17 year old cat facing eye removal

arlosmomDecember 19, 2008

Hi! I'm usually hanging around the kitchen forum, but I'm afraid they can't help me this time.

We have a small sweet cat named Sophie (a.k.a. the "Princessa") whom I adopted when she was 8 weeks old. From very early on, she has had two different colored eyes. The right eye had been changing for the past couple of years, most recently getting large and bulgy. It never seemed to be causing any pain or discomfort, so we've been watching it and having the vet check it every visit. His guess was that it was a tumor or cancer. We've talked about options, one of which was to remove the eye, but we had pretty much decided that we didn't want to put a 17 year old cat through the trauma and pain of surgery or the danger of anesthesia.

Two days ago it perforated. Looks like a hernia. We took her to a cat opthomologist yesterday and he can see melanoma at the back of the eyeball, but he said if she's otherwise healthy, removing the eye is still an option. We went back to our vet and had her x-rayed -- no visible signs of cancer elsewhere -- and had blood drawn. We're waiting to hear the results of the blood tests. If the blood work looks good, then she's a candidate for surgery.

So now we're back to the question of "Do we put a 17 year old cat through this?" Locigally, we've been telling ourselves "no". But she's still spry and athletic, still has a good appetite, still grooms herself, and through this whole ordeal over the past couple of days has purred continually. She still seems happy to be here and doesn't seem ready to go. I know that no one can really help answer this for us, but I don't really know what to do. If she was in pain, the decision would be clear, but she just seems happy. I feel a little lost.

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If she's in good health she'll probably come thru the surgery fine. I can't tell you whether to do the surgery or not, but keep in mind that your cat could live into her mid 20's. She may not be showing pain, but I'd wonder just how uncomfortable she is and if infection is more prone to get into the area now that it has perforated.

If I remember my medical info correctly, x-rays are not a sure way of detecting cancer thruout the body since it's used mostly for examining bones, not soft tissue.
If you go forward, is the cat opthomologist doing the surgery?

I wish you luck in your decision............

    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 12:02PM
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If it were a 17 year old dog, I'd have to say let her go. But, a 17 year old cat could still have many years ahead of her if she is otherwise healthy.

I would discuss the pros and cons of this with your vet if the blood work comes back clean. Definitely weigh the risks and such.

The way I look at these things - is if the vet tells me there is a fairly large chance the animal won't make it off the table, or last much longer after, then it's time to say our goodbyes.

However, if the vet says there is no reason not to go through with it, then I can't help but do something about it.

I need to know I have done my best for the animal either way. If it means letting them go peacefully instead of painfully, or fixing whatever is wrong.

Good luck, and I hope you and your vet can come to a decision that you're all comfortable with!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 12:29PM
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We're still waiting for the phone call from the vet about the blood work results. I thought I was well past my waiting-by-the-phone years!

I think the opthomologist had us x-ray her to see if there was advanced cancer. He told us it was very likely cancer had spread, but that melanoma progresses slowly in cats and an x-ray could tell us if it was too advanced to make surgery worthwhile. Does that sound right? If we proceed, the opthomologist will perform the surgery.

Infection is definitely a concern now that the eye is perforated. She is on oral Baytril and I'm putting a lubricant and a topical antibiotic in her eye three times a day. We know that prolonging the status quo isn't an option. We have to make a decision and schedule the next step today. I think we are leaning toward surgery if the blood results are good. The opthomologist said her lungs sounded good and her heart sounded good for her age (slight heart murmer). Blood will tell us about kidneys and liver. Thanks for your support annz and monkos.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 1:53PM
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The problem is the choice you have to make, I think. To leave the eye is to continue a situation of pressure and pain, I think.

If she is in otherwise good health, I would have the eye removed and look forward to 3-5 more years with her!

Vets, correct me if I am wrong!

    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 2:42PM
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I like to take that approach that I should NOT penalize my dogs and cats because they're old. So medical decisions are made based on the overall condition, (mental and physical), and age is NOT a factor. That's worked well for my herd. Most of my kitties have lived to their early twenties. Sounds like your girl is going to be around for a while based on her activity level and relative health.

    Bookmark   December 19, 2008 at 7:40PM
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Let us know how the blood work looks. I think this will help you answer the questin of whether to go ahead or not.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 10:45AM
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I'm 100% in agreement with Cynthia.

Removing an eye is a relatively fast, easy surgery- I've done several. It's extremely important to make sure your vet has appropriate surgery protocols in place to protect your cat during surgery: monitoring body temp, pulse, blood pressure, oxygenation. I'd insist on an IV catheter and fluids during surgery, as older cats cannot afford to lose BP which can trash their kidneys, plus IV access is critical should there be a problem with anesthesia. And of course pain control is absolutely necessary, as is close monitoring while she recovers from anesthesia.

If the labwork looked OK, I'd personally go ahead with surgery since your kitty is otherwise happy and active. Obviously your kitty has already adapted to seeing only through one eye, so that is not a problem. We rarely get a chance to cure cancer in animals, but with a local melanoma it is definitely possible. I'd treasure every extra moment you can get by going through with the surgery.

Good luck, I'll be thinking about you and your kitty. And please let us know how everything turned out.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 11:43AM
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Well, I talked to the vet at the end of the day yesterday and he said that there is nothing in her blood work that concerns him for surgery. I'm taking her in Monday to the opthamologist for surgery, and will be able to bring her home Tuesday. Thanks for all of your good thoughts. Here's the girlie the summer before last...the eye had gotten quite a bit bulgier since then:

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 2:10PM
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What a beautiful kitty! Good luck with everything, I hope you'll come back to update.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 4:20PM
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A friend of ours had a one-eyed cat who lived to be quite old. He lived a totally normal life, was a great hunter as well. I think your kitty will come through fine. They are very resilient.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2008 at 6:36PM
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It sounds like you've made your right decision already. I was just going to reiterate that if you are uncomfortable about anything, talk to your vet! This is what they do and they can offer a lot of guidance to help you make the best decisions.

We have a 14 year old cat with compromised health and I waffled on having her yucky teeth pulled for over a year. We finally had it done this year and are glad we did. We were afraid that she would take a turn for the worst following surgery, but everything in relation to the surgery went great and she's got a higher quality of life now. I think I needed to hear from several different sources, including the vet, that anesthesia can be used safely on the sick and elderly.

Positive thoughts for your kitty on surgery day.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 10:20AM
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Glad her lab work came out OK. We'll be thinking of Sophie on Monday!

    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 10:45AM
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yep... happy holidays

Hope everything goes well.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2008 at 4:57PM
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Well, Sophie had her surgery yesterday morning. She seems pretty unfazed by it. She's curled up in her donut bed, purring away. Sweet girl!

My big challenge now is getting her to keep the funnel collar on when I'm away. She's figured out how to slip her paw between her neck and the collar and back her head out. Luckily I'll be at home for most of the time the next several days so I can keep an eye on her. And so far, she hasn't tried to bother the eye at all. I expect it will start to itch a little more as it heals.

Thanks for all your good thoughts everybody. Both Sophie and I appreciate it! Happy and safe holidays!!!

    Bookmark   December 23, 2008 at 7:54AM
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Yea! Glad her surgery went well.

So far none of my eye removal patients have needed an e-collar. I don't use external stitches though, so there is nothing to be irritating. Also most have had significant pain in the eye that needed to be removed, and are *so* happy to get it out that it becomes a non-issue. I put them on pain meds for 4 days post-op and haven't had a problem.

Hope Sophie continues to do well. Happy Holiday!

    Bookmark   December 24, 2008 at 1:51PM
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I wanted to post that I faced having my 15 year old kitty's eye removal after months of treatment for a chronic herpes infection and ultimately her cornea ruptured. I was sick when the Veterinary Eye Specialist recommended removal of the eye because of her age and what we (and she) had already been through and the thousands of dollars spent trying to save her eye not to mention the trauma of giving her daily treatments, etc. Anyway as always I searched the internet and had found this forum and read this thread which actually gave me comfort in that I was doing the right thing. I am happy to report that my "Dallas" came through the surgery just fine. (this was two weeks ago). Before the surgery for months (during all the treatments) she had been listless and not acting herself and seemed like she had aged 10 years in like 6 months. Only days after the surgery she was back to her old self and is now spry as she ever was. We definitely did the right thing. The only thing I can say or recommend is that you do have a professional Veterinary Doctor that specializes in eyes do this surgery. I only say this because I have seen posts of pictures of other pets that had that surgery that were pretty gross after the surgery. Our doctor put some sort of prosthetic implant in the socket so it would never sink in and sewed the eyelid shut from the inside so there was no aftercare. He also said he administered some sort of 2-week long antibiotic so there would be no trip back to take stitches out and no medicine to have to try to get into her. No aftercare at all really. The eye looks great. There was no discharge or anything. She just looks like she is winking at you. So knock on wood - so far so good and I am very impressed with what he did. The cost was close to $1,000 but well worth it. I have my kitty back. I just wanted to post this follow up as a courtesy for someone else that may have to go through this type of thing.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2012 at 8:23PM
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