20 year old cat diagnosed with cancer of liver

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Moonshine25
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20 year old cat diagnosed with cancer of liver

Post by Moonshine25 » Thu May 02, 2019 1:42 pm

Hello,

I am just seeking any advice or support from people who have experience with this, I posted previously ( see: ''My 20 year old cat was fine but is suddenly ill and not eating :( ) about my lovely cat.

He has gone into the vets today for an ultrasound and the mass they could feel looks like cancer of the liver, the vet said it is quite unusual, hard in places but pretty much 100% sure is cancer, she didn't want to put him through the FNA biopsy to clarify the exact type as the ultrasound was uncomfortable for him and we did not want him to be sedated for anything. She does not think surgery is indicated due to his age and size of mass, she is going to scan him further to see if it has spread anywhere else. She is also going to look into steroids (some type of chemotherapy) as these can reduce tumours, but she needs to check if they would be ok with his existing meds (phenobarbital and methimazole). She feels that this tumour is quite aggressive.

I am going to pick him up in an hour, has anyone got any experience with this in their cats? I want to know what to expect and what I should be thinking about.

Since last week his appetite has picked back up, he is eating food, toileting normally. To me, he seems to still have a good quality of life, grooming himself, playing with favourite toys on occasion, sunbathing in the garden, enjoying treats and of course lots of cuddles with us, he doesn't seem to be in pain but of course it is so hard to tell in cats :(

any advice from fellow cat lovers is welcome. x

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Re: 20 year old cat diagnosed with cancer of liver

Post by AndyMac » Thu May 02, 2019 2:52 pm

Hi Moonshine - so sorry to read about your cat but I experienced a similar dilemma last year with my 14yo cat Jet. She wouldnt eat her usual food and after a visit to the vet the vet informed me she could feel a mass in her abdomen and was sure it was cancer.

I was given the options of ultrasound and biopsey but declined as due to her age and her experience with vets I did not want to put her through the stress of more visits etc.... The vet give her steriod and vitamin injections which seemed to perk her up and she started eating her food again and she seemed to be her usual self. As time went on Jet needed more injections but after about 4 weeks she suddenly developed a weezing and she couldnt settle. I knew the time was right to let her go as the vet informed me she had developed fluid on her lungs. It hurt so much to loose her but watching her struggling to breathe I knew it was the right decision to make. I think you will know when the time is right for you also and someone on the forum said to me 'rather a day to soon than a day too late'. Good Luck.

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Re: 20 year old cat diagnosed with cancer of liver

Post by Mollycat » Thu May 02, 2019 3:23 pm

So sorry to read this, Moonshine. I don't have experience of liver cancer, but personally would most likely take a similar route to Andymac. I sometimes think I sound a little cold to other people, but my personal philosophy is all about quality of life.

At an advanced age, and with his other medical issues, again my personal thoughts, I wonder how much quality of life he would have through aggressive treatment and after ... note I specified aggressive treatment though. My boy may have inflammatory bowel or it may be bowel cancer, we don't know and we're not looking to find out (he is 15 in June, has low level renal failure and chronic bad bouts of diarrhoea) because he responds to steroid shots, vitamin injections and pro-kolin as needed at the moment. My vet also said that steroids help cancer and mentioned a form of chemo. My thoughts, if he is happy in himself and responds to gentle treatment, and has good quality of life, then give him that.

The liver famously regenrates even when a large part is removed, but some vets like to avoid anaesthesia even for a dental unless it's absolutely necessary much past the age of 12-14 in a healthy cat. Also, my vet is happy to agree with me that there is no point in testing just to know if we're not really prepared to go ahead with the treatment it would warrant, if that makes sense.

I have made decisions along those lines for five cats with different issues in the past 15 years and hand on heart regret not a single one. We had between two weeks and another 6 years without treatment, and they let us know when it was too much for them. In your position, I would enjoy the time we had left. But crucially this is your boy and you, and only you can know what's right for you both. And a lot hinges on getting a fuller picture of just how extensive this is, metastases, general health, how he feels, and don't forget your needs too even though his are the most important.

Moonshine25
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Re: 20 year old cat diagnosed with cancer of liver

Post by Moonshine25 » Fri May 03, 2019 10:37 am

Hello AndyMac,

Thank you for your kind reply, so sorry to hear about your cat Jet. Yes I am hoping I will know when the time is right too. The vet is considering steroids but wants to do some research as he is already on medication for epilepsy and hyptheryroid and now pain killers. He is going in next Wednesday morning for a check up so we shall see then. Yes I think a day too soon rather than a day too late is important to remember. Over the last few days he has perked up, looking for food and eating and drinking well, playing with favourite catnip toys, lots of cuddles, grooming himself well and using litter tray no problem and using stairs and jumping on bed no issue either. No vomiting or diarrhea. I don't think it is his 'time' yet, not when I can see his bright little eyes and he is still quite active and just seems interested in life! x

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Re: 20 year old cat diagnosed with cancer of liver

Post by Moonshine25 » Fri May 03, 2019 10:41 am

Thank you Mollycat for your kind reply, yes quality of life is so important. Yes I feel the same way about aggressive treatment, he will not be having surgery and we will only consider steroids if the vet is sure they won't interact negatively with all his other medications and won't cause any ill effects. He has a check up next Wednesday so we can this review then, I am happy to try these if the vet can assure us they won't cause any negative effects.

Thank you, yes I am so hoping I will know when the time is right, I am worried I am so scared to let go I won't realise but hoping I will have a gut instinct. Over the last few days he has perked up, looking for food and eating and drinking well, playing with favourite catnip toys, lots of cuddles, grooming himself well and using litter tray no problem and using stairs and jumping on bed no issue either. No vomiting or diarrhea. I don't think it is his 'time' yet, not when I can see his bright little eyes and he is still quite active and just seems interested in life I don't think it is the right time. x

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Re: 20 year old cat diagnosed with cancer of liver

Post by Mollycat » Fri May 03, 2019 11:03 am

Have faith, you will know. He will tell you. That said, it's not a bad idea to set some basic rules for yourself - when he stops eating, when he shows signs of pain, when he no longer does xyz that he has always loved ... whatever it is. I can almost guarantee those things are not what will bring about your decision, but having made those rules for yourself should help you to relax and enjoy his 8th life without worrying that you might get it 'wrong'. I don't believe there is really a wrong, though. If we weren't around to help them, they would suffer more. If we can alleviate even one hour of that, then we have helped them. I call it the 8th life because there will be a 9th life, when it is time to prepare, but he is feeling better, so not yet. It can be a very special and beautiful time, this phase of life, if you can be truly with someone else human or animal through it.

In the meantime, lovely that he is feeling better in himself, hope you still have a while together and many, many more cuddles!

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Re: 20 year old cat diagnosed with cancer of liver

Post by Moonshine25 » Fri May 03, 2019 12:18 pm

Thank you Mollycat, yes I am going to set some rules, so that I can try and remain objective when the time comes :(
Hoping like you say I can then relax and just enjoy being with him, love him and cuddle him lots, I am going to be spoiling him lots I think.
It is so hard having to leave him everyday for work, I always hated it but feel even more guilty now, luckily my partner can check on him at lunchtimes and I am usually home by 4:30pm. Nearer the time if he starts to decline I will try and work from home where I can. x

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Re: 20 year old cat diagnosed with cancer of liver

Post by lilynmitz » Wed May 29, 2019 5:25 pm

Late to this thread, I'm so sorry to hear about your cat's diagnosis.

I lost my much adored 7 year old boy very suddenly some years ago. Very long story but he had been a bit off colour for a while but not obviously ill.
It was only on my insistence that the vet did bloods which indicated a liver problem, but he continued going down hill gradually after we started general treatment for his liver and then he passed away very suddenly one day while I was at work. The PM found advanced liver cancer. I tortured myself for a while about whether we could have found it sooner (probably not) and what we could have done if we had. The accounts of treatments I found on the internet were so awful, and gave such a short period of remission, that I decided that in this case it was probably better that we hadn't known, as I would have spent the last months of his life weeping instead of just giving him a loving and normal life to the end. My only regret is that had we known we could have concentrated on pain relief (he didn't show discomfort until the last few days).

I really do feel for you, but in cases where the treatment is worse than the illness and blights the final weeks or months of an animal's life, sometimes palliative treatment is the kindest way to go.

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