PASSIONATE RATIONS

food and sundries

Minu Mine

Filed under: Uncategorized — January 14, 2008 @ 10:51 pm

Food Guru Minu Small Dr. Pepper; Giant Tabby

Somehow food (this blog’s usual subject, however tenuous) just doesn’t seem important right about now.  It’s hard to feel hunger in the face of losing a dear friend.

So, you’ll forgive me if, in the hopes that it might help someone out there who’s surfing the net for information (as I’ve desperately been doing with little luck finding what I really need), I write a bit about my beautiful nine-year-old tabby cat, who was recently diagnosed with likely cancer and who, based on the night we had last night, probably won’t be with us much longer.

Minu came to me as a little nubbin.   When he first asserted himself into my life almost ten years ago, he fit in the palm of my hand (and my hands aren’t very big).   His tiny pink nose was no bigger than a pinprick.   But his spirit was larger than a lion’s.

He came in strutting as if he owned the world, demanding everything life had to offer in the biggest voice a tiny kitten could muster.   And no wonder he felt so bold when I first met him.  He’d already survived a great adventure.

At the time, I lived in Venice (Los Angeles), California with someone who operated a business out of the house.  This was well before I met my spouse.

On the day Minu showed up, one of the company’s employees spotted the little furry creature in our backyard and commented that he’d seen that very kitten that very morning…in Simi Valley!

For those of you unfamiliar with the particular geography of Los Angeles, the Simi Valley is many miles and some impressive hills north and somewhat west of Los Angeles.   Had he hitched a ride in the undercarriage of the employee’s truck?   It appeared so.

Since arriving literally on my doorstep, I’ve striven to give Minu a good life.   I never thought, given what a tuffie he is, it would be such a short one.

He arrived with a little bump of a hernia poking out of his midsection and some parasitic co-travelers.   We treated the worms immediately and took care of the hernia when he was neutered a few weeks later.

I’ve since wondered if that hernia was the genesis of his current condition.  A recent notation from my veterinarian on Minu’s chart points out, though, that a cause arising from his early operations—such as a sponge left inside him upon his hernia operation—would likely have shown up earlier.

Maybe I should have foreseen more troubles.

In 2002, we had been preparing to leave for Cape Cod when I noticed Minu didn’t seem quite right.  As anyone with multiple pets knows, it’s sometimes hard to monitor an individual pet closely unless you isolate them from each other and we hadn’t been doing that.   We’d had no reason to.   Even now, I can’t tell you what exactly it was that tipped me off then, but I knew something was wrong.  Not the mother of a human child, I still know there must be something to that parental-intuition thing.

We rushed him to the nearest emergency hospital.   It was a terrible, stressful 40-minute drive.   This resulted in a several-day hospital stay for him and treatment for a urinary tract infection (UTI) with possible pancreatic involvement.   UTIs can kill cats.  We learned during this episode that he had a shrunken left kidney.   We never made it to Cape Cod that year.

When they discharged him, they gave us instructions for administering subcutaneous fluids and forced feeding.   The doctor noted that, if we couldn’t get him to eat again on his own (which he refused to do while at the hospital), he could develop a certain condition (the name of which escapes me) and die.   I was horrified.   I remember my spouse and I sobbing as we held him, wrapped tightly in a towel, trying to feed him as he continually pulled away.   And I remember the immense joy and relief we felt the day we saw him approach his food bowl on his own and begin eating again, on his way to recovery.   As with the hernia, I’ve also wondered if this 2002 episode has anything to do with what’s happening now.

Since that episode, Minu, until recently, seemed like an exceptionally healthy cat:   bright-eyed and silky-furred.   His old talkative, demanding self.

But the horror of cancer is that it lurks beneath the surface.

It was late in November 2007 when I first noticed something amiss.   Minu seemed to be vomiting a lot.  Cats, of course, are known for their occasional (or not so occasional) episodes of purging.   But this was unusually frequent for him.

If I’ve learned anything over the years of living with animals it’s to pay close attention to your pets’ usual habits:  eating, going to the bathroom, vomiting.   Changes, even minute ones, may signal potential problems.   Our cats and dogs are spirits of instinct, showing no weakness until they can no longer hide it.   In the wild, this is the difference between survival and falling prey.   The irony is that, in a loving home, this survival instinct can betray them into an untimely death.

I isolated Minu from the other three pets to monitor him more closely.   He seemed to be eating and urinating fine, but I noticed that his bowel movements were few and far between and, when they did come, they were thin, tiny, hard nodules—definitely not normal.

I took him into the vet, who conducted diagnostic blood work and a chest and abdominal x-ray.

The blood work was mostly normal, except for a slightly elevated kidney value (potentially related to the condition discovered in 2002).

The x-ray revealed (given the diffusion of the images) what was likely fluid in Minu’s abdomen—not a good sign, particularly combined with his weight loss.   The vet had seen Minu in May and he had lost not quite a pound and half since then, not a good sign in a cat who’d maintained a fairly steady weight previously.   A pound-and-a-half is a lot of weight if you only weigh twelve pounds to begin with.

The vet subsequently took a sampling of Minu’s abdominal fluid.   The cytology (i.e. the analysis of the fluid) came back inconclusive, stating, among other things, that “there is a population of mildly atypical immature epithelioid cells occurring in clusters and sheets.”   The comments state that the atypical cells may represent underlying carcinoma “suspicious in this case.”  

The nature of the abdominal fluid, in conjunction with the lack of raised blood protein levels and lack of fever, ruled out Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP: a dire diagnosis).

The vet remained positive, but I could tell things weren’t looking good, something she confirmed when I asked for her initial assessment.   She recommended an ultrasound as the next diagnostic step and we scheduled one.

While we were waiting for Minu’s ultrasound appointment date to roll around, he stopped eating (loss of appetite is known as anorexia in medical parlance).  I had flashbacks to the horror of 2002 as I coaxed him to eat.   Finally, with much relief, I got him to eat what I consider kitty “junk food” (kitty treats and low-end canned foods that smell great to cats and prompts their appetites, but which are considered less nutritionally sound than other foods).   Overnight, he vomited it all up, prompting me to bring him into emergency services, where he received his ultrasound.

I was thinking that maybe he was blocked.   He’d always shown a peculiar penchant for eating plastic bags and ribbons, which can’t be good for one’s digestive system.   I was hoping it was this, because a blockage would be surgically treatable.

The ultrasound confirmed the presence of a lot of abdominal fluid.   The mesentery (basically the lining of the abdomen area) was clumped together into a solid mass.  The doctor was unable to locate Minu’s pancreas where it should be.   His kidneys were both abnormal as of this assessment.   His spleen appeared slightly irregular and “folded upon itself.”

Based on the foregoing, the doctor assessed him to likely have carcinomatosis, which is essentially many carcinomas (cancers arising from epithelial cells—i.e. from the cells that line the inner and outer surfaces of the body, including skin) that have metastasized from their origin point to other organs.   I say “likely” because the origin point for any carcinomatosis/cancer (also called neoplasia) and a 100% diagnosis are not possible to determine without exploratory surgery and biopsies of the affected areas.

The prognosis for carcinomatosis, if he has it (which both my regular vet and the emergency vet suspect is likely—assessments with which my dad—a nurse—agrees, based on the diagnostic reports) is not good.   No particularly successful treatment has been developed for the condition in felines (though I did locate some recent articles indicating that, in humans, there has been some experimentation with surgical removal through scraping of the affected areas in combination with chemotherapy at the time of, and continuing after, surgery).   Resection (i.e. removal of cancerous areas) is very difficult, because the carcinomas are everywhere.  My vet indicates that, in her experience, chemotherapy has not worked well on this condition.  In any case, it would be radical and extremely expensive surgery to try the experimental route…and it might prove too much for Minu to bear.  The loss of his quality of life is the premier consideration.  And though I dearly wish money were no object, the reality is that, for me and for most (I suspect), money also is a very real issue.

So, there we were, left to decide whether we should have him undergo the risks of significant open-abdomen surgery with the hope of discovering that the assessment to date was wrong and that he actually had something more treatable, or whether to simply keep him comfortable as long as we can.  Given the likely outcome, we chose the latter path.   This has been torture.  We have watched his muscle mass waste away to nothing, as his abdomen has become more and more distended.   He has trouble balancing because of it; he’s gone on and off his foods (we try to switch it up to keep him interested); he’s had bathroom issues.

But he still has good days.   He still talks to me, purrs when he sees me, drinks, sleeps next to my head.

He’s counting on me, on us, to make the right decisions.   I’m counting on me.   And I feel adrift.

My vet has earned my undying gratitude, frequently talking to me for thirty minutes or more without charge, helping us evaluate the best options for further non-invasive diagnostics and palliative care.   She suggested a drug known as Mirtazapine, which she heard had “miraculous” results in helping ease discomfort and lessen nausea in felines, which seems bizarre to me since it’s actually an anti-depressant.   It has the added benefit of being administered a quarter pill at a time every three days—cost effective and easier to administer than the three-times-a-day variety of pill.   I was skeptical at first, but it really has seemed to work.   We also have him on quarter tabs of Pepcid AC.   I am monitoring him for dehydration and administering subcutaneous fluids when he seems to need them.

In the midst of this, I think back to the tuff little cat who chose to live with me a decade ago and it breaks my heart.   I don’t think he’s tough enough to win this one.

The one comfort I have is that Minu likely doesn’t know he’s dying.   As always, he has no fear.

I wish I could say the same.

35 Comments »

  1. kara:

    hi there. My baby boy Fred was diagnosed with carcinomatosis on 3January. I had to euthanize him 15Jan. It was heartbreaking. No real warning. He started coughing late October, so I took him to the vet who applauded me for taking such good care of him, he was healthier at 14 1/2 than most 3yr olds. But he had a small black dot on one lung. Process to check if this was cancer was very intrusive/dangerous (cutting that part of his lung off- eek). So she recommended antibiotics – if that didn’t make the cough stop, we’d do the surgery. But the cough went away in 2 days of Clavamox. yay! I went out of town for the holidays. Returned 2Jan. Fred was breathing very fast/hard but normal otherwise.

    I try to read about this to see if this is something that could have been treated if caught soon enough. The oncologist said this type of cancer has no source, it’s just all over in the blood. The doctor who euth assured me there was no way of “catching this in time”. I hope they’re right otherwise I’m to blame for not seeing the signs soon enough. (I lost my 17 1/2 yr kitty in Sept to kidney failure so my hands were full July-Sept)

    I hope you’re having better luck or at least beautiful final days/weeks with Minu.

    *hug*
    kara

  2. Ate-to-the-Bar:

    Thank you, Kara, for your kind comments. My heart goes out to you. So much loss in such a short time.

    I, too, felt like maybe I should have noticed something sooner, but my vet repeatedly told me (and my reasearch seems to confirm) that the signs of this kind of illness typically aren’t apparent to us humans until it’s very far along. It’s extraordinarily hard to accept this since, a month and a half ago, I thought Minu was a pretty healthy cat.

    It sounds like you took very good care of Fred. We would all be lucky to have such care and concern. He couldn’t have asked for better, so take comfort in that.

    We lost Minu on January 19. My comfort is that he is no longer suffering and that I was able to spend a lot of quality time with him before he crossed the bridge. I dearly miss him.

    My thoughts are with you.

    *hug*

    Chris here at Passionate Rations (aka Ate-to-the-Bar)

  3. Mom:

    I just read this entry (yes, I know that I am behind in my reading!). I could not help thinking about how your story of Minu parallels ours with Baby. No, we did not have the time with Baby that you had with Minu-she was with us for only 6-7 years (I would have to look back in my calendars to be exact). But, she came to us accidentally, quickly became totally embedded into our family, and had a very similar story of her final days. We had her put down on 20 February, and she is sorely missed.

    We cannot think of Baby and her final days, though, without also thinking of Minu, since they “went away” a mere month apart.

    Thank you for this beautiful story of Minu. Love you.

    Mom (& Dad & Rob, too)

  4. Colleen:

    I found your story as I was searching the web for info on carcinomatosis, which my 16 yr old Bailey was diagnosed with last night, 27 May. I too am told the prognosis is hopeless and I can only hope to keep her comfortable and as painfree as possible. Her illness causes her to have fluid all around her lungs, making each breath difficult. They drained the fluid last night so she is feeling better today. But I am wondering how long I let her go on before easing her pain and giving her a release. She has been by my side all through those 16+ years as I got her as a kitten and she has always been there for me. Pray for me that I make the right decision for her and pray for my beautiful orange and white Maine Coon cat, Bailey Irish Ryan.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  5. Ate-to-the-Bar:

    Colleen,

    Your love for Bailey is apparent. Trust yourself. You will make the right decision out of that love. Bailey’s a lucky cat. May your pain be short-lived and your joy at having each other, if only for a short time, be forever. My thoughts are with both of you.

    Chris @ Passionate Rations (aka Ate-to-the-Bar)

  6. Sue:

    I found this website this morning and am now sitting here in tears. My husband and I are heartbroken today after an ultrasound yesterday resulted in a diagnosis of carcinomatosis of the abdomen for our precious cat, Casey. Colleen – our stories are so similar. My Casey is 17 years old and I have had her since she was 3 months old. I was telling someone yesterday that I have had her longer than anything else in my life which makes it even more devestating. She too just suddenly was distended in the belly for no apparent reason which prompted the initial appointment with the vet when blood/fluids were drawn. Otherwise, at this point, she seems her normal self – breathing is fine, eating, drinking fine. The only thing I notice, like you, is that she is off balance due to her now enlarged belly.

    I was not able to be at the appointment yesterday and am waiting for a call from the vet to get more details and discuss our options. Her comfort and happiness are the only important thing right now. I am happy to hear that you have had a positive experience with having the fluids drained as I was hoping that was an option that would provide her with some comfort.

    When I try to think of my life without her, I completely breakdown. She has been such a joy and I know that we have given her a great life – she literally rules our house. This morning she had some little pieces of steak as we were leaving the house instead of her usual cat treats – she certainly deserves it. I pray that I have the strength to do the right things for her at the right time and that I can somehow get through this.

    Thanks for your postings. It helps to know that others are going through this same awful thing.

    Sue

  7. Ate-to-the-Bar:

    Sue,

    My heart goes out to you and your kitty. It’s obvious she’s had much love and I know it will guide you well. Whatever happens, Casey will always be with you in your heart. I know Minu’s still with me in mine. All strength to you in this difficult time.

    Chris @ PassionateRations (aka Ate-to-the-Bar)

  8. Ate-to-the-Bar:

    To all readers,

    Please feel free to contact me directly at my email (atetothebar@yahoo.com) if you would like to correspond about anything in this posting. Any info or solace I have, I am happy to share. It will help me knowing that Minu’s story can help others.

    Warm regards,
    Chris @ passionaterations.com

  9. Samantha Orchard:

    Thank you for sharing Minu’s story. A week after I noticed that my cat, Clara, was having problems breathing, I found out she had carcinomatosis in her chest and had her euthanized, at age 10, the following day (October 18, 2008). The night I received the diagnosis (after a week of tests), I searched and searched on the internet with little success for information about carcinomatosis in cats, and was glad to find your website. Both Minu’s story and those of the other commenters made me feel less alone.

    Like Colleen, I was told it was hopeless–the veterinarian who took the fluid from Clara’s chest for testing told me that cats “cannot” be treated with chemotherapy in their chests, as the treatment itself kills them. Clara had 70 cc of fluid removed from her chest (and she was only 6 lbs), but I found that she still had problems breathing that rapidly got worse. I decided to have her euthanized before it got too uncomfortable, though of course that moment is hard to judge.

    Best wishes to anyone who comes across this website while looking for information on their own pet’s condition.

  10. michele:

    hi sorry for your loss. I also was searching for information on diffrent things about my cat, the past month or so she started getting a big stomach, then it was very hard, you can actually feel her kidneys up by her back bone, i took her to an animal hospital, they did blood work, took fluid out from her stomach, abdominal xrays and heart xrays, the first thing the doctor said was it looked like F.I.P not good…there is no cure for that, then the fluid that came out of her was not straw like, they did testing on it and said no she doesnt have that.Then he thought heart disease, he took a ultrasound of her heart…it was normal…her blood work all came back normal also. I took the cat home, my regular vet called me and said that chances are that she has a tumor somewhere, and if she had surgery to find out where, chances are that they will not beable to do anything about it. so now they say make her as comfortable as possible until she passes. im heart broken… i spent all nite patting her she was purring and i was crying , this is unbelievable, all her test come back normal and they think she has a tumor somewhere… i guess fluid in the abdominal is always very very bad. I can not get her to eat, she drank alittle water yesterday she just wants to lay in front of the radiator to keep warm and purrs and likes me to pat her. I really wish i new what was wrong with her and how i could make her better. im not sure how long she is going to last, and it makes me so sad.

  11. tricia:

    Michelle –

    My heart goes out to you. My cat was just diagnosed on the 19th with probable carcinomatosis of his abdomen. He has a tumor near his pancreas and liver as well as other changes. He had stopped eating and drinking a week prior and I immediately took him to the vet. He had really bad teeth and I hoped that was the problem. After having them cleaned and 3 teeth pulled nothing changed. I scheduled an abdominal ultrasound for the 19th and received the bad news. There is nothing I can do for him but make him comfortable. He is still interacting and not hiding. He drinks water but eats basically nothing. He now has a cold on top of everything else. Did you have an abdominal ultrasound done? If not, I highly recommend it as it visualizes their organs and will tell you what’s really happening. I refused doing a biopsy on him. He’s only 13 and I adopted him when he was 1-1/2. Like another poster, he’s been with me longer than anything else I have at the moment.

  12. Ate-to-the-Bar:

    Samantha, Michelle, and Tricia and all commenters,

    I am so glad this site has provided a way for us all to connect over this horrible condition that seeks to take from us our beloved pets.

    Almost a year after losing him, I still mourn Minu’s loss, but I am so gratified his story has provided a way for us to grieve and remember we are not alone in this. I posted all the information I did so that others could check it against what their vets were telling them. When I went looking for information to compare Minu’s Dx against, I couldn’t find it and it made the decision-making that much more agonizing. I hope it helps, even though the endings to feline-carcinomatosis stories are not likely to be happy. I will still hope for a miracle cure for others.

    Now, as I confront a separate set of illnesses with another of my furry family members, I recall the strength it took to fight for Minu and know I can do it again.

    Take strength yourselves. My thoughts are with you all.

    –Chris

  13. Karleen:

    My cat Tarzan was diagnosed today. He’s 12 and I am completely heartbroken. I feel like my story is going to end up soon like all of the above. He’s still breathing fine but how long can he go without eating and drinking and will I know when his moment has arrived? We are seeing an oncologist vet next week if he makes it that long.

    Thank you so much for this website.

  14. Kristen daSilva:

    My husband Tony and I just went through the same horrible situation with our 4 yr old cat Smokey. It all began 3 weeks ago when we noticed he stopped eating, drinking and using his litter box. We took him to the vet where they thought he was blocked. They said he had to have emergency surgery. Panicked, I agreed. All of a sudden she came back to the waiting room and told me she tried palpating his bladder and he began peeing on the table proving her wrong. “Whew… right? Wrong” She sent us home with Clavamox thinking it was just a UTI.
    2 days later I rushed him back in because he was extremely dehydrated. They gave him a Fluid IV, and a blood test which showed infection supposedly in his kidneys. They did an xray which showed nothing.
    2 days later he still wasn’t getting better and I took him back in and they said the prognosis could be kidney failure if he didn’t respond to treatment. They gave him another fluid IV and told me to start hand feeding him. I was devastated… I just wanted him better.
    2 days later we were back at the vets. This time they gave another fluid IV, blood test which showed that the infection was clearing. I tried to be hopeful. That night he pooped a tiny bit and I found a piece of plastic in it. I thought maybe this was the cause of the infection.
    The next morning I took Smokey back to the vets with the plastic to show them and they did an ultrasound which showed nothing wrong. I brought him home but the next night I noticed his belly looked and felt very bloated. Panicked I called the Mass/ RI Vet ER. At this point I needed a second opinion. I just wanted answers and treatment! They drained his abdomen and took 750cc’s of fluid from him. That is a lot of fluid. They also gave him subcutaneous fluids for dehydration. They set him up with a very experienced Ultrasonographer who diagnosed him with Pancreatitis which can be treatable if not a severe case. They also told me it could be possible that he has Carcinomatosis which causes abdominal fluid and was not treatable. They figured to rule that one out as of then and treat for Pancreatitis since the only way of diagnosing Carcinomatosis was with surgery and there wasn’t a cure anyway. They told me to hand feed him and give it a week and if no improvement to bring him back and they would have to start thinking it was Cancer.
    By this point we were totally devastated…The next 5 days I hand fed him like a baby 3 times a day, gave him 5 medications daily, Clavamox and Metronidazole antibiotics, butorphanol pain killer, Mirtazapine appetite stimulant, and pepcid ac. He didn’t show much improvement at all. Suddenly he seemed to start filling with fluids again and we brought him back to the ER. Little did I know this was going to be one of the worst days we’ve ever gone through…
    The vet checked him out and told us that at this point they really felt it was Carcinomatosis. “My head was spinning… How could this be? First they think its a UTI… then pancreatitis… now Cancer?” They told us that the best thing for him was to end his suffering since his temperature was so low it wouldn’t even read on the thermometer. We were in shock. My husband and i sat alone with him in the dark exam room sobbing… searching for an easier choice. We made our decision and soon i held Smokey close to me on my lap while the anesthesia made him drift away.
    We left that day feeling empty, devastated, and confused with so many questions not answered.
    The next 2 days were horrible.I couldn’t stop crying. I was inconsolable. Tony seemed lost… Smokey was his best bud… always greeting him at the door waiting to be scooped up and on his lap (belly up) for the night , for a good belly rub. He was truly a loving part of our family with the friendliest personality. We tortured ourselves thinking we made the wrong choice ” What if he would have gotten better?”what if it wasn’t cancer?” “Did we act too hasty?” I couldn’t eat or sleep thinking we chose wrong. I decided to go back to the clinic and have some questions answered. The Vet sat with me and listened. She assured me that she really felt we did the right thing. That he would have most likely passed on his own within hours or days. That Carcinomatosis really is the only thing that would have caused that amount of abdominal Fluid and that we ended his suffering peacefully.
    As my husband drove us home we talked about everything. We thought about how we would have felt if he died alone, while we were sleeping or at work. Not knowing if his last moments would have been painful and lonely with us not there. We realized at least he was in the arms of the two people who loved him most as he drifted to sleep. We were slowly feeling some peace with our decision.
    It has been 3 days since he passed and it has been very, very hard. We think back to a little over a month ago at Christmas. He seemed so healthy and how fast it all happened. We wish we could have had more than just 4 1/2 happy years with him. He is sorely missed.
    Thank you so much for allowing us to tell Smokey’s story. Our thoughts are with you all.

    * I truly believe there is a cure for cancer. I have researched it in the past and believe that vitamin B17 is a known but not FDA approved preventative and cure for cancer in humans and animals. My advice to anyone going through a similar situation is to do research on it and form their own opinion. B17 can be purchased through a website. http://www.tjsupply.com
    I wish I had thought of it that day we made our decision. Maybe taking him home and starting B17 treatments would have saved him. In his case it probably was too advanced and we have some peace with that.
    Thanks again,
    Kristen

  15. Christy Holt:

    I too have just experienced loosing my cat-Midnight. I can’t begin to tell you how devastated I am. Midnight stopped eating his regular food, but would eat chicken and salmon, then he stopped pooping, lost SO MUCH WEIGHT it was alarming. I immediately took him to the vet, they did a ultrasound. They had many thoughts – lymphoma, adenocarcomonia, but never was carcinomatosis mentioned. His ultrasound showed 2 masses in his intestine. We decided to remove them. I went to a surgeon, who then mentioned the change of carcinomatosis. I didn’t think much of it because my regular vet did not mention it. Midnight had surgery on 12/16/2010. The vet call and informed me Midnight had tumor involvement of all mesenteric lymph nodes and colonic nodes; there was tumor in the liver and carcinomatosis with plaques throughout the omentum.They had a hard time keeping Midnight’s blood pressure up during the surgery. The surgeon informed me that he did not think Midnight would make it thru the day. I tearfully agreed to euthanasia. Ever since then I have second guessed my self minute by minute. After reading everything on this site I feel a little better, but I’m still so sad. Did I make the right decision? Thank you for this site.

  16. Ate-to-the-Bar:

    Christy,
    I’m so sorry about Midnight. I know how difficult it is not to, but you should try not to second guess yourself. Clearly, you made your decisions out of love. That’s the best anyone can do. The hardest thing I found about carcinomatosis was that there really was nothing to be done. It was quick and devastating. Minu still lives on in my memories, as Midnight will in yours.

  17. Beth:

    Dear Chris,

    Thank you so much for writing about Minu. Minu reminds me of our kitty Babu, who was diagnosed with this a few days ago. We are heartbroken. When I have the courage to write about Babu, I’ll send you the link.

    Love to you and yours,
    Beth, Allen, and Babu

  18. Ate-to-the-Bar:

    Beth,

    My deepest sympathies. May you and Babu find peace in this very difficult time.

  19. Nicole:

    I found your blog on a search for carcinomatosis – my Princess was diagnosed by laporoscopic biopsy today. She’d survived the past year with a round of IV chemo & oral chemotherapy, after a open surgery to remove part of her intestine; she had adenosarcoma & lymphoma in original diagnosis. The decision to do our “fur-babies” right is a heart-wrenching one. I pray that they smile down on us from heaven, knowing all we’ve done to give them a good life. Thank you for your story!

  20. Ate-to-the-Bar:

    Nicole,
    It sounds like you really went above and beyond for your Princess. What a lucky cat she was. Thanks for sharing your story.

    –Chris
    (aka “AteToTheBar”)

  21. elliot stamler:

    We all have such sad stories..I too just came across this blog. My Herbals died 2 days ago after 2 days of hospitalization at the ASPCA Bergh Animal Hospital here in NYC. They’re wonderful. Herbals was my first and only pet and was with me almost his whole life..he was 15 or 14 1/2, old for a cat. As others have written, he too hid his symptoms…I noticed he wasn’t eating as much as he usually did for about 2-3 weeks but he was such a big cat (as big as a dog) I couldn’t tell he was losing weight (he was in fact.) Then all of a sudden he stopped eating, peeing, defecating, became lethargic and hid in an empty trash bag. The wonderful vet at Bergh ran all the tests but due to the presence of ascites (badly swollen abdomen) suspected, correctly, it was carcinomatosis. I think it’s one of God’s blessings that in time we are healed of our grief for the loss of our human and pet loved ones. Herbals was not the most lovable or sweet of cats but he did love me and I loved him and I’ll always treasure his memory.

  22. Ate-to-the-Bar:

    Elliot–
    I’m so sorry for your loss. Herbals (what a great name!) was fortunate to have such a caring owner. It’s so hard that cats are so stoic that we can’t see their maladies until so late. But, with this illness (relatively incurable), maybe that’s blessing too. Thank you for sharing. My thoughts are with you.

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    I usually don’t touch upon any of your posts but simply want to let you know I have placed a link to your page on my own blog. I figured maybe you could benefit from my guests since we have somewhat similar sites. I might really appreciate a link back ;) Check your website link here

  24. MishMash:

    My fiance had just endured her most recent, horrendous hospitalizatin for an MS excerbation in 1997. Once home I decided it was time to find her (and me) another feline friend. She had owned and deeply loved a kitty, but it died of lymphoma two years prior. The cat’s demise had been an uncomfortbla and painful, and wife said never again would she have a precious soul mate ripped from her in such a cruel fashion. Nontheseless, with a little convincing i rationalized “it will be my cat” and she agreed. I must have looked at a thousand cats at various animal shelters. Upon seeing “Beethoven” in the DC Animal Shelter on NY avenue, I knew he was the cat for us. He was 1 1/2 yrs old, but still cute as a kitten, with a hilarious, charming, affectionate personality. He was inquisitive, and demanding, but always so ready to please his mom and pop. My wife’s condition improved, and kitty became her boy entirely, sleeping on her side of the bed and keeping her company during my deployments overseas. We lived in Hawaii for 8 years, with Beethoven coping with Hawaii’s then-harsh quarntine (8 weeks) rules in trooper-like fashion; given what a sensitive little puffball he really was. His personality continued to blossom. Most days he was stuck to my wife’s chest like a cute, furry, octopus. At 13 years old he was still chasing the laser dot with the same abandon. We moved back to the mainland two years ago, and other than occasional sneezning and allergies kitty was fine. My wife admonished me to start taking every day with him as a gift after he turned 13, because that was when feline geriatric cancers, etc started to crop up. Time was being borrowed. Almost as if on cue, near his fifteenth year (six days ago) kitty had three days of diahrrea, and on the fourth, after crying in the litter box we took him to the vet. He was given an antibiotic and prednisone. But like rushed horrible nightmare went from playful, intelligent, and adorable to that of a zombie. All he wanted to do was sleep. No eating, but we forced several vials of water down his throat to avoid kitty dehydration. Yesterday we took him to a high-end expensive veterinary lab, and after the ultrasound and the needle aspiration, the vet said he probably had carcinmatosis. Diffuse plaques of cancer cells all around the visceral cavity. He is alive, but has maybe two weeks to live. We both burst into tears, and I walked out of the vet’s office. Was it my fault? If I had never insisted on adopting him, this pain would never have come about. Why bring beloved pets into our lives when they are just going to die? He is on palliative and hospice care now. Prednisone, murtazapine, meropetant(sp?), and a pain med. He has immediately started feeling better, and he has started eating and appears more comfortable, but he still seems too tired to get out of bed. We haven’t given him all the palliative meds, but are hoping that he crests within a few days, and can be his old self for a brief window of time. Just one more glimpse of his old playful affectionate self and that would satisfactory. We are now about to contact a vet who specializes in gentle, home euthansias. We don’t know when “the moment” will be; but we promised it would be sooner rather than later. The pain in our hearts has been unbearable. The tears have almost dried up; now it’s just self-numbing, and goal-setting of making his final days as painless and comforting as possible.

  25. Ate-to-the-Bar:

    Mishmash–
    I’m always so sad when I see a new comment here because I know it means another loss. But I’m glad, at least, to provide a place to share the pain–which can sometimes make it a little easier. I’m so sorry to hear your news.

    You ask “why bring beloved pets into our lives when they are just going to die,” but I think the answer is in your own post (and all of the posts above)–the love, joy, and comfort they bring into our lives is immeasurable, and, even when the life is gone, our memories keep the love and joy alive. It’s so unfortunate that our pain is the price we pay for such love, but, without that love, life would not be so worth living. We are all going to die, deny it as we might, but, when that time comes, don’t we all want to look back on a life of love and joy? I’m sure Beethoven wouldn’t have had it any other way. I know how hard it is, though, and I wish you and yours peace.

    –Chris (aka “Ate To The Bar”)

  26. Jules:

    Chris,

    Thank you for sharing your & Minu Mine’s story.
    Four years later, your story is still touching hearts and souls.

    For this, I am grateful.

    Blessings to you & Minu,

    Jules

  27. Jules:

    Chris & Minu,

    You inspired us. We also have your link on our page.
    Thank YOU.

    http://dedicatedtoelwood.wordpress.com/

    Jules, Jake & Elwood

  28. Ate-to-the-Bar:

    Thank you, Jules. May peace be with you in this difficult time. I’m glad this site, modest though it is, could help a little bit.

    –Chris (aka Ate To The Bar)

  29. Jenn Price:

    Thank You for sharing your story. I have had a very difficult time these past few weeks. I have been researching Carcinomatosis to find out all I can about it. My sweet 15 year old Molly was diagnosed with this on November 8th. I had to put her down the following day. It seems my story is so much like yours and others who have posted on this blog. My Molly was a healthy and happy girl. Then Nov. 1st she vomited and I noticed she was not eating much. My vet could not detect anything wrong and referred me to an Internist at our Specialty Animal Hospital. Within 8 days she was unable to walk. I was carrying her in and out of her litter box and delivering water and feeding her baby food that she would lick off my finger. It just broke my heart, but I was hopeful she would get better. I am afraid she would have just declined further. My heart is just broken. I know I did all I could for her, but still question if I put her down too early. If I could have her just a few more days, but that would have been for me and not best for Molly. Thank You for sharing your story about your Minu Mine. Hugs!

  30. Sheri:

    I am so glad I found this blog…it has been so helpful. My 12 year old cat Spice was just diagnosed with carcinomatosis yesterday (Friday). We see the vet oncologist Monday, so I do not know the extent of her illness yet. I took her to the vet Wednesday for a routine checkup because her appetite had decreased(not her usual appetite, but still eating), and her bloodwork showed elevated ALTs in her liver. She then had a sonogram, which showed some fluid in the abdomen and a few nodules. The fluid thankfully is minimal at this point, but still there. The fluid was aspirated and the lab determined that carcinomatosis was present but again, we still do not know to what extent. Otherwise, she has been behaving normally. Her appetite has decreased but she is still eating, though not as much as usual. She is active, alert, playful, purring, using the litter box, drinking,hanging out in her usual spots…all typical behaviors. Because she seems healthy and is displaying normal behaviors, I am hoping that the cancer is not too advanced at this point and that she will still have several good months of life ahead of her with treatment. It is torture trying to get through the weekend, waiting to see what the oncologist has to say. The vet tech read the report to me, but neither of us could determine details as we are not experts. When I picked her up Thursday, the vet sent us home with Clavamox as a precaution for her liver (they are still not sure if there is an infection of some kind there) and Cerenia for nausea so that she will eat more. The Clavamox can cause a lack of appetite however, so I don’t know if her lack of appetite this weekend is from the illness or the medicine. When I initially brought her home from the hospital she ate very well – a half a can of tuna and half a can of cat food. She has been eating a bit better than she did before she was hospitalized and she is running to her food dish often, but it’s still not her usual appetite. So, I am sweating out the weekend to see what is in store for my poor little girl :( Thanks for letting me vent.

  31. Jason:

    I came across this page after losing 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 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.

    Daddy loved you Siren

  32. Jason:

    I wrote loved in my post. It should read “Daddy LOVES you” , and I always will.

  33. Ate-to-the-Bar:

    Jason–
    I’m so sorry to hear about your Siren. Yes, the worst part of this illness is its sneaky silence, creeping up on your loved one and not showing until it’s too late. My heart breaks for you. Know that you did everything you could. Siren was well-loved and lucky to have people to make sure she was well cared for in her time of need.

    –Chris

  34. Pam Jackson:

    My dear 12-yr-old Chloe was diagnosed with carcinomatosis in the summer of 2010 when I myself was still in the middle of 22 months of chemo for endometrial cancer. I decided to at least try chemo for her. Chloe got carboplatin, one of the same chemo agents as me (in smaller doses, of course). I also got taxol, which cats can’t tolerate. I didn’t do too badly with my chemo after the first one, which was pretty awful, but Chloe seemed to do very well – cats don’t suffer hair loss with chemo like people do, she didn’t have any vomiting and her appetite was mostly good. We bought her a special bright pink kong kickeroo toy of her own – she loved it sprinkled with catnip, and I have videos of her rubbing all over it and rolling around on it, clutching it between her paws during her chemo treatment. One time we even both had chemo on the same day. Chloe had about 2 months after diagnosis. I believe she might have had longer if we had been able to get her diagnosed sooner, but one of her vets was convinced she only had IBD and wanted to treat her for 6 weeks for that, and her bloodwork did point in that direction, but I really wanted to go straight to referral and should have insisted on it, as my gut instinct was that her huge weight loss was due to cancer. I run a rescue and have had a number of other cats with various types of cancer, so I know at least some of the signs. Chloe had once been VERY large – well over 20 lbs, although she was not a huge eater. At the time of diagnosis she was only 9 lbs or so, and continued to lose weight. On the day we both had chemo I went to pick her up from the oncologists and was ushered into the back and told that she had suffered a bleed during the thoracocentesis to remove fluid from her chest (she’d had fluid removed from her abdomen on a couple of previous occasions without any problems), and one lung had collapsed. She was in an oxygen chamber, gasping and covered in blood. My heart heavy, I decided it must be time to let her go. I called my friend so that she could be there to say goodbye first, and during the 20 mins. it took for her to get there Chloe suddenly stood up and began to try to clean all the blood off herself. Neither I nor the oncologist could believe it. We decided to try to go ahead with her chemo, which had not been able to be completed due to the bleed. Chloe got through it, and recovered to have the best 10 days. Just before her next treatment would have been due, she suddenly seemed lethargic one morning, and while we were waiting for the vet to open she died quietly in my arms. Chloe was a neat kitty, white and black with a pink nose. She was adopted as a kitten but returned because she was “too feisty.” She soon grew out of that, but as she began to pack on weight people would admire her but then laugh at her, and no one adopted her. But that was OK because she was meant to be mine. When she was a kitten she would always knead my shoulder and make my clothes wet – something she continued to do even as an adult. She became the “big cushion” for my liver shunt kitty, Doodles, and his best bud, Gus, my cutaneous asthenia kitty (a rare condition that causes the skin to tear easily, so he wore clothes to protect him), who would up on her back and drape themselves over her, and she let them (they were as small as four or five month old kittens). And heaven forbid that you should accidentally tread on Chloe’s foot or tail or even touch her as you brushed past her – she’d hiss and growl like a wild cat and rush off at a fast waddle as if mortally wounded. Sometimes she’d lie on the floor for ages – even a hardwood or tile floor – totally upside down with her legs up in the air. I called it her “beached whale position.” She had her own purrsonality, as they all do. You had to shed all that weight, Chlo-Po, before your wings could carry you over the rainbow bridge. You might have bombed at 25 lbs! In loving memory of Chloe, 1998-2010.

  35. Dianna:

    I lay in bed and read this blog with tears flowing from my eyes. For this is the 2nd night my Bucky boy is gone. How can this be? On Friday he was normal and playful, I noticed a slight weight loss but thought it could be hypothyroidism like my Simba had for many years of his life. So I didn’t rush Bucky to the hospital I was waiting for our next paychecks to take him in. On Friday I took a picture of him and his sister sleeping together as they did often. He laid on my pillow as he always did while I Played a game on my iPad to help me fall asleep. His purrs in my ear Saturday night were as loud as usual. I noticed him chewing at the air like he was trying to get out a fur ball that just wasn’t coming up. He did this again on Sunday. We went to work Monday morning and when we came home Bucky was lethargic and antisocial with us, he had vomitted up brown liquid on the bed in a few places. I made the decision to go to the vet on Tuesday, we’d figure out the money. He didn’t sleep with me that night. Tuesday morning he ate two bites of his soft food and went back to our bed and stayed their. I carried him from under our covers to the cat carrier for his visit to the vet. My Bucky boy wasn’t right, I knew I needed to do something. My husband didn’t make it home in time for the appointment so I went myself. Talking to Bucky the whole time in the car ride telling him mommy is going to find out what’s wrong and make him feel better. I never thought that I could be lying to him, he was only 11. After the initial X-ray the Dr came in and told me its one of three possible things, all 3 are fatal. After an X-ray and blood work FIP was ruled out, heart disease and liver disease was ruled out, and the diagnosis was cancer. His stomach was full of a yellowish fluid. They never recommended draining it just getting a sample to send out for cytology. My vet said we should know in 24 hours the results. They game him fluids, an anti nausea medication, an appetite stimulant, and sent him home with me. She expressed the best outcome would be that it was lymphoma and the worst case carcinoma. This was Tuesday night, again just that past Friday he was normal. He wanted to be left alone so against my urges I left him be in the bedroom under the blanket in his favorite spot on daddy’s side. When we came to bed we saw he had been sick again and he wet the bed but never moved. My husband slept on the couch we didn’t want to disturb him much. He did move to the bathroom in our room so I was able to get towels to cover the wet spot before he came back. That was the last night Bucky and I would ever share the bed again. After a while he curled up against me as I was on my side so he laid with his back against my chest and his head on my arm. His breathing had changed, he didn’t purr when I was petting his head and rubbing his ear like he liked me to do. I fell asleep and woke up around 2am to find him climbing onto my pillow to lay with me. I knew he was doing it to make me happy. He only stayed a few minutes before heading back to the bathroom. Wednesday morning no food or water again, my husband petted him and told him he loved him and that he was his B-boy (my hubbys nickname for him). I woke up for work a few hours later, he found his way to the bed where he laid as I got ready. I knew we didn’t have much time but once the report would come back we would know the best way to go. I kissed his head and told him mommy loves him and he’s a good little boy, with tears in my eyes and reluctantly left for work. Something was pulling at me to not leave, to stay home from work so when the dr called we could go right over to the vet to make him feel better. My husband came home from work at 1:00 in the afternoon and found him on our bed in his favorite spot, gone. Why didn’t I stay home! My Bucky boy died alone and I don’t know if he was in pain or felt abandoned. Mommy was always there for him except this time when he needed me the most. I raced home from work when my husband called and told me, my 35 minute drive only took 20 minutes. We took him wrapped in his daddy’s towel to our vets office. The 20 minute ride to the vet I held him and kissed his head, telling him I’m sorry, that I loved him, and will miss him so much. The Dr stood by my car door patiently as I wasn’t ready to let go forever. His soft fur on my cheek, his head butting from the table, his kneeding on me he always did would never be again. The dr said she never thought he would have less then 24 hours, she though a week or two at least. The results came in earlier today and I just got off the phone with her, diagnosis was carcinonatosis. So now I lay here wishing he was by my head in his spot on my pillow I will still lay on my pillow as though he will be there to nibble at my hair or kneed on my shoulder. My tears are for the stories above too. I know time will make this better, and it’s better to of love and lost then to never of loved at all, but tonight this loss hurts so much and the hole in my heart feels like it will never heal. I’m have Buckys sister on my lap, she won’t stay in our room very long, I know she is grieving too so we grieve together. But just like with Bucky I can’t make her pain go away. How did I lose my Bucky boy in 3 days, what did I miss?!

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