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Haley23 Haley23 is offline
 
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Cat/vet issue (warning- small novel)
Old 11-08-2017, 08:20 PM
  #1

I know this is super long, but I also know from user names that there are some cat people here, so I'm hoping someone can offer some advice.

Last February, I took my cat to the vet for what turned out to be anemia. After running tons of tests, they couldn't figure out what it was and I was given the option of doing many more expensive and invasive tests or just trying prednisolone, since that's what's usually prescribed for anemia no matter the cause.

I chose to try the predinsolone and it appeared to work beautifully. He took it for awhile, they slowly weaned him off, and he appeared to remain healthy. Unfortunately, about 3 months later it came back.

The vet took more tests and said the fact that his proteins were really elevated was a pretty sure sign that this was being caused by some sort of cancer. They had done an x-ray previously and there were no obvious tumors and he's FIV and FLV negative, but he said he suspected lymphoma.

He said I could pay $150 to send the blood test to an oncologist so they could figure out exactly what was going on and start chemo. He said that cancer treatment would run "in the several thousands" and best case scenario, would buy him about another year. Besides the money issue, it seemed really cruel to me to put a cat through chemo. The vet said if I chose not to the chemo, there was no point in doing the other blood test.

I asked if there was any chance we were looking at something curable, as in maybe getting a surgery or something and then living out his natural life span (he's only 8 ). If that were the case, I would figure out some way to pay for it. The vet said no chance of this, it could be treatable but not curable.

This was in June. At the time, I thought I was basically being told that my cat didn't have much longer to live. Miraculously, the prednisolone worked a 2nd time and he seemed to be 100% back to normal. Based on what the vet said previously, I didn't expect him to even make it this long. We even lowered his dose to avoid side effects. He's been totally fine until this week (I even optimistically booked his pet sitter for Christmas vacation), when the anemia came back .

Based on what the vet said previously, I pretty much thought this meant this was the end. I called this morning to ask what I should do...thinking we'd increase the prednisolone dose one more time to see if it bought him a little more time, but my thoughts on the chemo are still the same.

The vet acted like we'd never had the previous conversation about cancer. I know he obviously has a lot of patients, and it was in June, but shouldn't he have notes?! He said he would absolutely give me as many prednisolone pills as I wanted, but said it was "very concerning" that the anemia came back (I'm thinking- didn't we always know it would come back?)

He said that he had a "duty" to inform me of the "next medical step," even if I chose not to do it, which he is now saying is a $400, several hour ultrasound. He said the purpose of the ultrasound would be to get more information to tell us if this is really cancer or not. He said there is no definitive test, you have to basically rule everything else out, but something about looking at his stomach should let them know if it's lymphoma? Anyway, if they ended up not suspecting lymphoma, they could try taking out his spleen to see if that solved the problem (every time he's anemic, his spleen is enlarged). He said that surgery would be around $1,000. I said I'd think about it.

My head is spinning. I was told earlier this summer that there were no other options. I don't understand what the change is. I pressed the vet to tell me what the "chances" are and he said he hates to "guess," but it would be about 50/50 that the ultrasound would show no signs of lymphoma. If the ultrasound looked good and we tried surgery, he said 60-70% chance that would work.

Here's the thing. I do have $1500. I can afford to try what the vet is suggesting. However, that is a lot of money to me and the odds that both the ultrasound looks good AND the surgery works are not great. I had kind of already processed the fact that I would be losing my cat this year and part of me feels like the vet is giving me false hope. If this was an option, why didn't he say so earlier? I'm afraid I'm going to be out $1500, put my cat through more crap, and still end up losing him. I put on 15 pounds earlier this year and I truly think this was the reason...I have been SO upset over all of this. IDK how much longer I can stay on this emotional roller coaster.

Based on being told completely different things, I'm also now wondering if I should take the cat somewhere else for a 2nd opinion. The problem is, the vet I'm at is the highest rated in the area, and until very recently, the best one I've experienced (I've gotten the "just a cat" vibe from other vets I've been to). I also don't want to pay for and put my cat through all the tests he's already done somewhere new.

Thoughts? Suggestions?


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Old 11-08-2017, 09:42 PM
  #2

I have had many cats over the years. I think vets are grasping at straws at times. The cat can't tell them what hurts if anything. I would keep getting the prednisone and up the dose. It sounds like neither thing will be a cure. I personally would not do anything else.
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What to do...
Old 11-09-2017, 02:30 AM
  #3

As much as it pains me to say it, I agree with crazy4catz. IMO, the kindest and most humane thing you can do is to try to maintain his quality of life.

If you have a holistic vet in your area you may want to consult him/her. Let your vet know that you want to explore other non-surgery options for treatment. Your vet should provide the results of all the tests already given.

I know how difficult this is but I believe you are correct to want to continue with the predinsolone and avoid surgery and chemo.
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Old 11-09-2017, 03:22 AM
  #4

Same thing happened to my cat, and I had to take her to a second vet because my first vet wasnít very aggressive. Second vet did an ultrasound. The ultrasound itself wasnít several hours, but I think they have to be sedated so the cat ends up being there for several hours. It turned out that she had cancer, they found a mass and they put her on prednisone to make her comfortable. The anaemia is usually caused by some sort of internal bleeding due to the cancer. She was 17 so I didnít opt for treatment but I donít think there was anything they really couldíve done anyway.

Hope this helps. Itís so hard when they havenít lived their full life .
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Old 11-09-2017, 04:09 AM
  #5

I had this happen to my 15 year old cat this summer. I went ahead with the ultrasound and it turned out to be pancreatitis, not lymphoma. I am personally grateful to have gone ahead with it despite her age. She is fine and back to herself now.

I know most people won't have the same outcome, but I did want to share a positive story with you.


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2nd opinion time
Old 11-09-2017, 04:46 AM
  #6

I cannot imagine a several hour ultrasound. My cat had one that diagnosed his cancer and it took about 5 minutes. The vet did extract fluid from his abdomen, too. My bill came to $110.00 for the exam, ultrasound, and testing the fluid. Sadly, there was no treatment and Ike was almost 18, so we had him put to sleep the next day. However, if the vet would have told me that it would have cost $1500 to diagnose him, the outcome would probably have been the same because he was so sick (also anemic).
Kathy
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Get a second opinion.
Old 11-09-2017, 05:35 AM
  #7

I had a cat who was SO sick, not eating, and this one vet wanted to do an MRI or whatever the animal equivalent is, for $800. This was AFTER he had pulled one of the cat's teeth, because he thought it was infected. It wasn't. When I refused the $800 scan after already spending almost $1,000, he sent the cat home to die. I took him to another vet who basically unclogged his nose with a decongestant, which made him interested in eating again. The cat lived another SIX years.

All vets are not equal.
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Old 11-09-2017, 06:31 AM
  #8

We have owned and shuffled a total of nine cats to the vet over a 13 year period. We even had one with cancer and I never knew that chemo was an option for cats.

One of our cats suddenly lost half his body weight despite having a ravenous appetite. After determining it wasn’t a thyroid or pancreas issue, the vet said the only option was to have very expensive tests done that would be a couple thousand dollars. Unfortunately, even with the tests, supposedly nothing could be done. He was only 10 years old. He got a couple of steroid shots to keep him stronger, but it wasn’t enough and he passed away a month or so later.

I agree that the best thing to do is just keep giving him the predinsolone and let him live the best life he can.

Last edited by jazzer; 11-09-2017 at 12:09 PM..
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Old 11-09-2017, 10:41 AM
  #9

I'm so sorry to hear about your kitty. I've been in your shoes with my various cats several times over the years, and it is extremely frustrating. What would concern me is the fact that your veterinarian doesn't seem to remember your previous conversations about your kitty and cancer, especially since it was not that long ago. I might get a second opinion from another vet. Is there a vet that specializes in cats anywhere near your home? If not, I think I still might get another opinion.

I've had two cats that have had ultrasounds, and I don't think the procedure takes several hours, but the cat needs to be fasting and possibly sedated (depending on the cat), so the overall time period was a few hours. Our vet uses a traveling mobile ultrasound unit, so the scan can only be done on certain days. It did cost us around $500 for the scans. Our cats had inflammatory bowel disease, and we did the ultrasounds to rule out cancer because the cats had stopped eating. I think they could tell from the thickness of the bowel in the pictures that it was not cancer.

As far as surgery to take out the spleen, I'm not sure about that. Your cat is still pretty young at 8 years, but I know it's hard to think about putting your kitty through surgery or chemo. I know I'm not really helping...but wanted to lend some support. Maybe a second opinion would help you better to make a decision. (As far as being on prednisolone for a long time, my cats were on prednisone for many years and I believe it helped them.)
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Old 11-09-2017, 05:37 PM
  #10

Thanks everyone for the thoughts. I was kind of holding out hope that maybe it isn't lymphoma, because everything I've read has said that cats shouldn't be able to live this long without chemo-it's been 9 months, from what I read "average" is 6 weeks and best case scenario with steroids is 6 months. A lot of things said even with chemo (which he did not get), the prognosis was 6-9 months.

On the other hand, when I was trying to do some research back when he first got diagnosed with the anemia, I pretty much couldn't find any curable/non-fatal cause of anemia in cats other than 2 really rare things that the vet ruled out for my cat. At that point I'd already spent almost $1,000 and I was wondering if I was just throwing money away, since it seems like anemia never turns out well.

At this point, he's not yet even responding to the higher prednisolone dose, so I'm going to wait to see if that happens first. Last time it took about two weeks for him to really start acting normal again. I'm thinking about at least doing the ultrasound just to absolutely make sure it's not something completely fixable- I know it's probably a long shot, but my cat is worth way more than $400 to me. I'm not going to do anything unless the higher dose of prednisolone starts working and he at least feels better first, though.


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