Sunday, December 4, 2011

Update on Ollie, #1 Opera Cat

I make these posts about Ollie, because they help me and they might help someone else whose beloved pet has cancer. I'm not saying that what we're doing for Ollie will work for every cat -- you must consult with your vet -- but I'm saying it's possible to keep your companion quite comfortable and happy for a while if you try things suggested by your vet.

About a month ago, after he had been displaying horrible symptoms, the vets found a lymphoma tumor in Ollie's colon. Prognosis was awful. It seemed that he would be gone very soon. After agonizing over potential chemotherapy in Annapolis, I took a less stressful, simpler route with heavy consultations with Ollie's regular vet. Prednisalone (a steroid sometimes called poor man's chemo by the vets), laxative (Miralax from a regular drug store in this case) and prescription i/d canned food have kept the disease under control for the time being after a couple of mishaps and one emergency vet visit. Hypoallergenic pill pockets and safe treats (pellets of the dry version of the i/d, though Ollie needs mostly the canned food to help his bowels) also help, and lots of love and spoiling. Lots of lap time.

Vets are reluctant to update his vaccines, because the cancer and/or current medicine compromises his immune system. Although his new boarding place can handle medical problems, I decided not to board him at the busy holiday time of year and canceled a trip to see family. We might try later, if his present state of wellness continues.

Ollie always had inflammatory bowel disease, IBD, which predisposed him to some kind of gastrointestinal cancer. I had hoped that the Science Diet Sensitive Stomach bought off the shelf at the pet store would protect him. It certainly was better than regular cat food, but we still had to switch to prescription food bought at the vet this fall. Fortunately, he loves the new canned food, something he could not have before. Lately I find that an empty pill pocket or a few pellets of the dry food pushed into the top of the wet food mound might be needed to encourage him to eat it. That was a remedy when his appetite was down a week or two ago, but now I think he expects the tasty garnish on top.

A month later, Ollie seems to be more like a happy old cat with an inconvenient disease. In some ways, he's even healthier than he was before the cancer was found. I don't know if this will go on for just a few weeks or months or if I can hope that he will live longer. We're just having one big party while he feels well and watching for signs of trouble.

(The "Ollie is your host" label will take you to photos recent and older.)

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