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

Monday, July 10, 2006

24 Weeks Post Diagnosis

The adventure continues...

Yesterday evening after I returned from work, Leo was showing all signs of being hungry (as in standing in the kitchen meowing) but refused everything I put in front of him without even trying it. Room temperature, warmed -- he turned his nose at a variety of meat products, cat and baby food. I even resorted to shoving a tiny bit of baby food into his mouth, which of course just made him run away from me.

As a last resort, I pulled out the gallon of milk. I never feed him regular (cow's) milk (that whole lactose intolerance thing) but often catch him trying to drink the leftover milk in the kids' cereal bowls after they leave the table.

Poured it into a saucer -- and he began to drink. Emboldened, I then plopped a bit of baby food into the milk and Leo ate it up.

Relief that at least he'd have a little nutrition in his system for the day.

However, less than a half hour later, my husband informed me that Leo had thrown up in the upstairs hall. I was no longer relieved.

When I cleaned it up, I discovered that there was lots of mucus in the mix -- so much so that some of the mess just lifted right off the carpet.

A couple hours later, I tried again to feed him. (Again, it was at Leo's verbal request.) Again no luck with his current favorites.

With nothing to lose, I pulled out a can of Fancy Feast Whitefish + Tuna. Leo hadn't wanted to eat any fish flavors for weeks, so I had stopped offering them to him as of late.

Of course, ever the contrarian, Leo dug right in. He ate at least 2/3 of the can, which these days is cause for celebration.

This morning, the sunrise found Leo meowing outside my bedroom door. The "Feed me!" meow, which I swear he has worked on to make sound as much like "Mom" as possible.

When I opened the door, his behavior was perky (again in that "Feed me!" way of trying to corral me down the steps towards the kitchen.)

But his chin was covered in blood.

He didn't seem to notice or be in any pain. So I decided to try and feed him as usual.

Going for another fish flavor, I pulled the top off a can of Salmon Fancy Feast. Leo dug right in, even as blood dripped out of his mouth onto the plate (watery bright red blood, not mixed with drool.)

As he chowed down, the bleeding subsided. That is, if you don't count the foot-long bloody drool that slimed out the side of his mouth as he ate.

But he ate the whole can! Even if he doesn't eat another bite today, this is enough.

I'm pretty sure that last night's vomit of mucus/milk/food made Leo feel better -- got some of that mucus out of his system at least.

I have no idea where the bleeding is coming from in his mouth (it's now 11:15 AM and all his drool thus far today has been blood-tinged.) It's from somewhere in the back of his mouth on the tumor side. Nothing seems to really be hurting him when I rub the side of his face -- although I notice he is occasionally scratching the hinge area of his chin on that side.

Put Leo back on the Clindamycin drops -- he really needs an antibiotic to make sure that whatever is bleeding doesn't get infected.

I'm finding myself worn down by this whole process -- although today is much better than yesterday, to be sure. I have to keep myself from going into doom-and-gloom mode when things go bad (natural tendency to prepare yourself for the worst, I suppose)...and remember to always expect the unexpected, good or bad.


Blogger Merujo said...

Bless his heart, man. Leo is a survivor. But I know this has to be wearing you down. I was telling my sisters about you and Leo, and they said it reminded them of their last couple of months with our brother, actually. You know the inevitability of the outcome, yet there are rallies and days that make that inevitable seem less so. Thinking very good thoughts from stinky, sweaty DC -- MJ

7/11/2006 1:01 PM  

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