12 year-old feline with intestinal tumor

cookingrvcDecember 7, 2009

Our little girl Sophie had not been looking well for the past few months. Although she's always been tiny, she lost some weight and now appears to be losing muscle mass. She is just skin and bones and her face is so gaunt.

She's hyper-t and her T4 was 18 last week. We've since switched to liquid meds flavored with real tuna so we are hoping she improves on that front.

Today she had an abdominal ultrasound that showed a mass in her intestines. They took a biopsy and we should know the type of cancer by the end of the week.

She is not active, while she seems interested in food she barley eats. We will start giving her the hyper-t meds directly tomorrow as shes not getting enough of it through the little food she is eating.

She doesnt look good but still purrs when she sits on daddys lap. My heart is breaking for her. I know it is premature but I can't see putting her through a surgery should that be an option. I also don't want to get to the point where she is suffering. I don't even know if shes suffering now. I certainly dont want her to suffer with a blockage.

I know I need to talk to the vet more, but I am terrified that she is going to suffer and dont know if we should just put her down before anything happens.

I don't even know why I am posting. I guess itmight help to hear from someone who has gone through this with a senior cat.


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I'm so very sorry to hear your news. I went through this two years ago with my eight year old kitty. It took three biopsies to get the final diagnosis. The diagnosis was intestinal lymphoma which is very difficult to treat.

I did not opt for surgery due to the weight loss and was too worried that she would not make it through the surgery. Also, surgery does not guarantee that they will remove all the cancer cells and the tumor. In other words, you may put her through that ordeal PLUS spend the money - only to have it continue to grow.

Whatever you decide to do, try to get her on Prednisone as urgently as possible. It will stimulate her appetitite and help with the pain and buy you some time as you decide how you wish to respond regarding treatment.

She's not eating because it hurts her tummy. You cannot let a cat go on too long without adequate food. They can then develop 'Fatty Liver Disease' and that can take them quicker than the cancer.

Get as many different varieties of high-cal special nutrition food options for her. Right now, getting her to eat is extremely important. For example, Eukanuba sells one called "Max Calorie" that most vets carry. Also, ask your vet what they would recommend. Gerber's baby-food is a good option too as sick kitties seem to prefer it.

I opted for chemo to treat ny cat's cancer. Unfortunately, my kitty passed away a week after her first treatment.

As painful as it was, I feel I made the right decision to not proceed with surgery for my cat. I still think chemo was the best choice.

Learn as much as you can about this. It will help you decide your treatment options.

It's so hard to go through this. My heart really goes out to you with whatever decision you make.

Here's a link that may get you started on research:


Find a specialist to treat your cat. Your regular vet is just like you going to your general practioner for cancer treatment. It's probably not what you would choose to do if you were diagnosed with cancer.

Here's a link to the specialist I went to. You may be able to get a reference from them to a cancer veterinarian in your area.


Again, good luck with your kitty.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 11:09PM
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I believe it's always better a day too soon than a minute too late. I've had cats live into their twenties with no problems, and it's always so sudden and shocking to have to end their lives, but I'm not trying to set any records. When I've got a 20yo cat presenting with heart and kidney failure or a cat with a tumor under his tongue, I'm going to let them go as soon as they seem uncomfortable. With younger cats, it's harder, but I don't want my pets to suffer, and if I don't see any real end in sight, I will end it as soon as it appears hopeless. I know they might have a few more good days, but it's just not worth it to me to prolong their lives so I can see them almost acting like themselves for a few minutes or days. While working at an emergency vet hospital, I had to assist in more euthanasias than I ever thought I'd ever experience, and I often saw horribly emaciated and/or ravaged animals who hung on far too long for their distraught owners. There is no shame in ending it before it gets that bad. I understand why people let it go that long, but I don't like it.

I wish you all the best, and I know it's hard. You'll make the right decision. It's never fun to see our pets get old and die before us, but it's worth it for all the joy they give us. You know your cat better than any of us do, and your write-up seems to indicate that you think she's not going to fare too well in the near future. I sincerely hope you will eventually feel good about whatever decision you make. The fact that you even asked indicates that you're a caring pet owner, and I hope you don't beat yourself up too much over this.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 11:13PM
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I'm so sorry, Sue. I can't speak to the intestinal mass, though I'm sure hoping that it doesn't turn out to be cancer.

I do have some experience with hyperT, though. How long has she had the hyperT diagnosis, and how long have you been medicating her? What dose has she been on and for how long at that dose? You've been giving it in food? How long has her appetite been poor relative to the thyroid med dosing?

Do you have copies of all of her bloodwork? Is there anything out of normal range other than the T4?

It'll help to know the answers to these questions.


    Bookmark   December 7, 2009 at 11:17PM
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Sue, I am right there with you, just a few weeks ahead of you. My oldest Ragdoll Frank (11 years old) started losing muscle mass and his white blood cell count came back low. He had an ultrasound, and of course he was the 1% of the cats that the ultrasound doesn't show if it is or isn't cancer, so we opted for the exploratory surgery. It turns out not to be cancer, just food allergies. He is now on the Hills Prescription DD diet, and is thriving.

I would opt for the surgery. She is young enough to come through just fine, but take her for a second opinion if you aren't comfortable with the current vet's decision. She will let you know when it is time to go. You will see the signs, but don't do anything until you know for sure. If it is cancer it is treatable, it is just how much you would be willing to put her through. Cats are tough little creatures, and can get through a lot with a ton of love and a few treats.

I also had talks with Frank and one of my other cats, Lily (she went into kidney failure last year and her left kidney was dead and her right one was working at about 50%), I had a serious heart to heart talk with them, I told Lily I loved her so very much and wanted her on this earth a little longer, but if she needed to go then I would let her. Within a week after the surgery she was like a new kitten: playful, energetic, good appetite, and best of all, the followup ultrasound showed both kidneys were working. They had never seen anything like it, I like to believe it was our talk.

Best of luck to you, I hope it is just a benign mass that can be dealt with easily, and I will be sending good thoughts your way.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 5:57AM
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Thank you santpfla, laurief, jenc, and michelle.

I don't have the blood test with me, but her white counts are all up, her kidney function is fine (she is taking meds for this too but I can't recall the name...starts with an A...tan-ish powder in a capsule).

We were crushing her hyper-t pills and putting them in her food but they're too bitter so now we have a liquid from the compounder (flavored with tuna). Since yesterday, we are giving it to her directly since she is not eating.

She has been on the hyper-t meds for a couple of years and had a good appetite before. In the past two months she's been ravenous and would eat anything in front of her, but was still losing muscle mass. She lost 2/10ths of a lbs since October so her weight seems fairly stable but now that she's not eating that is going to change. Her coat is awful and she looks so sunken in her face and well, all over.

Now she's not eating at all (since yesterday). Vet called this morning. They had taken urine and she has a low-grade UTI. He suggested giving her meds for it in a shot. He also suggested an anabolic steroid to increase her appetite.

I fear that if she is made to eat it might cause discomfort considering the tumor is partially blocking her intestines. They did see space for food to pass, but it is restricted.

I wonder if the kidney meds might be messing her up. She's only been on those for a few months around the time we noticed changes. Too much at one time, hard to tell what's doing what.


    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 9:54AM
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They make the HyperT meds in a trans-dermal form too. You apply it to the ear. It works great and kitty just thinks you're stroking her ear. Sometimes, you have to consider changing the form of the meds in order to address other (new) medical conditions.

Alot of us here know what you are going through. It's very difficult. I have an elderly kitty with a disease that I'm caring for right now too. The emotional roller-coaster is hard.

Good luck and all the best to you with whatever you decide to do.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 10:49AM
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I'm sorry about your kitty. I lost my boy to cancer last January. The vet was not able to determine where his cancer started (seemed to be somewhere in his digestive system), but my heart goes out to you because it is very difficult.

Our vet supplied us with some of the RX diet that is high calorie and very mushy (I think it is Science Diet AD) as well as a needle-less syringe with which to force feed him. I think that was a great help for him as cats need to eat. Though it's far from ideal, I'd recommend trying something like this. Just a couple syringe-fulls a day can make a difference.

(((HUGS))) I am so very sorry for what you are going through.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 10:57AM
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Thanks saintpfla. We were trying the liquid first in hopes it would make her more attracted to the food; transdermal is our next option.

Will also try the baby food. She seemed to like chopped chicken liver I gave her the other day, so I'll get her some today.

I appreciate your thoughtful words in your original post. I am so aware of the kindness and humaneness we can show to our beloved pets by putting them down. I always felt it unfortunate that humans who suffer with terminal diseases don't have that option for themselves.

While we're terribly pained with the thought of putting her down, we have agreed that we want to do it before her suffering escalates, but will certainly try to get her the best help as we don't want to short change her either. It's just so hard to know when its the right time.

Thank you for your thoughts.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 11:01AM
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Sue, I am sorry you have to go through this. It's so difficult to decide what to do, and even surgery sometimes doesn't work.

Our 12 year old Bogart had surgery for an intestinal tumor May 1st. The vet opened him and closed him right back up as the tumor was intertwined with the intestine. She said it would have been major surgery and recovery, including removing/resecting parts of the colon and she would not have been able to get all of it. She also said because of the type of cancer he has, he is not a candidate for chemo.

So he basically was sent home for palliative care until things get too uncomfortable for him. So far, everything is still okay, knock wood. He has lost weight, but still has good appetite and eats plenty. He craves raw meat (we switched to grass-fed/free-range) and gets all he wants. He eats it in addition to EVO canned. He doesn't seem to be in any pain, he is active and doing kitty things the same as before. Hopefully, he can hang in there and have quality of life for a while longer. I hope your Sophie pulls out of this and does well for as long as possible. Have you tried jarred meat baby food to stimulate her appetite? Just make sure it does not contain onions.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2009 at 11:05AM
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