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

Sunday, April 30, 2006

What Life Are We On Now?

Crazy, crazy since my last post.

Thursday, Leo was super-loving and happy after two doses of Bayril. Thursday night I switched to Clindamycin.

Then came Friday morning. He was in the upstairs hall meowing urgently when I woke my girls up for school. Mostly annoyed meows.

Came downstairs and he started scratching vigorously at the tumor side of his face with his back paw while simultaneously yelping meows (scared the heck out of the kids.)

He hadn't eaten much food overnight, and couldn't seem to get the morning food into his mouth -- got food all over his face.

My husband was off from work since he and I were preparing for a couple days in Atlantic City to celebrate our anniversary. So after the kids left for school I filled him in on the wild cat face-scratching.

An hour or so later, he told me he saw Leo spit out a large spider (wadded up) that looked like it had been in kitty's mouth for a loooong time.

Oh, by then, Leo was growling when I tried to pick him up and his face was very swollen. Lots and lots of mucus-y drool in a constant drip out the side of his mouth.

By all appearances it seemed that switching antibiotics had let the infection go full-blown on him. But did it have anything to do with the chomped-on spider?

This was the absolute worst state he had been in in the last three months. He looked miserable. Meanwhile, I'm supposed to be packing for a trip, but instead I burst into tears as I try and figure out what I should be doing.

My parents were coming to our house to watch the kids (and Leo). But would my mom be able to medicate a very upset cat? Should we be going at all?

I gave Leo an extra half-dose of Clindamycin. Mostly because my doubting nature had me wondering if the pharmacy compounded the medication into treats properly -- what if the two doses I had given Leo did not contain full-potency of Clindamycin?

After a short time, he seemed slightly better...at least not growling. And he hadn't been hiding either. Just looking very unhappy (staring ahead and not sleeping) in his fur-covered studio chair.

Even with the cat's obvious distress, he was still purring a little when I petted him -- as long as I stayed away from his face. Although mostly he would move away from me, remaining hunched in a tense looking position.

Trying to think rationally, I decided that Leo didn't want me hovering over him...that all we could do is see if antibiotics would get this thing back under control, and that I needed to continue with my plans to spend the night away from home.

Of course, my mom wasn't thrilled when she arrived at our house and I proceeded to pill Leo (his prednisone) in front of her so she could observe him hiss at me first-hand. Wanted to reassure her that his hissing didn't mean he would bite or anything, in case he was going to hiss at her in my absence.

Okay -- I'm going into too much detail.

Cut to the chase. Husband and I were gone 24 hours without an urgent call from home regarding Leo. Returned to the homestead and immediately saw that he was eating again and looked much more normal.

He had hissed at my mom when she tried to give him his Clindamycin med/treat Friday night, but she mixed it in a tiny bit of food and he ate it himself. She told me that she was really afraid he might die that night (that's how bad he looked) but sometime overnight things took a huge swing for the better and that he was greatly improved by Saturday morning -- eating without any visible distress.

This morning (Sunday) he looked super -- had obviously groomed himself and had eaten every bit of his food yesterday.

But just when I think I have everything under control a completely new situation presents itself.

I see that Leo has a bloody chin. Bright red, akin to a human's bloody skinned knee; a portion next to the bleeding part was hairless. I'm guessing he either scratched or rubbed it raw.

But there might be a chance that this means he actually has SCC (squamous cell carcinoma) instead of osteosarcoma (bone cancer)? I know SCC is characterised by ulcerations.

Anyway, by this afternoon the area seemed to be scabbing up. Just another twist in this sordid tale.


Scabby chin

My guy is really starting to look worse for the wear; as the tumor grows his face becomes more and more assymetrical. But to me he still looks wonderful when he's feeling good - even with the drool.

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