Chemotherapy for Cats

Feebee cat in blue chair

While cancer in cats is not as common as it in dogs, it is still one of the leading causes of death in older cats. According to the Animal Cancer Foundation, 6 million cats will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States along. And because cats are masters at masking illness, it is often harder to detect.

Cancer used to be a death sentence for cats, but recent advances in feline cancer research have made treatment possible in many cases. Just like with human cancers, early detection is key to successful treatment.

Treatment options for cats are almost as varied as treatment options for human cancers, and will depend on the type of cancer. Surgery is the most common treatment for any lumps or growths that need to be removed. In some cases, surgery can be curative. Other cancers may require chemotherapy or radiation.

How chemotherapy works

Chemotherapy uses drugs with the objective to kill cancer cells with the least possible amount of damage to normal, healthy cells. In human medicine, the goal of chemotherapy is to achieve a cure. In cats, chemotherapy is aimed at controlling the disease and achieving a period of remission for the cat. Chemotherapy is typically used for cancers that affect multiple sites. Lymphoma is the most common form of feline cancer that is treated with chemotherapy. The drugs used in veterinary chemotherapy are frequently the same drugs used in human medicine.

Most cats tolerate chemotherapy well

Most cats tolerate chemotherapy well. Some cats may experience side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea or poor appetite, but these side effects are usually mild and can be managed with supportive care. Only a very small number of cats on chemotherapy will require hospitalization due to the side effects of chemotherapy. Unlike humans, cats will not lose all their hair. Most cats will lose their whiskers, and shaved hair will be slow to grow back, but substantial hair loss is uncommon.

Support your cat’s immune system

It is important to support your cat’s immune system while she is undergoing chemotherapy. One of the foundations of a healthy immune system is diet. Typically, veterinarians recommend a high protein, low carb, moderate fat diet for pets with cancer. A high quality grain-free canned diet will probably be your best choice for your feline cancer patient.

Even though I’m a proponent of raw feeding, I’m on the fence as to whether raw diets are appropriate for cats with cancer. On the one hand, there are numerous anecdotal reports of miracle cures when pets with cancer were fed a raw diet, on the other hand, I don’t know whether feeding a raw diet to an immunocompromised pet is necessarily a good idea. Check with a veterinarian who is familiar with raw feeding whether a raw diet is appropriate for your cat while she is undergoing chemotherapy.

Supplements and herbs

Supplements and herbs can provide immune system support during treatment. Probiotics not only help maintain a healthy gut flora, but also boost the immune system. Anti-oxidants and increased amounts of omega-3-fatty acids may also be indicated. Check with your veterinarian to determine which supplements are indicated for your cat.

Supportive therapies such as acupuncture, Reiki or other forms of energy healing can support your cat through her treatment. These therapies will not interfere with conventional medical treatment.

How will you know whether chemotherapy was successful?

A cat in remission doesn’t look any different from a cancer-free cat. Typically, a successful remission means that lymphnodes will go down to normal size, and if there were any signs of illness that were related to the cancer, they will disappear. Remission can last anywhere from weeks to months, and for some lucky cats, even several years.

My personal experience with feline cancer

My first cat, Feebee, was diagnosed with intestinal lymphoma when he was 15 years old. He tolerated his chemotherapy protocol of a combination of Vincristine injections and oral Cytoxan and prednisone well. He would be a little subdued for about 24 hours following treatment. His appetite wasn’t that great during that period, and he slept a lot more than usual, but the rest of the time, his quality of life was good.

After seven months, he stopped responding to the chemotherapy. My vet gave me the option of continuing with more aggressive drugs with the potential for more severe side effects. I elected euthanasia. My little man confirmed that I made the right decision: he died in my arms while my vet was on the way to my house.

Being faced with a cancer diagnosis is a devastating blow for cat parents. Making a decision about treatment is as individual as the affected cat and her human. There are no hard and fast rules. The ultimate goal of any decision is to provide good quality of life for the cat for as long as possible.

Have any of your cats undergone chemotherapy? What was your experience?

Photo ©Ingrid King

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439 Comments on Chemotherapy for Cats

  1. Maryah
    August 27, 2015 at 3:19 pm (14 hours ago)

    Our 13 year-old kitty, Whiskers, was diagnosed about a month ago with large cell lymphoma. We started him quickly on the 4 drug chemo regimen, along with predisolone and some other as needed drugs for nauseau (which he never needed). The first 2 weeks were like a miracle — he gained weight, became energetic and playful, and just was totally himself. Then, after the 3rd treatment he got more lethargic and then a few days ago his breathing became very labored. We brought him in that night and they said his chest cavity had a lot of fluid again — they drained it, and we opted for treatment (I don’t remember what it was called) that I guess is an emergency drug — it targets lymphoma cells particularly well, but only works once or twice at best. We then opted to go ahead with the final drug in his regimen yesterday. He is home now. He ate voraciously last night, and his breathing seems good. But, for the first time in all of this he is just very sedentary. He just lies in the hallway and looks around. This is not like him at all. Does anyone know if this could be a temporary reaction to the chemo? If so, we will wait with him and see if he gets more himself — but if this is his quality of life we need to let him go and I don’t want him to suffer while we figure this out! We’ve been through this with two dogs in the last 6 years, and it is always so very hard — you do everything that you think will give them a reasonable chance of a longer, good life — but with both of our dogs it became clear when it was time to let them go. I just am so struggling this time.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 27, 2015 at 3:49 pm (13 hours ago)

      I’ve seen many cats be a little more depressed for 24-48 hours following chemo, so it’s possible that that’s what’s going on with him, Maryah. I know it’s so hard. Here’s wishing that it’s only temporary and that he’ll rebound again!

      Reply
      • Jenny Astbury
        August 27, 2015 at 4:15 pm (13 hours ago)

        I hope Whiskers improves! Gridlock spent lot of time under bed covers after early chemo for large cell lymphoma in June 2013 but is very happily still with us. Good luck with Whiskers! Ps. Gridlock is seventeen.

        Reply
  2. Danielle
    August 17, 2015 at 9:22 am (2 weeks ago)

    Hi my Sphynx cat Milo is 8 years old and has been diagnosed with large cell lymphoma. He starts first chemo treatment tomorrow but I’m so scared because he’s so skinny and bony :( he’s eating and not throwing up but he has diarrhea. His uncle oliver (also a sphynx) is taking care of him too lol. He’s on prednisone every 24 hrs. He’s sleeping a lot. Have anyone’s cat been really skinny in the beginning before chemo?

    Reply
    • Lynette
      August 17, 2015 at 1:27 pm (2 weeks ago)

      Critters had his first dose of chemo last month and did well. He too is very skinny. He had a bit of nausea about the 3rd day but Pepcid (dose given by vet) helped. Critters has adeno carcinoma so the chemo might be different for your cat with lymphoma. In any event, animals seem to do well in chemo. You need to take care not to touch feces/urine for 72 hours after. I separated my kitties for that time period and used disposable gloves to handle waste. Then clean, sterilize box and start fresh litter. Best wishes

      Reply
      • Danielle
        August 17, 2015 at 3:59 pm (2 weeks ago)

        Thank you :)

        Reply
      • Danielle
        August 17, 2015 at 4:00 pm (2 weeks ago)

        Thank you!

        Reply
    • Jenny astbury
      August 19, 2015 at 3:39 pm (1 week ago)

      Gridlock was losing weight when diagnosed with large cell lymphoma in June 2013. After much chemo – vincristine and steroids only as we stopped the other chemo drug as made her I’ll. Gridlock remains well two years and two months on. We are very lucky but it can happen. Wishing you the best outcome for your cat.

      Reply
  3. Kelly
    August 13, 2015 at 12:10 am (2 weeks ago)

    My 6 year old cat, Tina, was recently diagnosed with large cell lymphoma. She is being treated with the UW-Madison protocol that many have mentioned (weekly chemo and daily prednisolone) and just received her second treatment today. It’s been rough since she has absolutely no appetite and was vomiting everything until the vet prescribed cerenia. Now vomiting is controlled but she is still refusing to eat and is now down to 6.7 lbs. On the plus side, the vet said it appears the mass in her abdomen has shrunk considerably in just 1 week. So I have hope that she will start feeling better soon!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 13, 2015 at 6:23 am (2 weeks ago)

      I’m glad the cerenia is helping, Kelly, and it’s great news that the chemo is working. All my best to Tina!

      Reply
  4. Lynette
    July 22, 2015 at 7:54 pm (1 month ago)

    Hello. We just learned our cat, Critters, has Intestinal Adenocarcinoma. The Oncologist says its rare. He is recommending Chemotherapy using the drug Carboplatin. While there is info regarding the side effects, I’m not sure how effective it will be. Moreover, I’m concerned about whether his urine/feces (toxicity) will harm my other two kittens. Any thoughts on that? I understand the precautions I have to take but I”m concerned about the other kittens too. Any help will be appreciated.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 23, 2015 at 6:12 am (1 month ago)

      I’m sorry about Critters’ diagnosis, Lynette. Your other two kittens should be prevented from ingest the urine/feces, something that’s highly unlikely to happen, but even if they were to do so, they’d have to ingest an awful lot for it to be a problem. Most chemotherapy drugs are metabolized out of the patients system in 72 hours. I would discuss this concern with your vet to see if there are any particular concerns with Carboplatin. All my best to you and Critters.

      Reply
      • lynette
        August 19, 2015 at 2:17 pm (1 week ago)

        Critters seems to be doing ok after his first dose of Chemo. He goes back for his second on Friday, 8/21, however, he has started to poop outside the litter box. Any thoughts on why?

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          August 19, 2015 at 2:40 pm (1 week ago)

          Is he constipated? It’s possible that defecating is uncomfortable for him.

          Reply
          • lynette@sbcglobal.net
            August 19, 2015 at 9:04 pm (1 week ago)

            I considered that so I gave him some laxatone. I hope that’s ok for his condition. He’s not eating much either.

          • Ingrid
            August 20, 2015 at 6:18 am (1 week ago)

            I’m not a big fan of laxatone. I would recommend canned pumpkin instead.

        • Robin Portman
          August 19, 2015 at 6:50 pm (1 week ago)

          Chemo made my cat constipated and His vet prescribed a stool softener a few times a week. I could always tell when he was having trouble going because he would go beside the box. Normally, he’s never gone outside the box.

          Reply
          • Lynette
            August 20, 2015 at 12:47 pm (1 week ago)

            Interesting. His surgery to remove the Tumor caused loose stools that could be like that forever. Now he’s constipated? It must be so because he had a firm stool, in the box, this morning.

          • Ingrid
            August 20, 2015 at 2:10 pm (1 week ago)

            The constipation could be caused by one of the chemo drugs.

  5. alle
    July 17, 2015 at 4:58 pm (1 month ago)

    I am so glad i found this site. My cat is newly diagnosed with small cell lymphoma. the muscle layer of the small bowel is thickened. we will have to find out if it is really lymphoma or not and bring him in to the vet to do that, but i am not sure if this is the way to go, subjecting him to biopsy, and then chemo treatment with lomustine, and prednisone at home. he also had renal disease, but not very progressed and needs hydration at home and cerenia and blood pressure meds. This will go on for quite a while with regular labs, for about 6 months. biopsy does not always get the area, and can come out positive or negative but not be right. do you just treat based on the abdominal
    ultrasound,or put him through all that with day hospitalization and lots of expense and not really know but pretty sure it is lymphoma and not IBD. I just spent about 5000 on his hospitalization and MRI, etc etc for the stroke he had.
    what did you people do when you first heard the bowel was thickened and probably small cell lymphoma?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      July 18, 2015 at 6:17 am (1 month ago)

      I’m sorry about your kitty, Alle. Some vets will treat just based on ultrasound findings, although, of course, there is no way to definitively diagnose lymphoma without biopsies.

      Reply
    • Kaite
      July 20, 2015 at 2:19 am (1 month ago)

      My cat had an ultrasound only, and the vet prescribed treatment for lymphoma. The vet didn’t really talk about biopsy as an option, and I’m not sure I would have chosen that option. Sascha was 17 years old at the time of diagnosis, so I think an operation would have been an unnecessary stress. He had also gradually lost a fair bit of weight over time and his symptoms had progressed to almost daily vomiting, along with sudden, explosive diarrhoea. He has been great since treatment, with vomiting and diarrhoea clearing up immediately. It’s now been nine months since his treatment started, so I am happy with the decision. I don’t know, maybe it is worth considering how young the cat is; his general health, and whether an operation would be something he could easily bounce back from. Also, I understand he would have to wait for some time after the operation until he has healed before medication can commence…

      Reply
      • Alle
        July 23, 2015 at 2:26 pm (1 month ago)

        Thank you for your replies. We started the chemo treatment today-I hope he tolerates it well. We did not do a biopsy and did it based on the ultrasound findings. He will stay there today for the day so they can observe him after treatment.
        apparently they do very well for this type of cancer.We are planning a 6 month course of chemo and prednisone.

        Reply
        • Kaite
          July 25, 2015 at 4:49 am (1 month ago)

          All the best! As my vet said, small cell lymphoma is actually good news in the scheme of cancer diagnoses. This has certainly been the case for Sascha.

          Reply
  6. Rob
    June 17, 2015 at 5:40 pm (2 months ago)

    We have 6 cats and one who has just started Leukeran. All of our cats have been grazers and I’m wondering how this drug is going to effect our feeding? Do we stop leaving bowels of food around and feed them say twice a day and remove the food after they have eaten?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 18, 2015 at 6:21 am (2 months ago)

      I’m not aware of any reasons why Leukeran would affect how you feed your cats, but I don’t recommend free choice feeding (or feeding dry food) in general. If you’re interested in reading more about this topic and why dry food and free choice feeding are not a good idea, you’ll find lots of information in the Feline Nutrition section on this site. This article sums up the basics: http://consciouscat.net/2012/03/22/the-best-food-for-your-cat/

      I will caveat this with the following: the most important thing for a cat going through cancer treatment is that he/she eats, so if you are going to make a change, make sure that your cat gets enough food. Ideally, a diet for cats with cancer high in protein and fat diet and low in carbohydrates (cancer cells feed on carbs, and dry foods are too high in carbs.) Dry foods are too high in carbs even for healthy cats.

      Reply
  7. Roxanne
    May 24, 2015 at 1:54 am (3 months ago)

    My baby boy, Tasuki (pronounced Tosky) was recently diagnosed with large cell alimentary lymphoma. He is 13 now and I rescued him when he was 5 weeks old. In 2013, Tasuki was diagnosed with diabetes. In April 2015, he was declared in remission and I couldn’t have been any happier. About a week or two after his remission he began acting very strange. He had horrible diarrhea, was barely eating and hiding in cabinets. The vet had felt a mass in his abdomen and told me to have an ultrasound done immediately. A biopsy was sent to the lab and came back as large cell lymphoma. His bloodwork proved him to be anemic and his x-rays were clear. The vet referred me to an oncologist and I decided to start him on the CHOP protocol. This includes cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine and prednisone. Tasuki goes in about once a week for the next 9 weeks with a one week break in between then every other week for a total of 25 weeks. He had his first chemo treatment 2 days ago and already looks so much better. He is peeing outside of the box, but still using the box for #2. Unfortunately, he keeps having accidents on his bed so he’s been getting a bath daily which he doesn’t seem to mind too much. He’s eating and drinking a lot. He’s always been a larger cat at one point weighing 17 lbs, but I believe he was at 15.8 lbs in January and was 12 lbs at the oncologist on Thursday. He’s sleeping a lot, but gets excited when I bring him treats. Keeping my fingers crossed that I have a miracle cat that can pull through!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 24, 2015 at 6:19 am (3 months ago)

      All my best to Tasuki, Roxanne. Keep us posted on how he is doing!

      Reply
    • Michelle
      May 24, 2015 at 12:58 pm (3 months ago)

      It’s encouraging because Tasuki is doing better after one treatment. I”ll keep my fingers crossed. Hang in there. I’m sorry your kitty has cancer.

      Reply
    • Roxanne
      May 30, 2015 at 10:18 pm (3 months ago)

      We had our second treatment of chemo on Thursday. Tasuki is still very lethargic, but still eating and drinking a lot. He doesn’t want to be moved at all from his bed, but I’ve placed a litter box next to where he sleeps and it seems to be working out very well. He doesn’t seem to be having any terrible side effects from the chemo aside from resting a lot. He is becoming more and more anemic – levels down to 13.9% from 17% the week prior. I’ve ordered Liqui-Tinic to try to help with his anemia. I was told if his levels get any lower he will require a blood transfusion. Since his diabetes is in remission, the doctor was concerned it may return due to the prednisolone causing increased drinking and urination. His blood glucose was 296 at the visit, but they suspect it was due to stressors. I checked his glucose later that night and it was back down to 140. I’m going to continue monitoring it. I’m also going to try the Canna Companion along with some other supplements.

      Reply
      • Robin
        May 30, 2015 at 11:29 pm (3 months ago)

        You might want to ask your vet about doing a fructosamine blood test. It gives an overview of a cats glucose levels for the prior few weeks. My cat had it monthly when he became diabetic from prednisolone. After being weaned off of the Pred, she still did the test monthly for several months to monitor him until she got normal readings for a 5-6 months. That let her know his diabetes was staying in remission.

        Reply
        • Roxanne
          May 30, 2015 at 11:52 pm (3 months ago)

          Thank you Robin, I will ask my vet about it when we go in for our next treatment.

          Reply
  8. Michelle
    May 17, 2015 at 10:10 pm (3 months ago)

    Hi Lesley,
    My girl Kallie has been in treatment for 10 months, with 2 mg Chlorambucil every third day and 7.5 mg prednisilone every other day. Kallie is doing well and enjoying her cat life. It’s been worth every penny and vet visit, though the beginning was hard. I met with two oncologists who said Kallie would need to be retested after a month of treatment, then 3 months, then 6 months, then 9 months then 12 months. It wasn’t like that at all. Kallie had to go every 4-6 weeks at first to get the dosing right. And, since Kallie has large lymph nodes (which are within normal limits) the vet thought she wasn’t in remission, so she was tested often. After seeing no change in those lymph nodes after two ultrasounds in 8 weeks, the vet determined that’s Kallie’s normal and she is in remission. Now, we see the oncologist every 3 months and I’m okay with that. I keep my fingers crossed that Kallie is one of the 10% that’s cured and I know there’s no guarantee.Whatever the outcome, I’m happy with the results. Knowing my time with her is limited, I’ve taken each day at a time and that’s rewarding. It seems like it’s been 20 months since treatment, not 10.

    Reply
    • Robin
      May 31, 2015 at 8:08 am (3 months ago)

      I’m happy to hear about your kitty stopping treatment and still being in remission. It’s been 5 months since my kitty was taken off of everything and is still in remission as well. You had mentioned that 10% get cured. I hadn’t found any statistics while reading up on it many months ago. I keep waiting for “the other shoe to drop” but am enjoying every day we have together.

      Reply
      • Michelle
        June 3, 2015 at 9:46 pm (3 months ago)

        Hi Robin, my kitty isn’t off her meds. I’m happy for you and your kitty! I hear what you’re saying about waiting for the other shoe to drop. I came across the 10% a few months ago. I couldn’t find it when I looked recently. Instead, I found an article that said 10% of dogs with GI lymphoma are “cured,” meaning they stay in remission without meds. I did read about Ollie the cat , who was owned by a vet tech that went into remission, was taken off it’s meds and died of kidney disease, not cancer!

        Reply
  9. Kaite
    May 15, 2015 at 6:33 am (3 months ago)

    Well, an update on my cat, Sascha. I posted on here in the early days of treatment. He is seven months into gastrointestinal lymphoma treatment and he is still doing very well! He is now 17 years and seven months. I know he can’t live forever, but I have been amazed how good the chemo/prednisone treatment has been for him, and how much quality of life it is giving him, even in his very senior years. I just wanted to say that there is hope!

    Reply
    • Jenny
      May 15, 2015 at 6:43 am (3 months ago)

      As I type, Gridlock is sunning herself in her hammock at the window. Griddles was diagnosed with large cell lymphoma in June 2013. Had large tumour removed and has been on reducing amounts of chemotherapy (Vincristine plus steroid) ever since. Now very nearly two years on! Now on chemo every two months and steroids monthly. Next month will be her final chemo after which we will take her for monthly checks to her vet. Who knows what the future will hold? Every day is a gift. At the outset her prognosis was bleak – just a couple of months and Griddles has confounded all expectations. She has remained happy and well throughout. Sometimes her appetite is a little “down” but many 17 year old cats have reduced eating requirements and I give her a 1/4 of a Mirtazapine tablet when this happens. Hope along with Kaite’s posting, that this gives some of you hope!

      Reply
      • Ingrid
        May 15, 2015 at 5:12 pm (3 months ago)

        What a remarkable story, Jenny! Two years is amazing!

        Reply
    • Robin
      May 15, 2015 at 7:46 am (3 months ago)

      There is hope! Previously, I’d told about my kitty and what he went through 1.5 yrs ago. Final diagnosis was small cell lymphoma. After being on Chlorambucil for 13 months, he was doing so well that his Onclologist thought he should come off of it. This is his 5th month without any meds(except a stool softener 1-2x/week). A few days ago, he had an ultrasound and so far so good. There’s no sign that he’s coming out of remission. Until he was properly diagnosed and started eating again, he had a feeding tube and was given a variety of meds, appetite stimulants, etc at all hours of the day. At one point, I was only able to get 2.5 hrs of sleep because of his med/food schedule. It was all worth it. He goes back to the vet in 3-4 months for another ultrasound.

      Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 15, 2015 at 5:11 pm (3 months ago)

      That’s wonderful, Kaite! I’m so glad Sascha is doing so well.

      Reply
      • Kaite
        May 19, 2015 at 7:24 am (3 months ago)

        Thank you Ingrid. Lovely to hear about Kallie, Gridlock and Robin’s cat too (what is his name, Robin?). Cancer definitely does not appear to be a guaranteed death sentence, and knowing the possibility for sustained quality of life is so important in treatment decisions, I think.

        Jenny, wonderful to hear about 17 year old Gridlock too. That’s the other factor for consideration in all of this, when an elderly cat is involved. However, it seems like they can do just as well as the young ones, if the rest of their health is good. I did find a research article on lymphoma on the web, which found that age was not a factor in treatment outcomes for their sample. I think their cats ranged in age up to 20 years, which was nice to see!

        Reply
  10. lesley hause
    May 14, 2015 at 3:20 pm (4 months ago)

    so glad i found this site. we found lumps on biggy small’s lymph node and our vet diagnosed lymphoma. biggy is a rescue and was feral for many years. he is the most loving boy we have ever had. we are heartbroken and have a follow up appointment with the vet on monday. he doesn’t seem to be in any pain which is promising. i was worried about chemo, but after reading all these posts, i am encouraged that he may have a fighting chance.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 14, 2015 at 4:08 pm (4 months ago)

      All my best to Biggy, Lesley. I think you’ll find a lot of support here.

      Reply
      • lesley
        May 14, 2015 at 4:34 pm (4 months ago)

        thank you ingrid. i feel more confident about biggy’s options and how we might best help him. the losses and success stories on this blog are so heartfelt. we are thinking of all of you as well.

        Reply
  11. Jennifer
    May 5, 2015 at 7:12 pm (4 months ago)

    My Trixie is fading fast and not doing well with the Leukeran. She is 8 and started losing weight at the beginning of this year. Blood and urine tests in March were inconclusive, and an ultrasound showed some minor enlargement of the lymph nodes and some thickening of the intestines. She started on 1/2 ml of Prednisolone and A/D high calorie diet, but continued to lose weight. Last week the vet thought she felt a mass so she started on the Leukeran, 1/2 tablet 3x week, but she is not reacting well to it. She is only 4.5 lbs right now, and it just wipes her out. Today, after the 3rd dose of it, she has barely been able to walk, dizzy almost and very woozy, with no appetite. I am going to stop the Leukeran because it seems to be affecting her quality of life too much and makes her suffer. I can’t imagine putting her through more treatment. This has all been so fast, compared to another cat of mine who started with IBD and lasted several years with treatment. It just breaks my heart to lose her because she is the sweetest little thing.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 6, 2015 at 6:32 am (4 months ago)

      I’m so sorry, Jennifer.

      Reply
    • Robin
      May 6, 2015 at 8:36 am (4 months ago)

      If there in an Oncologist you could take your kitty to, it could make a big difference. My kitty was diagnosed with small cell a year and a half ago and his regular vet tried treating him with Pred and Leukeran (twice a week). It didn’t help and things were deteriorating still. When I brought him to an Oncologist, she put him on the pulse regime…a higher dose of Leukeran twice a month, and he had a complete turnaround. Initially, for the first few months, his regular vet talked me into letting him put a feeding tube in so I could feed him through it and he didn’t starve to death until things improved. If you don’t have an Oncologist in your area, maybe your vet would consult with one on the phone. After being on the new regime for only a few weeks, there was improvement and he went into complete remission and is still doing well. Hope things get better for you and your kitty.

      Reply
    • Tamara
      May 6, 2015 at 9:35 am (4 months ago)

      I am so sorry Jennifer. It is truly heart breaking. I hope her going off of the Leukeran allows her to have a better quality of life.

      Reply
    • Johnny
      May 6, 2015 at 2:24 pm (4 months ago)

      You might want to read my post about our cat Sooner. He was put on some different meds about 2 months ago and is doing better and has gained some weight. We went with the first option after he had been on Leukeran for quiet a while. Hope your cat gets better. Johnny

      Reply
    • Susan
      May 8, 2015 at 1:48 am (4 months ago)

      I’m so sorry Jennifer. I lost my sweet Baby, who was 11 years old to Lymphoma this past December. He did well on the same regimen as your Trixie from July until early December last year and then went downhill very quickly. It’s so heartbreaking and terrible to see our beloved cat children suffering from this terrible disease. I wish you and Trixie all the best and hope she doesn’t suffer any longer.

      Reply
  12. Zoe
    April 13, 2015 at 5:24 am (5 months ago)

    My 15 year old cat Dillon was diagnosed with large cell lymphoma in January and has since undergone surgery to try to remove the tumour (found to be not possible) and then chemo for five weeks. The chemo protocol was weekly doses of vincristine and cyclophosomide at the vets plus 7.5mg daily of prednisolone as well as mirtazapine to stimulate his appetite and cerenia to combat sickness. After 5 weeks the vet said that she thought the tumour had actually grown (she estimated this by touch not by xray or CT), that was almost two weeks ago. Dillon is continually losing weight as his appetite is now so small, we try every type of food and cook fish and chicken for him to try to find something he will take a few mouthfuls of. In the last couple of days he has started to suffer from diahorrea as well but is still alert and mobile. We now don’t know where to go with him. We are due back at the vets this week as he would be due his next chemo next week and she wants to examine him before then. I am so worried that she is going to say that his tumour has grown again and that there is nothing she can do for him. Has anyone experienced a chemo protocol that didn’t work and then found another combination of drugs was successful? I don’t know if I’m grasping at straws here and should let him go instead of putting him through more treatment but I really want to make sure we have done everything possible for him and given him a fighting chance

    Reply
    • lu
      April 20, 2015 at 6:46 pm (4 months ago)

      Hi Zoe, I’m so sorry that the current protocol doesn’t seem to be working. Before anything else, I think your vet should confirm their suspicions with an ultrasound or X-ray, at least. If your kitty is brave, not in terrible pain, and seems not ready to go just yet (ie, still interested in his favorite things), I would say try another protocol, if possible. My little dude’s situation is also inoperable, so we’re trying lomustine every 3-4 weeks, along with a daily dose of 0.3ml of 15mg/ml prednisolone. For him, this course may be our only shot, mostly because other treatments require too frequent of extremely stressful vet visits – he wouldn’t stand for it for very long! Ultimately, I think each would prefer to decide what happens to him or her. Best of luck to you guys. ❤️

      Reply
      • Zoe
        April 21, 2015 at 7:16 am (4 months ago)

        Hi Lu, thank you for your response. Unfortunately Dillon passed away last Wednesday. He died peacefully in my husband’s arms so whilst we are devastated and miss him terribly he passed away in the best possible circumstances. Good luck with your little guy, I hope he manages to keep fighting

        Reply
        • Lu
          April 21, 2015 at 1:52 pm (4 months ago)

          I’m so sorry for your loss. :( God bless you guys.

          Reply
        • Ingrid
          April 21, 2015 at 2:05 pm (4 months ago)

          I’m so sorry, Zoe.

          Reply
  13. johnny
    March 7, 2015 at 2:01 pm (6 months ago)

    Sooner has been on Leukran and prednisolone since August 2013
    for his small cell GI lymphoma. He recently had a checkup at Kansas State
    Vet Hospital. Since Sooner is showing increased thickness in various
    sections of his small intestine and he continues to lose weight. He weighs
    about 7 lbs. now. In August 2013 he weighed a little over 8 lbs. The
    oncologist would like to switch him to lomustine every 3 weeks and
    denamarin.We are not sure if this is a good move. Also, the other options is cyclophosphamide every 2 weeks. I would like to know what you think about this approach and if anyone else has had this medicine. Thanks, Johnny

    Reply
  14. Laura
    March 4, 2015 at 7:15 pm (6 months ago)

    Kathy, my heart goes out to you. Please read Rainbow Bridge. I find it emotional but comforting.

    Reply
    • Kathy
      March 6, 2015 at 4:00 pm (6 months ago)

      Thank you, Laura!

      Reply
  15. Kathy
    March 4, 2015 at 3:51 pm (6 months ago)

    Following up on my prior posts about Maddie. He finished his first 4-week course on chemo but did not achieve remission. The oncologist gave him Lomustine (sp?) this week, but I am coming to terms with euthanizing him in the next day or two. He is putting all of the time, which I know can be a sign of pain, and is not himself. I’m absolutely heartbroken, but coming here and reading all of your stories was very helpful. It’s nice to know that there are others out there facing things like this, even though I wouldn’t wish it on anyone!

    Reply
    • jenny astbury
      March 4, 2015 at 4:41 pm (6 months ago)

      So sorry that it hasnt worked out for Maddie. Thinking of you .

      Reply
    • Ingrid
      March 4, 2015 at 5:20 pm (6 months ago)

      I’m so sorry, Kathy.

      Reply
      • Jeanette
        March 4, 2015 at 5:30 pm (6 months ago)

        Kathy, I’m so sorry about your Maddie. Sadly we had to help our Chai to her tenth life on Feb 21. She had small cell GI lymphoma and survived 18 months before it spread to her eyes and most likely her brain. I feel for you and I understand your heartbreak. It’s the hardest thing we ever have to do for our beloved furkids and they certainly take a piece of our heart and soul with them to the Rainbow Bridge.

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          March 4, 2015 at 11:13 pm (6 months ago)

          I’m so sorry about Chai, Jeanette.

          Reply
          • Jeanette
            March 4, 2015 at 11:28 pm (6 months ago)

            Thank you Ingrid – it has been difficult to lose two kitties to cancer in less than a year.

          • Michelle
            March 5, 2015 at 12:05 am (6 months ago)

            My heart breaks for you.

    • Robin
      March 4, 2015 at 7:51 pm (6 months ago)

      It’s just so heartbreaking. :-(

      Reply
    • Michelle
      March 5, 2015 at 12:03 am (6 months ago)

      Kathy, I’m sorry. You did your best for Maddie and gave treatment a good shot.

      Reply
    • Tamara
      March 5, 2015 at 5:42 pm (6 months ago)

      Kathy, I am so sorry to hear about Maddie. My heart breaks for you.

      Reply
  16. Lyn
    February 13, 2015 at 12:01 am (7 months ago)

    My 16 year old Yuki was diagnosed with small cell lymphoma in dec last year. She has been on Leukeran 1 tablet every 3 days and was on 1 and a half prednisolone tabs every day to begin with. However she was desperate for food and asking to be fed all the time. Her predict was cut to 1 tablet/day and she settled down well. Diahorrea cleared up and we had no vomiting. She put on a little weight. At last vet check her pred was decreased to 1 tab every other day. One week later she was vomiting and had diahorrea worse than before she was diagnosed. I took her to a local vet who gave her a cortisone injection as she’d vomited her pred vup the night before. She has lost her appetite and is getting thinner. Diahorrea is just as bad. Don’t know if she’s no longer responding to the leukeran or if the decrease in pred upset the balance we had going. Very disappointing given that she had no visible side effects since commencing her treatment.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 13, 2015 at 7:14 am (7 months ago)

      It does sounds like Yuki may have come out of remission, Lyn. I’m sorry, I know this is so hard.

      Reply
      • Lyn
        February 14, 2015 at 11:29 pm (6 months ago)

        Two days later…Yuki is eating again, not vomiting and diahorrea has subsided with intermittent formed stools. Cleaning herself and back into her usual habits. Hope the return to 1 tab/day prednisolone is the reason and that she’s with us for a bit longer.

        Reply
        • Michelle
          February 15, 2015 at 12:06 am (6 months ago)

          I’m glad to hear that. I was hoping that changing the dose would work.

          Reply
        • Ingrid
          February 15, 2015 at 7:24 am (6 months ago)

          That’s wonderful news, Lyn!

          Reply
        • Julie
          March 21, 2015 at 10:41 am (5 months ago)

          Our 16 yr old male cat is doing IV chemo along with 5mg prednisone, weekly, for 2 mos. He will continue the same for 2 mos. He is responding well. He did have a $3,000 bout of pancreatitis thrown in along the way, which was devastating. We have put him on digestive enzymes plus probiotics. We are using NWC Naturals brand, but there are several brands out there. I think that if you can return good bacteria to your cat’s gut, it helps keep him/her better able to combat the assault of chemo. Like doctors for humans, vets aren’t necessarily interested in natural remedies. I asked the oncologist about what I wanted to use, and he said that he saw no problem with it. They don’t tell you that pancreatitis is common in cats undergoing chemo. Surprise! Good luck to all of us.

          Reply
          • Ingrid
            March 21, 2015 at 11:06 am (5 months ago)

            I agree that probiotic support is a great way to support the immune system during chemo (or at any other time for that matter – I recommend a daily probiotic supplement for all cats.) My go to product is the Dr. Goodpet Feline Digestive Enzymes product. It’s a combination of enzymes and probiotics: http://amzn.to/YRaNcE

            All my best to your cat as he goes through treatment, Julie!

  17. Tamara
    February 3, 2015 at 11:38 am (7 months ago)

    Thank you for taking the time to respond. I appreciate all of your input. Today he gets a lower body ultrasound and we will take it from there. Has anyone on this forum opted to not do the chemo? and If yes, what was the outcome?

    Reply
    • Glenda
      February 5, 2015 at 11:50 pm (7 months ago)

      I’d also like to know about those opting out of chemo. My 11 year old boy, Chance, was diagnosed today and I’m not sure I want to put him through chemo just to have him deal with being sick again later :(

      Reply
      • Robin
        February 6, 2015 at 9:52 am (7 months ago)

        My kitty has had small cell lumphoma for over a year. He got 3 chemo pills every 2 weeks(I put all 3 pills in a gel cap so it was one dose) and didn’t really have to “deal” with much at all other than living a normal, happy, thriving life. The only other meds he got was an anti nausea pill the day of and day after getting the chemo pills as a precaution just in case (he never did vomit) and twice a week he got and still gets a little bit of a laxative mixed into pure chicken baby food. His Oncologist stopped his chemo at the end of Dec and is hoping he’ll stay in remission. If not, he’ll get back on the chemo again and there’s a 95% chance he’ll go back in remission. Considering he’s been a happy cat that you couldn’t tell from one not fighting cancer, it’s been well worth it. Early on, it took about 4-6 weeks to get the right dose, etc, so sometimes it takes a little adjusting by the vet to get the right response.

        Reply
      • Kaite
        February 8, 2015 at 7:56 pm (7 months ago)

        I would not be afraid of chemo at all. I put my 17 year old cat on chemo about 4 months ago, and he is now thriving. He looks better and is chubbier now than he was 1.5 years ago, which was well before his lymphoma diagnosis. He became slowly and progressively skinnier between the ages of 15 and 17 years, and now he is a lovely plump cat again. He looks like he is 10 years old, and he has had no side effects from chemo. In fact, his vomiting and diarrhoea cleared up immediately. Not putting a cat on chemo will mean that kitty will deteriorate much sooner, whereas a cat has a chance to live a long time, with good quality of life, if he/she has chemo. I never expected to see my boy look so good again, and that’s at the age of 17.5 years. I think the only exception would be if the cat is suffering and has other health issues that impact.

        Reply
        • Robin
          February 8, 2015 at 8:08 pm (7 months ago)

          Well said, Kaite!

          Reply
    • Luna
      March 23, 2015 at 2:34 pm (5 months ago)

      Our cat had large cell lymphoma and we didn’t put him through chemo.
      His quality of life had decreased and he wasn’t enjouying life. His spleen and liver were enlarged.
      We let him go before he got too miserable. It was the hardest choice of our lives.

      Reply
      • Ingrid
        March 23, 2015 at 3:15 pm (5 months ago)

        I’m so sorry, Luna.

        Reply
        • Kaite
          March 24, 2015 at 5:05 am (5 months ago)

          I would definitely do the same if/when my boy is not experiencing good quality of life. It is the kindest thing. I am sorry for your loss.

          Reply
  18. Jenny
    February 3, 2015 at 9:09 am (7 months ago)

    My little cat Gridlock is still doing well since being diagnosed with large cell lymphoma in June 2013. Like Tamara, I was turned off by the idea of chemo but my vet explained that animals are given much lesser doses than humans – since it would be unethical to cause them discomfort. Gridlock started off with two weekly and then monthly chemo – we dropped one drug which caused her white blood cell count to drop – and she simply had vincristine and a steroid. We are now down to two monthly chemos with monthly steroid injections and the likelihood that we will stop chemo altogether at the two year mark.

    I would say to Tamara go with it – If it isn’t going to help this will rapidly become apparent.

    Reply
  19. Tamara
    February 2, 2015 at 8:43 pm (7 months ago)

    Hi everyone,
    My sympathies to all of you who have or are dealing with your cat and cancer. Our sweet 7 year old male Lynx Siamese was diagnosed with hemangioma sarcoma about 3 weeks ago. Our vet did an excellent job of removing the tumor. She also did radiology photos of his upper body and fortunately all is clear. Today we saw the Oncologist for the first time . We bring him back to the Oncologist tomorrow for a ultrasound of his lower body. We are hoping for the best but are very turned off to the idea of Chemo. For those of you that have or are experiencing your cat going through Chemo, what are your thoughts? Has anyone else had a cat with this type of cancer? If your cat has or is undergoing cancer, Do you feel chemo has helped or hurt your cat more? We are very nervous and any help or advice is appreciated.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 3, 2015 at 6:57 am (7 months ago)

      I think you’ll find lots of support here, Tamara. My own cat, who had intestinal lymphoma, went through chemo and lived for seven months with very good quality of life after diagnosis. This was fifteen years ago, and chemotherapy drugs have come even further since then. All my best to you and your kitty.

      Reply
    • Robin
      February 3, 2015 at 7:14 am (7 months ago)

      My cat had lymphoma…a different type of cancer…and did very well with chemo. After taking some time to get the dose/ frequency right, he had a complete turnaround and has been in complete remission for about a year. He looks and acts like a normal, thriving kitty. Most animals do not have the side effects you think of when you hear the word chemo. It’s not the same as what you hear about the side effects people usually get from chemo. It’s a lot easier.

      Reply
  20. Laura
    January 28, 2015 at 4:21 pm (7 months ago)

    Kathy,
    I certainly don’t know all the answers, but our vet prescribed Prednisone and Cerenia for our Ling Ling. A specific brand of probiotics seemed to assist with her GI tract, and we administered probiotics daily. We tried the Famotidine but it did not prove useful in her case. All cats are different. Our goal was to make her last four months the best we could. We gave her anything and everything we remotely thought she wanted to eat. There was a period when she was eat only raw hamburger meat. Other days, she loved baby food meat, specifically chicken. Toward the end, we gave her Gatorade to made sure she was hydrated. I know it is very early to even consider such, but I want to share. At the very end, we asked our vet to come to our home which reduced stress for her and us. It was the most humane gift we could give her.

    Reply
  21. Kathy
    January 28, 2015 at 3:45 pm (7 months ago)

    Thank you for your replies. This is heartbreaking for me and I’m doing the best I can to make him comfortable and happy. He started chemo on Monday and seemed to be eating a little better, but then today he’s very tired and hasn’t eaten anything except a piece of lunch meat. He is also on Sucralfate to coat his stomach ulcers before food/meds, Prednisolone, Famotidine (sp?). This morning he vomited a small amount of liquid so I gave him Cerenia for the nausea. When he didn’t improve over the course of the day, I checked his temperature rectally to see if it was high due to an infection. It came in at 99.0, so I’ll check it again this evening. He’s definitely not himself and has spent the entire day sleeping on a small shelf in our bedroom.

    Reply
    • Robin
      January 30, 2015 at 10:09 am (7 months ago)

      What type of “lunch meat” did you give him? Most of the processed meats from the deli counter have onion and/or garlic added for flavoring, Cats cannot have onion or garlic. It’s very bad for them.

      Reply
  22. Laura
    January 26, 2015 at 6:01 pm (7 months ago)

    Kathy,
    I am so sorry. I will pray that Roach bounces back and does great. We lost our Ling Ling in July, and we still cry. I believe she was misdiagnosed for a long time, and we took her to numerous vets having every test administered that the vet thought was relevant. Cats have such a presence without trying, and our hearts certainly get “wrapped around.”

    Reply
  23. Kathy
    January 25, 2015 at 8:40 pm (7 months ago)

    Thank you all for pouring your hearts out on here. We got a diagnosis of large cell lymphoma in our 15 yo male cat, Maddie, just yesterday. We set up a consultation with a veterinary oncologist for tomorrow and are hopeful he is a candidate for chemo, but we’ll see. I adopted him as an 8-week old kitten in college and I am absolutely devastated. I am sorry for all of your losses and struggles.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      January 26, 2015 at 7:23 am (7 months ago)

      I’m sorry about Maddie, Kathy. I know it’s devastating to receive a cancer diagnosis. Please keep us posted on how she’s doing.

      Reply
    • Chari
      January 26, 2015 at 5:46 pm (7 months ago)

      Hi Kathy,
      Please keep us updated as to what they are recommending and what is happening. I also have the same situation but Roach is 14 yrs old. I never thought this would ever happen, and I thought I did everything to make the environment and his food high quality. I am also devastated and everyday I cry at some point. I am going to the doctor today to get the Vitamin B injectable the Vet recommended me to give him once a week. When he was first diagnosed on Dec 8/14 I chose not to administer the injection myself and would take him to the doctor every 2 weeks. But now that his condition is worsening, I am willing to do it.

      Reply
  24. Michelle
    January 23, 2015 at 6:00 pm (7 months ago)

    Chari, I believe what I know will help, though Kallie’s situation isn’t exactly the same. Prednisolone reduces the inflammation in the intestines and stomach. Traditionally, it’s used with chemo for maximum effect. Kallie’s white blood cells were off after a month of Luekeran, every other day 2 mg, so the vet changed the regimen to 2 mg every third day. That did the trick. Based on that, I am not sure why the vet is completely stopping the chemo. However, I wonder if the vet wants to detox the cat then check his blood in 2 weeks to ensure the white blood cells are normal. I recommend you talk to the vet .

    Reply
  25. Chari
    January 23, 2015 at 5:34 pm (7 months ago)

    I am not sure what to do. My spouse took Roach in for this first blood test since starting Leukeran 2 mg 3X per week and found his white blood cell count was low. I didn’t speak with the vet but the vet told my spouse to take him off Leukeran for 2 weeks then bring him back. He is taking 10 mg of Prednisolone every day and Remeron x2 a week, and Pepcid AC every day. So what now? I know the Prednisolone does not destroy cancer cells so I don’t know why the doctor wants me to bring him back in 2 weeks. Has anyone had this experience?

    Reply
  26. Laura
    January 22, 2015 at 10:49 am (7 months ago)

    Thank you. Agree. Not the clay litter I worry about but the silica (glass) from the clumper.

    Reply
  27. Laura Peck
    January 21, 2015 at 11:18 pm (7 months ago)

    I have always been concerned about the chemicals. I read the book, Cat Daddy, and he stated that clumping litter could cause cancer because it contained silica. This resurrected my concerns. I mix the clumping litter with regular litter, but the dust remains on the cat’s fur. When they bathe, they ingest the dust/chemicals. It is great for clean-up and odor control, but if there is documented evidence that it can or does cause cancer, I will make whatever changes are necessary.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      January 22, 2015 at 7:28 am (7 months ago)

      I don’t think there’s any documented evidence that definitively ties clay litter to cancer, but there are certainly concerns about the effect it can have on health. Here’s some more information on how you can limit exposure to toxins for your cats: http://consciouscat.net/2012/03/05/detox-your-cat/

      Reply

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  1. […] Cancer used to be a death sentence for cats, but recent advances in feline cancer research have made treatment possible in many cases. Just like with human cancers, early detection is key to successful treatment. Depending on the type of cancer, treatment options may include sugery, radiation, and chemotherapy. […]

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