Hey, y’all… Michelle here. I just wanted to give an update on Little Man. He’s still fighting, but the light in his eyes is not as bright these days. He really gave his mama a scare the other day. After watching him a while, I realized he was constipated and had no appetite. So, I spent 2 days getting his bowels back in order, giving him tasty treats, and spending some extra time spoiling him. He was weak that first day. His meow was just a whisper. Yesterday, he used the litter box and ate. Today, he has his strength back. He’s talking to me and acting like he’s feeling much better. He’s following me every time I go to the kitchen and asks for food. He’s drinking his water. I plan on adding fiber and a hairball supplement daily to help keep things moving. Considering the size of his tumor, it’s possible that this may be a continuing issue if it’s pressing against his intestines. It could also be from not moving around as much. It just made me realize how quickly things can change. I can tell he’s getting tired. I’ve been told that I’ll “know” when it’s time to let him go and that he’ll “tell me”. I think I understand that now.
He’s been such an inspiration to me as I’ve watched him fight the terrible VAS monster. Being a 4 year survivor is a success story in itself. Still, it sure is hard to watch him decline the way he is. He’s a big part of my heart… my hero.
Having more than one cat can be great, if they get along. It can be a pain in the tail if they don’t! Even cats that typically live together peacefully can go through a hard time when anything affects their routine. This can happen anytime one cat starts acting differently due to illness or a surgery like an amputation. Take Little Man’s bunch for instance… The 3 younger cats are littermates. We’ve had them for 3 years now. LM was already a trikitty, so they never thought twice about how he hopped around. However, anytime LM visited the vet, they would hiss, hit at him, and chase him… all because he smelled funny. We went through a similar experience when we moved, and again when LM had a tumor removed. The tumor removal was the worst. Not only did LM smell like the V-E-T, but he wasn’t acting like himself. He had issues with movement, pain, and a loss of appetite that lasted a couple weeks. Our routine had changed big time.
Here’s what I do to help minimize these unwanted behaviors…
*** When it’s time for a trip to the vet, I take a pet bath wipe and wipe them all down, especially the one that just returned from the vet. This helps them all have a similar smell and wiping them all down distracts them. They’re usually more concerned with grooming themselves than checking out the one that just got back home. lol
*** After a procedure, if possible, separate them. Then gradually re-introduce them. This process can take several days and requires close supervision. I started with just a few minutes at a time, working up to feeding them together, and eventually getting back to their old schedule. I kept a water bottle handy to distract them if they started to get aggressive.
*** Pheromone diffusers really do help! They plug in to an outlet or you can get the spray form. I keep one plugged in each of the areas where they spend a lot of common time together. I use the spray in the car and the carriers for travel. It doesn’t drug them or affect the rest of the household. I’ve noticed impovement with behaviors related to aggression, stress, and anxiety… even scratching furniture and excessive meowing.
Now that Little Man’s tumor is much larger, our other cats often go up to him and smell the area. It gives LM a different odor than the rest of them. They can tell that he’s not as active as he used to be. The combination of LM’s smell and change in activity level makes them treat him differently. They don’t interact with him as much. They don’t want to eat with him. Sometimes they will even slap at him. In turn, LM started acting depressed. I started giving him some special time each day, taking him outside, brushing him, and giving him a treat. That alone has made a drastic improvement! He’s moving around a lot more, eating, grooming, and PURRING again. The other cats are even acting like they normally do. I don’t know how long this will last, but we’re enjoying it while we can.
Michelle & Little Man
I knew choosing palliative care would be hard…
I just didn’t realize how hard it would be until I actually started having a physical decline. It was subtle at first. Now, I have a mix of good days and bad. Like the last couple days – my siblings have been treating me different. I wasn’t eating much. (I’m starting to lose weight.) I barely groomed. I stayed on the couch. My eyes were dim. Mom picked up on it quikly and set out to perk me up. She treated me to some boiled chicken and a good brushing. She put the other cats in another room for a while, giving me the run of the house and all of her attention. When she saw that I was feeling better yesterday, we went outside! I’ve been an inside only kitty for the last 13 years, so that was big. The breeze was against my face and I had to sniff all the flowers on the porch. It wasn’t long till I was ready to go back in, but I’ve been back to my old self ever since. We know there will be more bad days ahead, but right now the good ones outnumber the bad. The tumor keeps growing. It’s all down my side and down around my belly. I don’t hop around as easily. Mom tears up sometimes, but we’re still making some great memories.
Since my last post, I’ve just been taking it easy (when my brother and sisters let me). We’ve had to adjust my treatment plan. The Chinese herbal mix (Stasis Breaker) didn’t work out for me. We mixed it with coconut oil and applied it to the tumors. After a while, it started making me sick to my stomach and it irritated my skin. I have allergies anyway, so that might have a lot to do with it. We tried getting back in to see the holistic vet, but our schedules haven’t worked out (she stays booked weeks in advance). We’ve made adjustments over the phone, but I don’t think physical visits are going to be an option for us… timing, distance, etc.
The last few months have seen some milestones pass. The end of June marked 4 years since my Vaccine Associated Sarcoma diagnosis and amputation. (Life expectancy was 9 months.) This month, I turned 13 yrs old! It also marks one year since my last tumor removal surgery. That’s when we found out that we didn’t get clean margins and that it’d probably come back. Which, it did. We decided on no more surgeries… just comfort care. The tumor is now the size of a golfball on top and it goes all the way down the incision site. I’m still feeling like nothing’s wrong… playing, eating well, etc. Overall, I’ve had a very successful treatment with only surgery, diet, and supplements.
I’ve been asked about my diet and supplements. I’ve been on a grain free limited ingredient diet since I was diagnosed with food allergies. The holistic vet said that it was a great cancer fighting diet, too. I take Omega 3’s as directed on the label. Cancer cells don’t grow as well when there are higher levels of the “good” fats present in the body, Omega 3 especially, and low levels of carbohydrates. The vet also added a transfer factor supplement for immune support. I take one capsule sprinkled and mixed in my food. I eat it up!
That’s it. I truely believe my diet has been the key to beating cancer for 4 years … and counting!
Well, that was an interesting trip…
Mom took me to see the new holistic vet. It turned into an hour and a half drive to get there. I settled down about 30 min into the trip. My tripup friends would love it. The office is in the middle of an amazing dog park! We did the whole exam thing. They were really nice and gentle with me. The vet took her time going over my history. I did so well that she recommended trying acupuncture since I was just laying on the table taking it all in. She said it would help relax me for the ride back home. She was right! Mom never heard a peep out of me all the way home. You can see by the look on my face that I was still pretty laid back after we got back home. lol
The vet agreed that surgery would do more harm than good. I don’t have enough tissue left after my amputation. The first vet took my leg, hip, part of my pelvis, and some of the abdominal wall in order to get clean margins. The last surgery to remove the most recent tumor also resulted in a hernia and repair… which led to a tough, long recovery. Now, there are just too many tumors to remove and not enough of me to go around. The new plan includes keeping me on my omega 3 supplement, adding a Chinese herbal blend to some coconut oil and applying it directly to my tumors (I get an oral dose when I bathe myself), B12, and a supplement designed to reprogram my immune system to help recognize the bad cells. It’s not a cure, but a stronger immune system may help slow the tumor growth and keep me comfortable longer. The vet said that I was, otherwise, strong and healthy. She said she had expected a much different cat before she met me. Over the last few days, I’ve done all the new treatments with no problems. So, we will just have to see how it goes.
It seems so far away. That’s the first available appointment with this new holistic vet that’s a little over an hour away. We thought about just doing a phone consultation, but decided we needed to actually be seen since I have other things going on with my allergies right now, too. I had to back off one of my supplements because we think that may be making me itchy. So, I’m staying on my omegas until it’s time to try something different. In the meantime, I’ll stop in to see my primary vet. That’ll give me a chance to take a trip just to visit… maybe I’ll be more relaxed for the longer ride coming up next month with a couple trial runs? We’ve been using those calming plug-ins around the house that really help. We have the spray for the car and carrier. Hopefully, it’ll be worth the trip.
Ever since my last surgery 8 months ago, my “little” sister has been by my side. This is Sweet Kitty and our spot on the couch. Even though I act like nothing’s wrong, I guess she knows something’s not right. She’s spending more and more time by my side.
Vaccine Associated Sarcoma – When surgery’s no longer an option:
It’s been over 7 months since the surgery to remove the new VAS tumor. We knew recurrence would most likely happen since we didn’t get clean margins this time. Now, I have multiple tumors along the incision site from my spine down the same side as my amputation. There’s not much tissue left there. We’re going to see the vet to see what our options are, but I’m thinking it might be time to plan for palliative care. I still look and feel very healthy aside from the lumps and bumps, but we want to be ready in case things change as the tumors continue to grow. That last surgery was so hard with me being a more, uhh, “mature” fella and all. Mom doesn’t want to put me through that again.
In the meantime… I think I’ll just keep on soaking up the sun and getting chin scratches while looking all cute and innocent.
Please, feel free to comment with any suggestions for my visit with the vet. We look forward to hearing from you!
I’ve been gone way too long… sorry! My last post was over a year ago when I celebrated my 2 yr ampuversary. Since then, we moved over 4 hours away with the 3 orphaned kitties that Mom took in. (Yeah, I let them stay.)
I celebrated my 3 yr ampuversary back in June, but had a tumor recurrence. I had it removed in August. The pathology report showed that it was another vaccine associated sarcoma (VAS), but we didn’t get clean margins this time. I’m now 2 months post op and back on high alert. I’m 13 yrs old now and that tumor removal was a lot harder on me.
Mom has me on omega and herbal supplements to help slow any recurrent tumor growth. So far, so good. I’m pretty much back to my old, silly self. As you can see in the next pic… Mom told me to get off the counter. I think I let her know what I thought about that!
I’ve really missed you guys. Hopefully, I’ll be able to post more now. Take care,