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

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

32 1/3 Weeks Post-Diagnosis

When I start using fractions in my post title, it's a sure sign I'm going nuts.

But in a good way now, I guess.

As I type this sitting on our family room couch, Leo is laying along the top of the cushion behind me. Just like the good old days.

Since my last post, the pain medication didn't seem to be doing the trick as well.

On Saturday, he went most of the morning without eating. It may just be that he's tired of the a/d food, but he didn't want any Fancy Feast either. But then he ate great that it was off and on...

His body language told me he wasn't always feeling as good as he had been when he first started the Torbutrol. Again, it was intermittent -- so a call to the vet could wait until the end of the holiday weekend.

Yesterday, the vet upped the dosage to 2.5 mg twice a day (up from 1 mg.) I halve a 5 mg pill, so it's only 1 pill per day, which saves some money too. This Torbutrol is much more expensive than Leo's prednisolone, which is only about $8 for an entire month. I don't have the receipt in front of me, but think it was about $20 for the 10 Torbutrol pills they gave me yesterday.

Anyway, back to Leo. I thought maybe when I upped the pain med today he would go back to eating ravenously again. Nah. He only wants to lick up watered down food.

I decided to step back regarding feeding...I will provide food for him 24/7, but I'm not going to force-feed him. And when he doesn't want to eat anymore, that will be the sign it's time to let go.

The good news is that the pain medication has significantly reduced the slimey drool. My guess is that some of the drool was due to irritation.

This is a huge plus -- I no longer need to hover over him as he eats to pull off strings of drool sliming out of his mouth.

Don't want to make it sound too sunny. Leo still pretty much always has a gooey chin, but the long drool strings dripping down aren't a constant anymore, and that is a major positive.

And because he's only lapping up food, he doesn't do that hitting himself in the face while he's eating anymore.

And his mouth has barely been bleeding lately. And the jaw/mouth tumor hasn't grown noticeably recently.

On the downside:

I probably spent about an hour today cutting mats out of his mane (is "ruff" the technical term?) Leo kinda liked it (when a mat was released, he purred happily), kinda tolerated it (knowing it would eventually make him feel better), and definitely was looking for an escape route as it dragged on and on.

So there's still a giant lump of knotted fur between his front legs. I really want to get it out, because the mats end up pulling so hard on his skin that he's got a few bald spots.

In addition to my annoying grooming, being medicated 5 times a day has made Leo run away when he sees me coming. Growling is commonplace as I pill him.

I'll admit to shedding a few tears over this. The cruel twist is that I'm working so hard to prolong his life only to have my efforts make him hate me.

In reality, it hasn't come to that.

Still, if he didn't seem to forgive me...didn't still flop down at my feet to be petted...well, I wouldn't be able to stand the pilling and the drops.

I do feel Leo's a little confused as to why his (formerly) nice human is annoying him so much. But I always follow up the nastiness with food or milk.

Which is probably why he's currently lying behind me, with his fluffy tail draped across my shoulder, purring loudly. (A combination that I believe is Cat for, "Feed me, please.")


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