Animals – who’d have ’em? You love them and then they go and get sick on you…
I spent this morning waiting for one of those phone calls you hope won’t happen – to tell me whether my cat had cancer.
She started out with simply an abscess, or so we thought. It seemed to come up out of nowhere and at first I thought she’d just bumped her shoulder.
I took her to the vet, who aspirated it, and one course of antibiotic treatment knocked it on the head and we thought no more about it. Then suddenly it came back again.
This time the treatment worked for a few days then back up it came, and she was in pain and limping badly, so back she went to the vet for the lump to be excised. This was done yesterday morning and I phoned to ask when I could pick her up. Something about the receptionist’s tone told me all was not well.
Despite an x-ray that had showed nothing, when the vet opened up the abscess she had found something very nasty underneath it – what she believes to be a sarcoma, which has infiltrated the shoulder muscle. We are now awaiting the results of a biopsy to confirm her diagnosis but it would be surprising if she was wrong.
Then what, is the only question. If this is Vaccine Associated Feline Sarcoma, the prognosis is very poor – even the surgery she had yesterday is likely to make the tumour recur within weeks or months, due to the trauma. Her quality of life is the issue at stake – I don’t want her to undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy only to die at the end of it, so will not be putting her through that.
VAFS are highly malignant sarcomas caused by a reaction to the adjuvants used in vaccination preparations – this is the reason they tend to occur at injection sites such as the scapula (right where Lucy has her abscess). This is all very galling when you give your cats these vaccines to help prolong their lives, not shorten them. We feel like Mengele.
It is the worst thing about animals – they are such a joy and their lives are so awfully short. Lucy is only eight and has never had a day’s sickness in her life until now – she lives mostly in the barns and is a great mouser and bird-killer, but comes to the window at night and demands to come to bed with us, drooling and knitting and cuddling up under the duvet. She is a lovely, lively, chatty tortie cat. And now this.
The sad thing is we thought we were resigned to losing one or more cats this year – we have three from the same litter who will be 15 in April, and they are starting to creak a little now. But Lucy I thought we would have for a lot longer yet, poor girl. We will miss her terribly when she goes.
My only hope is that she might be reprieved until the spring, and for now, at least, she is upstairs in her recovery cabin, munching and drinking away, seemingly oblivious to the fact that half of her shoulder was removed yesterday.
Oh well – at least we will get some quality time with her before she goes, and we must be grateful for that.