Hi all,

First of all - I'm so sorry to hear about all of these sick pets.

I am agonizing over the right decision for my Sadie who is only seven years old.  I live alone with two cats (my kids are grown so are only here occasionally), and while my other cat will go to anyone, I am Sadie's "person" and the one she cuddles up with every night.  She is gentle and sweet and has seen me through some rough times over the past couple of years.  She is terribly afraid of the vet or leaving the house and will shake for hours after coming home.  I ended up with a mobile vet for that reason.

Sadie was a chunky, adorable, 19 pound cat and began vomiting in July - I originally thought it was my other cat and the vet kept telling me to try different foods, probiotics, etc.  Then a couple of weeks ago I realized that she was much lighter than she used to be and I weighed her, 13 pounds!  I immediately called the vet and she scheduled an ultrasound which showed a large mass in her stomach.

The next day I took her for surgery and the surgeon was able to remove the mass, along with half of her stomach, and one lymph node that looked enlarged.  The biopsy came back as large-cell lymphoma, with clean margins around the tumor, and the lymph node was negative.  I thought that was all good news - like maybe it hadn't spread - but I am hearing that it's unlikely to have lymphoma and not have traces of it somewhere even if the primary tumor is removed.  My choices are.

1. CHOP (infused) chemotherapy - once a week - I'd have to bring her and leave her for it...not for long, but enough where I think it could stress her terribly outside of the effects of the medicine itself.  Median survival is a year but a small percentage of cats can live years.

2. Lomustine (oral) chemotherapy - once a month but the pill stays in her system for a month, so some of the same side effects but fewer trips to the vet to receive the pill (she would still need blood work every time she goes).  Median survival also a year but no cats really live much longer than that.

3. Palliative care ("do nothing" and let her live out her days in comfort) - I give her a small dose of prednisolone every day and it eases any symptoms and may extend life a little, but she could be gone in one to three months.  (I would be giving this every day even with the first two regimens.)

There is, I suppose, a tiny chance that they really did get it all, or got so much of it that it will take a while to return.  But, there are few studies on cats with lymphoma and none on cats who had their primary tumor removed with clean margins and no lymph nodes.

I don't want to be selfish about this.  I love her so very much and I want her last days to be fear and pain free.  But I also don't want to feel like I didn't do my best for her.  I was leaning towards CHOP and then today am thinking maybe just the Palliative Care and loving her another seven years' worth.  (I wish I could take her outside and have her experience it but it's become very cold here...I want to do the equivalent of giving her all the chocolate ice cream and love she wants.)  Also, I sometimes travel for work and don't want her to ever be in pain or sick while I'm not here - that would be terrifying.

I really don't know what to do.  Does anyone have any advice?

Thank you so much.  I can't express how much I love this sweet girl - but I know you all know.

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Is there anyone who can help me?  I have to make a decision by tomorrow.  I am beside myself.  Thanks.
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Sharon. Have you made the decision? I just read this. I will give my opinion if you want.
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Sharon, I am so sorry to hear your beautiful baby is sick. I have had two young loses myself (similar ages) so I know how terrible it is and deciding what to do is beyond terrible. My first boy likely had lymphoma and I treated him palliatively for 3 months. I was beyond devastated when my second boy became ill and because he had kidney failure we barely had days with him after wondering what was wrong with him for only vauge symptoms in the months prior. I felt because of the torture of treatments from my first boy II didn’t want to put him through that. Of course afterwards I was riddled with guilt and the ‘what ifs’ I’m afraid whatever you do you may feel that way. You have done so much already to help your baby. We do our best. I don’t feel I’m in a position to advise you or anybody what to do. I guess it is trying to gauge what is a good quality of life in the time that is left for your girl. Again I am sorry for this and my heart goes out to you. Love OliverWolf
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Thank you both. 

Tomorrow will be three weeks since the surgery.  She is eating (sometimes I have to bring it to her) and drinking and cuddling although for some reason is afraid to walk up the stairs that are not carpeted. 

Tomorrow I am supposed to start the oral chemo (option 2 above) which is once every three weeks, and am already giving her steroids which don't seem to hurt her (of course, I'm not sure if that's true) - but I am also worried about making her last days uncomfortable....that is not worth it at all just for my selfish need to spend more time with her.  The vets keep assuring me that "cats don't get sick like humans do with chemo" but I'm just not sure they really know.  They will let my home vet give it every other time so she doesn't have to leave home as much.

@OliverWolf - you said that you felt you treated your first boy too much but it sounds like if you only treated him palliatively, then you just made him as comfortable as he could be.  Did you still feel like that was too much?  I'm so sorry about your babies.
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Hi Sharon,

Firstly I want to tell you how sorry and saddened I am for what your girl and you have been enduring and coping with. We treated our female cat "Dusty" with Chemo and in the end she just appeared to be getting worse and not feeling well. We 100% do not trust Vet's or Animal Hospital's. We spent over $4,000 trying to save her (it had nothing to do with the money, we were well off financially at the time) it was the fact that at times, it appears that Vet's and Animal Hospitals simply try to "cash-out" in end of a pet's life. They know they can make a few thousand bucks with how sad and terrified pet parents usually are. That they will do anything to try and save their babies.

As you may know a cat in the wild or on the street lives on average for 2 to 5 years. That is what they are biologically designed and engineered to live for on average. We automatically can prolong their lifespans by adopting them. By providing them with regular food and water, shelter (from natural predators and the weather elements), love and affection (which helps overall health and well being) and trips to the Vet's and possible medication. But they are not designed to live for as long as we prolong their lives. We cheat disease and death in many ways. We meddle with nature. Vet's know this. They know it for a fact. They make a profit knowing that they can prolong cats lives, even if it is not in the best interest (pain and suffering wise) to do so.

Steroids did help my cat the final year of his life, but they are a catch 22 stop-gap measure in many ways. They are as bad as they are good. They CAN cause other problems such as diabetes. And they can wear off. They can prop an animal up, but we don't know what they are feeling or experiencing inside. Internally. The same with medication. They can't tell us directly via language what they are feeling exactly and they are genetically engineered to hide pain so that they are not cast out of colonies and/or attacked.

My boy (an orange and white Tabby Tom-Cat) named Marmalade was becoming a shadow of his former self. I took him to 4 Vet's (3 of those being supposed Animal Hospitals) in the final year of his life and once again spent around $3500 trying to save him. He was administered steroid and 14 different medicines. He went to the Vet 13 times in his last 90 days. He didn't want any more medical treatment or medication in his final days. He underwent a surgical procedure on his left ear canal and then had 4 teeth extracted and there were complications. He fought against the Vet and his nurses his last visit until his paws had blood on them, to this day I do not know whose blood it was, but he did scratch the Vet and his staff. I felt Marmalade should have a say in his treatment. I owned him that much. I didn't want him to stick around and endure pain and discomfort because I was afraid to show him mercy and let him go. It has been around 6 months since I had him put to sleep.

I noticed in the end that he was in pain and suffering. Even though he tried to hide it. He didn't want me to worry about him. He wanted to do his job. To try and comfort me. To make me feel loved and adored. To entertain me. But he was in pain. 

They say that when we show our pets mercy by ending their pain and suffering "we then agree to take their pain and suffering onto ourselves and process it through our grief. That is the bargain we make." In the end all I could think of was what HE was coping with, not me. I had to be strong for him. I had to let him go. Even if it meant I would be placing myself into complete and utter devastation, heartbreak, loss, sadness, depression, guilt, remorse and regret. I owed him that much.

If your girl can not go and eat by herself and is afraid to go up the stairs that are not carpeted, then she is weak and afraid of falling. Yes, you can continue to keep her around, but at what price to her internally? What side effects is she feeling inside? What level of fear and anxiety? My cat Marmalade was there for me, as your girl was there for you, when I was in a very dark and difficult place. He saved my life from suicide countless times, so in the end I had to ask myself, am I keeping him around for him? Or for me? 

They say you will know when the time comes, I prayed to be strong, brave and calm when the time came and God answered my prayers.

Kind regards,

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Hi Sharon. I'm glad you have a vet coming to your home to minimize hospital visits. Her avoiding the uncarpeted stairs may mean she feels unsteady. I would go day by day. She how she does after going for oral chemo and then reassess after a week or so. That's all I can say. It's hard to know how they are feeling. I guess do your best to gauge her comfort. You can always decide to take the palliative route. Im sorry you are going through this.
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Hi all - I wanted to thank you for your support and give an update. 

Sadie had the oral chemo last Wednesday.  She had seemed to have few side effects so far (smelly poop is the only thing I could determine - sorry to be graphic!) and walked upstairs to my bedroom last night for the first time since her surgery (which was nearly four weeks ago).  She is eating wet food in her usual feeding spot, and going over to the food bowl on her own to get dry food when she wants. Today she is in her usual perch next to my computer while I work.

I don't really know if this is the chemo working, or if she is finally recovering from such a big surgery.  Either way, I'll take the good days, the cuddle days, the special days right now.

I'm reluctant to give her a second chemo dose (they are three weeks apart) because I know they get more toxic with time, and I also don't love the idea of giving her steroids everyday.  So I sort of have to decide, now that she is recovered from surgery, if I want to just let her be and enjoy.  They drew blood right before her chemo and the blood had no sign of disease (it never has) so it's unclear how long that process would take.  (Apparently there is no "getting it all out" with lymphoma because there are always microscopic bits in the blood.)

So that's where I am right now.  I'm actually headed for a conference in early December and will need to get someone to stay with her as I don't want to leave her alone.  I'm dreading having to go (it's for work) and hoping she is the same kitty when I get back.  But I know things can change in a day.

Thank you for all of the ongoing support. xxoo 

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