Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy 11th Birthday Gonzo!

This Easter Gonzo turns 11!  She's doing well however, she had another lump in December that was removed. The cancer has spread. It's too close to the spine for radiation, plus we don't want to put her through that. We decided to enjoy her for however long we have her. She's eating well, looks great and is being affectionate. Here's hoping for a few more birthdays with of panther girl!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Gonzo's Biopsy Follow Up

Hurry fur, grow back!

It was getting harder to keep Gonzo from picking at her stitches. We kept her confined to the living room and office all this time. I made an appointment for the afternoon of May 11 to have the stitches taken out and talk about the biopsy results. Dr. J and I had been emailing since it was hard to both be free to talk on the phone at the same time. Also during this time, I had jury duty which made my schedule even more difficult. Surprisingly, when I got home to get Gonzo, she was snoozing inside the cat carrier! All I had to do was close the door. On that day, Dr. J got stuck in surgery so we didn't get to talk. A vet tech took Gonzo to the back, took out the stitches, and had her back to me in 10 minutes.

We weren't able to talk about the biopsy results until May 14. I put Dr. J on speaker phone so my husband could listen in. He hadn't had a chance to talk to her yet. Some of the cells were inflammation and others were precancerous. The two options were amputation and radiation. I had reached out to some of my other pet people and a few had pets who had cancer and /or amputations. It sounded like radiation is very hard on an animal's health. Plus we would have to drive her to Baton Rouge to stay for the week for treatment. It also sounded like pets bounced back pretty quickly from amputation. We told Dr. J we'd discuss it and get back to her. Over the previous 2 weeks I had more or less come to peace with the possibility of amputation and after further discussion with Dr. J, that was our decision.

Dr. J wanted to do the surgery on a Friday, so Gonzo could stay over the weekend. We had made plans to go out of town for our anniversary the weekend of 21st so that seemed like a good time. In hind site it was an excellent idea. Had we'd been home while Gonzo was at the vet, I would probably have obsessed over it and stressed myself out. The trip was a nice distraction, and we got phone calls with updates on Gonzo twice a day.

The following Wednesday, May 25, we were bringing Gonzo home.  We talked with Dr. J about the surgery and follow-up care. She showed us photo of Gonzo so to minimize the shock of seeing her post-surgery. I'm glad she did because I was just imagining Gonzo as if her leg was removed by Photoshop. 1/4 of her hind quarter was shaved and there was a large, u-shaped incision with stitches. Her leg was sent to be tested.
This was a couple of weeks after surgery. The stitches had been taken out and the fur was growing back.

She was pretty out of it from the pain medication. But again she got very excited once we got home. We let her out of the carrier, keeping her in the living room. For some reason she decided to get under the couch and didn't touch the kitty cave. She would come out in the evening. I put a small stool next to the couch so she could hop on the stool on to the couch. It was surprising how well she was getting around. I slept on the couch with her at night.

Good morning Gonzo!

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Gonzo and the Mysterious Lump

Back in April I noticed a lump about the size of a quarter on Gonzo's hind leg. Concerned, I called the vet. It was a Sunday and they didn't have any available appointments for the day. I made an appointment for Tuesday, April 26. When the vet, Dr. J, examined Gonzo, she said she was glad I brought her in because she was concerned about the lump. There was the one I noticed, that was squishy, but other, smaller, harder, lumps too. She said she wanted to do a biopsy and that she could squeeze Gonzo in the following day. I didn't like the sound of that.

I dropped Gonzo off the next morning for the biopsy. I knew when she came home, she would need a calm, quiet place to recover. Our living room is the only room, other than the bathroom, we can close off. We would also need to observe her and be able to administer pain medicine so it was best to keep her separate from Harold and Hana. We picked her up that evening. It would be 7-10 days before we'd get the results. The vet explained that sometimes, cats can develop tumors at vaccinations sites and it can cause cancer. This was news to me! (See links at the end.) Dr. J also said that a amputation might be neccessary to save Gonzo's life! I was a wreck. My poor kitty might have cancer and lose her leg.

Post vaccination sarcomas*

The debate about the safety of vaccines took the forefront in small animal medicine when a possible link was discovered between vaccination and the development of a form of cancer known as sarcomas. Sarcomas are aggressive, locally invasive tumors that seem to form at the site of vaccination in cats. They occur most often with the use of killed, adjuvant vaccines- notably rabies and FeLV. The most common cancer is fibrosarcoma. It usually appears from 3 months to 4 years after vaccination. The prevalence of this problem has not been established, but it may be anywhere between 1:1,000 or 1:10,000 vaccinated cats. A veterinary task force has been formed to research the issue. Treatment is most successful when the tumors are discovered early and surgically removed with a very wide incision. Recurrence is common if the incision is not wide enough to remove all tumor cells. This problem was the catalyst for the American Association of Feline Practitioners to revise its recommendations regarding the frequency and anatomic sites of vaccination, as well as exposure risk assessment of individual animals. 
Side Effects and Adverse Reactions - Petfinder.

When we got home and walked in the house, Gonzo started scratching at the carrier's door furiously. She was home and she wanted out! We closed the living room door, put the carrier down, and opened the door. She shot out and was woozy from the anesthesia and pain medicine. She frantically ran to the door, she wanted to go to her hiding spot. When she couldn't get out, she ran around the room for a bit then started investigating things. We sat on the couch and watched her. She slowly calmed down. Eventually she jumped up on the couch with us and sat between us. I was so relived. I slept on the couch that night so she could sleep with me.

Gonzo in a box. The kitty cave and fort are in the background but cut-off. Scratching pad and another box to the right.

There were a few options for her to "hide": one was Hana's "fortress of solitude" (a large cardboard box), the "kitty cave" I created to draping bed sheets over a chair or the carrier with a towel draped over it.  She liked the kitty cave. The only down side of the living room is it gets a good bit of light and I think during the day it was too much with her eyes dialated from the pain medicine. But the cave was cozy and dark. I also scattered empty boxes (her favorite) around the room and put out a cardboard scratching pad (also a favorite).

Woozy from the pain medicine. But snuggled up with mama.
I went into nurse mode, bringing her fresh water, food and giving her her pain medicine. We had to discourage her from licking the incision sites and pulling out the stitches. She managed to pop a few stitches but not pull any completely out. I'm sorry, but a shaved cat is not attractive. Nor are the incision sites. Apologies for the graphic image. This was taken soon after she got home, so I could could gauge the healing.

Gonzo's shaved leg and incision sites with stitches.
Now it was time to wait and see what the biopsy results would be and spend as much quality time with Gonzo possible.


* Side Effects and Adverse Reactions - Petfinder

Vaccines and Sarcomas: A Concern for Cat Owners - American Veterinary Medical Association

Still Vaccinating Your Pet Every Year? - NBC News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014