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, September 24, 2006

Eight Month Mark

Yesterday marked eight months since the tumor was found on Leo's lower jaw.

This will be a short post, but I wanted to update on his medications and his condition.

The puffiness under his chin I wrote about earlier (a week and a half ago?) went away by itself (with the help of his regular ongoing antibiotic.) And he has been eating well (mostly just meat varieties of baby food.) In fact, some days he's in and out of the kitchen all day lapping at food.

He's probably eating about 4 jars of baby food a day. I try and get him to eat a little a/d food to get cat-centric nutrition, but at this point, I'm just happy he can eat anything.

About 10 days ago I started making the intervals between his prednisolone doses longer. This was not under his vet's directive, but my own decision...and a few days ago I changed the dosing on his antibiotic as well.

Regarding the pred -- it's now just 5 mg every other day. He has seemed much less jumpy on this regime. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure the tumor grew larger on the side of his mouth. And today, his tongue started hanging down in front (as opposed to its previous sassy hanging-out-the-side position.) I don't know if this is a new trend or just tongue position du jour.

He's got some bald spots on the right side of his face (non-tumor side) and underneath where the puffy spot was. The underneath part he scratched off himself(maybe it itched as the presumed infection healed) and the side bald part are mostly where I had to cut mats off his neck.

Anyway, it makes him look even more off-kilter, but he doesn't mind. He even likes me to rub where there is just bare skin. Actually, he's got a peach fuzz growing back in most of the spots.

Look at Leo's face (left side in photo) and you may notice his lack of fur on one side of jawline/neck.

Leo still looks pretty good from the back -- he even has a bit of a milk-mustache (beard?) going on here.

Regarding the antibiotic dosing: all along, the Clindamycin drops bottle states cat dosage as being once every 24 hours. For whatever reason, my vet had me giving Leo a half dosage twice a day. Maybe it is supposed to be easier on his system this way. I just started doing once per day about four or five days ago. It seems to be doing just fine in controlling any potential infection.

The rationale behind all this is multi-faceted, but I'll try and explain it in a way that doesn't make me seem irresponsible! Having to squirt/pill Leo five times a day was much stressful on both of us. So much so that I decided to eliminate as much as possible. With the new regime, we're down three meds one day and four the next.

The prednisone is meant to 1) control tumor growth and 2) provide pain relief. Since the pain medication (torbutrol) does a better job than the pred, pain relief wasn't effected by reducing his pred...and as far as #2 -- at this point, well, the tumor's been growing all along. And maybe faster is better than slower after eight months of this ordeal.

The benefits of reducing dosage: long-term steroid use isn't the best thing for any animal. All along it's been making him jumpy and he seems much happier in the last couple weeks and very affectionate.

And another side effect of pred is that it lowers the body's resistance to infection. So I am hoping that by reducing the pred I am reducing chances of infection in his mouth.

I was thinking of trying to get him off pred altogether, but the every other day seems to be working alright for us now, so I'm going to stick with that for a while. much for a short post!


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