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.
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.|
|Gonzo's shaved leg and incision sites with stitches.|
* 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