Just a quick little note for consistency… Phoenix continues to do well, although after his visit to the vet, he no longer takes his pills in the pill pockets. He’s figured out what’s going on. So I’m hand-pilling him. He’s very good about it. He knows he gets a treat after. He’s felt as though he’s almost normal-cat-shaped lately, so I coaxed him into getting on the scale with me this morning. We have achieved 10 pounds!! Another half a pound or so, and he’ll be back up to his maximum recorded weight. He put up with a claw trim last night, and other than a slightly ruffled coat (I need to run the silicone curry brush over him), and the shaved bits still taking forever to grow back in, he’s almost “normal” I think.
This makes me happy.
As of tomorrow, Phoenix will have been on a 5mg dose of prednisolone for 30 days. So, we scheduled in an appointment for him to be weighed officially, generally checked over, and get his prescription renewed.
He’s been doing pretty well lately. I feel like he’s hit a plateau in his weight, which is frustrating. He should be more than 10 and a half pounds, and he’s just not, but in general he plays and has a cheerful, laid back attitude on life (unless instigated by Shadow into a tag or boxing match). He’s had a few somewhat lethargic spells over the last month, but in general I knew he’d gained a bit of weight, his coat was looking good and his paw pads seemed much less swollen.
The results are as follows: he weighed in at 9.6 pounds (and that was after 8 and a half hours of fasting), his temperature was not remarkable, his teeth and eyes looked good, his heart and lungs sounded good, his paw pads are a teeny bit puffy but better. The vet still couldn’t find his spleen by palpitating, and his lymph nodes are still drastically reduced (almost not locatable, definitely not biopsy-able sized).
So, we’re leaving things as is. He’s going to continue the current dose of prednisolone for another 50 days. We’re going to hope he continues to gain weight back up to at least his highest point (which was 10.4), and make sure he’s still enjoying life and being well-spoiled.
Like I told the doctor, the part of me that has had experience with human cancer especially wants to get the nasty badness out of him. The part of me that is terrified at putting cats under any sort of general anesthesia is willing to wait if this treatment continues to work. The doctor is excited that such a relatively mild treatment is working. Steroids are hard on any body, although cats can handle oral type, and prednisolone especially, relatively well. They do compromise the immune system though, and so some plans to train the cats to harness and leash, and take them on park outings this summer have been shelved. Insect bites and other outdoor flora and fauna could be especially hard for him to fight the effects of.
Overall, I’m very happy. Phoenix was very happy not to be poked or prodded any more, or shaved again, or had blood drawn. And he was especially happy to have access to food again! More than anything, having his appetite back is probably going to help him.
So. Today we took Phoenix in to have his spleen aspirated, in order to test the acquired tissue and determine the type of cancer.
The vet called less than 2 hours after I dropped him off and started the conversation with, “So, Phoenix is looking really good… ” at which point I agreed that he’d been eating better, was being a very good boy and eating the pill pockets with his prednisolone in, and in general had a good energy level and appetite. He was also waking me on a regular schedule for two breakfasts. (I have determined my cat is at least part hobbit, but that’s hardly a post…)
He agreed that he looked very good, and had gained weight and had good energy and… was going to drive us all crazy. “I can’t find his spleen by standard palpitation and obviously don’t want to just go poking around with a needle. We have a few options…”
Those options involved getting an ultrasound tech back out, or perhaps even exploratory surgery. But in general, since he was responding so well to the steroid and his lymph nodes had even shrunk (which was a good thing – yay shrinkage!/bad thing – one less thing to try to aspirate!), perhaps we should just stick with the least invasive treatment method. If it is lymphoma, well… eventually, that will become obvious. If it’s not… If it’s the mass cell… perhaps the steroids will be enough for a time, and we can avoid the splenectomy for a bit.
In some ways, it’s utterly frustrating. I still don’t know what’s wrong with my boy.
In other ways, it’s honestly probably the least stressful for him. He’s happy. He’s getting wet food almost as much as he wants it, and nibbling at dry when he wants, and treats when he likes. He’s encouraging his sister to play tag and other kitten games, and even occasionally coaxes us into cuddling, scritching, petting, or otherwise loving on him. (He has to work so hard for those extra snuggles, we are heartless I’m telling you.)
He’s too young for any of this. But I have to keep reminding myself, other than feeling low on energy or just tired… he doesn’t know what’s wrong. If we can help him feel well, that’s our job as pet parents. To help him feel his best and take care of him. So I have to try my best to live in the moment, do our best to help him feel well, and try not to drive myself crazy with wondering exactly what is wrong with him.