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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925 Comments on Chemotherapy for Cats

  1. I’m no expert, and of course every case is different, as are vets, clearly, but I do dearly love my babies. I went through the same struggle that we all do about whether or not to treat our twelve year old special girl who has small cell GI lymphoma, taking into consideration the warnings of ,dangers to the other cats and ourselves (I am very sensitive to chemicals and have had issues…). That said, I read a lot about the treatment online, spoke to an oncologist and the pharmacist who prescribes chlorambucil. One thing REALLY helped me decide to move forward..I was concerned exactly as you are about the constant exposure (the typical treatment, as far as I can see for small cell lymphoma) is chlorambucil 3 times per week, administered at home, which is obviously, easier on the cat, for those like one previously mentioned who hate, like I do, taking her there where she hates and fears to go. I found, what I thought was an acceptable compromise between my fears of exposure and her fear of the vet…an acceptable protocol…again, if you search online you’ll find very professional articles about small cell lymphoma..the go to is ALWAYS chlorambucil plus usually prednisolone, even though there are some other drugs if the cat cannot tolerate it for some reason. But the protocol that seemed a good compromise, confirmed by the oncologist I’ve used as a second opinion to avoid having to take my cat to her regularly since it’s farther away, is …a larger dose once every two weeks. The oncologist clearly says this protocol, listed also in the literature as equally effective and usually chosen for logistics, is as effective as 3 times a week…I don’t remember reading about daily as some people have mentioned, and yes, the dose seems to depend on weight. with my vet I order it from pharmacies..once from one in New Jersey, one in Arizona. My vet had previously only used the 3 times a week protocol, but agreed that the literature says the once every two weeks higher dose is indicated as equally as effective in the scientific literature. I also forwarded to her the email from the oncologist saying she agreed and uses the once every two weeks with higher dose protocol…she uses both..apparently also for logistics. My vet said if we went that way she would want to do a CBC every time to be sure her white blood cell count was correct. I suggested that if that was the case I would have to take my girl (Scally) to her to do it, so how about it she gives the dose so I won’t have to handle it. I was really concerned about that. She agreed. Therefore I asked that the drug also be sent directly to her so I would not have to store it either. She agreed. As far as the protections, which your concerns exactly reflect mine…I was horrified of the warnings, well, I guess it kind of remains to be seen long term. My vet says her dog once ate one of the pills with no harm. The pharmacist says its really an issue of repeated exposure…which I feel is mitigated some by the vet dosing once every two weeks (it also gives her an opportunity to monitor weight, blood work, as mentioned, in her case also her breathing as she has had asthma for years, and her blood sugar, which is important since the vet in Los Angeles I first took her to to do the biopsy and confirm diagnosis immediately doubled her prednisolone she had been on for her asthma, and that sent her into a diabetic state. Fortunately by immediately backing off once discovered, that appears to be in remission and I did not have to start insulin on top of the other many drugs she is on. So take note on high doses of pred. But keep in mind too..the literature seems to match what the oncologist told me…do nothing and we would lose her in about 3 months, as perhaps reflected by some of the tragic, heartbreaking experiences shared here, give prednisolone only and go to 6-9 months I think it was, with chlorambucil it could mean as much as 2 1/2 additional years. I as all of you struggled with the quality of life (hers and ours) question, but ultimately decided to TRY it with the higher dose every two week that I did not have to administer personally protocol. I could then determine if the drug seemed to be, the visits every two weeks to the vet were tolerable or too frightening, and whether I continued to fear exposure for myself and my other cats. Currently we have been following the protocol for about 4 and a half months. I think often about the orig. 3 mos prognosis if nothing had been done. MOST of the time, she seems pretty happy and content, and her old self (that already had had to live with years of wheezing and occasional upper respiratory infections which complicate things because antibiotics can and do cause diarrhea which were fighting with due to her cancer) I must say I’m very impressed with this drug. It seems to help her asthma as well . My vet suggests it’s due to its anti inflammatory properties. A recent ultrasound by the oncologist seemed to indicate while not necessarily in remission yet (my vet feels it was too soon to measure AND we didn’t have previous measurements to actually measure change) that we are on the right track. While stools continue to be soft, usually they have some shape, but occasionally they have been very loose which we think is related to the antibiotic she was on for an upper respiratory infection; we’re currently treating a possible infection with a different antibiotic and her stool is again loose.. For the most part re quality of life…I certainly am concerned about the visits to the vet even every two weeks. But she also hates the administration of many pills here at home in addition to the chemo at the vet. …anti diarrheal, preventive anti vomiting, anti nausea, broncho dialator for her asthma, currently an antibiotic. I try to give her lots of love and attention in between, but honestly that’s more of a problem for her I think than the trips to the vet that yes, she hates, but recovers from that once every two weeks better than daily multiple pills 3 times a day. But most of you may not have to give those drugs.I’ve been through this before with another cat, for me it’s a lot about whether they seem to have the will to fight it (like they talk about people fighting it). Putting her asthma aside I’d agree with the intro piece that she tolerates the drug well. With my previous, and first treated cancer kitty I asked initially , one what are the chances of success? I was told 85% That seemed good (perhaps comparable currently to 3 mos more of life vs. 3 1/2 years of life). Second, will it make her sick (all of us imagining the humans being hairless and nauseous forever), and I was told then, as now (though that was I believe a “cocktail” of meds by my then oncologist, whose name I’ve seen now in the literature regarding the current gi protocols) and as indicated in the intro, most cats tolerate the regime well. That cat did, as does the current one, I believe, as far as the drug goes…the supportive drugs are a pain for her. but she is purring while my husband is petting her, her behavior is mostly normal and showing a very healthy “will to live.” Except for times more likely related to her asthma and antibiotics, her behavior is much like before.
    Regarding exposure. again, I, like you was very concerned about it. The first vet who diagnosed her lymphoma didn’t even mention it. My vet is not concerned,,,as someone else mentioned with their vet. Her own dog at a pill and was fine. That seems to match the pharmacist saying it’s a matter of repeated exposure that causes concern. So I feel if I’m not handling the drug or administering it, my exposure is very limited. My vet is not concerned about the other cats eating from her plate, though we do feed her separately, or drinking from the same dish. I was shocked to have the pharmacist say if she vomited we should throw the item away or rinse it in a bucket or the tub or outside, wash it separately, and run the washer again with nothing in it before we use it for other clothing. That has not been an issue so far. We put pee pads around the box she ususally uses so any extra droppings over the side can be thrown away. We DO use gloves to clean HER poo, but she doesn’t get a separate box, so at times she may have pooed and us cleaned it with the other cats poo. But most of the time we recover it separately, and using gloves and a separate scoop it goes into sealable bags and tossed (as opposed to regular litter from the other cats that is just put in a paper bag and tossed). We use gloves for administration of meds. Since I have super sensitivity to chemicals that we have been trying to find the cause of (started prior), I’ve started wearing gloves when “handling her” the first 48 hrs. Since the vet gives her an injection of Cerenia (anti vomiting) before she gets the chlorambucil and we give a small dose daily, vomiting has not been an issue. There has been a time or two when she vomited due to a hairball or perhaps ingesting something like a piece of grass or something) we use gloves to clean it and wash the spot and rise wellwith any soap the pharmacist said.
    Currently she seems to be overall doing well. She does hate going to the vet for sure, but all of my cats do. Worse is her supplemental drugs we give here, that we’re working with the vet on reducing…e.g. today I added a probiotic due to the diarrhea which is we believe more related to the antibiotics (which just started one again) for upper respiratory infection) than her cancer or the drug. One thing to note! in the literature it recommends B12 supplements for all cats getting this treatment or due to the cancer, not sure now which, because many test low in B12. I give it once a week via syringe under the skin (not in muscles). I have also added it to my almost 18 year old kidney failure kitty.
    I believe this has been a good compromise for us. Someone else here mentioned the higher dose (she’s getting 6 mg) once every 2eeks protocol, rather than dosing her every other day myself. I am happy that I decided to TRY it, feeling I can always stop if I feel it has become too much for her…or she seems to be giving up. She gets lots of extra attention. By the way, we also administer buprenorphine transdermally occasionally if she seems upset. It was prescripbed originally for a suspected bout of pancreatitis (she licks things sometimes, a possible symptom of it), but I also use if it for crankiness, like today, two days after treatment, with diarrhea making her irritated because she has GAINED weight and can’t clean her butt as well as she could before 🙂 but also we’ve had a lot of unusual stress in the household unrelated. The buprenorphine calms her AND has potential added benefit of slowing the diarrhea , I’m told, like in humans when they take pain meds. I wish everyone well, I feel blessed that I am in a position to make these choices and offer longer life as long as it’s qualititative; most people do not, and it has resulted in me bringing in more cats than I should from the many strays that need love and treatment. But for now, we will go on, and pray that when the end comes, as for us, it will be as painless as possible. I get many letters from this blog regarding my boy who died 12/7/18, the literal brother of the now almost 18 year old sister with kidney failure here. I still cry for him, as so many of you do. If anyone wants more details about this long “comment” I’d be happy to respond. Best wishes. Thank God for these amazing special creatures.

    • the ‘common’ protocol here in Australia is a three week cycle. 5 days of Chlorambucil and then a blood test at the end of 3 weeks, start again. Prednisolone every day. Boofy got an extra 3+ years treating this way. She also had asthma and had a daily puffer. She was a tender heart with a will to live. When the end came it was sudden and she was just too tired to go on. God I miss her!!

      • Thank you for the info. I’ll share that w my vet. Esp helpful since also an asthma kitty. I can’t get scally to tolerate the puffer so she gets pred orally for the asthma currently only 2.5 mg every other day due to the diabetic response to hi dose, plus Terbutaline 2-3 times per day(a bronchodilator) and occasional antibiotics due to respiratory infection. You and she got a good extra time together! Still the pain lingers. I finally washed the blanket Babygirl brother died on 2 1/2 yrs ago fearing the dust accumulating was not good for Scally who loved him dearly too and often slept on the unwashed blanket. I can finally talk about it a little. He was my boy. Scally is a unique loving girl so dependent orange short hair w green veyes that look at me and say, “fix it mommy, you always do!’

        • precisely the same conversation I had with Boofy on her last day. Sorry sweet girl, mommy can’t fix this anymore. If your vet wants/needs more info, I can get you my vets details so they can email/speak directly. One problem we ran into was too much steroid for her to handle which caused muscle weakness resulting in a hernia which had to be surgically repaired. Boofy had mild asthma so we didn’t have as many drugs or problems controlling that. I tried to document our experiences here on the forum – you can search for me or Boofy to find the thread if you find yourself on a similar path. Although we had appeared to reach remission a couple of times, it came back and in reality, vets don’t expect to eliminate cancer only to slow it down – whilst 3 years isn’t long in human terms, it is for a feline. As you said – 3 years was exceptional and I treasured her for every one of those days. From the memory of my green-eyed ginger to yours – no matter the number of days, it’s love that matters in the end.

  2. Hello…. I have a 14 year old foster cat who’s been with me for 4 months. He was diagnosed with GI small cell lymphoma one year before that. He’s in remission now and has gained back several pounds of weight, so his chlorambucil dose is not correct for his current weight. Should I be concerned about that? His vet isn’t.

    The side effects have been an ongoing skin problem (scabby spots and fur loss in those areas) and, more seriously, a never-ending fungal ear infection that causes itching, a malodorous discharge, and bleeding. Packing that ear repeatedly with BNT hasn’t helped more than a few days, and the various ointments I’ve used have done nothing.

    Does a time ever come when a cat can stop taking cancer drugs? (This boy also gets 5mg of prednisolone daily.)

  3. My cat Remus is about to start chemo, tomorrow. It was a difficult decision but I think the right choice for us. We’ll see how it goes…

    It’s good to know others have been through this. I don’t personally know anyone who would be very likely to pay for this treatment for their pets.

  4. Hi Everyone,

    First of all, I am so very grateful I found this post. I’ve been reading the comments and the care and compassion shared amongst commenters is touching. Our darling girl Scout was diagnosed with cancer a little over a week ago. Today we saw a veterinary oncologist who performed an ultrasound to determine the extent of the mast cell tumor growths. It broke my heart to learn it has spread to the liver, spleen and abdominal lymph nodes. She also found her intestines were enlarged. The most troubling thing is how aggressive the cancer has become. She was fine up until three weeks ago when she started vomiting a lot. That’s when we took her to our vet. Prior to that, she was healthy. And even with the vomiting, she showed no other symptoms of being sick. She still ate, used the litter box and was active as normal.

    The oncologist said her prognosis was “guarded” and she went through the various chemotherapy options (surgery is not enough at this point). She recommended weekly intravenous treatments at the vet for a month, then another ultrasound to see if it’s working. But she cautioned that on average the prognosis with chemo is 4-6 months. She did say our Scout is strong, especially for a 13 year old cat. She also said she has seen some pets respond well and go beyond 6months. The other option is palliative care using steroids until she begins to decline.

    My husband and I are torn at this point. Scout gets very nervous and anxious around strangers and hates going to the vet. She’s always well behaved but you can see her breathing pick up and her eyes look so scared when we take her. The oncologist was very caring but also kind of confusing. She started the discussion sounding bleak as she went through the ultrasound results. She kept apologizing and was very caring about it but it seemed grim. But when I asked about treatment she sort of sounded like she was hopeful but still kept saying the prognosis was “guarded”. Now we’re not sure if we should attempt the chemo (which as much as I hate to say it is extremely expensive), inflicting the stress of weekly vet visits on her on top of whatever pain she may be in. But a part of me is also horrified at the thought of giving up.

    At the end of the day, our main concern is her quality of life. I’ve read quite a few comments on here from people in similar places. My mom, whose dog Shabar eventually died of cancer, all but begged me not to do it. She did go through with chemotherapy for him and she said watching the effects of it and seeing him suffer through the treatments was horrifying. She said she wished she had someone tell her to go the palliative care route instead. My sister, whose dog Benji died back in December due to kidney disease said the same thing.

    I would appreciate any thoughts or experiences anyone who has been in the same boat is willing to share. We are both so heartbroken. We’ve had Scout since she was a kitten. In fact, we got her only 4 months after we started dating. She has always been a part of our lives and I want to do right by her.

    • I’m so sorry to see your comments and what you now have to face. We have decided the palliative route woth 13 yr old Stanley as he has small cell lymphoma. It is likely a slower cancer than mast cell tumors. But he too gets very stressed and scared going to the vet. In these Covid times we had to wait outside so it has been even worse for him. We have had a number of cats in our lives and have had to say goodbye to them when the time came. At 13 years old they are seniors altho they can grow older. We currently also have a 20 yr old who is as bright and healthy as ever. But I always try to remind myself that when we have cats or dogs, they are not going to live as long as us and we know that going in. We can’t explain what is happening like you can to a human about to receive chemo. I would ask the vet or oncologist if they think the cat is in pain and how they will feel going thru chemo. Some chemo’s are administered at home with pills but it sounds like you would be hauling kitty weekly to the vet. Also consider if a few extra months of less than quality time for your cat is worth the money and the fear and discomfort the cat will experience. I think you have to weigh out both options and decide. We have our kitty on prednisone and he seems to feel somewhat better, has totally quit vomiting which was daily and has put on good weight. We gave him a good healthy life and when it looks like things are not going well, we will say goodbye to him. But it si a very personal decision. Try to keep your feelings out of it and be clinical about the decision. I wish you all the best.

    • Stephane B – I’m so sorry to hear about sweet Scout, and I know exactly how you feel. My 10yr old cat started vomiting bile in the early morning about 6 months ago but was otherwise fine. I started feeding small meals at midnight and 5am and he stopped vomiting and seemed great so thought was in the clear, but he had an ultrasound last week that yielded an inflamed small intestines, 3 enlarged lymph nodes, 4 lumps on the spleen, and inflammation on part of the kidneys. His condition went from good to this in just 2 weeks. I’ll forever regret not taking him in sooner, even though his vomiting had stopped.

      He is on prednisolone and gabapentin, and I’ve made an appointment with an oncologist but they can’t see him for 2 weeks and honestly I’m afraid what his condition will be like in 2 more weeks. His appetite has improved a bit with the steroids and but he still seems not quite himself most days.

      I’m anticipating a similar “guarded” prognosis when I take him to the oncologist, and am concerned about quality of life too as the nearest oncologist is a 4 hr drive away and he hates being in the car. If chemo is an option I’m not sure it would be worth the road trips/stress it would mean for him to get a few more months, which would be purely for my benefit.

      Such a terribly hard decision, even daily/hourly struggling to know what the right call is for him and if I did everything I could. I’ve had him since he was a teeny kitten and can’t really imagine the world without him, so I totally understand your struggle with Scout. I realize you posted this 2 months ago, but would be interested to know what you decided in the end.

      • Hi Michelle!

        I am so sorry it took me a while to respond. It’s been a difficult few months. I responded to Keliza’s comment below detailing what happened with our Scout. I am sad to say that she passed away less than a month after I posted this comment. I went into a bit more detail in the comment below but like I offered to Keliza, I’m here if you have any other questions or just need a virtual shoulder to cry on. I hope that your cat got a better prognosis than our Scout. We too had her since she was a wee kitten and the hole that she left in our lives and hearts will never truly heal. I have moments where I’ll forget she’s gone and call out for her, which leads me to burst into tears. It’s a process, grieving for your fur baby. I’ve lost a cat before (she passed away well over a decade ago) and I still to this day feel the ache of her loss. But there comes a time when you can think of the good times and laugh or smile warmly. It takes a while to get there and no one should tell you how long or even how you should go about it. But I’m really hoping your cat is responding well to treatments.

        I will say that how much Scout hated going to the vet factored a bit into our decision. She became extremely agitated and chemo would have required weekly visits to the vet. I couldn’t fathom forcing that on her for the very small chance that it would give us a few more months with her.

        At the end of the day, it’s what’s best for our loved ones. Even if it means the pain of losing them.

    • Hi Stephanie,

      Thank you for sharing your story. I’m am currently going through a very similar experience with my 10 year old cat diagnosed with large cell renal lymphoma, kidney disease and triaditis. I’m conflicted on whether I should pursue chemo if it’s an option, for all the reasons you mentioned in your post. I’m single and haven’t told anyone about this yet because it’s so painful and I’m terrified. I’m wondering what you decided to do and how your little one is doing now?

      • I am so very sorry to hear about your sweet cat. After a lot of discussions and sleepless nights, we made the very hard decision to not subject her to chemotherapy. We concentrated on quality of life care and had another month with her. When she finally passed, it happened fast. One day, she was fine and the next, she barely moved. She died later that night before we could get her to a vet to put her to sleep. It was… awful. I miss her every single day and our other cat Roo has been struggling. She’s healthy but she obviously doesn’t understand what happened to Scout and it breaks my heart. Although I know we made the right decision, it hurts beyond words knowing I will never get to snuggle with her again.

        I would suggest having an honest conversation with your vet. If they are a good vet and truly care for their patients, they will tell you the truth. Our vet was guarded because she knew how much Scout meant to us. But when we told her we were decided to concentrate on quality of remaining life, she assured us that was the right decision to make. If there is a viable chance that chemo will work, if you can afford it, take it. If, however, the chemo will only give you a few more months, it pains me to say it may be time to let go.

        I know your pain and I know your fear and I wish I could give you a hug. The one thing I can tell you is something my mom told me. When her dog was diagnosed with cancer, she went the chemo route. She said watching him go through the treatments and seeing the pain and suffering it caused broke a part of her. She said she regretted holding on to him for so long. Not because she didn’t love him, of course, but because she prolonged his pain. She begged me not to do the same thing with Scout. And my mom is a retired Army major. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve heard her cry. But when she relayed her experience, she was balling.

        At the end of the day, it’s all about what is good for your cat. It’s unbelievably painful to let go but the one thing I can say is we made the right decision. If there’s anything else I can tell you or answer any other questions, I’ll make sure to monitor this board. From one cat parent to another, I’m here for you.

  5. Hello. My cat was recently diagnosed with small cell lymphoma and my vet has prescribed 1.5mg of chlorambucil daily to my cat. A lot of the resources I’ve been reading online seem to be very stringent in regards to reducing exposure to the drug with things such as wearing gloves, goggles, and a mask when administering the drug and cleaning out the cat box, cleaning up any vomit thoroughly with powerful cleaners such as bleach, if you come in contact with urine, feces, or, saliva to wash your hands for 5 minutes, getting a separate litter box for the cat if there are multiple cats, and keeping the treated cat away from the others.

    The oncologists at the pet hospital I’ve been taking my cat to make no mention of this, however. When questioning them they said there was little to no risk and they were very nonchalant about it.

    From what I can understand, most cats with small cell lymphoma are administered the drug on a biweekly basis, meaning the owners are only being exposed to the drug for a few days at a time because the cat only “sheds” it for a few days. However, my oncologist recommended prescribing it daily, which would mean I would be exposed to it every time I’m around the cat and every time I scoop out the litterbox. Furthermore, my cat has been having diarrhea, presumably because of the lymphoma, and he sometimes gets poop on his paws and tracks around the house, which would result in more exposure.

    It’s with these factors in mind that I’m a bit concerned with my level of exposure to the drug if I start giving it to my cat. I keep hearing mixed sources on how stringent you should be with reducing exposure and leaves me with a lot of questions and concerns.

    First off, I don’t understand how some sources say you should wash your hands thoroughly if your cat licks you, but it’s entirely fine to pet your cat. Shouldn’t the cat have the drug all over them since they lick themselves constantly? What about when he jumps on the bed? Do I need to wash my sheets constantly? Is it safe to keep my cat being prescribed the drug around my other cat?

    Are there any academic resources on the risks of long-term exposure? I’m probably just being paranoid, but it really doesn’t help that every online resource I’ve come across is very threatening with how stringent you should be with reducing exposure for anyone around the cat. If I have to wear gloves, mask, and goggles whenever I come in contact with any bodily fluids with my cat, essentially treating it as a biohazard, how can I feel safe around my cat when he’s always going to have it in his system?

    • Hi Tom, I am sorry to hear about your cat’s diagnosis. Could you call a 2nd vet clinic for a 2nd opinion? Do you have a university that has a vet teaching hospital in your city or region? They would be a good source to ask. How did your vet confirm the small cell lymphoma? Our cat was recently diagnosed as probably having it too. But we don’t have a positive confirmation because we opted not to open him up and remove his spleen or the tumor on it. They used a needle to aspirate a sample while he was under for an ultrasound when they found the tumor and inflammatory bowel disease. But the aspirate was inconclusive as is often the case. From all the research I did it seemed like the chemo drugs would be administered at intervals with the strict protocols adhered to that you mention. We also have a 20 yr old cat in the house and no good way to keep litter boxes separate or them separate and our Stan gets so traumatized from vet visits. So we opted not to go the chemo route and he is on prednisolone which does seem to improve his situation a fair bit. Hew is no longer vomiting daily and has gained some weight. He never had diarrhea thank goodness. I hope you get some clear answers so you can make a decision as to how to proceed with treatment.

      • Hi Pat, thank you for the reply I’ll take your advice into account and try to contact a 2nd vet. To answer your question, my cat, Cookie, technically does not have an official diagnosis of small cell lymphoma, which I didn’t mention to avoid a lengthy explanation in a post that was already pretty long. Like with your cat, I took him to the pet hospital in the attempt to get an official diagnosis with the needle aspirate, but they couldn’t get clear results. Though my oncologist said it’s very likely large cell lymphoma, I would have to do surgery to get an official diagnosis and I couldn’t afford it at the time and still can’t afford it now. Since it was suspected that he had large cell lymphoma my oncologist suggested giving a dose of the CCNU intermediate chemotherapy and see if his condition improves. A month later it did not improve, but it also did not worsen, which is very atypical for large cell. This led my oncologist to believe it could be small cell, which she then recommended trying the chlorambucil instead.

        I’m relieved that it’s probably not large cell, because cats with small cell tend to live much longer since it’s much slower progressing cancer. Unfortunately, as far as I’m aware the only intermediate way to treat it is the chlorambucil at home, which has the problems I discussed in my previous post.

        When it was first suspected he had large cell lymphoma I thought he would pass away in a few weeks, but now there’s a chance he could live much longer (currently 13), which I am very grateful for. Still, I’ve been giving him metronidazole and prednisolone, but he’s still been ravenously hungry, having diarrhea, and has been losing weight for the past few months now and I just want to see his condition improve, but thinking about all the potential points of exposure for my other cat and I drives my anxiety through the roof. I just want to know for sure what the risks are before I decide to go through with this.

        Once again, thank you for responding. It’s great to hear that your cat, Hew, has been improving with prednisolone. By the way, if you ever have to take Hew to the vet again you could try giving him gabapentin 2-3 hours before you leave. It’s supposed to calm cats down a bit and take the edge off. My cat is also terrified of car rides, and while it didn’t clear all of his anxiety away, it did make car rides much better. It might be worth a shot. Anyways, I wish the best of luck to you and your cats.

      • Hi Pat, thank you for the reply I’ll take your advice into account and try to contact a 2nd vet. To answer your question, my cat, Cookie, technically does not have an official diagnosis of small cell lymphoma, which I didn’t mention to avoid a lengthy explanation in a post that was already pretty long. Like with your cat, I took him to the pet hospital in the attempt to get an official diagnosis with the needle aspirate, but they couldn’t get clear results. Though my oncologist said it’s very likely large cell lymphoma, I would have to do surgery to get an official diagnosis and I couldn’t afford it at the time and still can’t afford it now. Since it was suspected that he had large cell lymphoma my oncologist suggested giving a dose of the CCNU intermediate chemotherapy and see if his condition improves. A month later it did not improve, but it also did not worsen, which is very atypical for large cell. This led my oncologist to believe it could be small cell, which she then recommended trying the chlorambucil instead.

        Part of me is relieved that it’s probably not large cell, because cats with small cell tend to live much longer since it’s much slower progressing cancer. Unfortunately, as far as I’m aware the only intermediate way to treat it is the chlorambucil at home, which has the problems I discussed in my previous post.

        When it was first suspected he had large cell lymphoma I thought he would pass away in a few weeks, but now there’s a chance he could live much longer (currently 13), which I am very grateful for. Still, I’ve been giving him metronidazole and prednisone, but he’s still been ravenously hungry, having diarrhea, and has been losing weight for the past few months now and I just want to see his condition improve, but thinking about all the potential points of exposure for my other cat and I drives my anxiety through the roof. I just want to know for sure what the risks are before I decide to go through with this.

        Anyways, thank you for responding. It’s great to hear that your cat, Hew, has been improving with prednisone. By the way, if you ever have to take Hew to the vet again you could try giving him gabapentin 2-3 hours before you leave. It’s supposed to calm cats down a bit and take the edge off. My cat is also terrified of car rides, and while it didn’t clear all of his anxiety away, it did make car rides much better. It might be worth a shot. Anyways, I wish the best of luck to the both of you.

    • Hi Tom. So sorry to hear this. We had the same issue. Our vet seemed to think it was no big deal but what I was reading online was crazy. He basically said in the end you need to do what you are comfortable with. I will admit we only gave chemo for a week before deciding it was to hard on our cat but here is what we did. Used gloves when handling pills. Keep cat separate for an hour in case of vomiting (he never did so let out earlier). They said liter is ok as long as other cats don’t eat it. He did want it completely dumped every day but that was difficult and costly. We just kept it as clean as possible. I would not worry about petting. Again This is what we did but it wasn’t for long. The stress of it all was to much for all of us. We decided on steroids only for treatment. Luckily we are a year later and he’s still doing well however I know that is not always the case. I wanted his quality of life to be good and stress free. We will love him to pieces until it is his time. Hope this helps.

      • Your saying your cat has been on pred for a year gives me hope for my boy. We started chemo and did it for four rounds before we had to stop. He was just miserable and a skeleton. Couldn’t eat. Kept having to harass him with multiple medications to try to get him eating. He hid all the time. He is much better since we stopped and now only do prednisolone. They say most cats do well on chemo but perhaps they mean younger ones. My boy is 16.

        • I’m glad that helps you. It was a tough decision but one we know was right for him. He is 14 now. Unfortunately he is now diabetic from the steroids but he tolerates the insulin very well. He comes to find me when it’s time 🙂 We reduced his steroid and found what works for him. Sending hugs and prayers.

      • Hi Kristi. Thank you for the response. It helps a lot to hear more about other people’s experiences. I guess it really comes down to, like your vet said, what I’m comfortable with. I think I might be comfortable with doing the things you mentioned if it meant my cat, Cookie’s condition improved. At least, as long as doing these things would minimize the risk for me and my other cat. I just wish I could get a clear answer on how much that risk is.

        Anyways, it’s great to hear that your cat is doing well on steroids only. I wish the best of luck to both you and your cat.

  6. Thanks so much for your response. Plan to start chlorambucil Wed., but funny (?) you should mention the diabetes, my girl has been on pred for years due to asthma but dose has been increased significantly due to her cancer. Watching her hanging by the water dish, worried that we pushed it over into the diabetes or kidney failure, I’m taking her in tomorrow (Tues) for a check of that before we start chemo. I have a 17 1/2 year old who has kidney failure and has been managing well, we give subq fluids every day, etc., her brother died two years ago, so every day with both of these girls is precious (plus 2 young ones newly in the house, another in/out. they give us so much, it’s so hard to see them with life threatening illnesses. Thank you again. Praying we’ll get good labs, if so will TRY a dose to see how she tolerates it…if not will be following the path you’re following.

  7. I’m here because I’m devastated and looking for answers.
    My cat, Rhiannon, is 13 and was diagnosed the other day with a mass in her stomach lining. The vet is sure it’s malignant but we’re waiting for the biopsy results to come up with a game plan. And now she’s showing signs of spread. Straining to pee. Inflamed intestinal tract.

    They tried to intubate her to remove the mass in her stomach but she had an emphysemic reaction to the intubation and stopped breathing. They got her back but now they don’t think intubation will work and so surgery is more or less off the table now.

    I know they’re going to suggest chemotherapy after the biopsy results come back, and I just have a strong feeling it will be malignant. I want to do chemotherapy, but I’m here wondering if that’s a good idea, considering her age, and from what I’m reading, even people who have done chemotherapy for their cats only had a few extra months with them. She doesn’t do well with vet visits and she gets stressed out and panicked.
    So now I’m faced with the choices: Do I just keep her comfortable until the end, or do I try chemotherapy, even though I’m sure she won’t like it and it will stress her out, and it would just delay the inevitable?

    I’m just so shocked with this diagnosis. Her lab work is normal. Other than constant throwing up, which was why I took her in, she behaved normally. She eats and asks for food. She runs around the house. She doesn’t act like a sick cat. Six months ago she was in for a UTI, they did an ultrasound then, and everything looked normal and there were no masses. So all this happened in a span of six months.
    I’m so scared, and just plain stunned, that this has happened. She’s only 13! She’ll be 14 in April.

    Does anyone have any advice for me? Please and thanks. Rhiannon has been with me my entire adult life. She’s been with me through every move, she experienced military life, she’s been with me through all my pregnancies, every illness I’ve had. My kids love her. She’s older than they are. I know I’ll never be ready to let her go, but I definitely wasn’t ready to let her go this soon. I expected this cat to live closer to 18-20 years old, by her health and spunk. I just can’t fathom this. I don’t even think it’s fully sunk in yet that I am probably going to lose my cat to cancer. This is such an awful, awful robber of a disease.

    • @HistoryGeek402 I’m very sorry to hear about Rhiannon. It sounds a bit similar to our Stanley who is also 13. But I suspect he has had inflammatory bowel disease for possibly years and we didn’t know. He vomited a lot and in the last few years had bouts where he would overgroom his legs and belly and I blamed the vomiting on the fur he was ingesting. The overgrooming is a sign of pain. We tried different things such as allergy foods, using Feliway pheromones. and having dental work done that we thought may have been the cause. Also physical exams and bloodwork that all came back normal. So this fall after deciding to do dental work again as his vomiting and overgrooming were occurring a lot, I asked the vet to probe and examine him more than he will allow when awake, while he was under for the dental. That is when she felt the tumor on his spleen and then with ultrasound confirmed it and the IBD. From what I can understand, the IBD comes first and cells in the bowel or gut turn cancerous and spread to the lymph system,. A needle aspirate of the tumor was inconclusive and surgery to remove it and possibly the spleen would be fairly major and only confirm cancer or not. It wouldn’t cure the cancer in his bowel. Stanley gets so traumatized at the vet and the surgery would mean a couple days at least recovery there and then cage recovery at home too. So we opted not to do that. Our options were chemo and/or prednisone. We have another cat at home as well and the chemo would mean using safety protocols such as keeping a separate litter box for Stan and using gloves and masks to change and dispose of it. Also monthly visits for bloodwork etc. It would never cure the cancer, only put it in remission. All of that did not sound like quality of life for our cat, knowing how he handles vet visits etc. Just getting the ultrasound and dental to find all this caused him to get an upper respiratory infection that lasted 10 days and made him feel miserable. So his immunity must be low also as he had a shot for that a few months earlier. So we went for quality over quantity of life. A 13 yr old cat is actually a senior cat already and a typical age when these things happen to them. The prednisolone has made a big difference as he is not vomiting anymore and I am sure feels better. before the diagnosis, he too was still eating well and running around some so we were surprised to hear how bad his bowel was. When the prednisone stops making a difference we will say goodbye. I felt bad for waiting a week or 2 too long to say goodbye to another cat we had who got sick, thinking she could get better and I will not make the same mistake with Stanley. If it is terminal, I don’t see the point of prolonging it till the very bitter end. I will be thankful for the good years he had and will know that we rescued him as a stray kitten in need of medical attention 13 years ago and he has had a great life. I hope this helps you see thru to your decisions more clearly. Best of luck

    • Good morning HistoryGeek…how is your sweet baby? I completely and totally understand your pain and shock. I lost my boy 9/11 and it was a total devastation. He was a happy and “healthy” baby until one day he stopped eating. I brought him to the vet the next day where he was pumped of fluids and vitamins. He still did not eat. I brought him back in for two more days…only for his vet to tell me that he needed to go to an ER vet. I rushed him there where i authorized them to do ANYTHING to save him. They called me and hour later saying cancer (lymphoma) had taken over his lymph nodes, stomach wall and entire intestinal tract. He was also sepsis. They had no choice but the euthanize. When I tell you my life ended that day, I mean it. He was happy and playing and 3 days later he was gone. Cancer is SO unfair for these animals. His blood work was GOOD too. I blamed myself for it…was it the food? I should have brought him in sooner etc. I would have done anything to save him. But i was not given that opportunity. Fast forward to now, and my other cat was just diagnosed with small cell t cell lymphoma (not as aggressive as my boy) . Since I caught this early…i am doing chemo for her. She actually starts it today and i am a nervous wreck. But her chemo is one pill every six weeks…from home. No going into the vet or anything like that as she is 12 and the vet stresses her out the max. I am praying this works. I cannot lose the two loves of my life within 6 months of one another. I pray your baby does wekl.

  8. Hello everyone. I am crying reading all of your stories. My sweet 11-year-old boy Brock was diagnosed with large cell lymphoma. His birthday is next month. I am devastated. Before the biopsy came back, I opted to attempt surgery to remove the mass they had seen in his GI/stomach area on ultrasound. They said when they got in there, it was too far spread to remove any of it. So they took samples for testing. Brock spent 5 days at the hospital in recovery. I felt so guilty. He has not been eating much and had lost weight. I had a horrible feeling about it and assumed we would be saying goodbye after the vet found the mass. However, they made it sound like removal was possible. They said 50/50. I don’t do well without definitive information. My other cat Mary Jane is currently dealing with the regrowth of a brain tumor, which was first removed in 2015. I am overwhelmed.
    Now the vet says we could do chemo and try to remove the mass later if it shrinks. I don’t know what to do. Brock came home yesterday. He did eat more than usual, but when I opened his bottle of amoxicillin, he threw it all up. I’m so sad. He has been with me (with his brother and sister) since 5 weeks old.

    • I am SO sorry to hear about your babies’ conditions. I went through a similar situation back in 2017 with my baby Hunter. He was 12 and kept throwing up. I took him to my regular vet and all of the tests were normal. They told me to go to a specialist and sure enough, it was also large cell lymphoma. They also suggested chemo. I had pet insurance with Trupanion ($1000 deductible) and I didn’t hesitate to TRY. He went through about 6 treatments, but unfortunately 2 months later, he was at death’s door, so we had to send him to heaven. THIS WAS THE HARDEST THING I EVER HAD TO DO!! I am crying my face off right now because it still hurts SO much!! My point is, IF THERE IS HOPE, I go for it if you can afford it. I will keep Brock and Mary Jane in my prayers. Please keep us updated.

      • Thank you for your kind response. I am so sorry you went through the same with your baby Hunter. When MJ survived having her tumor removed in 2015, I still cried for about a year when talking about the situation. It was traumatizing for us both. I can’t believe it grew back and I am facing the same decisions, but now with an older cat.
        I never got pet insurance. I regret that. I try not to make these decisions about money. Only about what is best for my cat.
        It’s hard. Brock is definitely the sweetest of my three cats. The most cuddly. He spoons with me every morning. I want to make the right decision for him. Saying goodbye will be the hardest thing I have ever done. No amount of time together would be enough time.

  9. I have been awake for hours with mixed feelings and a breaking heart. I lost my16 year old female cat to renal failure 13 months ago and her son who is 12 has high grade lymphoma in the stomach. This has been assessed on ultrasound twice. Vomiting, weight loss, anorexia – and he was 7kg cat. Although charming and friendly, trips to the vet stress him terribly. He’s had food intolerances which I’ve managed to control. He’s going to the vet again today to commence prednisone as I’ve decided to keep him comfortable and happy. Prognosis – as I’ve been I have been told – is 6mths on chemo, 3 on cortisone and maybe 3 weeks if nothing except antacids. My decision has been based on minimising trauma, maximising his comfort. Whatever happens I’ll forever question my decision. He has just given me a big kiss on the mouth.

    • I’m so sorry for the loss of your 16 yr old and of your boy’s diagnosis. Sometimes the best you can do is provide the most comfort possible. My Ben has gastric lymphoma and I too am just trying to keep him as comfortable as I can. God Bless.

    • Liz,

      I am so sorry to hear of your kitties, and I feel exactly the way you wrote… 4 months ago my fiance and I lost our 4 year old kitty very suddenly to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy – we had no idea he had heart disease. And this past Saturday, another one of our babies, Todd (9.5 years old), was just diagnosed with gastrointestinal large cell lymphoma. I haven’t met with an oncologist, but the lab advised our primary vet that the prognosis is 6-9 months on chemo and 4 weeks on steroids. I am at a complete loss and struggling on having to make a decision. I plan on seeing an oncologist to learn more about what treatment looks like. As you mentioned, I feel like I will question my decision no matter what I choose… but after reading some of the info people shared below on maintenance of the chemo (especially since we also have 2 other kitties at home) I am thinking keeping him comfortable might be best… but I can’t stand the thought of losing him so soon. I have pet insurance which could help with the financial aspect but there is still the huge piece of quality of life and stress not only on him but on our family and other fur babies. I am wondering how your experience has gone and how the prednisone has affected your boy.

      • Hi Jen,
        Thank you for your lovely words. My boy is coping with the prednisolone relatively well and not due back to the vet for 4 weeks (from his last injection a week ago). His weight is good and he’s eating relatively well.
        My issue lies in seeing the muscle wastage and his abdomen so bloated. The lethargy is the heart-wrenching part of watching him deteriorate. However, while he is eating and grooming himself (albeit with a few urinary incontinence issues I’ve just noticed – he’s drinking a lot of water), I will keep him comfortable.
        On reflection, if he were a young cat with a chilled-out personality, I would have considered the chemo – but in my boy’s case, no. It’s hard enough just going every few weeks – he screams his head off in the car.
        As it stands I’m now confident I made the right choice for him and fortunately cost was never in question.
        I miss my little girl desperately. She was the most loving and loved precious little cat I’ve ever known. It was an absolute privilege to have her in our lives.
        I hope Todd is coping well at the moment and my sincere condolences on losing your little 4 year old.

  10. Hi there,

    My love, my soulmate, my companion of 12 years–my entire adult life–Jeffrey was diagnosed with large b cell nasal lymphoma that has infiltrated his left cervical nodes. We have been fighting the battle for a month and a half now. He is getting radiation and chemo protocol and taking 0.7ml of prednisone daily (when he can eat).
    His appetite was good at first, he had to fast for his treatments and would gobble up kibble following the appointment. His third radiation treatment was just under two weeks ago (had to reschedule due to oncologist) and in that time the nodes have already begun to swell up again and it seems to be affecting his appetite. I have been using a syringe to give him some wet food. As well as some CBD oil for nausea and pain.
    I want to remain hopeful but I am starting to grieve his death. I was hoping to have him pass peacefully from old age but it’s looking like I will have to make that hard and heart wrenching decision of euthanizing him. I live alone and have chronic illnesses that pretty much keep me house bound and he has been my rock. It feels like not only am I losing my family but also my reason to live. You have to understand that I spend 95% of my life at home alone. I don’t have a partner, I don’t travel, I don’t go out…I am 30 years old and I am terrified of the loss and the void it will create. I am also terrified of the day I will feel him take his last breath. Of course I will be there but guys… I want my lungs to stop breathing then as well. I will miss him more than I can even comprehend. Adopting a new pet is off the table for me, at least for the foreseeable future. I don’t know how I will cope with this and he is still here. I won’t know how to be at home anymore…our routines, him climbing on me while I work from home for snuggles and my water. Looking at him just sleeping behind me or at my feet while I work. Taking a break to hug him and kiss him… He sleeps on my pillow, curled around my head at night and is there to greet me in the morning. I don’t know how I can go on without these things. He’s the only pet I’ve ever had and I don’t know how to lose someone so close and precious to me. I have spent well over 10k trying to fight for him and would spend 10k more if it meant I got an extra year to enjoy his company. Is there anything else I should be doing? How do I do this? I am losing a part of myself in losing him. Im so scared for him to leave me. I don’t want to live in a world without him. Please, I need your help.

    • I know EXACTLY what you are going through because I went through this with my precious Hunter. This is REALLY hard to relive. He was also 12 years old. On February, 19, 2017, he was diagnosed with large cell lymphoma. I took him to a specialists, did all the different protocols and spent about $10k on him (this time). He had his good days and his bad days, but I was hopeful. On April 18, 2017 he actually caught a mouse and was eating it (I still have the video). It was amazing because several years before that he developed a gum disease. We tried everything, but eventually had to have all of his teeth pulled. Anyway, the next day, he just stayed under the bed all day. The day after that, you could see that God was ready to take him. His body was limp and he had a death stare. It was his time to go. Trust me, it’s the WORST thing you have to do, but in his case, I didn’t want him to suffer. So I took him to the vets and my husband and I stayed with our sweet baby until he crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Right now, I am balling while writing this and it’s been 3.5 years. I miss him like crazy everyday. I actually had to go to therapy because I was SO depressed. I still fight the depression everyday from the loss of him and all of my rescues. He was my baby.

      The thing I can tell you is that you are needed in this world. You said you don’t have a significant other, but you have so much love to give. Don’t let a kitty miss out on that. If you don’t want to adopt, you can foster a fur baby.

      If you give me your email address, I will email the reading material that really helped me get through this. I went to a few pet loss meetings where you can talk about it (really helps), cry about it and meet others that are in the same boat.

      I keep his ashes where he used to sit and look out the window. I still treat him like he was still hear because he is, just in a different state. On sunny days, he goes outside where he used to sit, he sits on my lap when I watch tv like he used to and his little spirit goes with me shopping. It’s all a mindset. I TRULY believe that we will be together again because heaven wouldn’t be heaven without him and all of my loved ones. My email is Limpressions@msn.com. Good luck my friend and email me if you want to talk further.

    • First, my heart is with you and your sweet Jeffrey. Seeing our little loves sick is the hardest thing. Having been through something very similar, my advice is to stay in very close contact with you’re kitty’s oncologist. We tried about 3 different treatment plans to fight my kitty’s cancer. If one isn’t making a big difference, perhaps ask about other others.

      For your own health, take it one day at a time and cherish whatever time you have left. Spoil your Jeffrey, just be with him and appreciate all that he is to you. It’s comforting to them and helps you soak up all he has to give.

      Loss is hard but being on the other side of saying goodbye of my sweet kitty, I can say you never let go of them and you’ll always miss him, but over time, you remember everything they gave you and the pain fades.

      Hang in there, hun. I can feel your heartache and I know many others on this forum do too. Love your little guy.

    • Oh Ashley, you poor dear. I truly feel for you and am so sorry this is happening. It’s been 3 weeks since you posted and I don’t know what’s happened since but if you see this know that someone out there is thinking of you and feeling for you. Lots of love.

    • Hi..today was a very sad day since they told me my cat has cancer..after reading your post I understand that im not the only one who is alone and so scared of loosing a soul mate..i love him as much as you do love yours and i only hope i can have him for as long as god allows me. If anyone want to talk about the love for our animals please e mail me at lgremodeling23@gmail.com.

    • Hi Ashley
      Feel free to email me at tuneintolove143@gmail.com
      My 1-year-old cat was diagnosed with lymphoma and after 3 months of chemo and a completely holistic regime we were able to cure her cancer. Would love to share with you what I did.

  11. We are waiting results of a fine needle biopsy on my cat who has numerous nodules on her liver and spleen. She is fine and eating, a little tired. She is 13 years old. Anyone have any advise for chemo on the liver and spleen? How were the results?

    • Hi Teri – we were confirmed with small cell lymphoma of the small intestines – it was assumed that Boofy had Triaditis (you may want to do a bit of research on that). Using Chlorambucil/Leukeran and prednisolne, we got nearly three years extra time and frankly – good quality time. In the end (and the end came rather quickly) her last ultrasound showed her liver fully involved with large dangerous voids, her spleen and pancreas were a mess. Our protocol was (a 3 week cycle) 2 chlorambucil for four days, day 18/19 a blood test to ensure we could do the next round, prednisolne every day for the rest of her life. We did get remission for a few months before we went back on the same protocol which did not decrease the cancer – it was palliative. We switched to a different/higher dose drug (the name escapes me at the moment but will be in my previous posts). It’s hard to guess what your results would be because it depends on the health of your cat, how early it’s been detected and the type of cancer. For us, treatment was very effective, simple and I wouldn’t hesitate to try again if I’m in the same position again.

      • Hello Jeanette! Thank you so much for your very informative reply. We took our 13 year old cat Cinnamon to to ER and after a ultrasound they found tumors on her liver. The Vet reported it was most likely 4 types of cancer and apologized for our loss. Took to our regular Vet and again Ultrasound and Biopsy, It got worse. They also found tumors on Spleen and liver. Also suspected cancer. Hours of research while waiting to find out what kind of cancer. Last night the Vet called and was very surprised that tumors are Benign. We are now addressing how to treat and very happy. I heard some chemo’s can put cancer in remission and prolong your cats life. Glad to hear you got 3 more wonderful years with your cat and very sorry for her loss. You gave some great information. More than i found anywhere else. Thank you so much!!!

      • Jenanette McKenzie, thank you for this post. My Bengal Nayla was just diagnosed with Small Cell Lymphoma on 4/23/20, we start on prednisole on 5/1 and started Chlorambucil on 5/4/20. So far she is doing very well. Her SCL is also located in her lower belly/small intestines, and form all the things I’ve seen reading is the most common place to get it. What diet/food are you giving your baby? My regular Dr. and my specialists Dr. at University of Penn Vet, said to continue with what she has been eating which is Purina Pro Plan Indoor wet and hard but wondering if I shouldn’t switch SLOWLY of course over to Sensitive stomach. Just dont’ want to give too much protein to over load the kidneys. We lost her brother, also an Asian Bengal this past July and his issue was kidneys.

        • Hi Mary and Kayla. Our vet just wanted Boofy to eat. As she had no kidney involvement, I gave her what she wanted and for quite awhile that was a raw meat diet (easily obtained here, it’s sold in nearly every grocery store in the meat or chilled food section here in Aus). She eventually decided on Fancy Feast (cat-food crack, they all love it). She especially loved the chicken with couscous pearls 🙂 one thing remain steady through out was the prescription Hills Science Diet dry food. She loved it and there was no way to keep it away from our other cat – it was an expensive way to feed the clowder! I’d recommend you ask the oncologist. Depending on how fussy Nala is, it may be better to keep with what you’re doing. And just an FYI, this website has some of the best info on Chronic Renal Failure (CRF).

    • After many months of our cat Stanley (13 yr old male) over grooming and vomiting nearly daily, our vet did an ultrasound and found a good size tumor on his spleen. She also said his entire bowel in inflamed and very thick and swollen. They aspirated a sample from the splenic tumor but results were inconclusive as they often can be with small cell lymphoma and just a sample from a needle. From what I have been reading, this is often GI lymphoma and his inflamed bowel would point to that. We would have to open him up to get the tumor and/or a piece of his spleen to get a better diagnosis. But given all the symptoms, we are assuming he has small cell lymphoma. We have opted not to do chemo. We have a 20 yr old cat in the house too and with it being on the spleen and the GI tract, I just don’t think remission will last long. So we have started him on prednisolone yesterday. I have no idea how long he will be with us but when his quality of life declines, we will say goodbye to him. He gets totally traumatized from visits to the vet and that also had some bearing on our decision. Sympathies to everyone going thru cancer with their kitties.

  12. Hello. Our ten year old cat Blackie was diagnosed with lymphosarcoma of the GI tract a couple weeks ago. Our vet has prescribed treatment consisting of 1 mg chlorambucil every other day and 10 mgs prednisolone daily. We were going to begin treatment tonight but after reading your comments I realize I still have many questions.

    Our main concern is that of our adult daughter who lives with us. She has Lupus and our vet said because of her compromised immune system she should not give Blackie his medicine nor should she have exposure to his litter box. This is understandable but she did not say whether there were any other precautions my daughter should take. She said she can pet him any other time but now I’m wondering if she should she even be allowed to do that!

    Our vet did not mention emptying his litter box after a certain amount of days on the medication. We usually change it once weekly. Should we change it more often?

    We have another cat that is ten years old. She has bouts of pancreatitis. Our vet knows this but she didn’t mention anything about separating her from Blackie. What is your opinion?

    Our vet wants to see Blackie once monthly for blood work, mainly to check on his white blood cell count. She did not specify how soon after his first chemo pill. I assumed it’s one month after he begins treatment. Should we bring him earlier?

    My last question is can we crush both of the meds (they come in chewable form) and put in Blackie’s wet food? Our vet said we could but I read on a website that chlorambucil should not be crushed. I feel as though we weren’t instructed properly.

    Thank you in advance for your reply and for your patience. I know I have asked many questions but I am not comfortable in starting Blackie’s treatment with unanswered questions.

    • Hi. I am sorry to hear that. I am no vet but I can try to help some with the info I have. Our vet said to use litter liners and change the litter every day. We found this was impossible. The liners were awful and the litter just cost to much. For the short time we gave the chemo we decided a regular box and scooping litter would he fine. We did keep the litter box separate though. I was told the chemo comes out in saliva, urine and feces so I was concerned about the exposure as well. There were no solid answers for this. I read as long as other cats don’t eat their vomit or litter it should be fine. I don’t know about separating the cats. I have other cats as well and it was very stressful trying to figure out what to do. My vet suggested we keep him separate for an hour after chemo to make sure he doesn’t vomit and other cats eat it. Unfortunately he didn’t like to be separate. I also read you should not crush chemo pills. I know this is a difficult time and I hope you find what works for you. My vet basically said you have to do what you are comfortable with. In the end we decided not to give the chemo. It was just to stressful for my sweet kitty.

      • Kristi,
        we are all so much in the same boat, loving our babies, and not knowing what’s best. I haven’t started the exact regimine you describe but plan to this wednesday, deciding after much anxiety to find out 1) will she tolerate the drug…vet says if going to vomit likely to occur within 15-30 min, 2) whether we can live with the anxieties about exposure to ourselves and our other cats…there are 4, including a 17 1/2 yr old w. kidney failure…special diets, behavioral issues with new one, all being separated at times…this one want to keep happy to increase success of treatment and be able to judge whether drug or separation issues,,,she doesn’t like closed doors…do any of them? So I’ve gone from no, to ok, to no, to ok, will try for a short time…oncologist says even a mo on the drug should help some, otherwise 6 mos. w. pred only, 2 1/2 to 3 yrs w. the drug, so feel to be able to live with myself after have to at least try. So I’m so sympathetic with your decision…I have been there and still could change my mind…how did this work out for your precious one? If unable to talk about it I fully understand…I lost my favorite boy 2 years ago and can’t read the emails still because I know I’ll break down. I hope you are well…I wish there were local support groups from the oncologist offices to help us make these decisions AND manage the issues as best as possible if we decide to proceed.

        • Hi Lynda. I very much know what you are going through. We did decide to not give the chemo because it was to stressful for Jasper. We did Prednisolone only. He did become diabetic so we had to reduce the Prednisolone and give insulin shots. Funny he does not seem to mind those. He’s still living a happy life and we now know we made the right decision for him. They gave us a year with that treatment so I do worry things could go downhill soon but just try to keep him happy. We have since lost 3 of his brothers and sisters to various illnesses and I was honestly shocked. We thought he would be fist. I know not every outcome will be as good as ours. You just have to do what feels right for you and your baby. Sending prayers and hugs to you both!

    • Hello. So sorry to hear about your sweet kitty, Blackie! My black 16 y/o kitty has small cell lymphoma of GI. I started him on prednisolone and chemo in April. the chemo pills cannot be crushed. I spoke with our compounding pharmacist, who told me this. So, we pay a bit more and get the chicken flavor liquid. I mix that in with his Pred. That recently had him vomiting it up within 30 seconds. So, now I’m mixing BOTH with chicken broth, low sodium; and that seems to be working OK. The chemo, Clorambucil, can be excreted through saliva, urine, and feces. My vet said it was not necessary to separate the cats…we have four….one with kidney failure. But, to make sure the other cats did not groom our chemo kitty or share his meals. Not sure if its the chemo or the appetite stimulant, but he has massive saliva and drooling. I’m actually considering taking him off the chemo all together. I’m researching this now. I’m wondering if this whole med protocol is actually sucking the life out of him faster than just letting things go natural. ????? I wish you and your family all the best. It’s a very tough road for the kitty and the family!!!

  13. I am extremely alarmed reading this. We just got our first bottle of Chlorambucil 2.2 mg capsules today. We have other cat’s. My vet did not tell me anything about keeping our chemo cat separate. He has to have the pill every 3 days so he would be separate the rest of his life. He would hate that. I can’t make him live that way. We weren’t told any of this. I’m concerned for my daughters safety as well.

    • Kristi-We had our oncology appointment at the Vet clinic at the University of WI Madison this last Monday. I was concerned too about needing to keep our Dusty separate from our other 2 babies. We are going to give hi Chlorambucil only 5mg every 2 weeks. The doctor told us as well as the info that came with the RX that we need to wear gloves to give him the meds and to clean the littler box, but our other 2 kitties would be fine. Did you get any more information on this? I couldn’t make my Dusty live separate from the rest of us either. We won’t start his meds until next week. I want our local vet to be in should we need them with this first dose anyway. Any help that anyone can give, I would appreciate. I’m so second guessing my decision with going ahead with this. Only because I don’t want to make things worse. Our guy has FeLV and is also FIV+.

      • Hi Melissa. I am so very sorry to hear about Dusty. After talking to our vet and reading everything online it sounded like the medicine was excreted in urine/feces and saliva. We were concerned for our other cats so we kept his litter box separate in a meowspace box only he could access and his food as well. We gave a pill 3 days a week and it was suggested we keep him separate for an hour after to watch for vomiting. I also had to dispose of any gloves and litter in sealed bags. All of this was very stressful on me and him. He was a shy cat before and giving the medicine was very difficult. He was so scared and didn’t understand. We decided to stop the medicine after 2 weeks and only give the steroids which is liquid and can be added to his wet food. I can see a huge change in him. He is so very loving and living a calm and stress free life. This is what was most important to me. It was a very hard decision to make and I know it is not for everyone. We love him so much and just want to keep him as happy as we can and enjoy our time with him. I know this decision will be very hard for you and I am here for you if you need someone to talk to.

  14. Thoughts about chemo therapy in general : tho I’m new to cancer in cats…two of my chronic URI cats developed cancer in the last few monts, both about age 10, I have dealt with feline leukemia and canine cancer in the past.
    Brownie probably has multiple mylenoma, a not unexpected result of the URI virus ( really not cureable despie anything you may read, got that from the horse’s mouth, a doc who used to do the teatments ).
    Brownie is in great spirits due in part tp prednisolone but tho he eats well is slowly losing weight.
    did not choose specialist as the time the problem was in him before I realized what was what ( I have many animals ) and the URI virus would work against even a mediocre outcome.
    What I’ve found after doing more than a bit of reading about cancer treatment and asking questions on two cancer groups isthat as far as treament is concerned everything is worse tyhan one would expec ; less time alive, lous y stateof health while alive, endless specialist visits, procedures, diagnoses and meds… all leading to misearable end days results. once a person dives into the pool one is inclined to see things to the bitter end . For most cancers I think the best option is to stay with a GP until the cat is unhappy , then euthanize… a bad way to go but preferable to what I see others go through. SD

  15. THat should have read swollen node/spleen has shrunk down to about nothing. Have taken him off pain meds as he is very energetic ( for Brownie ) and is now frequently eating at the upstairs food bowls which he was not doing two days ago. Have had suggestion that epi , a condition of the pancreas, could be reason for lack of weight gain. I’ll ask vet if I go in to check red blood cells in a bit. I did not expect to see the old Brownie reappear Stephen.

  16. My Brownie ( 9 – 10 year old neutered cat with chronic URI )…I know from oersonal investigation that to cure the virus underlying chronic URI j just does not happen…has either plasma cell neoplasia or multiple mylenoma. I have a collection of many cats and a few dogs. Have had many animals who lived with me die but Brownie is the first animal to have a condition that needs extensive treatment.
    I know the URI virus caused the cancer. I had my other URI cat, Slinky, about the same age as Brownie die of cancer only weeks ago. One day she was eating the next dead about ten months after my GP thought she had cancer in her chest, but the X ray cleared after pred.
    Brownie had been a 15 pound heavy eater about a month ago I noticed a big weight loss so off to the vet. Turned out hed ad lost 5 pounds.
    Vet swa what she toought to be squamous cancer in back of lower teeth and later felt a mass as big as a golf ball which could be lymph node or splleen X ray could not tell.
    Aspiration sent to lab.
    After operation in which two masses and two rotten teeth were removed the lab results showed only inflamation in mouth but aspiration thought to be PCN or MM based on weight loss and size of tumor.
    Based on my reading of people’s experiences with specialists in general and chemo therapy and Brownie’s chronic URI I decided ti stay with the GP and administer pred and bup pain meds.
    Phone consut with specialist and internist by GP resulted is estimate that full chemo treatment would result in one year of life ( I suspect because of size of lymph node which has not shrunk to about zero the loss of weight and URI factor.
    Following the operation Brownie has been eating huge amounts of food …maybe 400 calories/ day compared to maintence for a ten pound cat of 200 – 250 /day but he has not gained weight.
    Could this cancer have burned off this much additional weight ? Oncologist suggested a drug that would increase anemia which Brownie already has and kill bone morroe , the source of the cancer.
    For a number of reasons I have chosen not to go the way of the specialist…I have 30 animals to care for and tho I could manage to pay for life saving specialist intervention, just short extension of life is not all that attractive especially when the URI is involved and other problems could arise during treatment and just how Bronie feels can never really be accurately judged in many circumstances.
    Right now he’s on .25 ml of buprenorphine and 1.7 ml of pred.
    It’s been three weeks since the operation and he’s more playful than he’s been in years but I am concerned that he did not gain any weight in two weeks when he was eating a whole lot and may have lost additional weight even though he contines to eat very well.
    He was on antibiotic for about three weeks and his stools went from firm to diarriah but since stopping the antibiotic the stools are solid tho not firm’
    Two questions : anyone one familiar with not gaining weight even tho eating a lot, I’ve heard that cancer eats up calories but that would have to be about 150 calories a day in a ten pound cat and has anyone gone the full full chemo specialist with PCN or MM ? If so what happened ? thanks Stephen

    • Dear Stephen and Brownie – our girl Boofy had a different cancer, different treatment, but one thing the vet kept telling me over our three year journey is that as long as she was gaining/maintaining weight, the cancer was NOT winning.

      As long as Brownie is still enjoying life and you can afford the prednisolone to keep him comfy, no one can fault you for not going with more invasive treatment, especially if there are going to be other factors that make him uncomfortable.

      We did oral treatment with leukeran/chlorambucil so I’m not familiar with PCN or MM. The boards here have been slow lately so it may take awhile for an answer from someone with specific experience.

      • THat should have read swollen node/spleen has shrunk down to about nothing. Have taken him off pain meds as he is very energetic ( for Brownie ) and is now frequently eating at the upstairs food bowls which he was not doing two days ago. Have had suggestion that epi , a condition of the pancreas, could be reason for lack of weight gain. I’ll ask vet if I go in to check red blood cells in a bit. I did not expect to see the old Brownie reappear Stephen.

      • My post should have read swollen lymph node or spleen now all but gone. Off pain meds acts like old Brownie now. epi ( pancreas ) has been suggested for failure to gain weight . I’ll ask at vet when I do next blood panel SD

      • my cat Zaggy, was diagnosed with small cell lymphoma in July. Since then we have introduced Leukeran 3x weekly, as well as, Prenisolone daily at 0.5ml, 2xdaily.His first months bloodwork in Sept showed normal numbers in regards to red/white bloodcell cell counts. However, he is borderline anemic. My question is: what has anyone used to combat anemia while on a chemo regimen? And was it effective?

        • Hello,

          So I saw this post and it’s similar to what our cat was sent home with. So you’re saying the steroids helped your cat? How long was the cat on it? Our cat is anemic as well, anything that helped that?

  17. My cat Maestro is 13 years old. He’s been with me since the beginning of my adult life and is a large part of my heart. He’s the most loving, gentle, and intuitive cat I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. He’s shy around everyone else, but I’m his person. He trusts me completely and wants nothing more than to be by my side and cuddle. We’d noticed over the last few months that he was throwing up bile frequently. He’d always been a cat prone to throwing up, so we thought we just needed to change his food again. When he started hiding out downstairs, getting the runs, and losing weight, I knew something was really wrong.

    After an ultrasound, aspiration and testing, the vets were leaning more toward IBD. Unfortunately, my worst fears were confirmed a couple weeks ago – he was diagnosed with small cell lymphoma via a PARR test. He was prescribed 5mg/day prednisolone and 6/mg of Chlorambucil capsules once every 2 weeks since he hates pills. The vet was encouraging and hopeful this could really help him, but now I’m having doubts. I have anxiety disorder/OCD, and of course I did a lot of research.

    I’m very concerned about having the chemo in our house and the risks to our family and other cats – in fact, I’m having anxiety attacks over it. We were told by the pharmacist to wear gloves when giving the pills, but we weren’t told about how to handle waste. I luckily called my regular vet who recommended we separate him from our other cats for at least a couple days and wear gloves. Our internist vet assured us that anything he excretes would be very small and only for a couple days. But there is so much scary information out there – some of it contradictory. It’s also breaking my heart to isolate him for a few days. He doesn’t understand. He also doesn’t understand why I’m afraid to pet him or snuggle with him. He seems to be doing okay – purring, wanting love, gobbling up every drop of food, and his talkative self – but I’m afraid that he’s feeling side effects or in pain. I worry about the impact this routine will have on him and his quality of life. I’ve asked my vet what the difference is in response between the steroid alone and the steroid and chemo and I’m waiting on an answer.

    Like so many of the comments here – I don’t know what is right. I know I will regret it if I don’t do everything I can to fight for this little creature who has helped me through so much and is very much my family. But I also know I will regret it if one of my family members is harmed by being exposed to the treatments accidentally and trying to weigh those risks. Can anyone speak to giving this treatment and how it went? I think it would help me to talk to others who have been through it for months or even years and have come out on the other side okay.

    • Feel free to search me/my posts/Boofy. We battled small cell lymphoma for 3 years and got remission once. Three years!! I would not hesitate to use Leukeran/ Chlorambucil with prednisolne. Just steroid means you are not fighting cancer, you’ve chosen hospice.

      You’re suffering from a lack of info and that’s scary. Educate yourself and fight this fight until Maestro tells you to stop.

      I work in the sciences and deal with cytotoxins/ contamination daily and this is what I did. Buy a box of latex/nitrile gloves and some small plastic bags – I used dog-poop bags. Maestro needs some alone space and a personal litterbox. Wear gloves when cleaning the box and avoid creating dust. Tie up the bag and dispose in o/s trash. I estimated the biological half-life to be about four day, the amount of time a cat will ‘excrete’ the drug. So four days after last dose, using gloves, wash litter box out and store until next cycle.

      Go to the Salvos / Goodwill and buy some low cost flat sheets, cover Maestro’s usual places. After the 3-4 days is up, fold the sheets (slowly, gently) in on themselves. Wash them seperately from your other laundry – long cycle. Fold ’em up and save until next Chloro cycle.

      You try to avoid any faeces or saliva. No worries with petting as long as you don’t inhale the dander (no belly snorgling!) and wash hands (up to elbows) thoroughly afterwards.

      Now other bits -generally cats tolerate chemo extremely well. I’m sure my Boofy was not in pain when she was on it. Also, if you think Maestro is not handling the isolation, ask about a different protocol. Here in Aus we use a three week protocol, pills for four days, blood test day 18, start again on day 21. Point being, if the program isn’t working for you, ask for changes.

      Does that help?? Feel free to ask if anything else comes to mind.

      • Thank you so much for this. It is some of the most helpful and specific info I’ve gotten. We gave him his first dose of Chlorambucil a week ago (last Friday) and purchased nitril gloves for that and clean up. We kept him separated in his own room for 72 hours. It’s our spare bedroom with vinyl flooring in the basement, so we stripped the bed and left the old mattress cover on there. He did throw up on it once – and we cleaned it as best we could, but we plan on throwing it away (it’s old). It is good to know about the laundry. We cleaned his box daily, but did not know it was best to dump all litter out and wash the box out – we will def do that. The 4 days is also good to know. Our internal medicine vet said 48 hours – but I like to err on the extreme side of caution. Hopefully, there wasn’t too much left in his system when we let him out. I was diagnosed with a lung issue and have to start taking a steroid myself – which is partly why I’m so anxious. My husband will be administering and cleaning up, but I want him to be safe.

        Is there a preferred cleaner you use to disinfect surfaces? I’ve seen recs of anything from bleach to detergent to just soap and water. We’ve been using lysol wipes. I don’t want to vacuum up the litter that gets on the floor, so I’m thinking careful sweeping and mopping is best.

        Maestro did throw up on our fabric couch yesterday, which freaked me out (no great way of washing it), but I’d hope it was out of his system by yesterday. It appeared to be a hairball, along with some food/liquid vs. the bile he was throwing up before we started treatment. Maestro is also a drooler when happy – any time you pay attention to him, you or the furniture will be wet!. And then I have another cat that likes to eat food vomit (yuck) and is our house groomer, so keeping Maestro separated those first few days seems the way to go.

        Research tells me it’s repeated, long term exposures that are the bigger concern, so hopefully we can minimize this with even more precautions, like you suggested.

        It has only been a week on both the chemo and steroid, but we are already noticing a difference in him. He had lost quite a bit of weight and was getting very bony, but he seems to be plumping up – we notice when petting him. He has a ferocious appetite and more energy than he’s had in quite a long time. He seems to be doing much better than I am! We are thinking maybe the steroid is making that difference – not sure how quickly it acts.

        Thank you again – we will read up about Boofy. I’m so glad you got extra years with her and it sounds like they were good ones for her.

        • Hi TL – just a few more comments for you…

          our protocol here in Australia is different than what Maestro is on. Here we have a three week cycle where Boofy would get a tablet on days 1 – 4, a blood test on day 18 and start a new cycle on day 22 (new day 1). Our biological half life was four days. If your feline oncologist says 48 hours, I’d take that timing. Of course the person you actually need to talk to is your primary care physician treating you for your lung issue.

          I would clean and store the litterbox between isolation stays, I didn’t wash it everyday. Again with our protocol the timing was different – our isolation was one week out of every three.

          I use a product called BAM for cleaning surfaces – not sure if it’s in your country. Because of my back, I would have to put Boofy up on the kitchen counter go get the pill down so I used this disinfectant spray and let it stand a couple of minutes before wiping it off and then rinsing with clean water. I used regular floor washing detergent in her room and definitely had a packet of Lysol or equivalent wipes for quick clean ups. In all these situations you just want something – the detergent – to lift the chemical residue whilst you wipe it away. The chemical itself isn’t working on the Chlorambucil. There probably isn’t a lot of litter spillage, so again, if you can control the dust, gentle sweeping should be fine with a damp mop over the area afterwards. If it’s going to be dusty, just spray a fine mist over the litter before sweeping.

          One of the interesting things about treating cats for cancer, is that it is remarkably similar to treating humans. Difference is three years remission is a long time for a cat but not much compared to a human life span. Keep in mind the repeated long term exposures you talk about are probably at much higher doses.

          As for noticing a difference, well very likely you’re seeing the actions of the steroid which is very good at keeping up the appetite but don’t dismiss the Chlorambucil/Leukeran. If you’ve caught the lymphoma early, it is very treatable.

          We did have three good years and in the end, it actually happened rather quickly. She did not suffer.

          It sounds like Maestro is already responding well. I wish you plenty more of those positive days. You’ve got this!!

    • My cat is the same age and is suspected to have the same thing, though we chose no biopsy. SCL and has dealt with IBD over the years. It was 90-some percent they felt certain it was that so we chose chlorambucil.

      That being said, make sure you have anti-nausea on hand. Cats handle chemo very well, but giving them an anti-nausea prior will help (I do ondansetron as that helps a great deal with nausea from chemo) but I also have cerenia on hand. My girl uses both.

      It’s a scary battle. Do research. But honestly, for me it was worth it. I second guessed myself often and sought advice through IBD Facebook groups. It was up and down and you handle each thing as you go. Talk to your vet and ask questions. It took a good eight weeks or so (which may take less or a little more depending) before I saw a difference. I have a fairly happy cat whose stool is pretty well formed every time and vomiting much less and is happy. She’s on 2mg chlorambucil every other day, 5mg pred every day, ondansetron and cerenia. I also give her a probiotic (human grade, one cap) and it has been instrumental I believe in helping her stool and gut health. Hoping I may be able to cut back at some point with her meds, though!

      As far as your fear, I felt the same. But it gets easier. Gloves and face mask to clean litter box. Gloves for any accidents. If she licks you, it’s okay.. just wash up good. I barely use gloves anymore for litterbox.. I just scrub good. It’s out of their system in 48 hours until they get the next dose. And no worries as far as petting your kitty! I could never stop that or not let her lay with me. I’m just conscious (and sometimes not so much) of where. She has her spots! You’ll be okay.

      • Thank you, Meghan! I will have to check out those FB groups – as I could really use a support system right now. Some folks think I’m nuts, but Maestro really is like a child to me and I’m going through much of the same fear, feeling angry, sadness, etc. I’m so sorry to hear your girl is going through the same thing, but I’m glad to hear she is doing fairly well. Maestro threw up on the couch yesterday and even though it has been almost a week since his first/last dose, I still wigged out and wore gloves. I imagine it gets easier and you calm down the longer you do this and the more you know. Right now I”m in that phase of – what cleaners do I use? How do I best clean furniture? Do I use bleach or just soap? OMG he threw up – what does that mean? Is it bad, is it normal? Then of course I worry about his two little brothers – they are a close bunch, very affectionate with each other and always wanting to be near us.

        We are giving Maestro 6mg of the Chlorambucil every 2 weeks – he hates pills/capsules and the vet said they’ve had as much success with that regimen. I think it works better for him since our vet suggested we isolate him from the other cats during the first 48 hours after each dose. It has only been one week, but we are noticing a difference. He seems to be gaining weight (or he’s less bony when we pet him) and his energy levels have increased noticeably. His stool is starting to look more formed the last couple days (still soft, but not the runs). The probiotic is a great suggestion – I will look into that!

        Thank you again – this really does help to hear. How long has your kitty been in treatment?

        • I very much get that fear and anxiety! Everything is so new and unexpected. I’m happy to hear he’s having a good response to the meds so far! Unfortunately vomiting may still occur.. my girl also deals with a megacolon and low motility so it can still happen.

          As far as cleaning, dove had great suggestions, but I was using soap and water and a spray from Better Life for stains and odors. I’m sure there are some good disinfectant style ones that might help. My girl once had straight up diarrhea on the couch. Awful! For firming up stool, I’m trying to give her more cooked meat (though you need to do research as far as balancing their food with proper nutrients) and as I mentioned the human grade probiotics (with s boulardii in it which helps firm it up).

          My girl, July btw, has been on chlorambucil since mid Feb. That being said, she was doing well but she did have to go to the vet yesterday. They think her spleen is enlarged.. so now a little worried.. but keeping my fingers crossed it’s a more minor reason.

          My best advice is find the support and knowledge from people dealing with the same, do your research, and don’t be afraid to call your vet. A lot. I did! Haha It can be scary at times but take it one day at a time.

  18. Hello, I just found this site as i’m searching frantically for answers… About two weeks ago my CAT, Ramona of 14years was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma. The tumor is located in her neck/throat area. She also has a Mast Cell tumor located at the base of her ear. The most concerning one is the Squamous Cell Carcinoma.
    In order to gather as much information, I have taken her to numerous specialist and a holistic vet. I also took her to the Cancer Center. They did more test, – they said the cancer has not spread , it seems to be localized in that one area in her neck. Although they did see a spot on her lungs in the x-ray, but are not sure if that is cancer or not, they would have to do a CT Scan to determine , which i am not going to do at this time. They said that surgery is not a good idea or even possible because of the delicate area in which the tumor is located. The options that they recommended are; Radiation, or a drug called PALLADIA. Radiation sounds horrifying, and i don’t want to put my cat through that. I am leaning towards the Palladia , but I have not been able to find much data on the success rates with Cats. I see a lot of info regarding Dogs.

    Also, when i went to the Holistic Vet he gave me these medications: CYTO-ESS , BRM ( HERBS IN PILL FORM) AND – COLOSTRUM ( LIQUID). I started giving them to Ramona about one week ago. She likes them very much. QUESTION: If i start giving her Palladia , is it ok to continue giving her these natural medications as well?

    Brief history about Ramona:

    – all her blood test / thyroid /lymphoma came back NORMAL. She seems to be in perfect health except for these two tumors. As a 14yr old cat she likes to sleep a lot , but then has bouts of activity – running around jumping etc.
    – She has had an ongoing issue of throwing up – The last time i took her to the VET about it was a year ago, then i changed her food to Halo, and stopped giving her the hard food because it seemed she was not chewing it and digesting properly. Since last year she has lost one pound. from 9lbs to 8lbs She continues to throw up sometimes twice a week, food or hairball.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I did ask the DR. at the Cancer Center , but they did not know anything about the natural medications i was given ,and if they would be safe to combine them with Palladia.
    I just feel really confused with all the info/lack of. I want to make the right decision for Ramona. THANK YOU

    • I’m glad you and Ramona have found us. It’s not the quickest board so it may take a bit of time to get responses. My Boofy is now gone 3 months and we fought lymphoma, so I cannot talk about specifics with you but do want to share some big points. You are now part of a high stakes chemistry experiment. There are no right or wrong answers, what works for one may not work for another. Some people look for ‘natural’ remedies/medicine. Personally I feel they’re for prevention or remission – again, up to you. Remember you are the customer and deserve service and information. You can change vets/oncologists, you can ask for different protocols if one doesn’t work for you and Ramona. You need to be an active, learned advocate for your girl. Get a small notebook and write down questions as they come to you. Tell the vet/oncologist about problems. Not eating? There’s a drug for that. Lethargic? Possibly a B12 shot will help. If they say no surgery ask what the outcome will be if it’s not attempted and also ask if there’s someone else who would do it. We made it clear to our vet that we were in for the fight. I know it didn’t answer your questions but hope it has been of some help.

      • Thank you for your response. At this time I’m trying to gather all the info I can , before making a decision. There’s sooo much.

      • I am extremely alarmed reading this. We just got our first bottle of Chlorambucil 2.2 mg capsules today. We have other cat’s. My vet did not tell me anything about keeping our chemo cat separate. He has to have the pill every 3 days so he would be separate the rest of his life. He would hate that. I can’t make him live that way. We weren’t told any of this. I’m concerned for my daughters safety as well.

    • Good news it’s localized meaning now is the best time to fight. It’s really a personal decision depending on the cats age, health and personality. I would recommend a Chinese alternative medicine oncologist or CAM oncologist. They specialize in alternative therapies in combination with traditional cancer treatment. I went all the way to Michigan for my vet. She worked very well with the cancer hospital in my state to adjust Chinese herbals depending on the chemo and weekly vitals. Most CAM will want to see the pet at least once and will be in contact with your primary oncologist in your area. This is best as they have the most experience knowing what herbals are safe with the medications. It sounds like your herbalist may know as well? Most animal hospital doctors are not experienced with herbals or alternative medicine but they seemed very receptive to working in combination with my CAM vet. I understand that radiation and CT sound scary but radiation it is an effective method of targeting cancer cells directly without injuring the rest of the cat. The cat won’t be radioactive as the beam is targeted. Our kitty handled CT like a champ. CT gave the vets more clarity on what exactly and where exactly the cancer was how big it was with high resolution. Chemotherapy is internal and you will need to take personal precautions with waste material during treatment. Usually the vet will recommend gloves and a mask when cleaning the litter box. I don’t know anything specific on the herbals you mentioned and would recommend you seek a specialist to get that answer. Unfortunately chemo was our only option. From my experience my cat did very well with vet visits and chemo. We only noticed some minor whisker loss and we were fortunate not to have any nausea. He was on Chinese medicine, and other supportive supplements through the whole process for which I think helped with side effects and overall blood support. Don’t be afraid to ask your oncologist a lot of questions. It’s a scary time and they know that. Icatcare.org and a few other sites give a great overview of cancer therapy treatments including radiation and chemo. Best of luck to you and your kitty and this site is great for support.

  19. Hi everyone,

    I just commented here yesterday for the first time in a reply to Wendy’s story from back in January. Marm had been diagnosed with probable lymphoma and we’d just started treating it while waiting for tests to come back to confirm. I wanted to give everyone who may have stumbled across it an update. We lost my sweet snuggly Marmalade suddenly last night. His chemotherapy journey was just starting out, and I was thinking optimistically we’d get a year with him.

    I live in the attic of a two-family house, with me and my Oskar and Marm in the attic, my grandmother on the second floor, and my mom on the first. I was down in my mom’s apartment for all of two hours maybe to order pizza with her, and we’d started watching a Hallmark movie just to relax. At a commercial I told her I was going to run upstairs and check on Marm, because I don’t like leaving him for too long. When I reached my living room he was lying on the floor by an armchair and unresponsive and not moving. It was shocking and scary and I felt so bad that I’d left for such a small window and something happened to him right then. I work from home so I’m literally with him all day, and it killed me that I wasn’t there for him.

    But he’s safe now, and no longer hurting from the mass in his chest that was making it hard to breathe at times. And he was such a happy and sweet little guy his whole life, both the snuggliest cat ever (he even gave kisses) and also, especially in his younger days, a complete daredevil who loved to climb. He’d jumped out (first-floor) open windows a few times just to play in the yard and give me an absolute panic attack until I found him. And he trilled happily and was such a little talker. He was just really special.

    I’m happy I found this community even just for the brief time I did. I wish all of you the absolute best in your journeys with your sweet babies. I’m trying to focus my energy now on making sure Oskar feels safe and less confused about everything. He’s almost 12 and had lived with Marmalade for 10 years, since Marm was a baby. Thank you all for your love and support. Know that I’m here to offer the same.

  20. Hi everyone. First off, thank you to everyone who has been sharing their stories. My kitty – Bailey – was diagnosed with large cell lymphoma. She is 12 years old and started steroid and chemo treatment today. She was barely eating in the few days before, and is now nauseated. Happy to have the option to try to make her feel better, but feeling bad that she is taking day 1 of treatment so hard. Also, vet informed us *after* treating her, that apparently her rbc is low… Fingers crossed she is feeling better soon. Just wanted to share with others who understand what we are going through. Thanks.

    • {{HUGS}} to you and Bailey. It’s a scary thing to face. Please forgiveme if I just give some unsolicited advice. First see your vet to get something for nausea.
      Second ask questions, take notes, research and ask more questions.
      Treatment is a living, breathing experiment, there is no right or wrong. If something isn’t working ask for a change. I know it sounds harsh but you’re still a paying customer and you deserve service. This includes drugs/side effects, schedules, protocols. Nothing should be off the table.
      You CAN change vets.
      Really pay attention to Bailey’s signals. The longer you two fight this together the more sympatico the relationship. I didn’t think I’d be able to tell when it was time, but in the end, yes, I could.
      I urge you to be an active partner in treatment and advocate on Bailey’s behalf.
      Please give chin-scritches to Bailey for me.

      • Thank you very much Dovemck. Anti-nausea meds will be here today or tomorrow. She is still a bit food adverse, but is drinking water and hanging out by her food, so at least smelling it isn’t bothering her now. Hoping the appetite stimulant will kick in soon. I gave her some chin scratches and she was purring. 🙂

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