Tag Archive | chemotherapy for cats

Chemo Kitty Gets Pancreatitis…

I was hoping to have some time tonight to work on my posts on our wonderful weekend in Richland and Walla Walla.  Well, I have time, but sadly, I’m posting about Martini instead – and it’s not a happy update.  Earlier this week she had her bi-weekly chemo bloodwork, and they did an extra panel to test for pancreatitis.  And she does have pancreatitis – I got the call confirming that yesterday afternoon.

So when I went home after work yesterday, she was pretty lethargic.  I plopped her down on a blanket and moved her every time I went to a different room – she just stayed put on the blanket.  Purring, but certainly not herself.  She didn’t even protest much when I did her sub-cutaneous fluids – I got a half-hearted growl when I poked her with the needle, and then she sat there purring.  So, needless to say, I was a bit worried…

This morning she had perked up quite a bit.  She ate some breakfast and was much more energetic.  I went off to work feeling pretty good.  But then I got a text from Jon before he left for work saying she was hiding under the bed and wouldn’t come out.  And Oliver was hanging out under there with her, and wouldn’t leave her (obviously there’s something wrong if he wants to hang with her – she usually spends half her day kicking his butt!).  So, I left work and toted her back to the vet (she did muster enough energy to run when she saw the carrier…).

At the vet, she continued to be lethargic – she didn’t even protest when he stuck the thermometer in her bum.  Tini always protests that!  She has a slight fever, and is really dehydrated, even though she got a lot of fluids just last night!  So, sadly, she gets to stay with ‘Uncle Pete’ for a spa night – IV fluids and supportive therapy.

Maybe if I pretend she's not there, she won't beat me up!

Ollie and Tini on a Better Day.  “Maybe if I pretend she’s not there, she won’t beat me up!”

I wish having old pets didn’t have so many ups and downs.

Chemo Kitty Gets Love and Other Drugs

This week was Martini’s off week in her chemo regimen.  She gets her chemo drugs every other week, and on the off-weeks she goes to see Dr. Kim and get her chemo blood-work and her weigh-in.  Unfortunately, she lost weight again – and is now back down to 6.5 pounds (I’m hoping part of that was due to the fact that she hadn’t had her supplemental fluids Sunday like she usually does – I had done them Saturday instead).

So, I went about the rest of the week, and Tini did ok, and seems to like her new green pea and venison food, but she was pretty grumpy.  Oliver got the brunt of it, but I felt bad because she was clearly feeling out of sorts – she normally doesn’t beat up Oliver constantly.  I was beginning to feel like I needed to referee; she was squabbling with him over and over, and not just at mealtime!  I got the results back later this week, and talked to Kim about the bad attitude when she called.  It seems Martini is now dealing with a case of pancreatitis, and the grumpiness is likely due to the pain associated with it.  So it was off to the vet to pick up supplies – a new painkiller medicine, more green pea and venison, a bag of lactated ringers and IV tubing and needles.  I feel like I’m becoming a pretty well stocked pharmacy!

Oliver Likes Green Pea and Venison Too - Good Thing Tini is Focused or She Would Be Beating Him Up!

Oliver Likes Green Pea and Venison Too – Good Thing Tini is Focused or She Would Be Beating Him Up!

The pain med seems to be taking the edge off her bad attitude, so hopefully peace will return to the house.  I hate that she hurts, and I hate that she can’t tell me.  The good news (I hate that this is good news) is that Kim doesn’t feel that the pancreatitis should get in the way of Monday’s dose of chemo.  She has to have another complete blood panel a week after that, and this time it needs to be a fasting panel – Tini’s not going to like that, and unfortunately Oliver will pay the price!

Chemo Kitty Please Gain Weight

Martini had a checkup today.  Overall, she has been doing pretty well, only a little bit of vomiting and she has had pretty good energy.  But despite getting her a new food to try a couple of weeks ago, I have been concerned because she seems to be losing weight.  Unfortunately, my fears turned out to be true.  She has lost weight.  She is down to 6.5 pounds.  One of my other concerns is a little sore on her nose, and another behind her whiskers.  The vet noticed them right away, and looked in her mouth to see if she had any sores in her mouth that might be causing her pain while eating.  The good news is, there are no sores in her mouth that the vet could see.

Then Tini got her blood drawn, and they took a sample of her urine to see whether her UTI is staying away.  My fingers are crossed for the results tomorrow.  Her continuing treatment plan will depend on what the blood-work shows us.  We went home with a different new food – green pea and venison this time – to try to tempt her.  She loves the new food, so we’ll see if she will keep liking it or will lose interest – again, fingers crossed.  This evening we are just having a quiet evening watching TV.  At least she isn’t holding much of a grudge – she is sitting next to me, but on the arm of the chair.

I just wish this weren’t so hard…

Chemo Kitty Hates Her Food. Gimme That One!

Cancer is a wasting disease.  Weight loss and lack of appetite commonly accompany cancer.  Chemotherapy doesn’t help, because as it destroys cancer cells, it also destroys healthy cells, and as cells in the mouth and digestive tract die, it changes a person’s sense of taste and desire to eat.  Martini has had a tough time gaining and maintaining her weight through all this.  Her issues are even more complicated by her food allergy, because we can’t just offer her any food, and we can’t offer her table scraps.

Before her cancer diagnosis, Martini had been eating a low allergen prescription food since her protein allergy was diagnosed in fall 2009.  She happily ate Hill’s Prescription Diet Z/D Ultra Low-Allergen food and aggressively bullied her brothers away from first dibs at the food bowl.  Cancer changed all that.  She just wasn’t that hungry.  We started giving her the Z/D canned food, and it seemed all was right again.  She couldn’t get enough!  In fact, when we first started feeding it, she ate too much and made herself sick.  Yuck.

But the appetite was short-lived.  Even with the daily prednisone to stimulate her appetite and the daily anti-nausea medicine, she lost interest in the canned Z/D.  So back to the vet we went to find something else that she could eat… that she might eat.  The vet sent me home with a sample to try.  She loved it!  It was like turkey on Thanksgiving!  The first couple of days, whenever her bowl was empty, she begged for more.  She wanted nothing to do with that old, crappy food.  But again, she ate too much and made herself sick.

So now, she is being closely rationed on her new Royal Canin Hypoallergenic Hydrolyzed Protein (HP).  Doesn’t that sound yummy – hydrolyzed protein!?  I don’t even know what that is, but at least Tini seems to think it’s amazing!  She can have unlimited Z/D food, but you would think when looking at her turned up nose that I was offering her Spam.  On second thought, she would probably love Spam.  It would be like offering her Brussels sprouts. Well, if hydrolyzed protein gets her to eat, that’s fine by me.  Let’s hope she likes this one for awhile.

Chemo Kitty Goes to Bed

I had big plans for yesterday after work.  Well, not really, but I did plan on getting some things done around the house that I haven’t had time for (like painting the edges and corners of the family room – Jon did the roller work last week).  Yesterday was chemo night for Martini, and she braved her meds like a real trooper.  And then took herself to bed a half hour later.  So instead of doing all the chores I intended on getting done (best laid plans), I went to bed with her.  We just sat together and had a mellow evening.  I always know that she is feeling very crummy when she lays down next to Oliver and doesn’t even feel like giving him a smack on the head.

She didn’t feel like eating much at all this morning and I’m hoping a quiet day has her feeling better tonight.  This treatment is very hard on both of us.

015 (2)

Martini, you should do more of this. I don’t even care if you make a big mess with it and get it all over your face.

Update:  Approximately 7 minutes after I posted this, Martini walked over to Oliver and smacked him in the head (several times).  Perhaps she is starting to perk up.

Chemo Kitty Has Some Hair

One of the most frequent questions I am asked when someone finds out that Martini is going through chemotherapy is whether or not she is losing her hair.  I have to admit, I wondered about that myself.  Would I end up with some sort of scrawny hairless cat who needed to wear a sweater all the time to keep warm?

After a month and a half, and three chemo treatments, Tini is just as furry as she always was.  Well, almost.  Remember she had to have her belly shaved for her ultrasound?  Well, the vet says that her shaved patch probably won’t start to grow in until after chemo is over.  Apparently most cats don’t lose their hair, although some lose their whiskers (Tini still has hers so far).  I guess that’s one less indignity that she will have to endure.

She had just received her subcutaneous fluids, so she was mad at me and wouldn't look at the camera.  But you can see her fur coat is intact!

She had just received her subcutaneous fluids, so she was mad at me and wouldn’t look at the camera. But you can see her fur coat is intact!

So far, so good.  I hope it continues to go this well.

Chemo Kitty Passes the First Test

Oliver says, "Tini, are you done yet?  Can I have some?"

Oliver says, “Tini, are you done yet? Can I have some?”

Martini has now officially been a cancer patient for three and a half weeks.  She has been subjected to two chemo treatments, and one to two sessions per day of up to three additional drugs, plus subcutaneous fluids for dehydration every other day.  When we first discussed this treatment, Jon and I were willing to give it a try to see if it helped to give Tini some time, and a better quality of life.  I was skeptical…

Tini has tolerated the treatments well, not getting sick, and she doesn’t spend any time being mad at me for the drug regimen.  The only time she gets bent out of shape is that night every other week when she has to swallow three and a half pills, one after another – chemo night.  Although she is a moody, bitchy, kitty, she doesn’t hold a grudge for long.

Since she hasn’t been vomiting, the vet decided to cut her anti-nausea med and the GI coating med down to once a day, except for the days immediately before, during and after the chemo treatments.  We cut her back to once per day starting last Thursday and have gone fine – no vomiting!

Yesterday was her first check-up since starting chemo.  An exam and a CBC (complete blood count) to see how she’s doing.  She has been feeling heavier, and eating like a horse (the prednisolone stimulates appetite), but until yesterday I didn’t know how much weight she had gained.  The result – two and a half pounds of weight gain!  At her lowest point, she was 5.8 pounds and now she is up over 8 pounds!  I’m so happy to see her plumper, more hydrated body!

The CBC results came back with nearly flying colors too!  Her red blood cell count is a smidge low, but her other blood levels are good.  She is tolerating the chemo so far!  The vet wants to continue the treatment protocol for six months – assuming she continues to do well.

And for cats with her type of lymphoma that respond well to this type of chemo protocol, mean survival times are between 367 and 800 days.  I hate having to think about her in terms of statistics, but I could get another couple of years with my little girl!  And that is what this is all about.  Because she isn’t “just a cat” to me…

Chemo Kitty Caught a Cold

Friday morning, Martini woke up with a cold.  She has been sneezing and rubbing her tiny little nose for a couple of days now.  It is to be expected – chemotherapy is known for running the immune system down.  So far she is sleeping a bit more, but she still has a good appetite and is enjoying snuggling with me.  If she had to say what she is thankful for at the Thanksgiving table, I think she would say she is thankful I had a four day weekend to stay home and snuggle.  That, and a heated cat bed.  Hopefully, her cold won’t get any worse.

She has her second dose of chemotherapy tomorrow.  Another round of 3.5 pills of poison.  I feel less anxious because she responded so well last time, but more anxious because this time we are going into it with a cold.  Hopefully that won’t be too hard on her little body.

She has had a better appetite, just like the vet promised.  My days off have turned into something like this… get up, give Tini her meds, feed Tini, shower, putz around, feed Tini, do some errands, feed Tini, get lunch, do laundry, feed Tini…  I suppose it could be worse, but this little 6 pound girl is demanding!  With all the eating that has been going on, she does look like she has gained a little weight, and I swear she feels heavier.  Jon says she couldn’t possibly have gained much weight in the last two weeks.  She has a follow-up vet appointment a week from tomorrow to check her white cells and do some other bloodwork, so we will find out then.

She is also continuing to tolerate her every other day subcutaneous fluids, and it is actually getting a bit easier to do it.  Maybe it will get to the point where I don’t need Jon to help!  Who knows…  I never thought I’d add skilled feline oncology nursing to my resume, but we do what we have to do.

Kitty Chemo

We started Martini’s chemo treatment on Monday evening.  It feels like we opened a kitty pharmacy really.  We went from feeding one low allergen prescription food to having to dose the poor little girl with all this: chlorambucil (a chemo drug used to treat lymphoma), prednisolone (a corticosteroid to reduce inflammation from chemo, relieve nausea, and boost her appetite), metoclopramide (to relieve nausea) and carafate (an antacid used to treat ulcers, but also used to coat the GI tract and prevent nausea).  In addition, Martini is getting subcutaneous fluids, every other day at least, to help with her hydration levels.  Cats can very easily get life-threateningly dehydrated, and they don’t like to drink when they feel crummy.

Tini’s chemo drug is a pill.  3.5 pills, actually.  She gets 3.5 pills every other week.  Her other 3 meds are every day.  So Monday night, I put on my latex gloves (it is dangerous to touch the pills), and Jon helped hold her while I shoved pill after pill down her throat.  She was not pleased…  And I learned there is a special kind of misery when you feel like you are poisoning your baby.  Afterwards, I cried.  Martini was mad at me for awhile.  Especially because two hours after the chemo drug, I had to hold her down again and give her the prednisolone (doc wanted them given a couple hours apart in case one caused immediate nausea), and then hold her down yet again one hour after that to give her the carafate (you have to give it an hour after all other meds, because it prevents the GI tract from absorbing the meds for a couple hours afterwards).  Finally, after all that, she hid under the bed for several hours.  I felt terrible when I went to bed and she wouldn’t sleep with me.

And then, we waited.  I didn’t know what to expect – would she start vomiting?  Would she be really tired or achy?  Would she lose her hair?  The interwebs says some cats lose their whiskers but they don’t really lose their hair.  Well it has been 6 days now and here’s our experience.

Tini vomited once the night of the chemo, and once since then.  2 times in a week, that’s not bad, all things considered.  And at least she had the decency to not puke under the bed again!  We have a Tempur-pedic mattress so moving it off the bed to get under there to clean it up is a two person workout.  She was tired the first couple of nights, certainly, putting herself to bed about 7.  She hasn’t seemed more achy than usual, and is still jumping up where she wants to be – counters, beds, etc.  And after a few days, just like the vet said, her appetite started to improve!  We are giving her wet food whenever she wants it, which she is eating well, but she is eating some kibble too!  That makes me hopeful.

And while I wouldn’t say she likes her meds, she is tolerating them pretty well.  She doesn’t hide at med-time.  She doesn’t glare at me or hide after med-time.  She doesn’t like the prednisolone, because it makes her drool – but that’s just for a few minutes afterwards…  Last night she was protesting her subcutaneous fluids, but purring at the same time!  Jon says she bit him, but not hard.  How’s that for passive aggressive!?  Here Daddy, let me purr while I bite you!

So, one week into cancer treatment, I’d say things are going well.  We have a long road still ahead, but at least so far, it could be worse.