Conscious Cat

October 24, 2011 237 Comments

Chemotherapy for Cats

Posted by Ingrid

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

Dr. Goodpet

 

FacebookTwitterGoogle+LinkedInPinterestShare

237 comments to “Chemotherapy for Cats”

  1. Nancy Burgeson says:

    Hello there everyone, I am so glad I found this site tonight! We found out just 3-1/2 weeks ago our Belle has Lymphoma. She had a mass removed on her intestine but also has one that can not be removed. This has been the worst summer of my life! First my husband had a serious back surgery and then 7 weeks later I had rotator cuff surgery and am recovering from that. On May 31st we lost our 19 year old maine coon Willy to renal failure and dementia. I thought I was going to die as he was the love of my life. Then as I mentioned above just a couple weeks later we get hit with this and our little Belle who is 14 years. I had pretty much given up hope as she has been so very ill. Today my husband and I made the choice to try chemo and all of this posts have helped me to realize there may be hope for her too.
    Thanks so much folks!

    • Ingrid says:

      Oh Nancy, what a rough year you’ve had. All my best to Belle – let us know how she’s doing!

    • girlfriday says:

      My cat was also diagnosed with cancer a few weeks ago and unfortunately she passed as the cancer was so advanced but through research I found some holistic treatments for her. Maybe they will help you. They can be used in conjunction with chemo. Won’t hurt to try, right? http://vitalityscience.com/v/AllProducts/feline-immune/cat-cancer.asp

      • Ingrid says:

        I’m sorry about your kitty. I would be cautious using any type of holistic treatment without running it by your cat’s oncologist and/or holistic veterinarian. Herbal remedies in particular can interact with conventional drugs.

    • karen murray says:

      I grieve for your loss, and prayers to Bast for the success of the chemo. we recently helped send our oldest boy, 18+yrs old, Ra to the bridge, he had renal failure for over 2 yrs, then recently heart failure, he left on 8 apr….then on 25 apr mama cat was breathing hard, at this time she was diagnosed w/ heart failure…amon & a half later I took her back for breathing to fast, this time what the dr pulled off her chest was about 100cc of milky stuff it was lymphoma, the x-ray shows a lg spot on her rt side….we didn’t discuss chemo, I guess it is the size of the mass & that she is between 17 & 19. bless u and your family, I hope it works for you

    • Nancy Burgeson says:

      Hello there fellow cat lovers. I found this site on July 7th and also posted a comment at that time and hopefully you have had a chance to read it.
      I must say that I was really down in the dumps and also pretty scared to have our little Belle try chemo. She was so very ill-I really didn’t hold out much hope for her at that time. She has large cell Lymphoma which can be more difficult to treat then small cell.
      But, here it is one month later and things are going GREAT!!!!!! She has had 4 treatments and has a week off this week and has done really well. I am so thankful and surprised.
      She is also on prenidsolone and a schedule of 3 treatments-one each week and then a week off.
      Our little girl is eating again and looking out windows, chasing after treats and seems to be happy right now. I had told myself that if she suffered too much while on chemo that we would have to make a different decision but with her treatment going so well it is very encouraging. We are just thankful every day that she is with us! When she has her treatment, she even eats for the vet after it is administered and they really get a kick out of that. She is holding her own with weight, and gaining a few ounces each week.
      There is hope folks so never give up!!!!!

      • Ingrid says:

        Thank you for your update, Nancy. I’m so thrilled to hear that Belle is doing so well!

      • Diane says:

        Aloha Nancy. Thank you for the update on Belle.So happy she’s doing well. We have a little girl, Hoku who has lost a lot of weight rapidly, is getting very weak and the vet wants her to have an ultrasound to see if her problem is IBD or lymphoma. I’m wondering if Belle had lost a lot of weight and was really weak when you began the chemo or was her lymphoma found early on before she deteriorated much. Any more info would be greatly appreciated.

        • Nancy Burgeson says:

          I am sorry to hear that your little Hoku is not doing well. Regarding Belle, she was loosing weight prior to being diagnosed, but I didn’t think alot about it as she had been on weight reduction food for quite a while. I should have been quicker to no that she was ill as she was throwing up very frequently but I took her in for a check-up and all came back fine! About a month later I pressed the vet to see what else could be going on and that is when it was found. She was weak by this time as she really lost alot of weight.
          I was also having issues at this time with my 19 year old cat and he was fading away on us and I was spending alot of my energy on him.
          Ofcourse we always look back and wish this or that don’t we.
          Let me know when you find something out.

      • MARY says:

        Hi Nancy,

        Belle’s story sounds very similar to our ‘baby’ Sonny’s story. A big, strapping orange tabby, he was just diagnosed with large cell lymphoma last week, and immediately started chemotherapy the next day.

        We are still within that first week window, and take him back tomorrow for his 1 week checkup. For the first day or two after chemo, he seemed OK just lethargic. The prednisone apparently has helped his appetite.

        We were encouraged over the next few days, but then yesterday (5 days post-chemo) he seemed ‘down’ again, and just wanting to be left alone, eating less, etc.

        I see Belle had 4 treatments as of your August 9th posting and was wondering if you can remember how quickly after she initially started chemo that you saw a turnaround in her. I was sort of left to believe that we’d see an improvement almost immediately, the first week?

        Any details you could give me would be so appreciated. Thank you and I hope your ‘baby’ continues to be doing fine.

        Best,
        Mary

      • Caron Meloche says:

        I needed to hear that! Smokey is a 12-14 year old rescue kitty. I just found out today his lymphoma is T Cell and not B Cell. We’ve had one chemo treatment and will have his second in two days. I know T Cell is a more difficult to treat form of lymphoma. I have been reading about small cell and large cell lymphoma, small cell being more easily treated. Where does T Cell lymphoma fit, is it a small cell? Caron

      • eva says:

        i just found out my George has large cell lymphoma a few days a go. I took him in for Rihno and Xrays showed he had a mass that later last week was confirmed to be lymphoma. it’s been an emotional roller coaster trying to figure out what is best for him. he is on prednisolone and also taking mirtazapine to help with his loss of appetite. he has his first visit with the oncologist tomorrow to discuss options. i’m scared and it’s so nice to see that others have gone through this. I don’t want him to suffer but i want to give him a chance.
        i’ll let you know how it goes. it was good to hear others are doing well it gives me hope

    • Mark says:

      Our 2 and 1/2 year old mixed longhair cat Smokey was the picture of health 10 days ago. Last Friday noticed a growth in his abdomen, petting him after he had thrown up twice. Took him to his vet (who treats my dog and other cat) she said “I think it’s lymphoma” sent us to specialist in Chicago. (Chicago Veterinary Emergency and Medical Center). They took $700.00 and said “he has lymphoma, there nothing you can do, do you want us to put him down while you’re here”. I kept saying he’s 2 and 1/2 yrs old and was the picture of health last week. Brought him home, his vet Dr. Hall (who is a great person) saw him, said there are things we can do to give him quality time. She gave him I.V.s and pain injection and anti nausea injection. He is sitting here eating Tuna and purring and swishing his tail. Taking him the Purdue University Veterinary on Friday, the doctor there said he is a young cat and they definitely want to evaluate him to determine what (if any) treatment options.
      Now Dr. Hall has been honest and said there is no cure, it is a fatal disease. But a cat that could have been put down Tuesday is eating Tuna and purring today, just from IV fluids and two shots. But when you take an animal into your home, you have an obligation. I will not let him suffer, but I also will not steal quality days, weeks, or months from him.

      • Ingrid says:

        I’m glad you’re pursuing further diagnostics at Purdue, Mark. That’s unbelievable that he vet at that referral center in Chicago simply wrote off a 2 1/2 year old cat with “nothing you can do.” I hope you get some answers tomorrow. Please keep us posted, and all my best to you and Smokey.

      • Susan says:

        Dear Mark,

        Please definitely pursue a 2nd opinion at Purdue. My male cat, Baby who turned 11 years old this past September was diagnosed with gastric lymphoma and liver failure just this last February e. At that point, he had been sick since the prior Nov ’13. He was sent home in February with the recommendation for palliative care with steroid treatment to keep him comfortable. We were told he only had 6-8 weeks to live. He did so well on the steroids only until this past July, when the vomiting started again. We then began treating him with chemotherapy (chlorambucil) with the steroids. He gets steroids 2x per day and the chemo every other day. The only side effect that I have seen is that he is more tired the day after he receives the chemo. He has been doing extremely well – gained all the weight back he has lost, is happy, eats well, purrs and enjoys being with us.

        I was originally worried that he would be badly affected by the chemo and did a lot of research and soul searching before I decided to go down that path. Additionally, it is very affordable, which also helped to make the decision easier.

        As you can see from other posts, lots of cats can survive this and go into remission.

        Don’t give up! I wish you all the best with Smokey and I hope he gets the treatment he needs!

      • Kaite says:

        I would definitely look at treatment options! I am having my 17 year old cat treated for lymphoma at present. He is about 5 weeks in now, and has stopped vomiting, having diarrhea, and has put on a little bit of weight. Regardless of the eventual outcome, the medication is good for him now. He is completely fine and behaves like his normal self, and it certainly seems to be maintaining and extending his quality of life for as long as possible. His quality of life is my priority.

        If treatment can produce benefits for a 17 year old, then I’m sure it could benefit a 2.5 year old!

  2. Liz Hardy says:

    A really interesting article, Ingrid; thanks so much. I agree with your raw feeding caution for cats with cancer – it depends how their appetites are, and whether you are adding meds to the food.

    As I’ve found with my own experience with my stripy little Moofy and her tumor (and the many cat guardians I talk to via the Meow Cancer Clinic), every furry little cancer patient is different – and the first rule has got to be Do No Harm.

  3. Mariza says:

    I am so glad I found this site
    We are still waiting on the blood test results to confirm the diagnose of small cell lypmhoma on Ginger intestine. We are devasted and lost. She just turn 13, she is very active and she have good and bad days, some days throw up and every day diarhea .
    Depending on the results we already decided that we are going to put her thru chemo. Though decision but I believe that she is a warrior and she will go thru this just fine. I can’t even imagine our life without her, she is such a playful, loving cat, she even has a little heart on her nose :)
    When I first got her she use to fit on my hands, she was so tiny.
    My heart is broken and I don’t know what to do.
    When are they going to find a cure for human and animal cancer God?

    • Ingrid says:

      All my best to Ginger as she goes through treatment, Mariza. Keep us posted on how she’s doing!

    • Robin says:

      Small cell lymphoma is very treatable. I give my kitty his chemo drug (3 pills)every 2 weeks and he is in total remission since last Jan. He regained all the weight he lost and to watch him, you’d never know he had lymphoma. Animals don’t usually get the side effects we think of when humans get chemo. From the tons of research I’ve done, they might lose their whiskers(mine didn’t )and might feel a little nauseous the day or two after getting the dose, but that is very treatable with an anti nausea pill. It was very scary when the diagnosis was finally made. For 2-3 months, he had a feeding tube, so I could get nourishment I to him. It was definitely worth those few months of difficult until his diagnosis was made and I brought him to an Oncologist. She made all the difference I. The world and changed his meds to the new “pulsing method” which means every 2 weeks instead of a more frequent low dose. There’s a very informative and active yahoo group for feline lymphoma where you will also get a wealth of info. It’s a scary diagnosis but is treatable!

      • Kelly says:

        Hi Robin, my little girl Leonna is going through her second battle of lymphoma. The first time she went into remission for 3 1/2 years. We used chemo and pred. She is 17 years old now and has come out of remission. I was wondering if you could explain the pulsing method you talked about in your message. Thanks!

        • robin says:

          The pulse method is a triple dose of chlorambucil (Leukeran)every 2 weeks. Most cats are also on pred, but mine isn’t because of its side effects. The Oncologist said pred wasn’t important after the initial treatment period and she was right. I’ve done a lot of research on it and am a member of 2 active Yahoo groups for Feline small cell ( for the most part…some large cell posters) and the more successful treatment seems to be the pulse regime. If your vet isn’t familiar with it, have him/her consult with an Oncologist at one of the large animal hospitals. My kitty goes to the biggest one in Boston. That’s where his regular vet is too. I’m lucky to be so close to them.

  4. Susan says:

    I am too very happy to find this website. My male cat, Baby, who is part Maine Coon and was a rescue has diagnosed back in February with lymphoma. He did really well on just a low dose of steriods for 4 months and then the vomiting started again. We just started him on a stronger dose of steriods and chlorambucil, which is very affordable. So far he seems like he is doing well. Still eating and only a minor loss in energy. He did urinate outside of the litter box this evening in the bathroom on one of the bath mats. I hope this isn’t going to be a re-occurence or issue with the medications. If anyone knows of any other side-effects to be wary of, please let me know. I’m really hoping that this regimen of medication will put the lymphoma into remission. I can’t imagine my life without my wonderful boy. Wishing all the other readers the best with their cats too.

    • Ingrid says:

      Contact your vet about Baby urinating outside the box, Susan. It may or may not be related to the medications, but in a cat with cancer, it’s important to address any potential medical issues immediately. All my best to your boy!

      • Susan says:

        Thanks very much Ingrid. We ended up purchasing another litter box for our 2nd floor so we could have it closer to where he spends most of the time and thankfully, no other incidents have occurred. I am bringing him to the vet soon to have him checked after being on the Chlorambucil for a few weeks and will discuss it with him if it happens again. I’m hoping that it was a one-off occurrence that might have been due to a smell or something he didn’t like on the mat.

    • Robin says:

      I’m glad your kitty was started on Chlorambucil. Steroids alone will not treat lymphoma. Initially, my kitty was on both and had to be weaned off of Prednisolone because it caused him to become diabetic. Eventually, the diabetes did go into remission, so he’s been on only Chlorambucil since the end of Feb. He’s been in remission since being switched to the every 2 week pulse regime last Jan by his oncologist and is back to being a thriving happy kitty. For the first month (Dec)he was on Chlorambucil twice a week and did not respond. Early on, he started urinating beside his box. As he stabilized and went into remission, that behavior stopped. He hasn’t done that since the end of Jan. His oncologist also put him on a stool softener, because chemo drugs usually cause constipation. My thoughts were that either he didn’t feel well enough to be sure footed to stand in litter or that he was constipated(which he was), and again, wanted a firmer surface to stand on. I accommodated him by putting 2 large plastic bags flat next to his box with a few paper towels on top. This kept it controlled and I just folded it up and put fresh supplies down after he went. He did use his litter box as well during this time and it was a problem every so often for about 3 weeks. Once he was feeling better, he stopped this behavior. I still, to this day, put the bags/paper towels there. After not going there for 5 months, a few weeks ago, he did deficate a tiny bit and it was very hard which told me he was constipated. I increased the number of times each week he gets the stool softener and he hasn’t done it since. He is still eating well and acting normally so I wasn’t concerned that anything else was wrong. He also gets a 4-6 week checkup with his oncologist and his blood work has been fine. You could also get training pads at the pet store instead of the bags.

      • Susan says:

        Thanks for your reply Robin. We ended up purchasing another litter box for our 2nd floor so we could have it closer to where he spends most of the time and thankfully, no other incidents have occurred. He doesn’t seem constipated as of yet. I am bringing him to the vet soon to have him checked after being on the Chlorambucil for a few weeks and will discuss it with him if it happens again. I’m hoping that it was a one-off occurrence that might have been due to a smell or something he didn’t like on the mat. We do have those pee-pee pads by the original litterboxes (I now have 3 in total now) because my other cat, a female occassionally will pee right outside the box or sometimes when he would pee, he’d be right by the end of the box and it would leak over the side. I can put those down around the new box as well. I’m glad your kitty is doing well with the chemotherapy and hope I have the same results with Baby. So far he’s been doing extremely well.

        • Jenny says:

          Interesting to read all of your comments here. My 16 year old female cat was diagnosed with large cell lymphoma in June 2013. Our vet removed a large growth from her stomach and after discussion we opted for chemotherapy. The first chemo was vincristine + another chemo drug – but that combination caused her white blood cell count to plummet. We took the decision to just just use the vincristine and steroids. She had treatment every fortnight first of all, lessening to monthly and now she is on chemo every two months with a steroid injection monthly. We are now eighteen months down the line since commencement of treatment. She is happy, lively, and playing with her toys. Periodically her appetite is a bit down – but if this happens, I give her a quarter of a mirtazapine tablet which seems to sort things. Every day is a gift. The prognosis at the outset was very poor and we were told it was unlikely she would survive more than a couple of months. Tough little cat. I do know, however, that things could change at any time and if the situation deteriorates I won’t go with stronger chemo drugs for her but will take the difficult decision. Good luck with all of your cats!

  5. Jeanette says:

    Our kitty Sugar was diagnosed with feline mammary cancer in January 2013. After her mastectomy chemo was not recommended, but she had a local recurrence 3 months later so after that lumpectomy chemo was recommended. She had 5 rounds of doxyrubicin and did great. She was never sick, in fact you would not have known she had cancer or that she was having chemo. Her only side effect was losing a few long whiskers which grew back. She was in remission for a year and shortly thereafter we found cancer in her lungs and chest and she made her bridge journey last May. I have no regrets about giving Sugar chemo. It is not the same as giving chemo to a human.

    • Susan says:

      So sorry to hear that you ended up losing Sugar but glad you were able to have a year longer with her. So far my Baby is doing well on the chemo. As long as he continues to do well with no issues, I’ll keep him on it. Agree that if there are no problems and they still have a quality of life with you, there should be no regrets.

      • Jeanette says:

        Thank you Susan.

        Sugar was a trooper and I had hoped she would beat her breast cancer. She was as sweet as her name and I miss her everyday. I am grateful for the high quality 16 months that we had after her initial diagnosis.

        I wish you and your Baby lots of high quality time together.

        • Susan says:

          Thank you Jeanette. Since he is only 10 1/2 years, it was heartbreaking to see him so sick at such a young age – considering that my two prior cats live to nearly 19 years each. He is so sweet too. All of the techs at the Vet love him because he is so docile and easily handled. My husband rescued him from under our deck. We ended up “inheriting” several feral cats when we bought our house and he was one of the rescues that we kept (along with another female, who was just diagnosed with asthma and is also on steroids).

          It’s always terrible to lose a beloved pet and my heart goes out to you. I hope you can find some peace and comfort in the wonderful memories you have of her.

          • Jeanette says:

            Thank you. Sugar was a favorite at the vet hospital too. When she died we got two sympathy cards filled with handwritten notes from the staff. She touched a lot of hearts and raised a lot of awareness too. A lot of people don’t know that animals get breast cancer and when she was diagnosed I started an organiztion to change that.

            I just did the Avon Breast Cancer Walk here in San Francisco and took “Sugar’ with me – I had a cutout of her and carried it on a poster all 39 miles. When we crossed the finish line people were cheering and yelling “Sugar, Sugar” – it was amazing. Of course I bawled my eyes out.

            A group of friends gave me some memorial windchimes. I have them hanging over a memorial garden stone in our backyard. Everyday that I’m at home I sit out there and eat lunch and listen to them – their tone is sweet and gentle and I like to think that sounding the chimes is Sugar’s way of letting me know she is close by.

            I know I will miss her always and I’m gratified that she is raising awareness even after her journey to the Rainbow Bridge.

  6. Jeanette says:

    Our kitty Chai was diagnosed with small cell GI lymphoma in August 2013. Initially we gave her Leukeran (chemo) in pill form 2mg every 3 days. She did not tolerate it well – she was very lethargic, weak and had no appetite. We gave her a short break of a week then tried 1 mg of Leukeran every other day. She is tolerating that regimen very well.

    • Susan says:

      Wishing your beloved Chai the best with the new regimen. My cat is taking Chlorambucil in pill form every other day and has only been on it a few days but so far is doing very well. I hope this will continue.

  7. Nancy Burgeson says:

    Mary, I am so very sorry to hear of your Sonny’s story. I guess I wouldn’t be too concerned yet as I think it is pretty normal to see some ups and downs for awhile. Also, our cats may be on a different chemo program. Our Belle does have days when she is pretty tired and not quite as willing to eat but it usually only lasts a day or two.
    We just have to take it a day at a time. There is no guarantee that this is going to work, so we just love her the days that she is still with us.
    Mary, if you have other questions please feel free to email me.
    Nancy

  8. Amanda Rynes says:

    I found out on Friday that Atlas, my six year old tabby, has intestinal lymphoma. I love the little guy more than anything in the world and, being so young, I expect many more happy years of headbutts, curling up under the covers and getting drooled on (yep, a drooling cat) when I got home. The vet said surgery wasn’t an option and told me chemo was more for the owner than the pet, so I opted for the prednisone route to make him as comfortable as possible. After reading the comments here I’m beginning to reconsider my options.

    I assumed that animals responded in a similar way and didn’t want to degrade his quality of life for my own benefit. The diagnosis was based on xrays and blood work so the type (large versus small cell) is unknown. The prednisone already seams to be increasing his appetite but he’s definitely groggy and not his usual lovey self. I’m terrified of loosing him so soon and would consider chemo. I’m not sure if I should ask another vets opinion, find out the type and proceed from there or do my best to make the time he has left as good as possible. Any and all thoughts are welcome.

    Thank you all for sharing your stories/thoughts/comments here, its was wonderful to find this page.

    • Ingrid says:

      I’m so sorry about Atlas’ diagnosis, Amanda. I would most definitely get a second opinion. Lymphoma cannot be definitely diagnosed with only bloodwork and x-rays. I would pursue further diagnostics and consult with a veterinary oncologist. Keep us posted, and all my best to both of you.

    • Lea-anne Martin says:

      my Kali was diagnosed August 2013 with digestive lymphoma and she is still with me as at October 2014. She lives a pretty quiet indoor life with morning garden walks. Daily Prednisolone and every three weeks she has a 4day dose of chemo Leukeran. She is in partial remission, lymph glands reduced but not normal. Every cat will respond differently, we tried a different chemo at one point but it no effect At All. Best of luck to you both.

      • Michelle says:

        Inspiring! My girl Kallie might be a “partial remission” kitty and I’m happy there’s hope for her. She has small cell GI lymphoma. I remember I was terrified to give chemo to her, but did it anyway because I all ways have the option to stop. I’m glad I tried it. She tolerates it well and her blood work is normal There was lethargy and nausea early, but that has passed. Kallie did well for a while (22 weeks). er stools were normal and she gained a pound. Now, I’m not so sure. Last Sunday, I gave her 1/4 of 15 mg of metrazidine last Sunday and she has had diarrhea since. I talked to the oncologist and tech that told me not to worry. I’ m worried anyway. If it doesn’t clear after tomorrow, I’m going to call her back and ask her if there’s any chance it’s the cancer. Ironically, the ultrasound completed a week ago today showed normal GI tract, and a few enlarged lymph nodes. If She doesn’t think it’s the cancer, I will may have the local vet check her kidneys. Anyone else have suggestions? Kallie’s current protocol is 2 mg chlormabucil every 3 days and 7.5 mg of prednisilone every other day. I will look into the pulse protocol. Kallie shouldn’t take the prediction long term because she has HCM, hyper trophic cardiomyopathy, which is heart disease. Thanks all for sharing!

        • Jeanette says:

          Michelle, have you tried the probiotic FortiFlora for the diarrhea? You can get it from the Vet or on Amazon (less expensive). It helped our Chai. She also has small GI lymphoma.

          Also are you giving B-12 shots?

          Jeanette

          • Michelle says:

            Not yet! Thank you very much. I just ordered FortiFlora. Without your tip, I wouldn’t have known I can get it on my own. As far as B-12, I will address that with the vet; it looks like it’s prescription only. Even if it isn’t, I’d prefer to have Kallie’s levels checked before I gave it to her. Is Chai also on chemo?

          • Jeanette says:

            Hi Michelle,

            Yes, Chai has been on chlorambucil for a little over a year now. She could not tolerate the 2 mg twice a week it made her very lethargic and weak. She was switched to 1 mg every other day and that has worked very well for her. She also takes 5 ml of prednisolone every other day. Initially she got a B-12 shot once a week but now she gets it once a month and I’m able to give that at home. She doesn’t need the Fortfilora right now but the pred made her liver values high so she is getting Denamarin and that is working very well.

        • Anna says:

          Michelle:

          Couldn’t the diarrhea be a side effect of the medication you gave Kallie? It sounds like it could be. It appears that side effects to various chemo drugs are routine. So routine, in fact, that my oncologist gives prescriptions for combatting diarrhea and vomiting to all patients as a matter of course (in case they are needed). I don’t see why it should be cancer rather than a reaction to chemo meds. Maybe all you have to do is ask your doctor to prescribe something for diarrhea. This is what my oncologist gave me for diarrhea or vomiting:

          · Cerenia 16mg, Give 1/2 tablet (8mg) once daily for 4 days starting tomorrow- break 1 day before
          restarting
          · Metronidazole 50mg, compounding pharmacy, Give 1 tablet of 50mg twice daily for diarrhea

          I hope Kallie recovers soon. I’m sure she will.

          • Michelle says:

            Hi Anna,

            Thank you. I hear what you’re saying. I doubt the diarrhea is a side effect of the chemo, since Kallie’s been in treatment for 12 weeks. The diarrhea stopped within 2 weeks of treatment. Good luck to you and your cat(s)! Did I read correctly – you and your cat(s) have cancer?

          • Michelle says:

            Jeanette,

            Thank you. I’m glad Chai is doing well. I’ve heard about liver problems with prediction. That’s where those blood tests come in.

        • Michelle says:

          Correction: Kallie’s been in treatment for 12 weeks, not 22.

    • robin says:

      I would also get a 2nd opinion. Is there an Oncologist you can take him to? My kitty started showing signs that something was wrong almost a year ago. It took a month to get the final diagnosis…lymphoma. He was started on pred and leukeran every day. After a month, there wasn’t any change, so last Jan, I switched him to see the head of Oncology at the same hospital. She switched him to the pulse protocol which is a triple dose of leukeran(3 pills), every 2 weeks. She weaned him off of the pred because it had caused him to become diabetic and he needed to get insulin shots twice a day. Luckily, the diabetes went into remission. No more shots! It took 2 months but he was completely off of the pred as of the end of Feb 2014. He did have a feeding tube from the beginning of Nov when he stopped eating, to the middle of Jan when, about 2 weeks after he started the pulse regime, he started eating a normal amount. The positive change was that quick. He put on the weight he’d lost and today, you’d never know he had cancer. He still gets Leukeran every 2 weeks and a stool softener every other day. I also give him Cerenia(anti nausea) the day he gets his chemo dose and the day after just as a precaution. His oncologist says he will live out his normal life now. He is 14.

    • Susan says:

      So sorry to hear about your beloved Atlas. My male cat, Baby was diagnosed with lymphoma back in February of this year. He was near death’s door, not eating at all for 2 days, gagging at the smell of food and was down 5 lbs from his healthy 14 lbs. The doctor sent him home with the lymphoma diagnosis and recommended pallative care with methylprednisolone (steroids) and told us he’s probably only last 6-8 weeks. He ended up doing well on the steroids until July and then starting getting sick again. I was very wary about putting him on chemotherapy and worried about the cost. However, after hearing cats tolerate it well and seeing him originally do so well on steroids alone thought I would try it – especially since it is affordable. So he is now on Prednisolone 5 mgs (steriods) twice a day and gets a Chlorambucil capsule for chemo every other day. He seems to be tolerating it extremely well and is mostly like his old self. He gained all of his weight back and is eating and enjoying both wet and dry food. He also still will play when the mood hits him and is very loving. The only downside I see is that he is a bit more tired on the days after he gets the chemo meds. He just turned 11 at the end of September and we are thankful for every day that he is still with us. From most of the posts, it looks like Leukeran is more popular than Chlorambucil but I don’t have any knowledge on if one is better than the other. Discuss both options with your vet and definitely get a 2nd opinion. I wish you and your Atlas all the best.

    • Anna says:

      Amanda:

      For some reason I just saw your post so I don’t know how helpful my comments will be. First I am very sorry about your beloved cat. However, I find it hard to believe that your vet said “chemo is more for the owners than the cat.” As you can see in these posts many cats with lymphoma have been saved or had their lives prolonged with chemo. My cat responded beautifully and is now in complete remission.

      Secondly, the lab results were undifferentiated for my cat, Alfie, as well. The oncologists went back to the lab to request the immunohistochemical stains which told him exactly what type of cancer it was. It was supposed to cost another $300 though I have not been billed as of now. Given the advanced stage of his illness, he told me that if it was sarcoma it would be too late too treat but lymphoma was responsive to chemo. My cat had advanced, large cell lymphoma so we started on a chemo regiment and have had unbelievably good results so far.

      Best of luck with Atlas.

    • Megan says:

      Dear Amanda, my cat, Wish is only 7 or 8 years old (we found her in the woods when she was 2 or 3 by the vet’s best guess), and was recently diagnosed with mast cell tumor with a number of masses in her intestines. The diagnosis came 3 days before my wedding! So it has been a whirlwind of an emotional time. Wish has been on prednisone and benadryl for almost 3 weeks, and chemotherapy for going on 2 weeks. Other than an increase in her finickiness when it comes to meal time, I really have not seen any negative side effects from chemo. She is more tired depending on the time of day/proximity to chemo, but other than that, I would say her quality of life is high. The worst part, oddly enough, is administering the various pills (6 pills MWF and 4 pills on the remaining days). I had trouble initially making the decision regarding chemo, but am glad I did it now. She has her first set of tests this Monday since starting chemo and I am praying things have not gotten worse. Good luck to you and to Atlas. Remember, you know him best, and you will make the right decision.

      Megan

    • Amanda Rynes says:

      Thank you all for the thoughtful wishes and recommendations. I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am that you all took the time to respond and tell your stories.

      I did take Atlas in for a second opinion at a second vet in town upon recommendation from a coworker who was getting chemo treatments for his dog at the same place. Unfortunately the vet confirmed the worst suspicions of the first vet, that the tumor was wrapped around his intestines and nothing could really be done. She gave him as little as a week and told me to live day to day. For the next couple weeks he actually started eating more again (he was getting all the canned salmon he wanted) and seemed to be looking better and better. Then sadly one day he smelled the food and imminently got sick. Despite only being given a week my little guy fought hard for over a month. He and I slept on the couch then the floor when he couldn’t get up there any more and spent lots of time cuddling at home. The day I had to take him in I was able to have him on my lap the whole time so he was never alone. When I asked if he was ready he made the only noise he made the entire time at the vet, I think he knew it was time too. Its been almost a month now and I miss him terribly every day.

      Again, thank you all for taking the time to share and for reading this. Up until now it has been too difficult to come back here for an update. I wish all of you and your beloved cats the very best.

  9. robin says:

    correction,..when he was first started on a Leukeran, it was twice a week, not every day.

  10. Anna Caraveli says:

    I am so glad I found this site. Our 10-year old tabby was diagnosed with large cell lymphoma, under his left eye. At first the vet thought it was a tooth infection and then an eye infection. It took several weeks before he had a biopsy and diagnosis. This cancer was growing incredibly fast. You could see the growth by the day. His face looked distorted and swollen, his eye was completely squashed and had disappeared deep into the socket. His skin and blood vessels broke and blood was dripping down his face. It hurt just looking at him. He hid under beds and wouldn’t eat. I had heard the chemotherapy did nothing and turned to holistic meds but he kept declining and becoming deformed by the hour. Finally I took him to an oncologist who explained about chemo. His treatment plan was the modified Winsconsin protocol for cats–every week for 6 months. The first treatment was called Elspar and was the most intensive at all. The moment Alfie came home, he acted differently–started eating and purring and stopped hiding. The next day the difference was dramatic. The tumor had already started to go down, the vessels stopped bursting and his eye was open. Each day there was a dramatic improvement and by the end of the week he was looking almost normal. One day, he looked up at me and I realized that his bloody and broken eye was open. We all thought he had lost it but there he was, looking me in the eye.

    This is the end of the second week and he is due for his 3d treatment tomorrow. He looks completely normal. His eye is completely open and clear. I cannot see or feel his tumor any longer. He is playful, happy and fully back to his old self–in fact an invigorated Alfie. I never dreamed that it was biologically possible for any organism to heal that rapidly. The only worrisome thing is that everything I read says that there is an 80-90% chance that the cancer will come back. This is discouraging, though looking at him so happy and healthy is such a joy that it is hard to think of anything negative. I don’t think I could take it seeing him go back to the torture he endured. Any success stories about maintaining the remission?

    • Ingrid says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Anna – that’s a remarkable remission! Best wishes to you and Alfie.

    • robin says:

      I know the feeling. My kitty has been in remission since last Jan/Feb and is doing really well. There’s a part of me that keeps expecting the other shoe to drop. I just try to not think about it and enjoy whatever time he has. Hopefully, it will be many years!

    • Susan says:

      Anna – I’m so glad to hear your beloved boy is doing so well. My cat, Baby (male 10 years) was diagnosed with probable small cell gastric lymphoma back in February. He was basically at death’s door – had been sick since Nov/Dec, hadn’t eaten for 2 full days, was gagging at food and lost 5+ lbs in a short time.

      The vet started him on steroids initially and sent him home with the recommendation of palliative care only and gave him 6-8 weeks to live. I was concerned that the vet didn’t want to put him on chemotherapy at that time and did a lot of research myself to learn more about it regarding the success rate, the side effects and cost. I think the vet didn’t recommend it at that point because Baby was in such bad shape.

      Thankfully, he did extremely well on the steroids until late June and then he started to vomit again. The scans at that time showed the lymphoma was re-occurring. So we discussed the chemo with the vet. Since the vet said that 85-90% of cats will respond to treatment and it is very affordable (my cat is taking chlorambucil capsules every other day), we decided to go with the chemotherapy.

      He has been taking the chemo along with steroids twice a day since early July and hasn’t had a re-occurrence since then. I just took him for a follow-up at the vet yesterday and both his blood work and scan are normal/clear. He’s also gained all of the weight back and is now back up to 16.9 lbs.

      He seems very happy and back to his normal self and even plays occasionally. He does seem tired the day after he gets the chemo pill but I would expect that to be normal since he is 11 years old.

      I’m not sure how long the cancer will remain in remission. Some statistics say another 1.5-2 years but I’m hopeful it will be longer since he’s been doing so extremely well.

      Although our decision to go with the chemo is probably selfish, our cats aren’t suffering, are happy and healthy and have still have a wonderful quality of life where they are pampered and loved.

      I think we both made the right decision and shouldn’t have any doubts.

      I wish you and your boy all the best and hope for a very long remission!

      • Anna says:

        Susan:

        Thank you so much for your response and encouragement. Baby’s story is wonderful. So, if I understand it correctly, even after recurrence, Baby improved with chemotherapy and is healthy again? This is just amazing and so encouraging. I don’t know why my chemotherapy is so expensive. We have to take him to the Oncologist once a week and leave him there for the day. He is being treated with Vincristine one week and Cytoxan the following week. He didn’t mention chlorambucil but, even if he had, I wouldn’t know what it was or have a basis for choosing. But it’s good to know that there are more affordable drugs.

        Congratulations on the results of your last visit. I don’t think what you are doing is selfish at all. I think, on the contrary, it is selfless. I am sure you knew that your cat was not ready to go, just as I did. You see them fight hard and still enjoy little things in life and you just know that they are far from giving up. It’s only fair to help since help is available. His recovery proved you right. I am especially impressed that his cancer came back and you were still able to help him with chemo so that he is in remission again.

        All my best wishes for Baby.

        • Susan says:

          Anna:

          Just to clarify, Baby had the reoccurrence after being on only steroids for approx. 4 months from February to June. At that point, he started vomitting again and the vet saw the reoccurence of the mass in his stomach.

          He hadn’t been on the chemotherapy yet. Once we put him on the chemotherapy in June, he stopped vomiting, the mass receded and he was feeling much better. He has thankfully been in remission since then.

          The vet we have been taking him to recommended the Chlorambucil, which is the generic version of Leukeran and has been mentioned in some of the other posts here. It is very affordable. I pay about $40 total for a 30 day supply of capsules including shipping. And since he gets 1 pill every other day, I don’t have to order it every month.

          I get it from a mail-order pharmacy that the vet recommended. They are specialists in compounding drugs and can even put some of them in liquid form. I’ve stuck with pills for Baby since they work best with him. However, my female cat, Mimi has asthma and I give her the liquid, tuna flavored steroid nightly that I get from them.

          A friend’s daughter, who is a vet, recommended that we take him to an oncologist but we never did. I didn’t want to have Baby go through another whole barrage of tests especially when he wasn’t feeling well and also feel that the vet we are using is very knowledgeable and practical in all of the advice he gives us.

          It’s possible that Chlorambucil works better for some types of cancer and for your cat’s type, the Vincristine and Cytoxan work better. It might be worth a conversation with the vet to understand why that regimen was recommended and why Chlorambucil wasn’t considered.

          I’m thrilled that Baby is doing so much better. He’s a young 11 years of age and my prior two cats lived to 17 and 18 and I hope to have Baby as long as those two.

          I appreciate your words of support and best wishes.

          I wish you the same for you and your beloved boy! :-)

  11. Anna Caraveli says:

    Thank you both very much. Robin, it is so encouraging to hear that your kitty has been in remission since last Jan/Feb. It will soon be a year. How wonderful! I feel so much better hearing your story.

  12. Kaite says:

    My cat of 17 years has just commenced chemotherapy for GI small cell lymphoma – we are nearly a week in now. He is an otherwise healthy cat who is still as active as he was at 5 years of age. Therefore, treatment seems the best option for him, as it should hopefully maintain his good quality of life for as long as possible. I am hoping it is going OK. So far,he has not put on any weight, but seems good otherwise ( no diarrhea or vomiting since treatment commenced). I have heard that one can get a good idea of whether the cat is responding to treatment based on weight gain in the first few weeks. I am wondering whether the weight gain is instant, or whether it is not really apparent until a few weeks after treatment???

    • Jeanette says:

      No diarrhea and no vomiting are good signs. It may take a few weeks before you see some weight gain.

      What chemo are you giving him (type, dosage etc) and is he getting anything else?

      • Kaite says:

        Hello Jeanette

        Thank you very much for your reply! He is receiving one tablet per day of Chlorambucal (chemo), and half a tablet per day of Prednisone (steroid). Whilst he hates the medication administration routine, he certainly seems to be suffering no other adverse effects, and in fact seems better than a week ago. The vet also said that he is going to give him a shot of B12 in a couple of days. I am so hopeful that he will respond to the medication, for however long that may be. It is comforting to think that a 17 year old boy may benefit from treatment.

        • Jeanette says:

          Hi Kaite,

          Small cell GI lymphoma is the most treatable of feline cancers and most kitties do respond well.

          Sometimes the meds (dosage and schedule) have to be tweaked a bit so continue to post here and ask questions. You can get the pred compounded into a liquid and I find that easier than pilling so you may want to look into that.

          I hope he continues to do well and that you will see a weight gain soon!

  13. Anna says:

    In case it’s helpful to anyone the oncologist prescribed a very intensive, 6-month treatment for our cat, Alfie, who was diagnosed with large cell lymphoma under his eye and the entire left side of his face was deformed by the tumor and bleeding. Three weeks into the treatment and he looks and acts like his old self. Here is the protocol he is on, called the Wisconsin protocol.

    He was first treated with intensive Elspar chemotherapy to which he responded dramatically and immediately.

    He takes oral steroids at home daily

    He alternates with vincristine one week and cytoxan tablets the next week. The plan is to
    administer these drugs (at the clinic) weekly for 6 months course (but switch over to CCNU next if response not durable or if there are bad side effects.

    His progress has been nothing short of miraculous and there have been no side effects. It is however very expensive (something like $1200-$1400 a month). You can pay per visit rather than have to front the entire amount but it is still a hardship for us. But when we look at him healthy and happy, we can’t take the risk of stopping prematurely.

    Susan’s vet prescribed a much more affordable treatment and her cat, Baby, is doing great. If our vet had a less expensive solution, we would have tried that first. But our vet said there was nothing they could do and sent us to an oncologist. It is true though that the oncologist had many more options and was able to do more intensive treatment that the vet would not be able to do. They asked for a whole battery of further diagnostic tests and what they call “staging” of the illness before treatment, which we declined and opted for the treatment alone.

    Kaitie, it sounds like your cat is doing great and, though he has not gained weight, it sounds like he has not continued to lose weight, right? I think maintaining his weight and acting normally is huge. Also small cell lymphoma is far more treatable than the large cell, which my cat had. I would be very optimistic if I were in your place.

    Best of luck.

    • Kaite says:

      Thank you, Anna, for your lovely comment. Alfie certainly sounds like an inspirational cat! I don’t think Sascha has lost any more weight, but this will be confirmed shortly at the next vet visit. He certainly hasn’t experienced any reduced activity levels either – he chased our much younger cat all around the house on his second day back from the vet (the two are usually separated). After rescuing the young cat, I felt convinced that it was the right decision to treat him!

      • Anna says:

        Hi Kaite:

        I think that Sascha’s behavior is by far the best indicator of his health and prognosis. He sounds full of life and acting his normal self. I think this is wonderful and extremely promising.

        I know what you mean about feeling justified in your decision to treat. At first we had decided not to treat Alfie. We thought that the available treatments would be painful to the cat, expensive and futile. We had taken heroic measures to cure dying animals before to no avail and swore never to do it again but it was unbearable to watch the tumor grow by the day and distort his face. When we took him to the oncologist, we realized there were many more options and much more hope than we had thought. Like you, looking at him acting healthy and happy, convinces me that we made the right decision.

        The story of Sascha chasing the younger cat is hilarious. I knew Alfie was fully back to health when he was back to his mischievous tricks–knocking over garbage cans, breaking glasses to get to his treats and annoying the dog. Bad for your younger cat but a great sign of progress for Sascha.

        • Kaite says:

          Hi Anna, thank you for your post.

          I certainly hear you on the justification thing. I think some people I have spoken to around me were rather shocked to hear about chemo for a 17 year old. However, chemo does not appear to have the same negative impact on cats as people, thank goodness. As such, treatment would also seem to generally improve quality of life rather than detract from it.

          I think the cat owner is definitely the best judge – when they know their cat, and when they have received all the facts about the illness and its treatment.

          • Ingrid says:

            You’re so right, Kaite – this is a decision only the cat’s owner can make. When I elected to do chemo for my then almost 16-year-old Feebee 14 years ago, I, too, got a quite a bit of negative feedback for “putting him through this.” He lived with great quality of life for another seven months. I never for one moment regretted making that choice.

    • Susan says:

      Just to add to Anna’s comments about my cat Baby, he was diagnosed with small cell gastric lymphoma, which is very different from what Anna’s cat was diagnosed with. Thus, the difference in treatment and cost.

      The one minor set back that Baby had this week is that he developed irritation on his upper and lower eye lid and has a very small ulcer on his cornea. The ophthalmologist vet said this could be due to 1 of 5 reasons with feline herpes being the most likely – especially because his immunities are low.

      He is now on 2 eye ointments and an antibiotic, Clavamox – in addition to lymphoma therapy (steroids 2x per day and chemo once every other day).

      He seems to be responding well and I have to bring him back in two weeks to be checked again.

      The vet recommended l-lysine to help prevent another feline herpes flare-up so I’ve ordered a power to be added to his food.

      I feel terrible having to give him all these meds but as my mother said to me today, he is doing so well and we’ve given him a chance to have more quality time.

      We all love our animals so much and I know it’s tough for all of us emotionally and financially in getting through this.

      I’m glad we have this forum to share our stories and support each other!

      • Anna says:

        Susan:

        I am sorry to hear that Baby has an eye infection but happy that he is already responding so well. Alfie also had an eye infection at the beginning of his treatment. We must have bought enough Clavamox to treat a village because the infection just lingered on for a few weeks.

        Tell Baby to hang in there and he’ll be good as new soon. He is quite a fighter.

  14. Michelle says:

    Kallie gained a pound after 8 weeks of treatment. Does anyone have an HCM cat with GI lymphoma?

    • Kaite says:

      Thank you for the information about the weight, Michelle. How is Kallie going with the GI lymphoma treatment?

      • Michelle says:

        Hi Kaite,

        This is a yo-yo. A few weeks ago, Kallie was good, all most excellent. Nomal stools. She played and ran sprints through the house.. The ultrasound on 10/16 showed normal intestines and and a few enlarged lymph nodes. I boarded her when I was on vacation and she’s had diarrhea since. She’s not as energetic. The oncologist will call tomorrow and I’ll know more. Otherwise, Kallie tolerates the chemo well and is happy and loving. At this point, I know this is a process and not an either/or issue. Psychologically, this is the hardest thing I”ve done. So much uncertainty and lots of ups and downs and unexpected vet visits. Like you, I was worried if this would work on Kallie because she lost a pound before treatment began. The vet didn’t’t seem concerned when I mentioned it. I’ve read the studies and expected this to fit into a nice little box. But, after reading about owners’s real life experiences, I realize each cat is different and anything is possible.

        • Kaite says:

          Thank you, Michelle. I took Sascha to the vet today. Everything was looking good, but no weight gain. Seems so hard to believe, as he has been eating double! I think you are right – there are no easy-to-read signposts – certainly a yo-yo. I feel myself that he is doing well for now, and I love seeing him do his cat things, and being happy and loving. I hope that Kallie’s visit at the oncologist goes well.

          • Michelle says:

            Hi Kaite,

            How’s Sascha lately? At first, Kallie ate like a horse and didn’t gain weight. Kallie’s diarrhea resolved on its own. She’s back on track, with her appetite and energy levy. She re-gained the 1/2 pound she lost while boarding. I received different opinions about the diarrhea. She could have relapsed, she could have been stressed from boarding, she could have eaten something new while she was boarded. The vet said relapses are normal.When it happens, the vet looks to see if the animal will respond to the usual treatment, like antibiotics. They also look at how often it occurs.

  15. Anna says:

    I am glad that Kallie is back on track Michelle.

    I wonder if anyone knows of home-made recipes and brands that are good for cats with lymphoma. I have a recipe for dog food I make for my dog but not one that will help strengthen cats’ immune systems and help them maintain remission. Any tips?

  16. Michelle says:

    Thank you, Anna.

  17. Kaite says:

    Hi Michelle – glad to hear that Kallie is doing well! Great news! I think cats hate boarding in the best of circusmtances, so her feeling a bit off would make sense. Sascha usually doesn’t go the toilet for several days if he is boarding, and that was as a young cat!

    Well, Sascha is doing quite well. He is also eating like a horse and is perfectly normal. Still no weight gain, but the vet said that the cats he has treated for lymphoma usually don’t put on weight for a few weeks. He treated a very sick and emaciated cat that put on no weight at all for several weeks. The cat then started to put on weight, and eventually became fat (again). So that was nice to hear!

    Fingers crossed!!

  18. Lea-anne Martin says:

    KaliKat still with us after her initial diagnosis August 2013. She has experienced a slow weight decline over the year from 3.8 down to 2.9 kg. Bloods have been good up until this November 2014 where she is now slightly aenemic. Trying new higher dose 20mg tablet of Prednisolone,but she only needs a half tablet daily. Still taking the Leukeran chemo pills (2 pills over four days every three weeks). Still a nitpicky eater, but she’s been like that her whole life. I think we were lucky that she was diagnosed early with enlarged lymphatic glands in the abdomen, so it has not been a dramatic life change for her. But I still get teary eyed thinking about her leaving me. So far, so good.

  19. Michelle says:

    It’s hard to lose our beloved pets.

  20. Johnny says:

    We have had Sooner treating his cancer since August of 2013. He is very skinny and has been all his life with us. He takes leukren every other day and predisome every day. I am just very thankful for Kansas State University Vet Hospital since they were the ones that found his cancer. Dr. Kelly Jones of Wichita Kansas is an outstanding vet who has worked with our wonderful cat Sooner. He just keeps hanging in there and I am so happy since we love him very much. Johnny

  21. Chris and Laura says:

    Hello everyone and thank you for sharing your stories.

    Our little girl, Sister, is 15 and has been diagnosed with a MAST cell tumor in her intestines. After many tests and biopsies and results from the pathologist, it was also found in her spleen. She underwent her first chemotherapy treatment on Thursday, November 13. She is also on Predisone once a day; first orally (which she hated the taste) and now a cream for her inner ear. She was initially on an appetite stimulant (Mirtazapine 15mg) every three days. We will try and give her one tonight.

    Today has probably been her most difficult day since receiving chemotherapy five days ago. She seems very down and very uncomfortable as she moves around a lot which she normally wouldn’t have done before. She also vomited all of her food for the first time since chemotherapy treatment.

    Moving forward, she is scheduled for surgery on November 25 to remove the tumor and her spleen. Following surgery, our oncologist, Dr. Shawna Greene DVM MS DACVIM, is going to proceed with five more chemotherapy treatments, every two weeks. Dr. Greene seems to be positive in that she said at best, sister would have a few more years if all of the treatments and therapy went well and she responded positively.

    All of this news has been devastating to my wife and I. We have been very shaken up and feel very scared. This year has been especially difficult for us as my wife underwent open-heart surgery seven weeks ago. My wife is doing fantastic, due in no small part to our two loving cats having that ability to help her like no drug can.

    Sister, and her brother, Gordon, are our Children and bring so much joy and happiness to our lives. I have owned cats for 37 years and I have not seen more loving cats than these two.

    We are trying to remain strong and positive through this process.

    I have read all of your stories above and wept with sadness at the losses of your ‘children’. Thank you all, for sharing your heartfelt stories. It means a lot.

    I ask if any of your cats got sick and felt lethargic after chemotherapy and if it was just temporary and passed. I know from reading the material I was given that this nausea is normal. What are some things any of you did to help?

    We’re trying to be hopeful but since it is so soon after hearing this news, we are still reeling and incredibly upset.

    Another question for any of you: have any of you given your cats Buprenor .3 mg for pain? We have not given any to Sister yet, as I am not 100% certain it will help her pain.
    Would any of you have any advice in this area?

    Thank you, all, for your help, in advance.

    Chris and Laura

    • Ingrid says:

      My experience with my own cat, who had lymphoma, was that he would be a little depressed for 24-48 hours after receiving his chemo (Vincristine, Leukeran and Pred – it was fifteen years ago so I don’t recall the spacing of the various drugs, but I think it was 2 weeks in between treatments) and then he would be back to normal. This has also seemed to be the typical pattern for most cats who received chemotherapy in the veterinary hospital I managed.

      All my best to you and your kitty, Chris and Laura. It sounds like she’s in excellent hands with Dr. Greene.

    • Anna says:

      I am very sorry to hear about your wife and cat. It is wonderful that your vet is optimistic. You sound like a compassionate and hopeful person and this will get you through anything.

      My cat h, Alfie, has lymphoma but it is in an unusual place–on his cheek under his left eye. He responded great to chemo–no nausea, no loss of appetite or anything else. He looked and sounded exactly like before and I thought that we had beaten cancer. But then, 6-7 weeks into his treatment and a few days after his last chemo, his left eye started getting red again and his cheek started swelling like before. The doctor believed that he had become immune to one of the drugs–Vincristine. Fortunately the other drug, Cytoxan, still worked. We took him off Vincristine and everything went back to normal right away but I learned that you can’t declare victory with absolute confidence. You just have to literally take it one day at a time and appreciate what you have rather than worry about what you had or might have. I mean we should be doing it with our lives, but it often takes a crisis to get us to live in the present.

      I have given Alfie pain killers before he started chemo. I have a bottle of pain killers and another with pills that help nausea and diarrhea but I have not had to use them since chemo started. Do you think Sister is in pain?

      I hope your cat responds positively and has a long life, but what is wonderful is that your wife recovered nicely. Congratulations and hang in there with Sister. Best of luck.

  22. Chris and Laura says:

    Hello Ingrid and Anna,

    Thank you, both, for your kind and thoughtful words to us. My apologies for getting back to you so late.

    It is with great sadness and sorrow that our little girl,Sister Kitty, passed on 11/25/14 while undergoing surgery to remove the tumor from her lower intestines. After they gave her the anesthesia, her heart rate dropped then her blood pressure dropped and they could not get it back up. After several attempts at defibrillating her heart and after 20 minutes of CPR, I had to let her go.

    That was one of the most painful things I have ever had to go through in my entire life…
    Sister Kitty had responded fairly well to the first treatment of chemotherapy she underwent. The plan was, after her surgery to remove the tumor, which was about the size of a plum, and then undergo five more treatments of chemotherapy.
    at the same time, I had also planned on starting her on some homeopathic treatments to augment her chemotherapy and surgery.

    My wife and Iare still mourning her loss. We have been devastated by this. She was the quintessential epitome of love manifested in a little but oh so loving a creature of a cat.

    She is survived by her Brother, Gordon.

    We had a very special memorial service for her on December 1, 2014 at Hinsdale Pet Cemetery located in Willowbrook Illinois. That cemetery is such a special place: so many ‘parents’ of so many lived ‘kids’ are buried there. To me, it is a sacred place that helped me feel a sense of belonging in our grief.

    Each day, we have to breathe and take each moment as it comes…

    We have learned a lot from this journey; namely, a lot of homeopathic methods to help animals be and stay healthy. Here are some good resources I’ve found:

    http://www.naturalcatcareblog.com/2010/12/3-ways-to-help-your-cat-prevent-cancer-now/

    http://www.primalpetfoods.com

    https://www.vitalityscience.com/v/AllProducts/feline-immune/cat-cancer.asp#productinfo

    http://www.petwellbeing.com/c/cat-products/condition

    http://www.ccpc.ws/index.html

    I hope you will find those links to be very helpful, encouraging and enlightening.
    We have started the natural homeopathic supplements and the pet food from the link above with Gordon. So far, we are seeing positive results. 29
    Thank you, again, for your kind thoughts and words.

    With deepest sincerity, Chris and Laura

    • Ingrid says:

      I’m so sorry about Sister Kitty, Chris and Laura. My heart goes out to you. I love that you had a memorial service for her, and that it helped you cope with your grief.

      Thank you for sharing your resources. I’m not familiar with all of them, but I can endorse the Natural Cat Care Blog, and Primal is one of the brands on my recommended list. I’ll take a closer look at some of the other resources you listed.

    • Vicki says:

      Dear Chris & Laura – I’m so sorry for your loss of Sister Kitty.

      I’m so glad I found this website (searching Chemo in Cats) and see how supportive everyone is. I will post my own comment on my Cat separately, but wanted to comment on your story and to tell you so many of us cat parents understand and wish you the best. Sincerest Sympathy – Vicki

      • Chris says:

        Dear Ingrid and Vicki,

        Thank you, both, very much, for your kind and thoughtful words. Yes, it does bring a measure of comfort to us both that other “parents” of all of our “kids” are going through similar but different experiences. Thank you again for your support. It is greatly appreciated.

        Love Chris and Laura and Gordon. >.<

  23. Michelle says:

    I’m so sorry and sad, too. It’s not easy. Take care of yourselves.

  24. Vicki says:

    I found this site while searching Chemo in Cats. My beautiful 10.9 year old Sherry has been diagnosed with bile duct carcinoma – inoperable. I’m keeping her home and spending as much time with her as possible. We have her on the prednisone and an appetite stimulant; but traditional chemo is not an option in carcinoma as it is in Lymphoma. Except for her weight loss and extra hours napping she seems the same as before she got sick – two weeks ago. It’s a journey that we are taking together and a very tough time. Has anyone else had a similar type of cancer show up in their cat, and any insight or advice? Thanks – Vicki

    • Ingrid says:

      I’m sorry about Sherry’s diagnosis, Vicki. I don’t have any experience with this particular kind of cancer. Treasure every moment with her – and I hope there’ll be many more.

  25. Lea-anne Martin says:

    I just want to,pass on my condolences a d love to each and every one of you going through this. My KaliKat Martin was diagnosed August 2013 with lymphoma of the digestive glands. We have rolled along well until recent months. Her hip bones are poking up and her flanks caved in, but still every time I give up, she seems determined to keep going. Its such a rollercoaster for me. But as long as she eats and poops, we are happy to let her do what she will.

  26. Lauren B says:

    Hello,

    My cat Honey was recently diagnosed with a mammary cancer. A little unusual as Honey is only around 7 (estimate as she was a rescue) but was intact. We removed the tumor and had great margins around it. We also removed her mammary glands on the effected side of the body and spayed her. A big surgery for my little girl. Additional chest x-rays were done and there is no sign that it has spread. My vet suggested chemo but I am paying off student loans and supporting myself – the surgery alone burned quite a hole in my pocket. Has anyone had experience with this time of cancer and it being localized to the tumor alone? I want to know what I can expect as far as life with my precious girl. The vet recommends semi-annual visits and x-rays to monitor but from what I have been researching – cancer in cats can never be completely cured? Thank you and I am so sorry to everyone who is going through a tough time with their cats. I know I was devastated to hear the news of my fur ball.

    • Ingrid says:

      I’m sorry about Honey’s diagnosis,Lauren. As you probably already know, prognosis for mammary cancer is guarded. Here’s more information: http://consciouscat.net/2013/02/11/mammary-cancer-in-cats/ All my best to you and Honey!

    • Hi Lauren,

      I’m so sorry you have received this diagnosis for your precious Honey. My cat Sugar was diagnosed with mammary cancer in January 2013 and I too was devastated. You can read her full story and get more information about feline mammary cancer on our website sugarrub.org – I created the site and Sugar Rub! to raise awareness about mammary cancer in pets.

      As Ingrid said, the prognosis for feline mammary cancer is guarded. It is very aggressive with 90% of tumors being malignant.

      There have not been any controlled studies on chemotherapy for feline mammary cancer, so they don’t really know if it works or not. We did choose to do chemo on Sugar and I have no regrets as she handled it very well.

      Sadly she was diagnosed with lung and chest cancer last May (16 months post diagnosis) that most likely metastasized from the mammary cancer so we had to help our Sweet Brave Warrior make her journey to the Rainbow Bridge.

      Keeping you and Honey in my purrs and prayers.

      Jeanette

  27. Chris says:

    Hello Everyone,

    As I read all of our stories, my heart aches for all of us. If it helps anyone, during these times, don’t think it strange that your grief can go to such intense and agonizing levels. For both my wife and I, the closeness and connection we have with our “kids” goes far deeper than most of our secondary family. Also, try as best you can, to not shove or push down your grieving; yes, there is a time to be strong, however, allow yourself to grieve. If needed, surround yourself with whoever and whatever helps you. I strongly believe that everyone here has helped us in a small but very significant way. It helps us to feel not so alone in these times. I know these are just words on a screen on a website, but, I wish to give everyone here a very comforting hug and to know that I am sad with all of you.

    Thank you, again, for all of you.

    Chris and Laura

  28. Susan says:

    Hi all,

    I wanted to thank you all for your support, caring and sharing of all of your experiences in our cats’ fights with lymphoma. You all provided me with great information, perspectives and most of all comfort and support through this life experience.

    Sadly, my beloved Baby lost his fight last evening.

    He had successfully battled gastric lymphoma since this past February and even was in remission for several months with the use of steroids only and then with a combo of Chlorambucil and steroids.

    The last couple of days, he wasn’t himself and was hiding more than usual. He also began showing weakness in his hind legs and would only walk a few steps and then lay down. My intuition told me something was very wrong despite my husband telling my I was worrying needlessly.

    My husband and I brought him to the vet last evening at my urging and got the bad news that the lymphoma had returned. The vet advised keeping him only on the steroids to keep him comfortable and provide palliative care for whatever time we had left.

    When we brought him home and let him out of the carrier, he started howling, panting and drooling and then urinated on the floor. At that point, he went into the corner of the room and laid down. We dried him off and carried him upstairs and put him down. Sadly, he started the howling again and laid down and then wobbled into the closet to hide.

    We called the vet and the vet said that Baby was having neurological problems due to the lymphoma and he was afraid that was what he was also seeing during the visit.

    At that point, my husband and I decided that we didn’t want him to suffer any longer. We tried to find a vet or service to come to the house but no one was available. So we took him back to the vet.

    We spent time with him before and after he went to sleep. He passed away peacefully in my arms. The vet kindly offered to give us his paw print in a peace of clay which I happily took home. We will have him cremated privately and will keep his remains with our other cats’ remains, Ziggy and Isabella, who were lucky enough to live long cancer free lives.

    We are devastated because he brought so much joy to our lives and our house feels horribly empty without him. We will grieve together and alone as we get through this difficult time. We do have another cat, Mimi, who will now get all of the additional love we gave him. And we have our wonderful memories of him to help us get through this.

    For those of you who have gone through this before – like Chris and Laura – you know that time eventually makes it easier to get through each day and focus more on the wonderful memories rather than the emptiness of the loss.

    For those of you who haven’t, embrace this wonderful community here to help you through this experience and just take it one day at a time giving your beloved cat as much love and care as possible for whatever time they have left.

    I also take comfort in reading the Rainbow bridge -> https://rainbowsbridge.com/poem.htm. I hope all of you can also take comfort in this too.

    Thank you so much again and wishing you all a happy holiday season and a happy, healthy 2015.

    Susan

    • Ingrid says:

      Oh Susan, I’m so sorry about Baby. My heart goes out to you. Losing a cat to this devastating disease is always hard, but it seems to be particularly difficult during the holidays.

      I’m honored that my blog is providing support for so many of you. It makes me feel that in some small way, Feebee’s legacy continues. Feebee was my first cat; he passed away after a seven month battle with lymphoma fourteen years ago.

    • Jeanette says:

      Susan, I am so sorry that you had to help your sweet Baby make his crossing. I believe that it’s the most painful, yet most loving thing we ever do for our furkids.

      You gave him nine beautiful lives
      And a peaceful crossing to his tenth.
      No one could have been loved more
      Or received a more loving gift.

      Play with the angels forever Baby.

      With heartfelt condolences,
      Jeanette

    • Anna says:

      Susan:

      I am so very sorry to hear about Baby’s passing. He is lucky to have had such devoted pet mother. You were so caring and devoted to him. You did all you could have possibly done and I am sure he went in peace and surrounded by love.

      I lost my beloved Golden Retriever, Goldie, to cancer last year. I was devastated. In my case, the house seemed so empty and unbearable without her that I got a new dog from a rescue center immediately. For me it was so healing. The new dog, Joel, was calm, sweet and easy-going and I felt like we were grieving together and remembering Goldie.

      I am sorry for your loss and understand your grief. You gave him a wonderful life, however.

  29. Chris and Laura says:

    Dear Susan,

    Thank you, so much, for sharing. As I read your story, I could see and hear your little Baby… I could also hear and feel your pain…we are oh so sorry…
    It made me break down and weep for your loss. It’s just been over three weeks since Sister passed, so, the wound is still fresh.
    I’m not good with finding the rights words…
    Know that we’re standing here, by your side…giving you a hug, if needed…

    Again, my heart breaks for your loss, Susan…

    Chris and Laura

    • Susan says:

      Dear Chris and Laura,

      You have absolutely found just the right words which are so thoughtful and caring. Only pet can truly understand the pain and heartache that we go through in losing our beloved children.

      We need to now give all of the love that we had for our beloved Baby and Sister to Gordon and Mimi, their siblings.

      I also hope that you can find some comfort in the wonderful memories of Sister and help to heal your broken hearts.

      Thank you so much again for your kindness.
      Susan

  30. Jade says:

    Just reading the comments here makes me feel like I am not alone and that in its own way makes me feel like there are people that understand what my family and I are going through. Because of that I wanted to write and share my thoughts and my feelings in hopes that it might make me feel a bit better to share.

    Most people look at other peoples pets as just pets and they don’t understand that your own pet is a member of your family – they have a personality, they add joy and meaning to your life and they become your furry child. They depend on you for everything and they provide unconditional love for their parents, sisters and brothers. As I sit here writing this, tears are streaming down my face and my beloved Pekoe, 3 and a half year old orange Bengal, is lying next to me. I am trying to be strong but it is sooo difficult. She looks tired, her right hind leg is bandaged, her chest is shaved, her two front legs are shaved and she her breathing is more labored than it should be – my heart goes out to her.

    Pekoe’s story started couple of weeks ago where we noticed that she was losing some weight. We didn’t think too much of it as we have two other cats in the house, Tia, who is 5 years old and Kody a 7 month old kitten. We thought she was just playing around a lot and that’s why she was losing weight. On Tuesday night when I went up to bed, Pekoe came up with me as usual but I noticed that she was breathing a bit quicker than usual – she seemed to be in a good mood and was eating well – although I was concerned, I thought I might be overreacting. The next day we decided that we were going to buy all her favorite wet foods so that we can get her to gain some weight – when we put it in front of her she did not eat a lot of it. We knew at that point something was wrong. I made an appointment at my vet for that evening and took her in. The vet recommended that we take an x-ray and see if there is anything wrong around her lungs. I truly was not prepared for the news we received. Instead of being able to see her lung and heart on the x-ray, it was all white cloudy stuff. Our vet told us to take her to the 24 hr emergency veterinary hospital and we did immediately. We showed the hospital her x-rays and they told us that she would need to spend the night as they wanted to draw out the fluid like stuff from her chest cavity. We were told that taking out the fluid would relax her and then they could send it to the lab to see what the problem was. We were quite scared but wanted to make sure that she could breathe comfortably and told them to do what was necessary and left her there overnight.

    In the morning (Dec 17th) we received a phone call from the hospital to let us know that her test results came back and they were positive for cancer, specifically, mediastinal t-cell lymphoma. I was devastated, scared and had no information on cat cancer or what should be done. We went immediately to the hospital and spoke to the veterinary oncologist who explained our options and recommended that we try chemotherapy as most cats with lymphoma respond quite well. They gave her a steroid, Dexamethasone, which apparently is stronger and better tolerated than prednisone. They told us to bring her back today for her first round of Chemotherapy.

    So today we went for her first round of Chemo – the oncologist is going to be following the Madison Wisconsin cancer protocol which apparently provides one of the best chances for cats. The only modification our oncologist made is she replaced Vincristine with Vinblastine as this is better tolerated with less side-effect and better results. All this seemed so overwhelming, strange language and a topic that I know nothing about. Since this afternoon I have been reading up to better inform myself so that I can put myself in a position to help out and make informed decisions.

    I do not know what to expect from the first round of chemo – we brought Pekoe home and she did eat some food. She seems tired – I am hoping that this is all normal and that she will perks up in the coming weeks.

    She was the runt of the litter when we got her and was the cutest little thing. She is very particular and loves her routines. She always but always sleeps in her bed which is beside my side of the bed and comes and joins me in the early morning hours – last night she did not sleep in her bed and needless to say I did not sleep either. She is very sensitive, a true “scaredy cat” in a funny way, loves to play fetch, loves to curl up beside me when I am watching tv and is extremely gentle and a loving cat – I love all my cats but she is my absolute favorite due to her gentle and loving nature.

    I feel for everyone that is going through or has gone through similar ordeals. It absolutely sucks and I feel so helpless. I just want her to be better, to go into remission and be one of those cats that defies the odds and lives many more years.

    Any person that takes the time to read my post – thank you and if you have any insight into what I can expect the next couple of weeks with the first couple of rounds of chemo, please share.

    I am scared for her, I am scared to be without her.

    • Ingrid says:

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful post, Jade. My heart goes out to you, it’s such a devastating diagnosis to receive, and it is overwhelming to have to enter the world of caring for a cat with cancer. All my best to you and Pekoe. Please keep us posted.

  31. Robin says:

    Hi Jade. When my kitty was diagnosed with stomach lymphoma, I also didn’t realize he was sick even though he had lost a little weight. It was a bit similar to what you were thinking. I have 5 cats and one is very over weight so I had changed their food. They had all lost a bit of weight and I thought he had lost some from the change in their diet. Well, after about 3 months and then suddenly, over the course of a week, he stopped eating completely. I took him to his vet and he immediately suspected lymphoma. After 2 negative biopsies, it took a month to get the proper diagnosis…a cell splitting test was done and it came back positive. During that month, his vet put him on prednisolone. When the initial biopsy was done, his vet had talked me into allowing a feeding tube be inserted so he wouldn’t starve to death until a proper diagnosis was made. I ended up having to tube feed him for almost 3 months. When that positive diagnosis finally came back, Chlorambucil, a chemo drug, was added twice a week. After a month nothing had changed. He still wasn’t eating and was very lethargic and was clearly not well. I switched him to the head of Oncology at the same SPCA hospital where his regular vet is. She switched him to the pulsing regime which is a triple dose of chlorambucil twice a month instead of smaller doses twice a week. He was also weaned off of the Pred becaus it caused him to become diabetic. Within 2 weeks of giving him his first pulse dose he started eating again and never looked back. 2 weeks after that they had to talk me into letting them remove the feeding tube because he was eating well and was putting weight back on. He’s done so well for the last year that in a week and a half..Dec 29, he gets his last dose. His Oncologist is stopping his chemo completely. The only other meds I give him is and anti nausea drug(Cerenia) the day of and the day after getting the chemo and a laxative 3 times a week. It is very common for chemo to cause constipation. Be patient, It sounds like your kitty’s Oncologist knows what he’s doing which is a great start. Sometimes the dose/frequency or even the drug needs to be changed to finally get it right. I am so thankful my cat’s vet was experienced enough to push until a proper diagnosis was made. He was very supportive when I decided to have him see the Oncologist. I did a lot of research online too and always had my list of questions for them whenever I had an appt. This all started for my kitty in Oct 2013. A year ago, I didn’t think he’d be here today. One last thing…for 2-3 days after getting his chemo dose, my kitty tends to eat a little less. It use to alarm me until we were into the routine for a while and I realized it was just for a few days. A small part of me is still afraid his eating won’t pick back up but it always does. Emotionally, until the proper dosing/drug is made, it will be a bit of an emotional roller coaster for you. Hopefully, you’ll have good luck with the first type of therapy. Hang in there.

Leave a comment