Chemotherapy for Cats

Feebee cat in blue chair

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

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

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

How chemotherapy works

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

Most cats tolerate chemotherapy well

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

Support your cat’s immune system

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

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

Supplements and herbs

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

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

How will you know whether chemotherapy was successful?

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

My personal experience with feline cancer

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

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

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

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

Photo ©Ingrid King

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881 Comments on Chemotherapy for Cats

  1. TERI
    March 16, 2020 at 10:27 am (3 months ago)

    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?

    • Jeanette McKenzie
      March 16, 2020 at 7:29 pm (3 months ago)

      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.

      • Teri
        March 17, 2020 at 10:29 am (2 months ago)

        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!!!

      • mary murphy
        May 8, 2020 at 7:01 am (3 weeks ago)

        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.

        • Dovemck
          May 8, 2020 at 11:40 am (3 weeks ago)

          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).

  2. Mary
    March 1, 2020 at 11:24 pm (3 months ago)

    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.

    • Kristi
      March 4, 2020 at 10:03 pm (3 months ago)

      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.

  3. Kristi
    November 2, 2019 at 8:56 am (7 months ago)

    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.

    • Melissa R
      February 12, 2020 at 6:34 pm (4 months ago)

      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+.

      • Kristi
        February 13, 2020 at 12:19 pm (4 months ago)

        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.

  4. Stephen
    October 28, 2019 at 12:02 pm (7 months ago)

    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

    • Tired
      December 24, 2019 at 6:12 pm (5 months ago)

      Hey Stephen, saw you on the yahoo cat cancer group. Hope Brownie is hanging in.

  5. Stephen
    October 15, 2019 at 8:27 am (8 months ago)

    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.

  6. Stephen
    October 14, 2019 at 1:35 pm (8 months ago)

    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

    • dove
      October 14, 2019 at 5:11 pm (8 months ago)

      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.

      • Stephen
        October 15, 2019 at 8:27 am (8 months ago)

        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.

      • Stephen
        October 15, 2019 at 8:45 am (8 months ago)

        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

    • Stephen
      October 15, 2019 at 8:48 am (8 months ago)

      Brownie’s swollen lymph node is all but gone. Took off pain med. Now eats lots of dr cat food.

  7. TL
    July 24, 2019 at 2:29 pm (10 months ago)

    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.

    • Dovemck
      July 25, 2019 at 7:18 am (10 months ago)

      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.

      • TL
        July 26, 2019 at 1:20 pm (10 months ago)

        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.

        • dovemck
          July 27, 2019 at 8:14 am (10 months ago)

          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!!

    • Meghan
      July 25, 2019 at 7:38 am (10 months ago)

      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.

      • TL
        July 26, 2019 at 1:41 pm (10 months ago)

        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?

        • Meghan
          July 28, 2019 at 7:57 am (10 months ago)

          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.

  8. ASIA
    July 22, 2019 at 10:31 pm (10 months ago)

    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

    • Dovemck
      July 23, 2019 at 6:53 am (10 months ago)

      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.

      • Asia
        July 23, 2019 at 9:19 pm (10 months ago)

        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.

      • Kristi
        November 1, 2019 at 8:46 pm (7 months ago)

        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.

    • Tia
      July 23, 2019 at 9:55 am (10 months ago)

      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. 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.

  9. Colleen
    June 1, 2019 at 10:01 am (12 months ago)

    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.

  10. Kim
    May 8, 2019 at 7:51 pm (1 year ago)

    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.

    • Dovemck
      May 9, 2019 at 6:30 am (1 year ago)

      {{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.

      • Kim
        May 9, 2019 at 7:39 am (1 year ago)

        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. 🙂

        • dovemck
          July 23, 2019 at 6:03 pm (10 months ago)

          thinking of you and Bailey <3


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