My Name is Leo

An adored cat deals gracefully with a jaw tumor while his owner quietly falls apart.

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Location: Philadelphia area, Northeast, United States

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Day 38

Take a deep breath...exhale slowly...that's better.

I need to work on a mantra for this cat situation -- something, anything, to get me centered.

Leo hasn't been eating great the past few days -- maybe 1/3 of his usual intake. Anyone reading this blog will know that I've been quite obsessed with his food consumption. Because the vet told me at diagnosis that Leo would need to be euthanized when the tumor progressed to the point that he couldn't eat. Therefore, the weight issue has taken on a great deal of importance.

Looking pretty good for a cat who doesn't want to eat

His mood has improved quite a bit since Tuesday, even though he hasn't been eating well. So, I'm attempting to redirect my mental state -- and focus on Leo's attitude as opposed to his eating habits.

A clinical note: a thick mucus-like saliva occasionally drips down in a "string" from his mouth. Besides that, his chin is looking less puffy...but sometimes I think that the actual process of eating makes his chin swell up and since he hasn't been eating much...

(See, I just can't stop mentioning his eating!)

He came to me several times today and wanted to lie on top of my torso (when I was lying on the bed) while I petted him. He hasn't done that for's one of his most endearing "Leo-isms" that I thought was never going to happen again. So, some very nice moments today.

One of the harder things in this journey is the looming unknown...I don't really know what to expect with this tumor; without having a definitive diagnosis due to:

1) the vet not suggesting it; and
2) me not wanted to torture my cat with vet procedures (the why isn't important if there's nothing we can do anyway.)

So, Leo could have an osteosarcoma...? Squamous cell carcinoma is more common in cats, but he doesn't seem to be progressing in that direction (no sores, bleeding.) Heck, this is all just conjecture.

In my dark moments I mentally page through various scenarios -- will he develop an abscess...will the tumor grow so large that his jaw break...or into his throat and choke him...will this unknown cancer spread to other parts of his body...?

Cheery stuff.

ANYWAY, this was supposed to be an positive post, so I'd better get to that.

Maybe Leo's not eating isn't the worst thing. His brother Zeke died in November from renal failure, and honestly I didn't know anything was wrong with Zeke except that he very gradually lost weight over the course of two months. He actually became more affectionate and calmer than he had ever been before. Never meowed in pain...and it wasn't until the last few days when he stopped eating completely that it was obvious something was seriously wrong.

I guess what I'm getting to here is that if my lovely Leo doesn't feel like eating and seems happy otherwise, then I should just chill.

A novel concept for me.


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