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, October 04, 2006

36 1/3 Weeks Post Diagnosis -- The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

(I had completed one of my typically wordy posts and was ready to upload photos when blogger crashed -- not that unusual -- but this time somehow I even lost my saved "draft" version. So, here is a less-well-written version, because I just don't have another hour to spend being eloquent.)


Leo ate tons last week - like 30 jars of baby food. I'm happy to see him start to fill out again. But it's expensive!

Friday, I dragged out a non-used mini Cuisinart and got Fancy Feast into the same consistency as the baby food -- and Leo loved it! We'll save money - Yay!

Out buying more Fancy Feast Saturday -- when we returned, I reached down to pet Leo -- his fur was ... Soft? Silky? It could only mean that somehow he was able to clean himself properly - which he hasn't done in months and months.

Happy kitty with clean fur -- and his Fancy Feast mush.

It was so wonderful to hold Leo and feel that soft, silky fur that I had loved for so long. Suddenly, all the crap he has been going through seemed worthwhile.

I really felt that things had made a major turn for the better, even as part of me wondered if this was just some sort of "last gift" of a short-lived nature.


Seems it was short-lived. Monday morning he wasn't too interested in food - just ate one dish, not the 3 dishes or so he had been tearing through at a sitting recently.

Gave him an extra midday 1/2 dose of pain med, which only seemed to make him more weird.

Meowing a lot (a "I want something" meow, not a "pain" meow. The same meow he uses when hungry, but he didn't want what I was offering.)

Did eat an entire jar of baby food Monday night, even though he seemed a bit shaky before doing so. I think he also finished up a Fancy Feast dish I had left out from earlier in the day. (Or maybe just finished an earlier baby food...can't remember...)

Before feeding, I looked down and was freaked by his eyes -- they seemed different in some way, but could be my vision (not the best closeup vision these days...)

He needed me to wipe food from his face again -- his miraculous cleaning abilities appear to have vanished with the weekend. But he's barely drooling at all nowadays.

Tuesday: Leo wanted to look out the window as the kids got on the bus (as usual) and I was holding him. I felt something crunchy under the skin of one of his back thighs. Can't explain better than "crunchy" -- except when he was put under anesthesia for his dental (when tumor was found) I felt that same crunchiness under his shoulder skin afterwards. He didn't like me rubbing there and jumped out of my arms. (I wouldn't attribute anything unusual to that necessarily -- he has never really liked his back legs/feet touched.)

Tuesday was his pred day -- wondering if that would perk him up. Didn't. Seemed even more uneasy afterwards. Hard to explain - he didn't seem to be in pain, but I wasn't seeing the happiness I had just two days ago. Not purring as much as usual when petted.

He meows for attention pretty much all day long, but I'm not sure why. Hungry? Ate some baby food, but not all of it in the morning. Ate an entire jar Tuesday night, but he had been eating 4 jars a day last week

Wednesday (today): has barely eaten. First offered Fancy Feast salmon (the flavor he had gone nuts for on Friday) -- didn't try it. Then offered baby food, but he licked a little and turned away.

This morning -- after rejecting food. Leo doesn't usually lie in the kitchen and this body position seemed a signal that something was wrong -- looked weak. But a few minutes later, he was walking around again and I took the photo below...

Last minute babysitting of my 5-year-old nephew sends Leo off into a self-imposed exile. He comes downstairs when nephew and I are eating tuna sandwiches. After we're done eating, I put a little mayo tuna mixture on my finger -- Leo licks it off quickly, happily. But doesn't want any more after the first tongue-full.


Don't know why -- but his eyes are not open to the same size. Not sure if the tumor side eye is smaller (due to tumor somehow pushing up fur) or if the lower eyelid on the other side got pulled down somehow (by my wiping or Leo's cleaning.) There seems to be more black showing along the lower eyelid on the larger eye.

Not really "UGLY" in comparison to his previous drool photos, but the asymmetry of his eyes gives me pause.

Whatever is happening with my little birthday is just a few days away, and the best gift I could receive is to not have anything tragic for Leo be tied to that date for eternity.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Cyn,

Thanks so much for your blog about the beautiful Leo. My 18yo furry daughter was diagnosed yesterday and reading this has helped enormously.

We lost our 7yo German Shepherd earlier this year after 6½ years of every-ailment-under-the-sun (hip dysplasia, hard-to-control epilepsy, meningitis+associated problems, etc) - poor fella had it all. We fought for him but that doesn't feel right for Jasmine J KittyCat, I feel she just wants to enjoy her last couple of weeks and then go "gently into the night".

I loved your comment in an earlier post 'In the modern world, we are so afraid of decline and death that we "end suffering" perhaps more to spare the living than those who are dying. And there is validity in that, as the scars remain on those left behind...who have to watch a loved one deteriorate. But on the other hand, I saw this in part as a journey I had to take with complete the cycle that started when he joined me as that little 6-week-old ball of fluff. I didn't want to take one moment in the sunshine away from him.' - it's so true and this is what I'm struggling with at the moment.

While I know I'll miss my feisty, talkative, attentive, loving, cuddly, amusing little girl, that is in the future. Her lesson to me in this is to get my tears under control and live in the moment. She's not gone yet, so I want her to enjoy every second of it and I want to enjoy the time I have left with her (and to get sick of all the cuddles and attention!!)

Thank you again for your blog.

Blessings to you and your family (and to Leo in KittyParadise with lots of catnip).


12/22/2011 7:23 PM  
Blogger Cyn said...

Karen, I hope you see this (after more than a year) so you know how much I appreciated your kind comments when I first read them. It's so gratifying that Leo's story can help others. I wish I still didn't find it so difficult to come back to the blog (the comments are e-mailed, so I can read them without visiting the site) because comments like yours deserved a timely reply. My apologies.

You were so right about the lesson your Jasmine J KittyCat (love that name) could teach you is "live in the moment." (I still am working on that one!) It was obvious how much you loved her, so I hope you were indeed able to enjoy those last days with her...and that her end was a gentle one. Take care.

3/12/2013 9:23 PM  

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