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Avatar universal

Should I put my cat through chemo?

My cat is 12 years old and has recently been diagnosed with a mammary adenocarcinoma. She had the tumor excised, then had radical surgery to remove mammary gland and tissue from her. The vet said that chemotherapy was the next step, but to first find out if if would increase estimated survival time, otherwise there would be no point in proceeding with the chemotherapy. She gave me some statistics from a study that put surgery + adjunctive doxorubicin treatment at 441 days mean survival time. This would indicate that there would be no gain from the chemotherapy, but does not specify if this is with just tumor excision or so called 'radical surgery'. I was wondering if anyone could offer any information on this - my cat is in good health otherwise, the tumor was less than 2cm in diameter (the vet reckoned i caught it early). I would go ahead if I thought there was benefit and extended life expectancy, but after two major operations I don't want to put my cat through any unnecessary suffering for little or no benefit.
89 Responses
Avatar universal
I realise I should have posted this in the expert forum but it has exceeded the limit for posts for the day.
228686 tn?1211554707
The problem with chemo and pets is that they don't understand the concept of "being made ill to get better".

There's an aspect of cancer that involves "the will to survive". A good cancer doctor will tell a patient that a large part of the battle with cancer is the emotional part.

So it's always hard to go by just statistics when you're choosing to do chemotherapy.

I will ask how long it has been since the last surgery? The problem with the more radical surgeries is they tend to have a long term effect on both the immune system as well as the emotional well being of your cat.

So if you've had a decent length of time since that surgery in which kitty could recover... then it would be understandable if you chose to go with the chemo.

From a personal perspective...

I wouldn't do it. But that's me. I've got my own philosophy on animal medicine.

My personal choice in no way will change the outcome of what you choose to do and is only based on gut feeling mixed with a number of factors dealing with statistics and animal psychology.

If you do go ahead with chemo, I do hope it does work out.

Keep us posted.

Avatar universal
I work for a vet. My cat was diagnosed with a mast cell tumor in ear 2 weeks ago. It was removed. The question was put to me being in the business would I put my beloved 4 year old cat thru chemo.....NO!!!! Cats do not handle things the way dogs do. They are very sensitive.Would I torture my happy cat with poison in his body and make him sick to buy a couple months or a year. NO.... My cat will hopefully still remain as happy and loved and content to go out on my screened patio to sun himself for alot more time. Messing with cats is torture to them. Dogs any attention usually is good attention. But cats do not like to be poked and proded.I have seen alot of cats with breast cancer and unfortunately even with surgery this comes back once open body to air. Please just love and spoil your cat for whatever time it has left. Do not make its last days poked and proded for our benefit to buy a couple months or years. KEEP HER HAPPY AND STRESS FREE. ITS A BETTER WAY TO LIVE HER LIFE. ITS THE BEST MOST LOVING THING YOU CAN DO. WHEN YOU NOTICE SHES IN PAIN AND NO LONGER LOVES LIFE DO THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO FOR HER AND SEND HER TO REST AT RAINBOW BRIDGE.
228686 tn?1211554707
While I agree with the overall sentiment, there are cats who are more handleable then others

(I've met a few. They tend to form support groups that focus on ways to become more difficult and intractable when being handled by humans with medicines!!!)

So do take your cat's temperament into consideration when planning difficult or long term medical procedures.
Avatar universal
Hi Mimi,

Thanks for the advice, but I have made the decision to go ahead with the chemo. This is after much consultation with the specialist cancer vet. He assured me that the drug that he uses very rarely has an adverse effect on cats, the danger being possible kidney damage, but this is very rare. His utmost priority is the pets quality of life. The dose used is not proportianate to say, what a human would have. I am assured that there is very low risk of my cat getting sick or suffering side effects.  My cat responded really well to the surgery, if anything she is enjoying all the extra fuss and attention! If I thought she would really be in distress because of it, I would not go ahead. I'm not taking this decision lightly, and its costing me an absolute fortune, but if it can stave off any secondary tumors and give my cat the few extra years she deserves, I'm willing to give it a go.

Thanks for everyone's advice!
587315 tn?1333552783
This is good news!  I was hoping that you'd write back with this news!!!!  I'm very glad that you decided to go ahead with the chemo.  You can always see how a few treatments go to see how well she tolerates it.  From what I've heard, animals have fewer side effects than we do.  

I hope that things work out well for your kitty!!  Please come back with some updates on how you and your kitty are doing, it might help someone else that comes on here with the same questions about putting their own cats on chemo.

Take care.........and best wishes to you!!
Avatar universal
My cat had her first dose of chemo yesterday. She was a bit drowsy at first as she needed to be sedated but she soon perked up and was even eating, the vet said she would probably be off her food for 24hours. She was twitching a little bit yesterday but she seemed back to her usual self this morning when she woke me up for breakfast!

So far so good, although I will need to keep an eye on her as her immune system will be slightly weakened. She will have blood tests at my usual vets in between treatments, and more tests at the cancer vet just before the next dose, in 3 weeks. They will look at kidney function and white blood count, and if this gets too low they will stop treatment. I am confident my cat is in the best possible hands and that I have now done everything possible to combat this horrible disease. Its a case of wait and see in terms of how effective it will be, but in terms of side effects, I haven't really witnessed any so far.
228686 tn?1211554707
Thanks for posting her treatment; it will be helpful to others to read what you're experiencing with this!

Keep us posted, and I'm glad your kitty has gotten off to such a positive start!
587315 tn?1333552783
That's great!!!  =D  It sounds like she's tolerating the chemo well!!  Great start!!

My heart goes out to you, dealing with very sick kitties is very rough.  I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've had to go through it, too.  What has helped me to get through it, was knowing in my heart that I was doing everything in my power to help my cats-treatment, testing, etc.  That sounds like what you're doing!!  Your cat is lucky to have you!!  

Best wishes, prayers, and hugs to you and kitty!!
Avatar universal
After numerous blood tests, my cat still has a low white blood count. So the vet has suggested acupuncture to try to get it back up to normal levels. She has had three blood tests so far since the first chemo session, and her results are still not back to normal. So i will probably have to go with the acupuncture and hope for the best. I don't want to stop the treatment now as she has come so far. The cancer vet has said he will reduce the dose next time and it is normal for cats to go through this but it still worries me. I will see what the vet has to say about the acupuncture, it is supposed to get the cats results back to normal. Not as smooth a ride as we'd hoped for, but we'll keep trying!
587315 tn?1333552783
Thanks for the update!  Did you get a chance to post this on the expert forum?  Let me know, cuz I'm curious about what they have to say about it.  I once had a cat that had breast cancer, too-we didn't do chemo.  I want to hear how well the chemo works, so please keep posting updates.  Your updates could really help others that visit this forum w/ questions about chemo.

Ya know, they make a drug for people that boosts the white blood cell count and I'm wondering whether cats can be put on it!!!  Ask your vet about it.

Good luck!
242912 tn?1402543492
COMMUNITY LEADER
Yes, yes, ZQ is right.  There is a drug to boost the white cell count in chemo patients.  

Will be thinking of you and hoping the acupuncture is successful if you decide to go that route.  

Very Best Wishes!
Avatar universal
I kind of wonder what ever happened here, since this was over two years ago now.

I ran across this because my cat is taking chemotherapy.  I was hesitant at first because I did not want my cat sick from the medicine, etc.  That would not be the quality of life that I would want for her -- but I thought I'd give it one chance.

My cat had a rectal tumor which made it impossible for her to deficate.  She would have died in days.  It was inoperable.  They gave her an enima and then, the next day we tried the chemotherapy under my reservations.

It could not have been a better decision.

She suffered none of the possible side effects -- and in fact, it made the tumor shrink within 48 hours -- I couldn't believe it!  Within just a few days she was eating and drinking and using the letter box.  More important, she was purring and jumping up on the couch and laying in the window and doing all of the things that she had done before the onset of her illness.

At least in her case, it was totally worth it -- for her, and for me.  

It has now been two and a half months that she has been healthy.  She continues to enjoy every day.  I don't know what will eventually happen (the vet says that the cancer will invariably eventually return), but the treatments were DEFINITELY worth it anyway.
Avatar universal
My cat Daffy was diagnosed with lymphoma about four months ago, very close to his pancreas so the vets were unable to remove all the cancerous cells by operating as too many main blood vessels are close by. It took nearly seven weeks to finally diagnose as apparently the stain tests were not as clear as they should be. Thankfully the prognosis was lymphoma, I say thankfully as the other option would not have responded very well to Chemotherapy so I believed this was the best possible outcome for my baby.
He was put on a course of Vincristine, cyclophospomine and dubiroxicobin (I think that's the correct spelling, apologies if not). To begin with all seemed to be going ok, although he did have a bad time after the first vincristine, however we are now four months in to what should have been a 26 week period, and only just half way through. This due to Daff's inability to tolerate the Chemo very well, don't get me wrong for the majority of the time he has had a good quality of life, it was just the odd couple of days, over the last few weeks after his 3rd Vincristine treatment I have watched him lose nearly 1kg in weight (luckily he was a big cat to begin with and now weighs in at a normal 5kg, (not normal for him though. I write this having not long had Daffy back from a couple of days stay at the vets on a drip......he became extremely dehydrated, I had him at the vets Friday were blood tests were taken and all normal, two days later I'm taking him back in panic thinking please don't let this be it......
Avatar universal
My cat Daffy was diagnosed with lymphoma about four months ago, very close to his pancreas so the vets were unable to remove all the cancerous cells by operating as too many main blood vessels are close by. It took nearly seven weeks to finally diagnose as apparently the stain tests were not as clear as they should be. Thankfully the prognosis was lymphoma, I say thankfully as the other option would not have responded very well to Chemotherapy so I believed this was the best possible outcome for my baby.
He was put on a course of Vincristine, cyclophospomine and dubiroxicobin (I think that's the correct spelling, apologies if not). To begin with all seemed to be going ok, although he did have a bad time after the first vincristine, however we are now four months in to what should have been a 26 week period, and only just half way through. This due to Daff's inability to tolerate the Chemo very well, don't get me wrong for the majority of the time he has had a good quality of life, it was just the odd couple of days, over the last few weeks after his 3rd Vincristine treatment I have watched him lose nearly 1kg in weight (luckily he was a big cat to begin with and now weighs in at a normal 5kg, (not normal for him though. I write this having not long had Daffy back from a couple of days stay at the vets on a drip......he became extremely dehydrated, I had him at the vets Friday were blood tests were taken and all normal, two days later I'm taking him back in panic thinking please don't let this be it......
Avatar universal
....to continue, luckily the drip worked and Daffy was well enough to come home. Obviously until his body has time to recover he will not be continuing with the Chemo, despite all his blood results being normal. 36 hours after he came home, I now find myself syringing water into his mouth as he has no real desire to eat, drink or interact. It has been an emotional roller coaster for me and for Daffy I'm sure, and even though the tumour appears to be shrinking, I'm not convinced continuing with the treatment is in Daffy's best interest. I'm struggling with this because he's my baby and any glimmer of hope I want to hang on to, but over the last four weeks he just doesn't seem happy or comfortable, I have paid just on £2000 now for treatment and tests so far, I've re-mortgaged and will continue with treatment IF it's what HE wants and IF it will give him a good quality of life, right now I just don't know.....my vet and the veterinary nurses have been fantastic. Any advice please?
874521 tn?1424116797
COMMUNITY LEADER
hi and welcome. I am so sorry for the problems Daffy is having and what brought you to our site. its really a hard call to make, I know I was there once too....I guess all we can really do is monitor the progress and quality of life, if Daffy isn't able to tolerate the chemo than IMO its just not fair to keep up with the administration, even the chemo isn't a cure its only buying a little longer time...but that time has to be of good quality don't you agree?
I send you both my love and all the best wishes in the world to help you with this decision and I know its a heartbreaking one.
I encourage you to read thru our archives and what other cat people have decided along the way...there are some links right at the bottom of this page too.
I will also send you a link to our holistic Vet on Medhelp, would gave some advise for holistic options...♥

http://www.medhelp.org/posts/Animal-Health---General/Should-I-put-my-cat-through-chemo/show/924231
Avatar universal
My sincerest thanks for such a swift response which is greatly appreciated, as is the sound advice. I'm currently syringing fluid into Daff to ensure he is as comfortable as possible. We have our follow up appointment with the vet on Sunday, I think at which point I will ask for another scan to see if and how much the Chemo has shrunk the tumour. My poor baby has survived a fibrosarcoma (successfully removed 5 1/2 years ago, he was shot by an idiot with a pellet gun (twice) and survived both times, had several stints with a feline behaviourist due to stress related problems, and to top that has stress related FLUTD, if the proverbial nine lives of a cat exist then I'm not sure how many he has left, one thing I do know, I'll carry on until he tells me he's had enough.....I think he deserves that much at least
Avatar universal
My cat Simba was diagnosed with Erythroleukemia and we were told she would need a blood transfusion and then start chemo treatment, but that the chance for survival (she's only 4 months old) would be two to three months with this type of Lukemia.  Has anyone out there have any experience with this and if the diagnosis was accurate, I understand that every cat's situation is different, she's a Siamese.

Avatar universal
Hi,

Our cat was just diagnosed with erythroleukemia as well.  We were wondering what you decided to do treatment-wise for your cat, and what the outcome was.   Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  

Thank you.  
2139894 tn?1336087486
My 12 yrs old male cat was just diagnosed with Lymphoma today. I am devastated. The vet is going to call me tomorrow with all of my options. I desperately want to do Chemo but only if it will extend his life and it will be quality! Any advise is welcome!
874521 tn?1424116797
COMMUNITY LEADER
I am so very sorry for the decision you find yourself facing, I can only imagine how hard a one it is to make...you want whats best for your kitty without putting him through unnecessary pain if it doesn't give the wanted results. I'm afraid I can't answer this for you, but I do recommend a site where there are others that have faced this same question and by reading I hope you will find the answer you are looking for. all the best of luck to you both♥

http://www.felinelymphomacaregivers.org/cases.html
506791 tn?1439842983
We may be facing a similar decision with Miss Kessie, about whom I've written a bot the last month or so.

Hopefully, we won't, but it is better I think to live with making the Final Decision a little too early, than too late.

I wish for you and kitty the best possible outcome.
Avatar universal
My wife and i just lost our cat who had chemo about 6the yrs ago. If we did not give our cat chemo our 5 yr old daughter would not have any memories of the wonderful little guy.
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