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goofygirlinva

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Posts: 1,132
 #1 
The month of March sucks. My beloved Blackie passed away on March 29, 2008. My mother passed away on March 8 many years ago, just a few days before her birthday. My friend Kelley passed away on March 12 several years ago. And now it appears that the month of March will take another one of my kitties.

I just learned today that my amazing Squeeker, the kitty I got just 2 days after Blackie passed away, has squamous cell carcinoma and probably has just a few weeks at the most to live. The cancer is under his tongue and the tumor is huge. It wasn't there 6 months ago, and from what I understand, these things appear suddenly and grow very quickly. That is certainly the case with Squeeker.

I took him into the vet today expecting that he simply needed a dental and that I'd be able to schedule it for next week. Instead I got the diagnosis I totally did not expect, and I am completely devastated.

This is my precious cat, the one that loved me at first sight, the one I loved back at first sight. When I walked into his room at the adoption center, he came right up to me, tail straight in the air, purring up a storm. He immediately settled down in my lap, kneading my lap in delight. At one point he even put a paw up to my face and gently caressed it, telling me he was the one I was supposed to take home with me that day. I remember it was the first day of spring and that we had a blizzard here in MN. As I sat in his room getting to know him, I remember the adoption center had the public radio station piped in to the room. The Rite of Spring was playing at that moment.

Squeeker came from the Great Kitty Rescue in the Nevada desert that I think was about 11 or 12 years ago. Yet even despite that horrible situation he found himself in, he still found it within himself to love people and other cats. He purred the instant I walked into his room on that wonderful day almost 9 years ago, and to this day he still purrs up a storm as soon as I touch him. He snuggles with me at night, he runs to greet me at the door every time I come home, and he is an incredibly affectionate, sweet and loving boy.

Squeeker is the one I took with me on my trip to southern Utah two summers ago. I figured it would be good to take him back to his roots, so to speak. Best Friends was the organization that rescued Squeeker, and since I was spending part of my trip volunteering at Best Friends, I thought it would be a great idea to take him along with me on my vacation. He was the absolute best traveling companion I could ask for and I loved having extended amounts of time just to ourselves for once (I have 4 cats in my house, including Squeeker, so sometimes it can be difficult to give all the cats the time and attention they deserve).

I was really hoping I could take Squeeker with me on another vacation sometime in the next year or so. Unfortunately, given the size of Squeeker's tumor, the vet told me today that Squeeker probably only has a couple of weeks left to live.

Squeeker's quality of life has been good so far. I brought him in to the vet because I noticed he was drooling, was in pain and was not eating a lot. But he is still active, he still wants to eat, and he still snuggles with me as I sit on the couch watching TV and in bed at night. So it isn't as though he is ready to go in the next couple of days (or at least I do not think he is).

My vet and I discussed treatment options. I could see an oncologist and put Squeeker through radiation treatment. However, given the size and location of his tumor, it is unlikely that radiation would make much of a difference. So we basically agreed that the wisest thing to do is to just give Squeeker supportive treatment with pain meds and antibiotics and for me to spend as much time as I can with him. She sent me home with pain meds and I'm hoping that they will help ease some of Squeeker's discomfort, enough to get him to eat a bit more and to enjoy a couple more weeks together.

Squeeker's Gotcha Day anniversary is March 29. That is exactly 4 weeks from today. I find myself hoping and praying that he will still be with me on the 29th. If he makes it that long, we will have had 9 years together. They've been 9 wonderful, precious years, and I will mourn deeply once he is gone.

Until then, I am going to cut back on my activities and spend as much time with Squeeker as I can. The weather here is supposed to be gorgeous this weekend - high temps in the 50s, maybe the 60s. Squeeker is one of those cats you cat take for a walk on a leash. I am going to see if he wants to go for a walk or two this weekend. I'm hoping he will and that we will have some good time together for however long he will still be here. I am going to spoil him rotten, and I am going to be sure he knows I love him to the moon and back and then some. I know he already knows this, I just want to reinforce it in the remaining time we have together.

This totally sucks. I cannot believe that my wonderful, beautiful, special boy has cancer and that he does not have much more time here on earth. This is a cat that has made a big difference in my life, and I have, without a doubt, been incredibly blessed to have known and loved him and to have been loved by him...

- Kelly 
Blackie's mom
Squeeker's mom
goofygirlinva

Registered:
Posts: 1,132
 #2 
I managed to get Squeeker to eat most of his breakfast this morning. I think he was really hungry - he didn't eat anything last night, but it still took a lot of coaxing to get him to eat his breakfast. It was good to see him eat. It tells me he is hanging in there and is not yet ready to leave this earth.

With that said...I think Squeeker is in a lot of pain and that he is truly towards the end of his life. He usually loves to sleep with me. I kept him in my bedroom last night. He slept on my bed with me as I fell asleep, but when I woke up in the middle of the night, he'd moved to underneath the bed, which tells me he is starting to go into the hiding phase. I remember Blackie went into a hiding phase a few weeks before he passed away, so to me this is telling me Squeeker is truly getting to the end of his life. I'm giving Squeeker pain meds, but I don't know how much it is helping. I just hope I can help minimize his discomfort these last few weeks & days...

Squeeker did the hiding thing again this morning after he ate his breakfast. As soon as I opened the door to let him out of his room, he went downstairs to the lower level and went into the bedroom that I never use so he could be by himself. I found him there before I left for work and made sure to tell him I love him. The good news is that Squeeker is still purring whenever I pet him. I'll know it is time to let him go once he stops purring for me...

I'm taking pictures of Squeeker each day. I don't have nearly enough pictures of him, and I decided I wanted to have at least one good picture of him each day from now until he passes away. 

- Kelly
kamc22

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Posts: 1,910
 #3 
Kelly,

I'm not coming here much lately, but when I read  your post---- all I could say to myself was "No, no, No!!"  At least I didn't start crying, though came close.

Your Squeeker has been so wonderful and cute from all you've written.  And you've given me so much comfort and support over the years as I've lost kitties and adopted new ones.  This should not be happening, he isn't even that old, just "mature" after all.  We never have them long enough, but  you have every right to expect to have him for at least nine years from when you met and it was love at first sight for both of you.

Cancer is beyond horrible; our gentle loving cats don't deserve it, we after all can't claim it's due to their life-style choices, but it's been my sad experience that it often becomes a race to see which will be fatal first- that or kidney failure.  You're now in a hospice situation, as I've been.  I'm sorry I can't help you beyond knowing just what you are going through, and what the horrible ending will be.  So unfair to wonderful you and to your adorable Sqeeker.

I think the most important thing is to make sure a kitty knows it is loved, and you are doing that beyond any doubt at all; no matter what else happens, Squeeker *knows* he is loved and adored.  So you won't be saddled with guilt or doubts or regrets in that regard.  I'm glad you are able to adjust your schedule to give him as much love and attention as possible in whatever time he has left.  Meanwhile, sigh, since no heroic treatment exists to save him (the vet told me I could have Houston's lower jaw removed when he diagnosed cancer there, but that horrified me... and Houston already had several other serious problems), make Squeeker's life as normal as possible for as long as possible.  He is still eating, which is a positive thing, when he won't or can't, the outlook could change quickly as you know.  I think the pain meds must be helping: I've read that they depress appetite, but your boy is still eating with some encouragement from you.  Take plenty of pictures, which you've said you are doing.  I say write down in a paper journal or online (with backup) as many things about him as you can, memories are so important.  I am so sorry you are contemplating a final chapter like this.

The hiding isn't a good sign, but he's still purring when you pet him, he's still eating.  So he still has some quality of life, he's not just enduring, and he's not ready to leave you (he never would be, except that now his precious body is failing through no fault of either of you).

It's possible that the vet is wrong, that a few weeks could turn into months.  It's happened with me and a few of my kitties.  But that's not a guarantee, nor I guess even a realistic hope. 

I am so sorry, Kelly.  My thoughts and prayers are with you and your beloved Sqeeker.  Since it looks like his final chapter is here, I hope it will end peacefully (like it did with my Julian and Molly) that he goes to sleep and doesn't wake up.... and may that be as far from now as possible.

Karen




goofygirlinva

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Posts: 1,132
 #4 
Hi Karen,

Thank you for your support, I truly appreciate it. You are right, the #1 thing for me is to be sure Squeeker knows he is loved and adored. I am doing my best on that end, and I am pretty sure he knows how much I cherish him. :-) 

I can say that things are a bit different today than they were on Wednesday. For starters, Squeeker's first vet is involved with a group of vets that have developed a vaccine that is still in the developmental stage but has had a lot of success with, believe it or not, curing cancer. It is particularly effective with oral squamous cell carcinoma. The procedure is to basically take enough of the tumor to make a vaccine and then give the animal a series of 3 vaccination shots over the course of a week or two. They've had success with completely eliminating the tumors and the cancer. It has not worked in all cases, but it has worked in over 70% of the cases, and they have thus far applied this treatment to almost 200 animals.

My current vet is not comfortable doing the surgery because of the location of the tumor - it is at the base of Squeeker's tongue. I don't think she realizes that the surgery does not involve completely removing the tumor but instead just taking enough of it to make the vaccine. But she is supportive of my desire to try the treatment, so at this point I am working with the vets that have developed this vaccine technology to find a vet and location that will be willing to do the surgery. I know this is not a 100% guarantee, but at this point the key ingredient is hope. As long as I have hope that there is a treatment out there that has a chance of working, and as long as it is financially viable for me to pursue this option, I feel as though I should follow up and do what I can. If we can get the surgery scheduled, it could take about a day to develop the vaccine and then another day before the first shot is administered.

Time is of the essence here, so I'm really hoping I can get this surgery done in the next week. Squeeker will need to have a feeding tube inserted while he recovers from the surgery. I think I'll be better equipped this time around to deal with the feeding tube, and as long as he is not in pain I think he will be OK with feeding him through the tube and giving him the other stuff (pain meds) he'll need to recuperate...

So that is what I am thinking. In the meantime, I think Squeeker is feeling much better - he at a LOT of food yesterday - all of his breakfast and dinner and all of the additional food I gave him last night. In addition, I put the treat jar out for him to eat out of during last night's dinner. He proceeded to scarf up as much of the treats as he could, both last night and this morning, LOL! He is not hiding from me anymore, and while he did not sleep with me last night, he did sleep in his favorite kitty bed and is still purring up a storm. The pain meds are definitely helping with this, and as long as I can manage his pain, I think his quality of life will be OK, at least for awhile...

- Kelly
Blackie's mom
Squeeker's mom

goofygirlinva

Registered:
Posts: 1,132
 #5 
Time for a bit of an update. We've found a vet that is willing to do the surgery to collect the material from the tumor for the vaccine. He is a traveling vet that goes from clinic to clinic doing surgical procedures, so the challenge is finding a place and time for him to do the surgery. He will be at my vet's clinic this Wednesday and will take a look at Squeeker to see if he thinks the surgery is possible. If he says yes, then we need to get Squeeker scheduled ASAP. I really hate waiting this long, but as long as Squeeker is eating, I think we are OK.

With that said, Squeeker is eating pretty regularly, but he is restless, which tells me that, while the pain meds are working, he is probably experiencing some discomfort. He won't let me hold and cuddle him the way he usually does, but he does still purr up a storm whenever I pet him. The weather was really gorgeous today - high temps in the low 60s and mostly sunny - so to make him a bit happier, I took Squeeker out for a walk. It was shorter than our usual walks, but I could tell he was very happy to be outside. He kept rubbing up against me the way he does when he is happy and telling me thanks for bringing him outside, and he kept making the cutest meows that he makes when he is really happy to be out for a walk. :-) We stayed out as long as he wanted and then went back indoors once he went up to my front door and asked to be let back inside.

Unfortunately, more seasonal weather is going to return on Tuesday, so unless something happens, it will be at least a couple of weeks before the weather warms up enough to go for another walk. I just hope Squeeker is still with me when the weather warms up again, whenever that is...

So that's it from here. This week is going to be a big case of waiting - waiting for Wednesday when the vet can take a look at Squeeker to see if he is comfortable performing the surgery. And if he says yes, then we will wait again until we can schedule Squeeker for the surgery. I just hope Wednesday will be a good day, that the vet will say yes to the surgery. If he says no, then I might be back to either searching for another vet to do the procedure or, sadly, going back to just finding a way to make Squeeker comfortable until his time here on earth comes to an end... :-(

- Kelly
Blackie's mom
Squeeker's mom

kamc22

Registered:
Posts: 1,910
 #6 
Kelly, I'm glad that Squeeker is hanging in there, still purring up a storm when you pet him, even though he can't feel all that terrific.

I didn't know there was such a procedure, nor can I imagine how it could work (ignorance on my part).  It seems to me, ignorance notwithstanding, here I have opinions anyway, that gathering material to make a vaccine wouldn't be as invasive as actually attempting to remove the tumor.  It's more like getting a lot of biopsy material, seems like.  Given the location at the base of the tongue, there could be a lot of bleeding, which is why your regular vet had reservations... though I gather that this is new territory for her as well.

The 70% cure rate sounds terrific.  I can't help but think it may be a bit overstated, not knowing how long a period was looked at to be considered a cure, etc. It's also possible that there has been no overstating of results, but I do tend to get protective of my kitties, sorry if that rained down on you unfairly.  But even if it has been overstated, even if it's "only" 50%, that is way better than you thought possible before, when all you saw was zero chance of survival and death in a few weeks. You have the money, I say go for it, as long as it's not too hard on Squeeker.  I still consider quality of life more important than calendar length, which you've seen me say no more than two dozen times on this message board, sighs.

It looks like sooner would be better, this being a cancer.  But you are on top of it, you're ready to be just as flexible and efficient as need be for your beloved Squeeker.  Please keep us posted.  My fingers and toes and heart are all crossed hoping everything falls quickly into place for both of you.  Oh, I do so much hope that this works!  Please, yet again, keep us up to date on this.  Hundreds of us all over the world are rooting for you both.
goofygirlinva

Registered:
Posts: 1,132
 #7 
Thought I'd drop in for a quick Squeeker update. 

He continues to eat pretty well (with a lot of encouragement from me), but he is still drooling and sleeping a lot. The drooling is understandable given the tumor's location - it is at the base and edge of his tongue, which makes swallowing and eating a bit difficult. Squeeker is willingly sleeping with me at night again, which is very good and reassuring. And he is still purring up a storm, which is so wonderful to hear and feel. :-)

I brought Squeeker to the vet this morning to see whether enough of the mass could be removed to make the vaccine. The vets think they can collect enough of the mass and they are comfortable with doing the procedure, so I have scheduled Squeeker for surgery tomorrow (Thursday). I'm really hoping they truly will be able to collect enough of the mass to make the vaccine and that the recovery period from the surgery won't be that long or difficult for my boy. They will be installing an e-tube again, and I'm kind of thinking that both Squeeker and I will have an easier time with the e-tube this time around, largely because I have enough of the kind of food that works best with the e-tube and also because it will be the second time around with the tube and I should better be able to manage the feeding (knock on wood).

I know the procedure is not a guarantee that he will be cured or that it will extend his life. But I am willing to give it a shot and see how it goes. I'm particularly hopeful that the treatment will have a positive outcome, largely because I'm told that the treatment is particularly effective with oral squamous cell carcinoma tumors. I've also scheduled a consult with the University of MN's Oncology department for early April, just in case we need to combine the vaccination with radiation therapy to completely eradicate the cancer.

Right now I have hope that this will be successful and hope is probably the biggest thing you can give those that are facing cancer or any other kind of illness. So for now I am focused on getting these things (surgery, vaccines developed & administered, etc.) taken care of. Once Squeeker has gone through the surgery and vaccinations, then I can step back and breathe as we go through the recovery process...

Karen, you had asked how this process works. If you are familiar with cancer treatments, particularly cutting-edge treatments, this is autoimmunology technology where you take the diseased tumor and you create a vaccine out of it. Then you insert the vaccine into the body and the body proceeds to create antibodies (or something like that) so it builds up enough of whatever it needs to fight and eventually eliminate the diseased cells. I might have the terminology wrong, but I think that is the best description of it that I can muster.

I know this is a technology that is in the early stages of being offered in human cancer patients and there is also a clinical trial for cats with this same technology at the University of Illinois and one for dogs at the University of MN. The person that created this technology for cats is here at the University of MN, but for whatever reason (I think conflict of interest or something like that), he is not yet actively promoting this as a treatment for cats. The folks that have used this technology on cats and dogs have had enough cases and had such positive results that they are on the verge of making this option known to the larger vet community.

So that's it on my end for now. Please pray that Thursday's surgery will go well and that this whole thing will end up being a positive outcome for Squeeker (and me, LOL!). My boy does not deserve to be sick - he deserves to be happy and healthy and to live out his life surrounded by love and all the good things that life has to offer him... :-)

- Kelly
Blackie's mom
Squeeker's mom

kamc22

Registered:
Posts: 1,910
 #8 
I'm  so glad that you and Squeeker both are doing so well right now.  I'm half frantic with all the unknowns, a fraction of how you are feeling, and hope for the most positive outcome!

Having had yet another tooth extracted last month, I'm sympathetic that Squeeker's drooling.  Better that he does that so as not so swallow his own blood which is indigestible.  I admit it's not that "attractive", but he's doing his best and so are you, so cosmetic things are pretty trivial.

I guess that what I'd most like for all of us here on this message board is.... all of our kitties would live to age 20 or more, maybe feel a bit lethargic for  the last day or few, then one night go to sleep.... and wake up in heaven.  Easiest possible time together for both of us, oh well, it'd be so much nicer for them and for us who love them.  But your Sqeeker actually has a very good chance of beating this disease and going on to live a much longer life with you than it sounded like last week.  Oh boy, I hope that is what happens.

You've both been thru the feeding tube thing before, this time you're much more confident and experienced, and that will be of benefit for Squeeker.  Cats are (I think) psychic at picking up on our emotions, and  you're determined and sure both.  All the better for you both.  Squeeker knows he is loved, he knows he is getting the very best possible care.  No doubts for this cat angel, it is all positive for him.

Oh man, the surgery is tomorrow.  It's now 7pm here in California, for whatever it's worth I'm fretting and thinking about both of you a lot right now.  This could go very well, it could be a cure, which hasn't so far been my experience with cancers in my kitties.  Though like I said, I didn't know such treatment even existed.  Happy thoughts to you both, for many more years together.

Meanwhile, your boy is happy and purring a ridiculous amount with your love.  He's enjoying life even though he can't possibly feel anything close to 100%.  YOu are the most absolutely wonderful cat mommy.  Lucky Squeeker!
goofygirlinva

Registered:
Posts: 1,132
 #9 
Here's a quick update for today: Squeeker is at the vet's right now waiting for surgery. In order to perform the biopsy, they need a kit that contains the materials to collect the biopsy and then send the matter overnight to the clinic that will make the vaccine. The kit was mailed to the clinic via overnight mail and they are now waiting for it to arrive. The procedure is a relatively quick one, so hopefully the kit will arrive this morning and they can get the procedure done today. If not, I'll bring Squeeker back on Friday. I must say, however, that Squeeker has probably had enough of me taking him to and from the vet. Including today's trip, he's been to the vet 3 times in the last week, so it is understandable that he has grown weary of vet visits. :-)

Last night I went to sleep with just my kitty Little Red in the bed with me. I woke up in the middle of the night to discover Squeeker had joined us! It's been some time since he slept with me without me first bringing him into the bedroom, so that was a very pleasant surprise. I plan on leaving him in the other bedroom tonight simply because he will be recovering from the biopsy and adjusting to having yet another e-tube inserted in his neck and I want him to be in a room where he cannot hide from me, especially when I feed him using the e-tube. Given that Squeeker removed the e-tube on his own the last time around, my vet suggested using an e-collar to keep Squeeker from messing with the tube. She also suggested I purchase one of those kitty collars that are basically thundershirts for cats. They help keep the tube in place and prevent the kitty from removing it on their own. I ordered one of them online and it should arrive early next week, but in the meantime there is a chance my kitty will go home with an e-collar. 

So now I wait. I wait to hear whether the kit arrived and they were able to perform the biopsy. If they were, then I wait to hear whether they were able to collect enough of the mass to create a vaccine. If they did collect enough of the tumor, then I wait for the vaccine to be created and to have the vaccines administered. And then I wait to see whether the vaccines will do what we all hope they will and cure my boy of this horrible disease...

Waiting is hard, but as I've said, as long as there is hope, it makes waiting a bit easier...

- Kelly
Blackie's mom
Squeeker's mom
goofygirlinva

Registered:
Posts: 1,132
 #10 
And in case anybody wants to see what Squeeker looks like, below is his adoption picture from Best Friends. That was probably at least 10-11 years ago. Hard to believe it has been that long since Best Friends rescued him from that horrible situation in the Great Kitty Rescue...

[image]
goofygirlinva

Registered:
Posts: 1,132
 #11 
Hi Karen,
Sorry for not responding sooner to your lovely post. :-)

Yes, I agree that it most definitely would be the ideal situation for Squeeker to pass away peacefully in his sleep. It would be ideal for him, as he would be able to leave this earth at peace and without any stress or anxiety on his end. Regardless of when or where it happens, I do hope that when the time comes, it happens with me by his side at home. He is always such a good boy at the vet's, but I know it is stressful for him to travel to the vet, which is why I would of course prefer finding someone that could come to my home.

In the meantime, I'm hoping for the best. It is a pricey treatment, but at this point I figure this is what credit cards are for, right? :-) I would not have chosen a path that only involves chemo and/or radiation therapy - those are palliative at best, certainly not curative. This treatment has shown to be curative, albeit on a limited basis thus far, so in my mind (and heart) I have to at least give it a try. Squeeker has given me so much during our time together, and if there is an option out there that has shown to have excellent results, I owe it to my precious boy to at least give it a try. My mind and heart are definitely wrapped up in the hope that this will work. If it does not, I probably won't try anything else but will instead just offer Squeeker supportive treatment through pain meds for as long as his body and spirit will hold out...

Thanks again - your support really means a lot!
- Kelly


ourbrandy

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Posts: 1,007
 #12 
Dear Kelly:

I am saying many prayers that the treatment will work out for Squeeker.  He has the best mommy and I know that whatever the outcome he will know that he is truly loved.  That is what is most important.

Sending positive thoughts and prayers for Squeeker and for you,

Barb (Angel Brandy's and now Miriam's mom)
~forever~
goofygirlinva

Registered:
Posts: 1,132
 #13 
Update on Squeeker's progress...

The surgery was yesterday (Thursday). There was extra bleeding after he woke up from the anesthesia so the doctor that did the surgery and inserted the e-tube put him back under to get the bleeding under control. Squeeker did fine when he woke up the second time, but things were rather rushed at the vet's because I had to wait a bit longer to take him home and then I had to rush to get home in order to feed the other cats before I left for teaching that night. The end result was that I did not leave the clinic with the proper materials for the feeding tube. That was an error on both my part and the clinic's part. I had kept the syringes we used the previous time, so I thought they would be good for the new feeding tube. It turns out they weren't - the vet that did the surgery was the same one that inserted the feeding tube back in August, but this time she used a narrower tube than the previous one. This meant I could not use the syringes and had to do a lot of tinkering to get the tube to work with the syringes I had on hand.

Thankfully Squeeker was not terribly interested in doing much of anything last night so I did not have to deal with the feeding tube. However, it was a bit of an ordeal to use the tube this morning. I finally got some food and water into Squeeker's tummy this morning, but it was not a pleasant experience. I was hoping Squeeker would feel well enough to eat without the tube this afternoon, and he was definitely hungry when I got home from work. He tried to eat some food - I offered him a few choices, including what was basically cat food soup (extremely diluted food), the soup with his favorite dried chicken treats sprinkled on top and regular food. He really tried to eat, but it was soon clear that his mouth is bothering him so much that he cannot bear it at this point. So that meant I had to go back to the tube feeding.

Unfortunately, it took me a lot of tries and a bunch of messes to finally get the food to a consistency that it did not clog up the tube. I ended up sequestering Squeeker in my bathroom to feed him. It was so unpleasant, but I think I got the equivalent of about 1/2-3/4 of a can of food into his tummy. I think I simply need to really dilute the food to such an extent that it is basically soup and then put at least 2 tubes of food into his tummy at each feeding (he is fed twice a day). I really hope that we do not have to go through this too much longer because the last thing I want is for my boy to look at me as a source of pain and unpleasantness. :-(

Anyhow, the harvested tissue was sent to the lab in CT today via overnight mail. They will get it tomorrow and will hopefully have the vaccines ready to send back to us early next week. That means I can probably schedule the first (of 3) vaccines next week and go from there. Here's hoping and praying that this will help cure my boy and he will feel better ASAP...

Mem

Registered:
Posts: 58
 #14 
Hi,

I'm new to posting anything here, but began reading your post about Squeeker. I lost my 12 year old kitty, Sirach 3 weeks ago to kidney failure. As you are doing, I would have taken the 70% chance of a cure with the autoimmune injections. (That is what credit cards are for) As I type I'm sending prayers for Squeeker and you for quick healing and the ability for him to eat without discomfort and of course much success with the vaccines.

I know I would have done anything within my reach to extend the amount of time I could have with Sirach as long as I knew he would be comfortable again.

With warm thoughts,

Mary W.
goofygirlinva

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Posts: 1,132
 #15 
Time for another update...

Squeeker is really interested in eating, but he is still uncomfortable using his mouth, so I am still feeding him using his e-tube. This morning's feeding was still an ordeal, but he purred for me after everything settled down and he had some time to let the food and fluids digest a bit. This evening he was again interested in food and actually tried to eat a bit with his mouth. Unfortunately, that did not last terribly long and I ended up having to use the tube again this evening. Thankfully he was curled up on top of the sofa when I decided to give him his food. It was considerably less traumatic this time around. I think it was partly because I finally got the consistency of the food right and I significantly slowed down the speed at which the food and water went into his tummy. I only put 1 large syringe of heavily diluted food into his tummy this evening. I probably could have fed him more, but this feeding was really peaceful, so I did not want to push the envelope and was simply satisfied that I got some fluids and food into his body with no resistance or trauma/drama (for once). 

With that said, I believe Squeeker is in a lot of extra pain. I've consulted with one of Squeeker's vets and will increase the frequency with which I give him his pain meds. I've been giving him pain meds twice a day, but I will give him meds more frequently tomorrow (Sunday) to every 6-8 hours (instead of every 12 hours). I'll then see if I can just increase his dosage so I'll only give him pain meds twice a day (but at a higher dosage) once the work week rolls around since I won't be home to give him pain meds every 6-8 hours the way I will be able to do on the weekends.

I hope this works - I really hate seeing my boy so uncomfortable. It makes me wonder if I did the right thing by having him go through the biopsy on Thursday...I just hope the increased pain meds will work for him and that we will ultimately have a positive outcome...

- Kelly
Blackie's mom
Squeeker's mom
kamc22

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 #16 
You and Squeeker are both champs!!!  He's recovering nicely from the surgery, he's interested again in eating.  Sorry you had to experiment with consistency to not clog the feeding tube, but  you have a method that works now.  I'm sure he knows that you are trying to help him, so there he is purring right away.  If  you're like me, you're also explaining things to him, loved furred ones seem to understand way more than non-pet people think, especially from their special human, which you are to Squeeker.

Somehow I'd forgotten he is black, just like my beloved Bartholomew and Shalimar were.  He was the most loving cat I ever had, and I was gifted that he was also with me the longest (over 16 years).   Squeeker looks quite fine-boned, to the point that I wonder if he may have some Siamese or something like that in his background.

For sure, you want to minimize pain as much as possible. But since Squeeker's showing interest in eating, he must be feeling pretty good; seems like about anything is an "excuse" for a cat to stop eating.   It used to be that people thought animals couldn't feel pain nor have emotions.  Happily more enlightened and accurate views prevail now.  I would say that cats' skin is less sensitive than ours (Whitney never even paused eating when I gave her an insulin injection, both Jasmine and Tiffany didn't notice their tails were on fire), but for the most part whatever would hurt us would hurt them as well.  This being Monday, you're back at work; probably he slept most of the day. 


Oh, I definitely think you are doing the right thing.  I never had a 70% chance of a cure, with cancer nor kidney failure nor hyperthyroidism.  The vaccine ought to be ready any time now, please keep us posted.  For now, you and he are both doing great!
goofygirlinva

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 #17 
Another update on Squeeker. He continues to be interested in eating, but he is still only taking a couple of licks of food before he stops. That means I need to continue tube feeding, which is awful because the tube keeps getting clogged, no matter how soup-like I make the food. It is really frustrating and I know Squeeker hates it, as do I. Sigh...

The lab got the shipment over the weekend and the vaccine should be here today or tomorrow (knock on wood). We're hoping to administer the vaccines at my home instead of at the clinic - it sure would save Squeeker a lot of stress, and I wouldn't have to take any more time off from work. We're in a very busy time of the year right now at work, so my opportunities to take time off from work are getting down to slim and none. I teach the next three evenings (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday), so unless we do this late at night, we'll have to wait until Friday evening to administer the first vaccine.

I think the more frequent dose of pain meds is helping - Squeeker seems to have a bit more pep in his step, so to speak, but one of my other cats seems to be pestering Squeeker, so I need to keep them separated as much as possible. Despite the ordeal we go through with the tube feeding, Squeeker is seeking me out pretty regularly and is snuggling with me in bed at night, so those are good things. I just hope I can get my boy to agree to start eating on his own. I'm thinking of stopping off at the grocery store on my way home from work tonight and picking up a rotisserie chicken. Squeeker absolutely LOVES chicken, particularly rotisserie chicken, so I'm hoping that offering him some of the chicken will get him to agree to start eating more on his own...

That's it for now. I hope to have better news in a day or so...

- Kelly
Blackie's mom
Squeeker's mom


goofygirlinva

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 #18 
The vaccine will be here tomorrow (Thursday), so we'll give Squeeker the first dose either tomorrow or Friday.

In the meantime, I spoke with his vet and am doubling the amount of pain meds I'm giving Squeeker - double the dose, 3 or so times a day. I started the increased dose this morning and I hope it works. My poor boy really wants to eat on his own, but he is just not comfortable using his mouth. It is hard to see him try to eat and then spit out the food I know he really loves because of how his mouth feels. :-(

I think I have finally figured out how to get the tube not to clog - I'm straining the food so there aren't any little bits and pieces of food that I can't detect just by looking at it. I started doing that last night and the feeding went without a hitch. I did the same thing this morning and the feeding was much quicker than usual, much to my surprise. I think Squeeker was also surprised how fast it went because when I kinked up the tube after I finished and then stepped away, he just stayed put, probably expecting me to come back and continue with more food or water, LOL! I made sure I gave him lots of hugs and kisses this morning as I was feeding him as well as afterwards, and he purred up the biggest storm. So I'm really hoping that, between the increased pain meds and the modified way I get his food ready, I'll significantly reduce his stress and he can go back to being the sweet, happy boy he usually is. :-) 

That's it from here. I hope the next few days are without incident and that we can start with his treatment without too much delay...

- Kelly
Blackie's mom
Squeeker's mom
(and mom to LBKs Rufus and Bud)

goofygirlinva

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 #19 
Daily update:

Squeeker actually ate some food on his own this morning! Not much, but at least he tried! To reward my boy, I gave him less food through the tube than I had originally planned. Anything to reward him and get him eating on his own without the tube, right?

Here's a bit of much needed levity: Squeeker's vet had suggested purchasing one of those thunder shirts for cats to help keep the e-tube in place. I ordered one and put it on him last night. He was not a happy camper - he pretty much stayed put and gave me one of those what the hell did you just do to me looks after I put it on. I brought him into the bedroom as I was getting ready to go to sleep and he seemed OK with it. But once I got into bed and turned out the lights, he got down off the bed. I noticed he was rolling on the floor and thought he was scratching his back to get used to the clothing. Much to my surprise, when I looked over at Squeeker again, I noticed he'd somehow managed to undo the snaps that hold the thing in place and that he had also managed to get rid of the thundershirt, LOL! It sure didn't take long for that to happen, and now we are back to once again having his neck area wrapped in cotton and tape. Oh well, at least I tried, LOL!

The vaccines will arrive tomorrow and I have scheduled the first treatment for Friday evening at my place. That should give me enough time to tidy up the house a bit before the house visit. :-)

More later...

- Kelly
Blackie's mom
Squeeker's mom 
(and mo to LBKs Rufus & Bud and my orange & white beauty Little Red)
Mem

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 #20 
Sending good thoughts your way that the vaccine will kick in quickly. I'm glad he got some food down by himself.

Mary W
kamc22

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 #21 
How funny that Squeeker got out of the Thundershirt so quickly.  In my experience, most cats really don't like wearing things, while a lot of dogs will at least tolerate it.  Since the average cat spends 15% of its waking time grooming, maybe wearing a shirt is just too frustrating when they are trying to keep clean.  And he let  you know right away that he didn't like it.  Sigh, so back to cotton and tape.

And your little boy has begun eating again, thank goodness.  That is a big step in the right direction.  You know, between all his purring, managing to get himself out of the shirt, and beginning to eat again, he must be feeling pretty good.  He's not just sitting hunched or hiding like sick kitties often do.  And now the weekend is here again, so you have even more time to spend with your furry baby, which will make him even happier.

It's now 6:40pm on the west coast, so Squeeker must have had his first shot of the vaccine by now.  How nice that the veterinary is coming to your home to do it, instead of you having to take Squeeker in.  Has anyone given you a time frame by which to see improvement, or is there a wide variation among cats?  I'm totally ignorant, had never even heard of this treatment until your post.  My thoughts and best wishes go to you both.
goofygirlinva

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 #22 
Hi all,

Another Squeeker update for you. :-)

Squeeker had his first vaccine shot on Friday. He pretty much laid low the rest of the evening, and by the time Saturday morning rolled around he was back up and about. I'd been warned that one of the side effects would be a fever, but that has only happened to 3 of the cats that received the vaccines. Squeeker did not appear to have a fever, so appears he did not have any significant side effects from Friday's shot. 

Squeeker is drooling again. I'm not sure if that is a good or bad thing, but he is definitely drooling. He is also eating again on his own, so much that I haven't given him any food through the tube since Sunday morning. He is not eating everything I give him, but he is eating most of it. I have to keep reminding myself that it has only been a bit over a week since Squeeker had the biopsy surgery, so he is doing very well to be eating on his own so soon after the procedure. I'm continuing to give him the increased pain medication dosage. I think it is certainly helping manage his pain, and unless he seems to be in greater pain, I think I will stay with this dosage for the time being.

Karen, I know there are 2 more vaccine/shots that Squeeker will get. I don't know how soon to expect seeing results. All I know is that back on March 1, the vet diagnosed Squeeker with the cancer and said he has weeks to live. At that time he was in pain and I was hoping he would simply make it through the end of March so we could celebrate our 9-year Gotcha Day anniversary. Today he seems to be relatively pain free and is eating on his own once again. I don't know whether this cancer treatment will work, but I am increasingly optimistic that he will make it to the end of the month, if not beyond.

I think I already mentioned this, but I also have an appointment scheduled with the University Vet School's oncology department for early April. The appointment is the initial comprehensive checkup they do with all new patients. If the cancer has not gone into remission or if they determine he is a good candidate for radiation therapy, I might give radiation therapy a shot as long as it won't impact his quality of life. At this point I'm just kind of taking it day to day and hoping to see the kind of results we all want for our pets that are sick - just get better so he can live a longer, healthy life...

- Kelly
Blackie's mom
Squeeker's mom


kamc22

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 #23 
Kelly, Thanks for the update, I keep checking and now there is one that you wrote this morning.

When my kitties get their booster shots, they tend to sleep most of the rest of the day, so it sounds like Squeeker had a similar reaction to the vaccine.

That is terrific news that you've not had to tube feed Squeeker since yesterday morning; I'm sure both of you are much happier that he's eating on his own again. Heck, far as kitties not eating everything--- nearly all of the food waste in this house is uneaten canned cat food (not that I have ever offered too much, lol), it's been like this for years. The increased pain medication means he's in as little pain or discomfort as possible, and that's important for his quality of life.  Still, it's been only a week since surgery, and in humans the mouth has a lot of nerve endings, much more sensitive than other parts, so it's probably the same for kitties as well.  It very much sounds as if he'll make it to the 9th Gotcha Day. 

Don't know what the drooling means, that's a good question for the vet.  You're both doing great.
goofygirlinva

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 #24 
Well, this morning was not such a good morning for Squeeker. When I got up this morning to give the boys their breakfast, I looked around for Squeeker but did not see him. I called him and he still did not come, which is unusual for him, as he pretty much always comes running whenever I call his name. I found my boy crouched underneath the bed. I offered him some food but he was not interested in it. I think what happened - or at least this is what I hope - is that when I gave him his pain meds last night before I went to bed, I think most of it squirted out of his mouth. That would mean he'd basically gone over 12 hours without the proper dosage of pain medication, which would mean he was in pain this morning. His breath was also particularly stinky this morning. I'm really hoping that it is not because the tumor in his mouth is expanding. To help with that, I put a bit of dental wash on his paw in the hope that he would lick it off. But he refused to lick it off, so that also tells me his is pain.

Tuesday is an usually long day for me. I teach Tuesday evenings and cannot get home before I head off to teach. So whenever I leave for work Tuesday morning, I do so knowing I won't be back home again until 8 p.m. at the earliest. I'm teaching some extra lessons tonight and won't be home until 9 p.m. or so. Squeeker is supposed to get his pain meds every 8-12 hours, but it will be about 15 hours until I can give him more medicine this evening. To compensate, I gave Squeeker a double dose of pain meds this morning - to help compensate for the pain he was feeling this morning and to help keep the pain at bay for a bit longer until I can give him more meds tonight. I hope he will also be hungry tonight - I did not give him any food this morning through the feeding tube because I did not want to cause any more stress than I thought he was under due to the pain.

I guess if there is any good news out of this morning, it is that Squeeker was purring up a storm, more so than usual, whenever I would pet or touch him. His claws were doing the thing where he expands them and then lets them return back to normal, the way he does when he is particularly happy. I hope the pain meds work and that we can get back to normal with eating on his own and feeling much happier and healthier...

- Kelly
Blackie's mom
Squeeker's mom


kamc22

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 #25 
Hope Squeeker is doing better today.  It's easily possible that he's already learned how to avoid taking his meds.  Years ago in his final year my Bartholomew was taking half a little Pepcid tablet for his upset tummy twice a day.  Towards the end, a few times I found those tiny half tablets spit out under a knick knack cabinet just outside the kitchen; he'd learned to hold it in his mouth so I couldn't see it. 

Still, since even without a full pain med dose, you said he was purring up a storm and doing that thing of expanding his claws and then relaxing them, that is a sign of a happy cat.   Adorian does the same thing, with his paws in the air...reminds me of those underwater pictures of sea anemones, not that any of them are covered with fur.

He's still with you, and only 8 days are left of March... it seems like he's outlasted the vet's projection of "weeks" and is now nearly to one month. Can you tell I'm looking on the bright side? 

We have our fingers and claws crossed in species-appropriate fashion for both of  you.
SharG

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 #26 
Kelly, I'm with Karen on this - fingers, toes, paws and claws - all crossed and saying our prayers for the little guy. I check this thread twice a day looking for good news. I hope he's feeling better and is able to eat a little. Thinking of you both,

Sharon
Mem

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 #27 
I have to tell you, I check this post almost every day to see how Squeeker is doing. I send out good thoughts and prayers for both of you.

Sincerely,

Mary W
goofygirlinva

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 #28 
Hi all,

Tonight we'll have the 2nd round of the vaccine administered to my precious boy. I hope it is working. I've noticed some things this week that might be good, might be bad signs. First, I've noticed Squeeker's breath is really stinky. I'm told that this is not necessarily a bad thing because there is basically a "war" going on inside Squeeker where his body is trying to use the vaccine's antibodies to fight off the cancer. I hope this is the case and that the vaccine is doing its thing.

The second thing I noticed is that the tumor seems to be getting larger. I felt it on the side of Squeeker's mouth this morning. I do not know if it is a situation where it was always like that and I just did not feel it or if the tumor is indeed growing. All I know is that whenever I watch Squeeker eat, he really does his best to avoid chewing anything on the left side of his mouth (this is where the tumor is). 

The other things that have happened in the last couple of days is that Squeeker is resisting less and less when I tube feed him and he has not slept with me the past couple of nights. He is also hiding from me. As soon as he saw me this morning he ran away from me down into the lower level of my house. I found him on a soft chair in one of the bedrooms crouched as though he was in pain (which he probably was). I picked him up and brought him back upstairs and put him in the bedroom where I usually feed him. Squeeker started purring as soon as I picked him up, but he was also shivering. I do keep the house on the cool side overnight, so I hope the shivering was simply a case of the house being a bit too cool for his liking.

However, as soon as I brought him into the upstairs bedroom, Squeeker immediately went and hid underneath my computer cart and I had to move things out of the way to get to him to feed him this morning. These are not good signs, and it also seems as though his pain meds are not as effective as they were at this time last week. Of course, I have had a couple of instances where all of the meds did not go into his mouth, so I'm really hoping that that is the root cause of his obvious discomfort. When the vet comes over tonight to give Squeeker his 2nd dose of the vaccine, she is also going to bring over needles so I can give him his pain meds subcutaneously instead of orally. The hope is that he'll get all of his meds and his body will respond better. I think we're probably also going to start giving him some antibiotics daily, just to help with what is obviously going on inside his mouth.

Next Friday will be Squeeker's 9th Gotcha Day anniversary. I really hope he is still with me next week and that this vaccine works. Right now my boy is not a happy camper and I hate seeing in such obvious discomfort and pain. Sigh...

- Kelly
Blackie's mom
Squeeker's mom

kamc22

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Posts: 1,910
 #29 
I'm sorry it's been a rough few days for Squeeker and am glad the vet will see him tonight.  Giving the pain meds by shot sounds much better since you'll know he's getting the full dose, and the effect will be much quicker than if it has to go into his tummy first.  Also see if the antibiotics can be given that way, too.  My Whitney ended up getting antibiotics that way after giving her the pill orally caused pink foamy stuff to come out of both ends; it badly irritated her entire tract.  Just like in people, any antibiotic can cause GI upset, though some drugs do more than others.  Still,  your boy doesn't need an upset tummy on top of everything else.

Plus, and why I'm so slow to think of these things I don't know, pilling a cat isn't a great choice when he has an oral tumor and had surgery there last week; of course it's already sore. If he were a human, he'd be doing salt water rinses after that procedure to help with healing and to prevent infection, but cats don't do oral rinsing, sigh. I hope that shivering is just a sign of being too cold and not something worse. 

At least it's now Friday so you can spend more time with Squeeker.  If  you don't already have one, Purr Padds are wonderful.  It's some kind of soft synthetic stuff, washable, that reflects back body heat.  I bought one when I had three kitties... and ended up buying two more since they all liked it so much and were practically lining up to use it.  Got them at Petco, they're bound to be for sale online, too.

I very much hope Squeeker makes it to the 9th Gotcha Day... and then that you'll have him for a long time after that. 

Thank  you for keeping us posted.
goofygirlinva

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Posts: 1,132
 #30 
Hi all,

Squeeker update for you...

Dr. Jerri came to the house on Friday and, in addition to the vaccine, started Squeeker on an antibiotic routine for this week. She also increased his pain meds by 50%. I'm giving him pain meds 2-3 times a day and the antibiotic once a day, both by injection. I think Squeeker is OK with the injection for the pain meds, but I can tell the antibiotic stings and he meows in protest, so I make sure that is the final shot he gets.

I think the increased pain meds and the antibiotic are helping. His breath isn't stinky anymore, and I attribute that to the antibiotics. Squeeker is not eating on his own as much as I would like, so this morning I fed him through the e-tube. I think the good news is that I think the swelling I felt on the left side of his mouth last week has gone down a lot, and Squeeker is actually asking me to rub the left side of his mouth and jaw. So I'm thinking (and hoping) that the vaccine is working and it is shrinking the tumor. Dr. Jerri tried to take a look inside Squeeker's mouth on Friday, but he was in such bad shape that he refused to let her have any kind of prolonged look inside his mouth. She thought she saw some black tissue under his tongue, but after thinking about it a bit, we thought she probably saw his gums instead of the tumor, which would make sense since he is a black cat. 

Anyhow, Squeeker was definitely purring a lot more over the weekend and he came up to me and asked for attention a couple of times on Saturday and Sunday. So that is a welcome development. I just want to get to the point where he is willing to eat more of his food on his own so we can finally forego the tube feeding. He is a good boy with the tube feeding - as long as the feeding is quick and relatively easy, he will tolerate it. 

Dr. Jerri will give Squeeker his third and final vaccine on Friday. We're all hoping that the vaccine will kick in this week and that we'll be able to see and feel a difference by Friday. I also have an appointment with the veterinary oncology department at the University next Wednesday (April 5). The appointment is the initial visit where they run all kinds of tests and whatnot. I'm hoping that we'll see enough of a remission with the tumor by then that the radiation treatment will not be necessary. The last thing I want is to put my boy through more tests and treatments that make him miserable...

That's it from here. Will post later this week with another update. Thanks again, everybody, for your support and encouragement - we really appreciate it!

- Kelly
Blackie's mom
Squeeker's mom


goofygirlinva

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 #31 
Karen, my apologies, I forgot to reply to your post...

You are correct - giving Squeeker the pain meds through the mouth was probably causing pain. He was not getting pill but was instead getting liquid medicine. Still, even when I inserted the meds through the right side of the mouth (his tumor is on the left side of the mouth), it was clear he was in pain afterwards. He knows when he is about to get an injection, and even though I do try to make it quick and vary the location where he gets his injection to prevent scar tissue from forming, it still causes some discomfort. At least this is a less invasive process than giving him the meds through the mouth.

Thank you for the purr pads suggestion! I have at least 4 cat beds and a bunch of other pads throughout the house, as well as my bed, that the cats regularly use, so they have loads of cushy sleeping and lounging options. :-) But I do like the idea of the purr pads, so I just ordered a 2-pack off of Amazon. I was going to place an order with Amazon for a couple of other things, so I went ahead and added the purr pads to the order. They are supposed to arrive no later than Wednesday. I am sure Squeeker will love it - he likes using the cat beds and I often find him perched on top of one of my DirecTV receivers for the heat, LOL! So I am pretty positive he will get a lot of use out of the purr pads, provided they work as advertised. :-)

- Kelly



goofygirlinva

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 #32 
Mary and Sharon,

Thank you so much for checking in and posting here about my boy! We can use all the support we can get!

I think I mentioned in one of my other posts from today that I think I am feeling less swelling around the left side of Squeeker's mouth, and his breath is certainly less stinky than it was last week. In fact, when I smelled his breath this morning, I do not think I smelled anything at all. So that is a very good sign. I just hope it continues and that Squeeker's tumor is indeed shrinking and that it will soon completely disappear (knock on wood)!

Hugs and thanks to all of you for your thoughts and prayers and support!
- Kelly
Blackie's mom
Squeeker's mom 
SharG

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Posts: 534
 #33 
Hi Kelly & Squeeker,

I am still checking frequently for updates so thank you for posting. I'm very glad to hear Squeeker is getting relief from his discomfort. The fact that he isn't hiding is really good news.

My heart aches for the little guy. I lost Oscar to kidney disease and close to the end, he was on antibiotics because his mouth was so bad. It hurt him - and me - to give him the pills. And I know the difficulty dosing the pain meds with the syringe.

Injections are a good thing - my Felix had insulin twice a day for 7 years. He was a good boy and seemed to know it helped him so he never fussed.

Squeeker, we are all rooting for you. Get well soon.

Sharon, Sebastian, Francis and bridge angels Felix, Oscar, Suki & Basil - all of us cheering for your team.

kamc22

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 #34 
It sounds like Squeeker is doing a lot better, thank goodness!!  The stinky breath could be any number of things, or of course some combination: his system is nearly overwhelmed, an infection, debris from the surgery, even that he's not eating as much as usual.  I hope the tumor doesn't cause him tooth problems, which could also cause bad breath.   But now you don't smell anything at all, big improvement.
I'm much relieved that the swelling you felt has gone down a lot- that's a very hopeful sign.  And if he's actually asking you to rub that side of his face, that means it doesn't hurt now. 

Sorry, Kelly, for assuming the pain meds were pills- when they actually were liquid.  Still, at this point, I think shots are better for your boy than oral administration, both because they get into his system much faster, and because  you *know* he's getting the full dose, besides not messing with a tender part of him.

This may sound like a stupid comment, but it's motivated by concern for Squeeker.  Several times you've upped his pain meds, which has helped him a lot.  Please make sure that you know what the maximum dose is for a cat of his weight, and whether he could get in trouble before that maximum if for some reason the medication isn't clearing out of his system as quickly as it would for a younger or healthy cat.  [You've likely already know that, but just in case.... we cat cyber-mommies tend to fret.]

The Purr Padds that you ordered must have arrived by now, I hope your boy is enjoying them.  They really do make a warm surface; I've sat on them in chairs and have felt the warmth, even though I'm not a cat and squish them down a lot more than a feline would.

So, it's Wednesday night the 29th as I write this.  Today is his 9th Gotcha Day, he made it!! Friday is his final vaccine shot,  then five days later is his appointment at the oncology department.   He's still here, and that didn't look possible when you began this thread. Here our fingers and claws remain crossed for you both in our species-appropriate way.  There is so much sadness on this message board that reading a hopeful thread like this one helps everyone. 

You are doing so much for Squeeker, he is one of the luckiest kitties ever to have you for his mommy, and I think he knows it!



goofygirlinva

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Posts: 1,132
 #35 
Hi all,

Another Squeeker update for you...

Squeeker was not doing well at all Wednesday or Thursday - not interested in food, hiding from me (although that is probably due to the fact that whenever I seem to approach him these days, it is with needles or syringes in my hands, poor guy), generally lethargic. Last night I decided to change the dressing around his neck. When I unwrapped it, I found a LOT of gunk near the neck opening and on the side of the tube. There was a lot of black gunk, and the pad and gauze I use as the bottom layer of his dressing were soaked in what I initially thought was discharge from the tube site. I cleaned it up as best I could and re-wrapped it. I took a picture of the dressing and gunk that were stained and sent it to the vet that has been administering the vaccines. Some of the color on the dressing was red, so I thought perhaps there was blood oozing from the opening. I later remembered that on Wednesday some of the food I was trying to feed him through the tube splattered on his dressing, so I think perhaps the red I was seeing was the food that soaked into the gauze before I had a chance to clean it up.

After I cleaned and re-dressed the tube area, Squeeker went back into the room in the lower level where he tends to hide from me. He actually doesn't hide under anything, he merely sits on top of the comfy chair in the room in the dark. Squeeker's vet called me to discuss the picture I'd sent her of the stained dressing and while we were talking I went into the room where Squeeker was hanging out. As I talked on the phone, I started rubbing his head and started to get some purrs out of Squeeker, so that was excellent. Later that night as I was making a big batch of cat food, Squeeker actually joined me in the kitchen. I always give the cats some freshly made food whenever I make a large batch, and I was thinking perhaps Squeeker wanted some food. So I put some down for him and he sniffed it but then changed his mind and walked away. I made sure I fixed some food just for him and fed him through the tube before I went to bed. He wasn't too happy about being tube fed, but he tolerated it, which was good to see.

And then, as I was getting ready for bed, I was very pleasantly surprised to see Squeeker walk into the room and jump up on the bed to join me for the night. He was purring up a storm as he did that and asked me to rub against his drool-filled jaw (which I did, after I wiped away the drool, of course, LOL!). 

This morning Squeeker asked for food. I know he was hungry, so I gave him some of the food he usually got before the tube was put in. He sniffed the dish and then changed his mind, so I took the dish and put the food into the mini food processor and got the food ready for the syringe. There was some extra food left over that wasn't ground fine enough to go through the strainer, so I offered him some of that (after I fed him through the tube), and after some consideration, he actually ate some of it on his own! It wasn't much, but at least it is a start!

So basically we went from me wondering whether Squeeker would make it to his Gotcha Day anniversary to a kitty that seems to be doing better today. He'll get his final vaccine shot tomorrow, and hopefully the vaccine will continue to work away at the cancer and eliminate the tumor and kill the rest of the cancer in his body. He's been on a feeding tube for about 3 weeks and I can tell he is getting very tired of it and of me giving him pain meds every day. Here's hoping that things will improve enough that we can consider removing the tube and that things will return to normal in a few weeks...

Karen, you asked about a couple of things. First, yes I am keeping a close eye on the amount of pain meds he is getting. (I don't mind you double checking about this at all! :-) ) Right now we are up to about the maximum dosage of buprenorphine for a cat his size & weight. We don't want to go any higher because then what you have is a cat that is non-responsive, and that is the last thing we want with my boy.

You also asked about the purr pads. They arrived yesterday so last night was the first time the cats tried them out. My kitty Bud sleeps on my bed throughout the day, and I put one on the end of my bed. He very much enjoyed sleeping on it yesterday afternoon/evening, LOL! I don't know if Squeeker used it when he slept with me last night - he tends to stay curled up by my side or on one of my pillows, so I do not think he has used it quite yet.

Finally, tomorrow (March 31) is Squeeker's 9th Gotcha Day anniversary (Yesterday, March 29, was Blackie's 9-year Bridge Day anniversary). Unless something drastic happens, Squeeker & I will be able to celebrate the day together, as I will be taking a personal day from work. March has been a wild ride for all of us - Squeeker was diagnosed with cancer on March 1, and the biopsy and feeding tube insertion were done the next week. That means Squeeker has had that darned feeding tube in him for 3 weeks and on pain meds for nearly the entire month. My entire month has pretty much revolved around Squeeker and his cancer, not that I'm complaining, it's just an observation. I'll gladly have all of April and the rest of the months in 2017 revolve around Squeeker if it means he is still with me and is getting healthier and the cancer is eventually gone.

That's it from here. Thanks again, all for your support and continued thoughts and prayers - we really appreciate it!

- Kelly
Blackie's mom
Squeeker's mom
Mem

Registered:
Posts: 58
 #36 
I am still thinking and praying. I know he's not eating because of the healing going on in his mouth which must still be painful. I'm wondering if you/the vet have considered trying a bit of appetite stimulant maybe to just increase his desire to get food in by eating. My guy needed it for the kidney disease. I used it cautiously and sparingly until the end, but it did help. Maybe it's not even an option with all the other things  poor Squeeker is on. I know how my mind (and life) rotated around Sirach and his drug and fluid schedule for months. I'd call the vet, saying, "I just read that maybe we could try________." He was so good listening and looking stuff up etc. UGH

Go Squeeker, take some food in and you have us behind you praying that vaccine kicks in and knocks those cancer cells out!!!

Mary W.
SharG

Registered:
Posts: 534
 #37 
Thanks for posting another update. What a rollercoaster ride this must be for you. I hope the vaccine provides positive results soon for the poor little guy. You said in an early post that you thought the tumor had grown but in a later post the swelling seemed to have gone down. Can you see any difference now?

I wish so much for a cure for Squeeker, we continue to say our prayers and light our candle for him.

Sharon & the boys

goofygirlinva

Registered:
Posts: 1,132
 #38 
Hi all,
Another Squeeker update for you. Squeeker's vet came by the house last night to check on him. Squeeker was doing much better yesterday - he even ate some food on his own yesterday morning and then again in the evening, so that was a wonderful development! We changed his neck dressing again and it was caked in gunk again. This was clear gunk, not black stuff from Wednesday evening, but we could also see some redness in the dressing, so we were thinking it was a bit of blood. Squeeker has had enough of the neck dressing and has been scratching around the area quite a bit, so I'm guessing that some of the red we saw on the dressing was probably the result of his scratching.

We cleaned up the neck area and re-dressed it. We then took a look at his mouth. The tumor has definitely gotten smaller and, from what we could see, it is largely black, which means it is rotting and the vaccine is doing its job. Squeeker is such a good, sweet boy - as we were doing all of this poking and prodding and looking last night, he stayed in his kitty bed and purred away. He tried to get up a couple of times, but we immediately made him settle back down in his bed, and he complied and continued purring. :-) 

After everybody left, Squeeker was sitting on the sofa next to me. He sounded congested, so I took a look around his nose and mouth area. Sure enough, there was a bunch of black discharge around his nose and mouth. I picked it out and cleaned it as best I could, and it seemed to help, as he did not sound nearly as congested afterwards. 

Squeeker slept with me in my bed last night, and I fell asleep to the sound (and feel) of his beautiful purrs. I woke up once or twice and whenever I reached out to see if he was still on the bed with me, I was greeted with more purrs. I've taken today off from work, so I slept in this morning. When I finally got up to feed everybody, I found Squeeker curled up in the bottom part of the huge cat tree I have in my living room. He was trying to soak up the warmth from sunshine coming through the sliding door that the tree is next to. He was not interested in food, and it had been 12 hours since I last gave him his pain meds, so I gave him his meds and left him alone. If he is not interested in food later today, I will mix up the food in the food processor and feed him by tube. But I sure hope he at least eats some of it on his own - I am sure he is ready for the tube to come out and so am I. He's been such a good patient so far, and I really want to reward him with getting rid of the tube, provided he is eating at least half of his food on his own...

Anyhow, today is his 9-year Gotcha Day anniversary. The weather here is really nice today, so if he has the energy, I think I will take him out for a walk around the neighborhood to celebrate. :-)

- Kelly
Blackie's mom
Squeeker's mom
kamc22

Registered:
Posts: 1,910
 #39 
My gosh, Kelly, it's working!!!  Squeeker's had only two of the three vaccine shots and already the tumor was visibly smaller last night and turning black (dying).  I guess the black gunk is the dying tumor, being gotten rid of by his body however it can be.  Like the stuff coming out of his mouth and nose last night.  I'm guessing.  And this morning he wasn't hiding in a corner or a darkened room, he was in the living room soaking up the sun.  He's definitely feeling better.  You first noticed black gunk Wednesday night; it now sounds as if that came from the tumor being attacked, only two days after the first shot was given.  This all sounds so positive and hopeful.  Go, Squeeker!

No wonder he wasn't interested in eating this morning.  His system is busy hauling off a lot of dead tissue and killing the rest of the tumor.  His little cat system is extremely busy now doing- successfully- a huge job.

I don't know how this works.  Will the vet have to help him remove the necrotic tissue, or is that expected to peel off in bits that he can spit out or something?  Seems like it'd be better if he didn't inadvertently swallow some of that gunk, much less a chunk of dead tissue.  The vets who developed this must also by now, after 200 patients, have some kind of protocol for this stage. 

Of course, he likely knew  you were staying home today, you know how smart kitties are, so he felt happy about that too.  I'm glad the weather is so pleasant and cooperative on this his 9th Gotcha Day. 

Thanks for the update!
SharG

Registered:
Posts: 534
 #40 
Hi Squeeker, dropping in to wish you Happy Gotcha Day. I'm very glad you are showing signs that you feel better and are purring up a storm for your Mom who is doing such a great job of looking after you.

Kelly, great update. This treatment sounds fabulous, hope it keeps on working. Bless you for not giving up on the little guy.

Sharon
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