good days as possible with what is in the best interest of the animal. We don’t want her to live a single day that’s not worth living, but we truly don’t know what is best. In effect, we’d be betting two months of her life on a 3-to-1 shot for eight to 12 more.
So I’ve reached out to you all here. Not necessarily for advice, but for any perspective an unconnected observer may provide. Anything that may help us decide what is best for the cat. I look at her 50 times a day and feel helpless, like I should do something -- anything. But I don’t know what to do. Your kind words would be appreciated.