Saturday, October 25, 2008

Clara's carcinomatosis


My sweet cat, Clara, was diagnosed with carcinomatosis in her chest on October 17, 2008 and I had her euthanized the next day. It was all very sudden and I didn't have much time to think about things. Though I knew that there was nothing I could do for Clara except make the decision to have her put to sleep so that she wouldn't suffer more than she had, I still wanted to find information on her condition--I wanted to understand what was happening to her and why (if there was a why). But I could find almost nothing about it on the Internet. This website, about a cat named Minu who also had carcinomatosis, was "comforting" to me--it helped to read other people's stories about their cats (several people whose cats had the same problem have left comments on the blog too). This website has the story of a cat named Harpsie with quite a few links (but I didn't find the links helpful for Clara's specific disease--they're mostly links for various other types of cancer in cats etc.). I want to share what little information I have on Clara's diagnosis in case it helps anyone else searching the internet for information on their own cat's condition.

The first symptom I noticed in Clara was that she was breathing more rapidly than usual. This evolved then into her breathing being very labored--it looked like she was hyperventilating. The first time I noticed her breathing faster than usual, she was sitting on my lap, but I assumed she had been running around or something. A week later, I noticed a flea on Clara's sister, Alice, and gave both cats a flea bath. While I was bathing Clara, with her hair matted down, I could clearly see her breathing wasn't usual. Again, I hoped it was because I was stressing her by giving her a bath. But the next day, a Sunday, I saw she still wasn't breathing normally and took her to the vet on the Monday. The vet suggested she may have asthma or a heart condition (common in older cats) and recommended chest X-rays. When he called me later that day with the results, he said that he couldn't even see Clara's heart because there was fluid in her chest (not in her lungs--around her lungs) and that was never a good thing. The "best" possibility was that she had a diaphragmatic hernia--a hole between her abdomen and chest that was letting abdominal fluid leak into her chest. But that condition is normally seen in animals who have suffered physical trauma, such as being hit by a car. Other possibilities included a heart problem, a tumor, or feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), a lethal virus infection. He had also drawn blood from Clara for some tests, and asked if I would consent to the blood also being tested for viruses. I said that would be fine. Because the best way to look at Clara's heart was by doing an ultrasound (echocardiogram), he referred me to a specialty clinic. 

The clinic could only see Clara on Wednesday morning, and I needed to bring Clara's X-rays and blood test results in person, so I picked those up at my regular veterinarian first. No one ever discussed the blood test results with me, but I managed to figure out a lot of it and so could tell that Clara did have elevated white blood cell (especially neutrophil) counts (consistent with FIP) and was positive for the FIP test, though that doesn't actually mean much because the test detects exposure to other related viruses too, and cannot specifically indicate the presence of FIP (so why it's called a FIP test, I don't know... if it had been negative, I suppose it would have ruled out FIP, so I can see that it is still useful to get the test results).

The internal medicine specialist I met with at the specialty clinic agreed with my veterinarian that the best thing to do first was an ultrasound--it would have told us if Clara had a heart problem (which seemed to be what the internal medicine veterinarian suspected it was) and would also have shown evidence of a hernia (e.g. intestines/liver in the chest) or tumor. She also extracted the fluid from Clara's chest to have it tested for FIP and other things (protein content, cellular content etc.), and if she'd seen a tumor, she would have biopsied that too.

When the vet finally gave me her assessment that evening, she told me she had found that Clara's heart was perfectly fine, but that the fluid had tested positive for FIP by their "bench-top test*" and that the ratio of immune cell types she'd seen under the microscope was consistent with inflammation caused by a FIP infection. In other words, she was worried that Clara did indeed have FIP. If the pleural fluid she'd sent out for testing came back negative for FIP though,  she said she might then need to do a CT scan on Clara's chest to look for evidence of cancer. She said she had seen some stuff waving around in the fluid in Clara's chest during the ultrasound and that it was possibly fibrin, another indicator of FIP-induced inflammation, but possibly cancerous masses. [*I don't know what her "bench-top test" was, but I know that pleural fluid from cats with FIP has a certain appearance (straw/yellow color) and that it foams when shaken because of the high protein content. Perhaps that is what the vet had seen?]

The test results were due back the next day, Thursday, but the lab was backed up so the results didn't come in until late Friday afternoon (it was agonizing). We assumed that Clara did have FIP--everything was consistent with it. FIP is incurable and somewhat contagious, so we were going to have to worry that Alice might get it too, if indeed Clara had it (there's ~5% chance that other cats in a household will get it, and a higher chance in siblings). If Clara had FIP, there was the option of giving her prednisone/prednisolone (corticosteroids--they reduce inflammation and would thus have potentially helped keep the fluid levels in Clara's chest down, at the expense of making her immunocompromised). With treatment, Clara's life could have been prolonged, though I'm not sure how long as I saw lots of conflicting information about FIP on the Internet. Possibly only weeks, but possibly months. When the vet called and told me that Clara didn't have FIP, I was amazed. But then she told me Clara had an incurable, untreatable cancer and thus only days to live before breathing would get too hard for her. The diagnosis had been made because a technician in the lab who examined the fluid from Clara's chest had seen the cancerous cells. I later found out that in about 75% of the cases, the cells are not seen and the cat has to undergo more tests for a vet to figure it out. So in some ways, we were "lucky" to find out so promptly, sparing Clara from more poking, prodding and visits to the vet.

Carcinomatosis is a cancer of the epithelial cells in either the abdominal or chest cavity. In Clara's case, it was her primary and only cancer. A cell in her chest had mutated and become cancerous, and now there were masses of growth throughout her chest. The physical presence of these cell masses was irritating to her body and so her body had initiated inflammation to deal with it. But it was the inflammation that caused Clara's chest to fill with fluid, pushing on her lungs and restricting her breathing. When I took Clara in the next day to the first vet to be euthanized, the vet told me that they do sometimes treat cats with carcinomatosis with corticosteroids too, and that makes sense, because it would reduce the inflammation, which is the same problem with FIP. I realized though that prolonging Clara's life would be for my sake and not for hers--she was still going to have cancer and likely still be uncomfortable and would have to get medication every day. So, we proceeded with the euthanization.

The other symptom Clara did have was weight loss... when I took her to the vet on that first day, I realized she had lost 0.3 lbs (had been 6.5 lbs for years, then was 6.2 lbs at the vet on the Monday). At the specialty clinic, she'd had over two ounces of fluid removed from her chest, so she was probably really only 6 lbs. I could feel that her backbone was sticking out more than it usually did and that she didn't have as much muscle on her back near her tail as she used to. That muscle wasting is apparently common in these diseases. I'd been feeding Clara lots of canned food her last week, to try to keep her energy levels up and to keep her eating. It worked--she was still eating and drinking on her last day--but it wasn't enough to keep her from getting thinner. And I knew that at some point, she probably wouldn't want to eat and drink, and she'd be extra skinny and would perhaps even lose the strength to jump onto my bed or onto the couch (her two favorite places). I'm glad that Clara didn't suffer more than she had to (I assume her last two weeks, when she was having breathing difficulties, were somewhat uncomfortable for her), though I felt like I had been hit by a freight train having her euthanized so suddenly. I never thought that I would lose her when she was only 10, and in very good general health.

Well, that's Clara's story. I hope this information is useful to someone else some day.

55 comments:

Craig said...

Appreciate what your wrote. Similar story. Likely having my cat put down this evening. Painful process to watch one you love waste away.

Samantha said...

Craig, I'm sorry and sad to hear about your cat.

Thank you for leaving a comment.

Bethany said...

I just got my 11 year old Macey's diagnosis on 5/16. I am so sad and I am not sure what to do. This is horrible and I wouldn't wish this pain on my worst enemy.She truely has been my best friend......

Samantha said...

Bethany, I'm sad to read about Macey. I know just what you mean about not wishing this sort of pain on your worst enemy. I still think about Clara often and remember her fondly. Best wishes to you as you go through a horrible time.

Kristine said...

I am sorry for your loss. My darling 11 year old cat, Claire, was diagnosed with carcinomatosis (throughout her chest) just two days ago. She was fine until just over a week ago, when she started hiding in the closet and lost her appetite. Her breathing is still OK, but the hospital had to remove fluid from her chest a few days ago. I was completely shocked that she has cancer and am devastated. I know that I will have to euthanize her soon and it just breaks my heart.

Samantha said...

Oh Kristine, I'm so sorry. And all of our cats still relatively young (10-11) at diagnosis. Best wishes to you.

Janet H said...

Just got back from the specialty vet with much the same diagnosis for BigBoy. who is about 8 years old, his carcinomatosis is abdominal related. I was holding out hope that there was some other problem, a benign tumor maybe, but though we do not yet have a definitive diagnosis, there's still another lab test to come in, I now know I'll have to put him down shortly. He still comes for meals, but hardly touches his food, and is wasting away to nothing. It was somehow comforting to read Clara's story, and the other comments, knowing BigBoy and I are not alone. Janet

Samantha said...

Janet, I'm sorry about BigBoy. He's so young, too.

Kristine said...

In the week after her diagnosis, Claire barely had any interest in eating or drinking. She mainly hid in the closet or under a table. She looked so unhappy, oftentimes staring vacantly into space, and when I pet her I felt bones that I had never felt before. We were driving her to the vet hospital to put her down this morning so that she would suffer no longer, and she died in the car on the way there. Two weeks ago, she seemed perfectly healthy, and now she's gone. I can't stop crying.

Samantha said...

Kristine, I'm sorry that Claire is gone. How quickly they can go from healthy to hurting to gone. I wish you peace.

Janet H said...

Samantha, thanks for your kind thoughts. Kristine, I totally sympathize with you, know exactly what you're going through. I had my daughter drive me to the vet on Friday to put BigBoy down, he was suffering and I couldn't leave him like that, it was the last best thing I could do for him. Take comfort in the fact that you did everything you could for Claire, but there was no way you could have known any sooner, cats are experts at hiding their illnesses, and there really weren't any outward signs except maybe she wasn't eating as well as normal, and that could be for numerous reasons. At least you were holding her when she died, and she'll be waiting at the end of that Rainbow Bridge for you someday.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story and information. It's so helpful. Our cat, Honey, was just diagnosed with this. Symptoms seem to be much the same. We are going to try the corticosteroids, but understand this is mostly palliative. We are preparing ourselves for the tough emotional choice of saying goodbye. She's an old, sweet girl and has been such an integral part of our family. We just want to do what's best for her at this point. Thanks again for helping others understand what we might expect with this condition.

Samantha said...

I'm sorry about Honey and pleased that Clara's story and the information I posted has been useful to people--a small upside to the whole thing.

Linda said...

My baby has this too. It's breaking my heart! Going to a veterinary oncologist this afternoon.

Samantha said...

Best wishes, Linda.

Michele M said...

Thank you for sharing. Took my kitty, Teddy Bear, to the Emergency Hospital on Sunday morning. Friday afternoon he had acted listless, still purring, but content to say in one place. Saturday he was more lethargic, and Sunday morning I knew he had to go in. Thought there would be an antibiotic, shot, something that would help him and we would be on our way home. Instead, he was diagnosed with an abdominal mass and carcinomatosis, with possible slow bleeding from the mass. To put Teddy Bear through aggressive treatment with a poor end result, didn't seem fair. He was euthanized four hours after we got to the hospital. Coming home with an empty carrier was horrible, but the thought of putting him through pain didn't seem fair to my boy. Rest in peace Tedders xoxoxo

Samantha said...

Michele, I'm sorry about Teddy Bear. It was hard for me to believe that the trip to the vet didn't just involve a pill being prescribed too. Things went so quickly after that.

Marty said...

My cat Yoda was just diagnosed on Thursday with the same thing only it is abdominal. When looking at the Xrays we saw some fluid in the chest but not enough to draw but my vet knew as soon as she saw the films what it was. Yoda is 14 and has been through so much in his life! He is so very special, and I can't bear the thought of losing him. Yet I can see him changing daily. In all the 20+ years I worked in vet hospitals I never heard of this disease. He is eating and drinking well but he is weaker and I know the decision will need to be made on Monday. Thank you all for speaking up and putting a voice to this awful disease and sharing. I send my sympathy to all of you.

Samantha said...

I'm sorry about Yoda, Marty. I hope you have a satisfying "goodbye" weekend with him, if that is possible.

Julie said...

My 9 year old cat Coraline was diagnosed with this and I found your site while searching for info.
I took her into the vet after she had stopped eating for a few days. She had no other symptoms so I was shocked when the vet showed me her x-ray with fluid leaking out everywhere. He went on to do an ultrasound that night to reveal that the fluid was leaking from her stomach. After a biopsy, he found cancer cells and told me the sad news.
He said that surgery or chemo could be done but that these would only be temporary fixes and encouraged me to put her down.
Being in shock from the news, and seeing that she still seemed ok, I wasn't ready to do that. The vet gave her IV fluids, a painkiller injection, and sent me home with transdermal Peridone steroid and an appetite stimulant to give to her 2x daily.
The first few days with the medicine she actually seemed to be getting better. I was mixing up small portions of canned food with water and heating it up for her. She was eating and had energy again. But her belly was getting big from the fluids in her stomach, and from not pooping. I gave her Laxatone and that helped her do a couple BMs.
After about a week and a half, the medicines stopped working. She stopped eating completely again. She would drink some water, but that was it. She became lethargic and stopped coming to the door to greet us. A few times I found her hiding with her back turned under the bed. Her spine was sticking out more from her weight loss. Subtle signs of her declining. Still, she managed to jump up on the bed to lay with me. Or come onto the couch to be with my husband and I.
It was a really difficult decision to put her to sleep when we did. But after 5 straight days of not eating, and with further encouragement from the vet, we knew it was the right thing.
Coraline was the sweetest cat, and it seems such a shame that she was taken from us so soon. I hope they find a cure for this awful disease.
She will always be in our hearts and will not be forgotten.

Samantha said...

Hi Julie. I'm really sorry about Coraline. Thank you for putting her story here so that other people may read about the abdominal version of the disease.

elliot stamler said...

Yes, my beloved Herbals died just 2 days ago from carcinomatosis with all the ascites symptoms. It's so sad as he was my first and only pet and I had him almost his whole life. All I noticed was he began eating less than normal about 2 weeks back but then he suddenly stopped eating, urinating and defecating four days ago and his belly swelled way up. The marvelous vet at the ASPCA Bergh Animal Hospital here in NYC where he got hospitalized, preliminarily thought it might well be carcinomatosis which it was and he died naturally 2 days later. He was an old cat, probably 15 or 14 1/2 and he wasn't the best or most lovable cat in the world but he did love me and I loved him..God relieves us of grief in time, one of his most marvelous blessings.

Samantha said...

Elliot (also my son's name), I'm sorry about Herbals but glad that you had as many years together as you did. Carcinomatosis certainly does take its toll quite quickly. Best wishes to you.

Julie said...

I was both saddened and comforted to read these posts. It's only been a few hours since I put Spike, my 11-year-old orange tabby down. Spike "honeyman" was a big boy, almost 21lbs at his heaviest. He lost almost 7lbs in only 2 months. It wasn't until his appetite severly dropped that I knew something was wrong. His vet initially dismissed his ailments as a simple virus or infection as his bloodwork was pretty normal. No meds we have him worked for more than a few days. This morning, when he didn't come downstairs for breakfast and hadn't eaten for 2 days, I knew he was in trouble. I bypassed his regular vet and took him to the ER vet. Within a few hours, after xrays and an ultrasound, they found a huge mass in is abdomen with cloudiness in a lung (most likely more cancer). It was Carcinomatosis. I quickly made the decision to put him down thinking it was what he would want. Now, I'm flatly heartbroken missing him. It helps greatly to know Spike and I are not alone. Love to all waiting for us on the rainbow bridge.

Samantha said...

Julie, I'm so sorry about Spike. Thank you for sharing his story and I wish you all the best.

Jules said...

It is with so much sadness, heartache & tears that I found upon your blog this morn.

My greatest love Elwood of 17 yrs was recently diagnosed with carcinomatosis in his stomach. Boy this was all so quick. I'm thankful to others who posted their stories. Having to put your best friend to sleep is the most awful feeling ever in my life.

El was doing fine & upon return from a business trip I noticed his swelled belly & decline in using the litterbox-he had a normally healthy, use it everyday for both, type of routine. His eating diminished alot,this from a cat who cried for food everyday & ate a lot.
I brought him to the vet quickly & they drew blood & tested the belly fluid (drained 700ml from him; a lot). They couldn't figure it out from the blood & had the fluid sent to a specialist for further review. I got the sad call days later that he was a very sick little boy; extremely anemic, heart murmur & signs of carcinomatosis (the fluid was likely from multiple tumors throughout his stomach per the Vet.) I think everyone does that, wait, what?..he was just fine? No. Not my boy. What if they don't know for sure?

Luckily, I work from home & got to be with him 24/7. When he slowly stopped eating we did baby food from a spoon. That worked for a day. Then about 10 days after the initial vet visit, he stopped eating. Didn't cry for food. Didn't come out to the kitchen with me like normal for breakfast. He had become weak, wobbly & simply laid on the bed. He would still come to my lap & we had lots of tears & many many hours of love & quiet time in those last days. He became bony (his spine & hip bones sticking out badly), he would drip saliva sometimes (I wondered if fluid was backing up & coming up to his throat??)& Monday night he wet the bed twice. Later, I found one little black poop on the bed also. He stopped using the litterbox days before. So many signs.

However, I kept questioning. (Still am). What if it's something else? What if they're wrong? What if?? It's a horrible place to add up the changes & decide. My boy was with me almost half of my life. HE was my home. To think of ending our relationship at my hands was heartwrenching.

Monday night, I made the call to the vet. I knew we were heading down a very bad path. I didn't want anymore draining of the fluid for him (so not fair, & to buy what, a few days til it fills up again?) & I knew he would either starve to death or the cancer would eat him from the inside or both. He wouldn't eat, so I couldn't get any vitamins in him for the anemia. Chemo was simply out-even the vet agreed she didn't think he would endure that. I couldn't win. I wanted to fix this anyway that I could. But I couldn't. With his warm little black head in my right palm, & my face pressed to his ears...I whispered how much I loved him, how SORRY I was & that I'd hoped to see him soon, as he passed. He simply surrendered. A stoic good boy to the end.

The tears haven't stopped.
I think we all second-guess that moment-should I wait? Is it time? It's a horrid choice. Who decides what "quality" of life is, for a cat who wants to still lay on your lap & be pet? I hate it.

I hated it with every ounce of my being & my heart is so heavy with regret. I feel like I cheated him. It all came so quick.

I can only hope for unconditional love, for someone to hold me in their hands & tell me they love me when I pass. I hope with all of me that I see my boy when I get there. I miss him so much.

A special prayer for those who are going through this also & have to endure the pain. I believe these pets are perhaps the only glimpse of heaven we are truly permitted.

Jules said...

Thank you for inspiring us to start our own story.

http://dedicatedtoelwood.wordpress.com/

Samantha said...

Jules, I'm so sorry about Elwood. I cried when I read your blog. I have wondered if I had Clara euthanized too soon, since she still enjoyed lying in my lap and being petted, or too late, since her health had already declined. And so maybe it was "just right," though it didn't feel very right to have my beloved kitty put to sleep. I hope you find peace with your decision.

kristaandcats said...

My sweetie is only 6 years old, I've had her since she was just 2 weeks old. Bottle raised her add I have hundreds of orphaned kittens. For some reason she was one I kept. So young, simply not fair.

Samantha said...

That is very young :-( Cancer just isn't fair in general. I'm sorry about your sweetie, K.

Vanessa said...

I am so glad I came across this blog after searching for information on this diagnosis. My 11 year old was diagnosed yesterday. The only symptom was his distended belly. Of course we thought he was getting too many treats and was putting on weight! but his litter box habits were off as well.

The initial visit revealed his slight heart murmur,which was not new information. An Xray revealed nothing but fluid. An untrasound revealed nothing but fluid. A 12 hour fast was ordered and he was to come back the next day for a cardiac ultrasound plus the regular ultrasound which led to the diagnosis of carcinomatosis. All of his bloodwork came back normal. The only other problem he ever had was his thyroid which was under control with meds.

I am hoping the NC State Vet school will take a look at him and possibly tell me some chemo will help him, if not cure him. I can only hope. Although my vet is not so optimistic, we are in a small town with no specialists. As with some of the other posts on this site, I just cannot believe this is happening to my otherwise healthy, active cat.

As heartbroken as I am, I will make the right decision when the time comes. I will not let him suffer for my benefit. This has been a nightmare and I know it will only get worse. I wish I knew how long we have left, but from what I've read here it doesn't sound like very long: days, weeks, maybe a month. Simply not fair.

To all of the others who have posted their stories here, thank you. Your stories gave me information I could not get from anywhere else, including my vet. I am also very very sorry for your loss! This is a gutwrenching, heartbreaking situation.

jan said...

I am getting ready to say good-bye to my Checkers. He turned 10 on Thursday. Prior to that I lost his brother Domino 2 years ago to Oral Fibrosarcoma. About 9 months ago - Checkers cried out in pain late one night. He couldn't stand on one leg. Rushed him to the emergency vte and he broke his tibia clean through. At first they thought bone cancer but it turned out to be periosteal exostosis - a rare bone disease. he had his leg amputated and all was well. On his birthday I brought him his wet food - he wouldn't eat. Strange but our weather is stiffling hot and I attributed it to the heat. Friday morning he wouldn't eat baby food and his gums were pale so I took him straight to the vet. They felt no masses, heart good and strong, he was a bit dehydrated and we opted to do a blood panel because he was 10. While drawing blood, they noticed his breathing was a bit labored. Chest x-ray showed lots of fluid around the lungs. They drew out 160 cc's of fluid. As you all know - options of what was causing this were not good. Found out Saturday mornign it is pleural carcinomatosis. He is comfortable right now but won't eat on his own despite an appittie atimulant and pain meds. He will drink water. I have been syringe feeding him a/d and baby food but he is starting to fight this. So we will soon be saying goodbye as I know he is ready to go. As a former feral kitten, I know he hates the vet so I have to speak to the vet in the morning about in-home euthansia as I know that is what Checkers would prefer. As much as I cried reading everyone else's posts - it is comforting to know I am not alone with this awful disease. Checkers is going to join his brother soon and I will see them over the Rainbow Bridge one day.

Samantha said...

Hi Vanessa and Jan,

Thank you for adding your stories here and I am sorry to hear about your kitties. All the best to you at this tough time.

Dan said...

Just found out today that my 14 year old big boy, Buddy, has pleural carcinomatosis. Came home from my honeymoon to find him lethargic and occasionally doing that huffin cough sound he makes when workign up a furball. Chocked it up to a big one he was working on. That night, he jumped in bed and did not move for 12 hrs. No toilet break, no food, no water....no hairball.

Beginning to worry about dehydration, I brought him a bowl of water in the bed, which he drank. He perked up a bit and moved around the house, but did not eat and did not use the litter box. This was a Sunday and I took him in first thing Monday am.

Hoping it was still some kind of intestinal blockage or monster hairball causing the problem...but secretly dreading that the small tumor he has had near his lung for some time had grown out of control.

Xray showed no change in his tumor, but his heart was bathing in fluid. Ultrasound showed normal heart function, but also showed nodules on his liver. Vet drained over 300 ccs of fluid from his chest and biopsied the liver (nothing found). The fluid is full of abnormal cells and has been sent off to the patholigist to verify carcinomatosis.

I've got him home now, doped up from the vet visit, with a bottle of prednisone to minimize the swelling. he is half asleep with his chest in his water bowl...he's thirsty but he's so loopy he doesn't know what to do. Its almost comic, but then I remember why.

Will wait for the pathologist confirmation. Vet says a platen drug might help, but not likely. Will likely spend some time with him over the next week and bring him in for euthanization this weekend.

After having to say goodbye to our other cat, Sophie, last year, my wife and I are crushed.

Jules above talked about regret...I say you have nothing to regret Jules, you loved your Elwood and eased his suffering, it was the correct choice. As much as it tore me up to "play God" with Sophie's life last year, it was the right choice. I will cry like a baby when I have to say goodbye to Buddy, but I know it will be best for him.

We all take the good with the bad when we let these wonderful animals into our hearts. I am grateful for my time with him.

Thanks to all of you for your stories.

Samantha said...

Hi Dan. I'm sorry about Buddy (and Sophie), and especially that this happened right after your honeymoon. Thank you for sharing your story, and especially for your comment "We all take the good with the bad when we let these wonderful animals into our hearts. I am grateful for my time with him."

Debbie said...

I have read everyone's comments after I, too, have run to the internet to find out more about this ugly, aggressive cancer. I just put my cat, Gizmo, down this past Saturday after receiving the diagnosis of carcinomatosis on Friday evening. Gizzie was my miracle kitty, having found her on the side of the road, almost starved to death, at the very young age of 3-3 1/2 weeks. She was seated next to the remains of her mother, who had obviously been hit by a car. With the help of my mother, we brought Gizzie "back to life", and she lived another 16 1/2years with me and her feline roommates.
Like many of the other posts I have read, it seems like Gizzie became "spontaneously symptomatic". Her abdomen was swelled, she wasn't using the litter box, actually, not urinating or defecating at all. Initially, I thought maybe she was constipated. After all, she is a senior kitty, and things start to fail after awhile. After taking her to the vet and having blood drawn and an x-ray taken, the vet informed me that her abdominal area was filled with fluid. They drew off some of the fluid for cytology, scheduled another appointment for an ultrasound, and I came home with her, hopeful. I brought her back the next day for the ultrasound and awaited a call from the vet. I again was hopeful when she said she only found 2 "very small" nodules on her liver, and that very often, when they are that small, they are often benign. To be prudent, however, they sent the ultrasound to specialists to review the findings.
Gizzie came home with me and her health only continued to deteriorate. She was weak, she would only lick at her food, but she would drink water. She urinated outside of her box, and could only walk a foot or two before having to lay down again.
Thursday was Thanksgiving, so I would have to wait until Friday in the hopes of getting some results. On Friday, I got the bad news...carcinomatosis. The specialist found nodules on her liver and nodules all within the mesentery, the membrane that attaches the intestines to the wall of the abdomen. By that time, she didn't want to eat at all, she could barely walk, and she couldn't hold her urine. Her breathing started to become slightly labored. I chose to euthanize her and took her in the next morning. She deserved that dignity.
I know, having had to make this decision so many other times before, that there is that feeling like you are betraying your friend in choosing to end their life; but in seeing what was happening to my girl, to NOT take this path would be inhumane. She would have literally starved to death. That is unacceptable to me.
I brought Gizmo in on Saturday morning and held her in my arms for as long as I could. She actually urinated on me while I held her, another sign of her deteriorated health. I brought her home and she is buried in my back yard with her other friends from the past, and she will be waiting for me with the others when it is my time.
Please, to anyone else who is reading this and agonizing over the "right" decision, this is not a curable disease at present. As guilty as you may feel over your choice to put your baby down, please know that you are doing well by him or her. Cats are very stoic animals, and unfortunately for us humans, we OFTEN do not know HOW sick our cats are until they are almost "too sick". Know that you are doing the right thing in choosing to euthanize your beloved friend. Hold them, love them to the end, and grieve them after they are gone...and then smile because you loved each other.

Samantha said...

Debbie, I'm sorry about Gizzie but I'm glad she had a second chance at life and a good, long one at that. Thank you for sharing your story and especially for what you said about making the decision to euthanize. I wholeheartedly agree with you.

Jason said...

Samantha,

Thank you for posting your experience. Just yesterday, I lost my beautiful 12.5 year old girl Siren. She had been losing weight over the last year, but after 4 visits to the vet and multiple blood tests, they determined she had Hyperthyroidism. We thought we had our answer and she was treated in December 2012. Just 3 weeks ago, her follow up exam was perfect and all seemed well.

On March 4th, we noticed she wasn't sleeping with us as she always did, and the next morning she wouldn't come out from underneath the bed. When I finally coaxed her out, she was lethargic and wouldn't eat. We rushed her to the ER. After 4 days of tests and alternating theories, FIP, Cancer or triaditis, they determined likely carcinomatosis based on her ultrasound, ascites and overall condition.

Before we had a final diagnosis, we were hoping it was triaditis or treatable cancer, so we had a feeding tube put in. Even after the diagnosis, we hoped to have some time. We brought her home this last Friday and she was happy to be back. Unfortunately, it was downhill from there. Despite being able to feed and medicate her(we did try prednisolone), by Monday morning, she was lethargic and her breathing was labored. We brought her to the ER and they said her abdominal ascites we making it hard for her to breath, so they drained them. We took her home hoping that she would be more comfortable. She wasn't.

We made an appointment to let her go on Wednesday morning, but by Tuesday morning, we couldn't let things continue. It is so absolutely heartbreaking to go from seemingly happy and healthy to gone in a week. My wife and are are devastated by the suddenness. Carcinomatosis appears so late and takes them so quickly.

There is so little information about this cancer that I feel a bond with you and the others that have posted here. We all seem to have gone through something very similar. It comforts me to share my story here where others can relate. I posted similar sentiments on Minu's site, which I found through you.

Samantha said...

Hi Jason. I'm sorry that you and your wife have lost Siren. It sounds like you have had a long road filled with anxiety, waiting for test results etc., over the last year. And I understand what you mean about the suddenness - combined with the severity of the disease, I think that contributed to how devastating/traumatic Clara's final week was for me. I wish you well.

Pat said...

Samantha,
I am so grateful to have found your post about Clara and everyone else's stories. I am heartbroken as I write this because our beautiful, healthy, 15 year old russian blue, Mel, passed away suddenly Thursday morning. We brought him to the vet that morning because his stomach was bloated. The vet said he was dehydrated and she needed to give him fluids and run some tests. My daughter and i left him there, thinking she was going to get him back in shape. The vet called an hour later with the diagnosis of carcinomatosis and said it didnt look good, that we should come back to talk to her. Like everyone on this site I was stunned, shocked, and devastated.
We rushed back to get him, all i wanted was to have him home with us. i got a call on the way back to her office that Mel had passed. His weakened body just gave up.
Like you and others have said, cats hide there illness, and he sure did, he was a tough guy.
The saddest part of his sickness, besides being so quick, was just 2 weeks prior, he was fine. During the cold weather we had pipes burst in our house and were displaced for a day and then had workers here to repair. That when Mel started to hide and not eat. He would hide under the couch and we would coax him out and pet him. He would still purr, drink water, but hardly eat, except for snacks and hand food. We thought it was the trauma of the house that frightened and that soon he would be back to normal. The diagnosis and his death was a total shock and devastation to us. We are still repairing a house, without a very integral and important part of our family here with us.
Mels death is more traumatic than our house flood, it is just a house. We will miss him terribly, we adored him.
Thank you so much, again, for giving me some comfort and understanding of this awful disease, and to know I am not alone

Anonymous said...

Dear friends,

Our 10 year old cat "The Shadow", who looks like a Russian Blue, was diagnosed with probable carcinomatosis and possible mesothelioma yesterday. It is widespread and advanced. We had just moved here from another state about six weeks ago. He was fine for the first few weeks. One day he was constipated, then had diarrhea for a day or so, and then started hiding, crouched in the closet. He had also lost about 3 pounds. Like you and your flood, we thought it was a reaction to the move. We were feeling terribly guilty. He has always been a very shy cat so the hiding wasn't that unusual. Then he started eating less, his third eyelid was showing all the time, and the only times he came out of the closet were when we took him out, or to drink water and eat a little canned food. He seemed spaced out and we weren't sure how much he could see. He was running a slight fever so the vet gave him an antibiotic. That didn't help.

Over the last three weeks we have brought him for Xrays, blood work, an ultrasound by a specialist, and lab tests of the fluid and dark masses that showed on the ultrasound. Yesterday we got the diagnosis. Their opinion is that he has had this for 3 to 6 months, and possibly even a year. I guess there are different forms of this disease. We had noticed some changes in his behavior over the last year or so but thought it was just his age. We've taken him to the vet regularly, and he has been an indoor cat.

We have standard pain meds for him, and also some herbal remedies that seem to help calm him down and make him a bit more sociable. We are going to contact a vet who will do the euthanasia at home with us and help us to determine when it is time. We don't want him to suffer so it will be sooner rather than later.

This is just devastating. My heart goes out to all of you. Thanks for your stories -- they have helped!
Marilyn

Samantha said...

Hi Pat and Marilyn,

I am so sorry about Mel and The Shadow. Clara's littermate, Alice, died in 2012 at age 13, having been diagnosed with cancerous masses in her lungs. I got the diagnosis about 2 days before we moved and had her euthanized several days after we moved when she had a seizure due to the cancer. I feel so bad that her last week was spent in that stressful condition and with me being so busy that I couldn't spend as much time with her as I wanted to. But of course she had a great 13 years before that, with lots of love, attention, and good scratchings under her chin. I wish you both the best as you adjust to life without Mel and The Shadow (and to your new state, Marilyn).

Pat said...

Thanks, Samantha, and sorry about Alice.

Ashley said...

Hi Samantha,

Im writing to you with deep sorrow in my heart. My poor, angel of a cat, Cole, who is just a 3 1/2 year old Russian blue, was diagnosed with carcinomatosis just 4 days ago. I noticed just 3 days before that his abdomen was more distended then usual. I didn't think much of it, as he didn't seem in pain and was acting completely normal. I took him to the vet monday morning, they told me he had fluid in his lungs and abdominal cavity, which was never a good sign. They believed it might have been FIP, as well. I was shocked beyond belief, thinking I was just taking him for a normal visit. After blood work and ultrasound, it shows he has nodules in his abdomen, liver, and pancreas. I feel as though I am stuck between a rock and a hard place, letting him go. I just feel its all happening so soon. Cole is still eat, drinking, and sleeping in his favorite places, but I fear every second he is still here. I feel like I can not leave his side. I am very thankful for your post and the posts after you because it has given me courage. This is such an awful thing for a cat to go through, and I am devastated beyond belief. I feel like my heart has been shattered in a million pieces. Thank you everyone for there stories, as I feel like I am not alone.

Ashley

Samantha said...

Hi Ashley,

I'm very sorry about Cole. Only 3 1/2 years old… so young. I wish you all the best as keep watch over Cole and for the inevitable, painful decision you have ahead of you. Thank you for adding your story, too. As you've learned yourself, it does seem to help a bit to find out you are not alone.

Michelle and Bill said...

We lost our Simon (9/4/14),d/t carcinomatosis. But, JUST got the definitive diagnosis! A BIG long-legged orange tabby, who was 11 in July. Started in March, when He fell, knocking out his lower R canine.AND appeared to have hurt his leg. We took him to our (cat only) vet, I noted he looked "thinner". Simon weighed 21.23 # in August "13. He was now 18. They took abd. x-rays and thought "he had an infectious process,via a hazy area". Started him on Zeniquin, (abx)and scheduled him for an U/S. The u/s dx. was not much help. They did a fine needle aspiration and it appeared as he had a "encapulated granuloma", which correlated to his hi WBC's. He was sent home with a loading dose of convenia(abx), 10 days of Baytril (abx) and 10 days of anzemet(anti-nausea), all inj. I am an RN, so no concern. Then, we started amoxicillin 2 X a day, metrronidazole 2X a day, and cerenia (2x week), mirtazapine (topically to the hairless area of his ear) every other day, as he was now not eating well.It was now June, another 3 # lost,at 15 #. We began syringe feeding him Hill's presrciption diet AD 3-4 X's / day to keep him hydrated as well as give him calories. He gained a 1/4 of a lb.! That, however was short lived, as he continued to lose weight through July. We got MORE labs to include: pancreatis lipase (neg), TK essay (a tumor marker)_ (neg.), more metabolic panels and 4 (total) haptoglobins, that at first were >500, and now in the 300's. The end of Aug, he was eating on his own! We stopped the ceproheptadine ( which replaced the mirtazapine)(he was still on the amoxicillin). The 2nd week in August though, he stopped eating, we re-started the mirtazapine, and Simplicef (abx) with the amoxi,and metronidazole. No change in eating, but a true change for Simon. He started drooling HUGE puddles before and after meds, and became very agitated. Unbeknownst to me, it was because the fluid was building up, making it uncomfortable. I continued to syringe feed. By the 3-4 week, he was back to the vet wkly, for sub-q hydration, and had a temp from 102-104, We changed of meds. We stopped the simplicef,amoxi, metronidazole and started prednisolone, which I disguised in his syringe feedings. He was now 13#, and truly, his bones were sticking out, that is how big he is(was), 13# was too skinny. The vet now could "no longer palpate the mass that was distinct in July", so, WHAT was happening that he was now failing? We took him to an oncologist 9/4, he was 12.8#, weaker and seemed that breathing was more difficult. Plus, his chronic URI(that no abx ever touched), came back. His little nostrils were clogged. The vet did another U/S and found plueral effusion (causing the difficulty in breathing) and a diagnosis of carcinomatosis, with hperchoic kidneys, mesentary and spleen with "scalloped edges". He was truly dying and we knew it. Enough was enough. I brought him home for his last hours, where he laid on our lanai with his "brothers and sisters". He wanted to be left alone and could not get comfortable. We waited for "Lap of Love" to arrive. A nationwide Vet service for in-home hospice/end of life. I can NOT explain how good they were, they cried along with us. Our other cats gathered around in a semi-circle as he crossed The Rainbow Bridge. She clipped fur, made a plaster paw print and(when we were ready) placed him in a white linen lined large basket/pillow and pulled a white linen blanket to his neck. We are devastated. We did not sleep well, woke up crying in the middle of the nite and this morning. We will cry for a long time, as he was VERY special. He was our "good-will" ambassador, the "greeter", the "welcomer of all other cats", the "peace-maker". He was well and thoroughly loved. We feel honored and privledged that God gave him to us (on loan), and that we had him truly 6 months more. Maybe, someone reading this, has not tried some of the meds, so hopefully, we have helped.

Anonymous said...

Wow. The stories here are all so similar and just like the nightmare we are living right now. I offer all my heartfelt condolences to all of you that have suffered the quick loss of your beloved kitties.

We lost a 7 month old kitten in 2003 from fip. I did not realize any other disease could be so quick. He lived less than a week.

Now we get the horror of re-living the past. Our 10 year old girl, who a week ago seemed fine, will cross the bridge tomorrow. In one week she went from a loving, playful, energetic, passionate little girl to a kitty we can only hug & kiss while she lays in her bed.

The vet, on Saturday said fluid in the abdomen isn't good, how right she was. After that visit and X-ray with fluid and blood test, there was no conclusion, but with that much fluid, not good. On Monday we were at the specialist inclusive of a sonogram and another fluid test. They found the intestines "glued" together from the fluid and assume cancer cells. She stopped eating as of Monday night. Finally went to the surgeon today to get another opinion and possible exploratory surgery, but he gave less than a one percent chance she would come out alive. Even if she did her chance of survival of more than a few days was less than one percent as well.

She stares into space, although she gave me 3 "Gracie" kisses this morning, the best 3 kisses I will ever have in my life!! But the fact remains, she is not "with" us any longer. We have slept with her every night since her diagnosis, so I know she is ready to transition.

She was a great girl who showed up on our doorstep some 9 years ago, as one of two babies that were abandoned from someone moving out of a house across the street. They lived outside, while we fed them until the death of her partner. When her partner died, she got a bad infection, that almost killed her, but we picked her up to the vet. The rest is history. She adopted us and loved our home, she never left for outside again.

This carcinomatosis is as horrible as fip ( I refuse to show any respect to these horrible diseases by capitalizing)

I'm sure your babies will welcome my sweet Gracie onto Rainbow Bridge and they can laugh about all their "doings" while here with all of us Furbaby Parents. They will also discuss the love they received here as they await our arrivals.

Our pain needs to be worth the lifetime of unconditional love they've given us. That is our souls' payment for what we've received.

Rest in Peace my sweet Gracie

Jason said...

Gracie's Mom,

I posted about my Siren a few years ago, and I guess I'm subscribed and get new post alerts. I read your story and it is heartbreaking as all of ours is. I'm replying because in February, we lost another of our babies to cancer, that had metastasized into what they called carcinomatosis. Her name was Gracie, and her story in coming to me is similar to yours. She had a rough go before we found her, and lost a leg somewhere along the way. She was only 8, and my baby.

She was gone in less than a week from the time we had our first sign. Having it happen twice was heartbreaking. I understand what you're going through, and the feeling of why us. Losing two babies so suddenly is a nightmare.

My thoughts are with you, and I can only repeat what you said. Our payment for the love and joy they bring us is the pain we endure in saying goodbye. It's worse when it's too soon, but then again, we never have them long enough.

Jason

Anonymous said...

Jason, thanks for your reply. What a small world two little Gracie's. Both loved more than they could have ever dreamed of. As well, we were loved more than we could have ever imagined. Sorry you've had to endure the horrible thing they call cancer twice. This is our third Furbaby with cancer, but the other two survived 60 months and 18 months respectively. So these short durations are quite a bit more challenging.

She transitioned this evening at 7:30pm CDT. We will miss her so much but her memory shall live on through a gift to a particular cancer center program that helps patients manage their fur babies during the course of treatments.

We will be looking for her at Rainbow Bridge.

Ron & Tim

Jason said...

I'm sorry I assumed, you were Gracie's Mom, buy it's nice to see I'm not the only man out there who adores his cats.

I'm so sorry that you had to say goodbye to Gracie tonight. Those moments get etched in your soul because it feels so wrong to let someone you love go.

Cancer is a horrible thing, and I have lost a third to it, but he did make it a few years. In a way I'm glad the others went quickly, because if I had known they were sick their last months would have been spent going back and forth to the vet rather than just enjoying them. We wouldn't have been able to do anything about it anyway.

We started taking part in cancer walks wearing tshirts with their pictures, and it does help.

Although I miss Gracie everyday, especially at night since she slept in my arms every night, I'm at the point where I'm just grateful to have been her dad. I don't dwell on what happened. I hope that day comes for you sooner rather than later.

I don't know if you know about Best Friends Animal Society, but they are a great Organization. They publish a magazine and this month they included two memorials for me and my wife. Gracie and Skye. We lost them a week apart earlier this year. It's a great way to let people know about how special they are. It feels good to share them with others.

Jason

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your continued dialogue. Yes, it's a tough call and a tough agonizing half hour or so. Our Gracie was in severe abdominal pain, as it filled within 2 days of being drained. She feel asleep after about 7 minutes in her favorite bed with our hands under her, We got to spend the last week of her life up until the absolute end with her. That in itself helps tremendously. We had the vet visit our home.

My last girl, Lucy, who passed in November of 2014, after 18 months of intestinal lymphoma, was the same way. We stayed the last week with her every day and night.

The others are as numb as we are, but 24 hours later it's still a bit surreal, but we are moving on. The others are demanding a bit more attention now. I rest easy in the fact she gave us a great 9 years and us her. I will miss her tremendously, as the others, but I know she would want us to continue our work to someday save another homeless Furbaby.

I'm glad you are moving forward, as we all should, as impermenace is a natural part of life and will never end. We should celebrate life and celebrate the time together each and every day. There should never be any would haves, should haves, or regrets if we live our lives and the people/fubabies close to us as if each day is our last.

And, yes, maybe it is better to be shorter. I agree too many trips to the vet is not a good end of life situation. Our poor girl wa there 3 times in the last week of her life. Thank goodness we live in the City, where the furtherest vet was only 15 minutes. Only poked once to drain and then of course to induce the sleep before the final injection. I know the drain and the first shot had to hurt because of her swollen abdomen, but I also know the pain of her disease was getting to the point of major suffering. So, I guess I'm saying, a couple needle sticks is much better than the continual pain she must have been in. Can't imagine it������
I will look for that magazine and your memorials, is this the May, June, or July issue we should look for.

Thanks agin for your replies. It definitely helps to write/type about my girl and read about your fur babies. That's therapy anfpd enjoyment for me.

Ron

Jason said...

The first cat I lost to this, Siren, had the swollen belly. We too had it drained once, but we couldn't put her through anymore. The worst part is the anticipation of what needs to be done. Once we let them go, we can start to deal with things.

The memorial for Skye and Gracie is in the July/August edition of Best Friends. Skye was almost 16, and had acute kidney failure that was very unexpected. He had a few things going on, but nothing related to the kidneys. I work from home, so I was able to spend every second with him all his life, and we didn't leave his side that last week. During that week, I noticed Gracie was constipated, so we made an appointment for her. That appointment ended up being 2 days after we said goodbye to Skye, and even though I expected it to be nothing, it's when we found out she had a large mass. 3 days in the hospital with every test imaginable said carcinoma, with no options. 8 days after we lost Skye, we said goodbye to Gracie. We were able to spend every second with her too.

Gracie has been the hardest on me since she followed me everywhere and slept on my desk while I worked. She also came running every time I called her(with her very special 3 legged scoot).

We've lost 7 over the pat 5 years or so, so it's been a hard go. Last year we saved a Mommy and her 3 babies from a shelter, and as I watch them grow I realize it's just the cycle of life. We thought about not taking anymore in, but there are so many cats that need homes and we are able to provide one. Any pain I may feel down the road pales in comparison to the love and joy I'll receive.

Take care. None of us lives forever, and I could only wish for the amount of love and caring throughout my life that both our Gracie's felt.

Jason

Anonymous said...

I understand that losing 7 in 5 years is a tough lot. It seems it would get easier, but that doesn't happen. We have been more fortunate, as our losses are limited to 5 plus Gracie's outside running buddy in the last 13 years. Went 9 of those years without losing anyone. Unfortunately, as our kids are 1, 13, 13, 13, and 15 now, I'm thinking we will have some tough years ahead.

One of the 13 year old has had a total sub colonactamy (removal of colon) at 5, then had oral cell carcinoma 18 months ago and survived that ( 10% survival rate). So she is on somewhat borrowed time as she has gone from 9 lbs to 7.4 lbs in the last 3 months. Gracie only lost half pound over the last 3 months as the cancer apparently took over. They want to do exploratory surgery on Bearie, but we won't do that as the only outcome is cancer and the survival time is limited anyway. Treatment would not be much different than now.

I can only imagine dealing with two within days, ...... It couldn't have been easy, but strength can come from within, guided by the love of our precious babies.

We are moving forward, as I actually went to the office today, after being out about 10 days and actually got some work done. But......mentally is not moving forward as easily. Still can't talk about her without tears. In fact this morning sitting at my breakfast bar, I just missed her so much, she was my downstairs morning bundle of joy.

I'm glad peace and some new babies have spread across your life. I will be there soon, as I know we did all we could to save her, but Mother Nature has its reasons that are beyond outer control.

Peace & Harmony

Ron

Jason said...

That's what got us. All of our guys were healthy for 10 years, but they were all around the same age. Once they got into their teens we started losing them. The 7 we lost we all around the same age and all started having issues around 12-13. It sounds like you may be getting there, and I'm sorry for that. I always wanted our guys to live a long and healthy life, but it just doesn't happen for everyone.

I couldn't focus on work for weeks, and it stinks that I had to lie about why my head wasn't in the game. Taking care of a sick cat wouldn't have gone over well.

I tend to move everything around the house afterwards, like moving Gracie's pillow out of the window. That way at a quick glance it looks different and it's not just that she is missing. She would always cuddle while we watched TV, and even 5 months later I still can't sit there. I watch TV in a different room now.

I did get peace from the babies, especially knowing what their fate would have been. Just today we added another member. He's a neighborhood guy that kept getting out of his house and coming to see us. Eventually, we just asked to keep him, and today they said ok. He's 12 with untreated hyperthyroidism, so now we have another to care for. It's a lot of responsibility, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

I wish you the best with your 13 year old and Bearie. They couldn't have gotten luckier than to have someone like you caring for them.

Jason

Anonymous said...

Hope you're well.

Yes, it does get sentimental when I see the areas Gracie used to hang out in. The downstairs was her stomping ground, in fact the only time she went upstairs is if we were late getting up or she was just lonely. I couldn't throw her bed out as it was her favorite and that's where she last went to sleep. Can't really look at it now, as it's put away, but later on I'll be glad I saved it. I actually took her picture off my Facebook, exactly one week to the minute after her passing. Put up a picture of my Lucy, who passed about 18 months ago. After a bit of time, the sadness grows into fond and happy memories. Bearie is the 13 year old that will be probably be here only a short time. We will make life as wonderful as we can for her for that period.

So you've adopted another one, hate to ask how many that is. We are at 5 in the house, no more for now. We had to treat a neighborhood cat, Flo, for that. We did the radiation therapy and it worked out well. One time treatment, a bit expensive, but no daily pills and I think in the long run actually was cheaper. Although, we had to treat her and her waste as radioactive for about a week. That was tough. She is still here about 5 years later, the 15 year old, guessed.

Remember we have to accept the differences in all the other kitties, or they will suffer when we try to have them copy our past fur abides or expect the same out of them. I'm sure as time goes on, you will be able to sit in that room again and comfort your new babies, as Gracie would have wanted.

Peace
Ron