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

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Sweetest Photos

Like the past nine months were just a bad dream...and now Leo will always be the sweet guy in these photos.

They were taken in January 2006, just a couple days before I began this blog, and about a week after the dental extraction that led to the discovery of his tumor.



They have never appeared before (in small part because my vanity doesn't usually allow for posting makeup-less photos :)

Mostly, I held them back with this posthumous moment in mind, because the pictures are just so "Leo" - I wanted them to linger here as a testament to all that he was.



Which was: a furry creature that loved to just pour himself all over a person. A cat who would actually rest his head on your shoulder.




A big, fuzzy, loving thing that seemed like a favorite stuffed animal come to life.

54 Comments:

Anonymous freddie said...

What a beautiful boy, what a loving soul. You are one special human.

10/20/2006 11:33 PM  
Anonymous Becky said...

Hi Cindy I have kept up on your blogs. Thankyou this really helped me for I know that I will be dealing with this soon with my cat Fuzzy. He has the mouth cancer. It is so hard but you showed the whole other beautiful side. Becky

10/27/2006 10:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cindy,
the long, long post I wrote disappeared.
Will try again, later.
Jeanne

12/21/2006 1:24 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Cindy--
Thank you for a wonderful and touching blog. I wish I'd thought to do something like this when my kitties were dying of liver disease and heart disease--my experiences mirrored yours. I could not have been so eloquent, though.

You were a great "cat mom" to Leo and Zeke. I hope you have a couple more rescued kitties now who are benefiting from your care.

Thank you.
Heather

2/12/2007 5:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cindy,

Thank you for documenting your experience so beautifully. I'm still in tears and can imagine your loss.


Sincerely,

Sumanth

9/16/2007 2:27 AM  
Anonymous Maria said...

Cyn,

I found your site when googling for info on cat jaw tumors. You last post about Leo was almost a year ago and I teared up seeing those first three photos of the two of you together when Leo was healthy. What a beautiful cat.
There is something so special and wordless about the love we feel for cats.
I adore my cats - am absolutely gaga over them and now am living with alot of emotion waiting for my Thursday vet appointment for my 9 year old cat, Baby, who developed a swelling almost overnight on his left jaw. I feel crushed at the possibility I may not have long with him and then I swing to wild hope that perhaps I have more time...that it is only an infection. I want more time.
I am so sorry for your loss of your Leo. I read your whole post and am glad you felt relief at his passing.
What a beautiful site he is buried on. That day looks like it was magic. Like his little kitty soul was somehow absorbed into all that beautiful sunlight and greenery. I think your EH was right about him looking down on you then.
And thank you too for all the specifics of drugs, dosages and your feelings (and sense of humor- gory though some of it was !) about everything you & he had to go through during that last year.

I don't know what I'll find out on Thursday, but I feel a little less alone about it.

Best,
Maria

10/09/2007 10:17 PM  
Blogger Cyn said...

Thank you so much everyone for the comments. I can't tell you how much I appreciate them. It really means a lot to me that this blog can help (or at least inform) other people dealing with the same (or similar) problem.

Maria, I've got my fingers crossed for you and Baby. Hopefully, it's just a dental issue or something of a benign nature. I love what you wrote about Leo's little kitty soul being absorbed into the sunlight! Every time I've visited the spot (about 4 times in the past year) I've felt good vibes.

I celebrated (not the most appropriate word!) the anniversary of Leo's death 2 days ago. Not intentionally...but with his demise co-inciding with my birthday I just couldn't deny the memories. (Plus, my subconscious conveniently provided me with a couple of bad dreams to make sure I couldn't forget the anniversary.)

On the other hand, happy memories (and photos) of Leo continuously pop up (I've been putting all my old photos in albums)...suddenly, there he is - his beautiful, happy, pre-illness self - whether proudly posing for me, or just wandering into the frame at an opportune moment.

So there is good, as always, to soften any scars in my psyche from his illness.

Anyway, I've been meaning to post one last time to "finish" the blog, but I can't seem to manage it. Someday...

In the meantime -- THANKS TO ALL!

10/10/2007 7:49 AM  
Blogger chefmunn1 said...

Hi found your site while finding out info as my cat seems to have the same thing. came back from the vet who said not much he can do ( we live in St. Lucia) he is on antibiotics and some steroid type pill but that night he started to bleed from under the tongue after eating. I am wondering if it was irritated by the vet checking or if it will bleed when irritated by eating or just bleeds on its own? Obviously the poor thing is uncomfortable and isn't eating a lot we're now trying all sorts of different food to get him to eat something. the drooling is horrible but at least there is no smell. we took in this 9 year old puss when his owner passed away so we don't know the history just that he has a sweet disposition and loves to sit on your lap which the drooling makes difficult. Iappreciate you sharing your story and am very sorry for the loss of Leo. Your site helped and gave me info to deal with Oscar's situation. Thank you. Caroline

11/02/2007 10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Cindy:
I read your blog some 3 weeks ago when my buddy Nunzio was diagnosed with the same tumor as your Leo. The blog was very helpful, aside from Nunzio and Leo could be twins, they look almost identical and have very similar traits and personalities. Unfortunately they shared the same illness. Nunz was 12 years old, he fared well the last three weeks but today he began to vomit constantly and had no energy, it was time. I will miss him a lot, he was full zeal and life, he was a gentle mannered good boy. Thanks as your blog made a tough decision much easier.

Peter
Boston, Mass.

1/29/2008 8:39 PM  
Blogger Cyn said...

To Peter: I'm so sorry to hear about your Nunz. He sounds like a wonderful and special soul. When you write that he was similiar to Leo...well, I know I am still feeling Leo's absence more than a year later...so this must be a very tough day (and a past tough three weeks) for you.

That said, I especially appreciate your taking the time to comment on this tough day; it means so much to me to hear that this blog is able to help others going through what Leo did.

My condolences to you...but I hope at least that you are comforted by the knowledge that you made the right decision - the only decision - for your buddy.

To Caroline: It seems I may have missed your comment earlier (my grandfather passed away about the time you wrote) and I'm sorry if I neglected to respond.

Thank you for your message...and although it didn't sound good for Oscar, he seems to have found a kind and loving family to help him through his last days.

Best wishes,
Cindy

1/29/2008 9:14 PM  
Blogger kevin said...

Wow. Tears. I just came here on a search for medicine reactions, and I could not help going over the rest of the blog. I've been where you were a few times, as recently as the end of December when I lost a kitty. This was really touching to read. Thanks for leaving it up on Blogger.

3/10/2008 11:38 PM  
Blogger Cyn said...

Thank you for the comment Kevin. I'm getting repetitive in saying this, but it does really mean a lot to me to hear from people who were touched by Leo's story.

3/19/2008 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Bea and Tony said...

Hi Cyn,

We are writing from Brisbane Australia and found your experiences with Leo a real help as to know what to do with our lovely boy Nanook. I am sorry to hear your story, but thank-you so much for sharing it. Leo was a beautiful cat.

Nanook is 14 and has more than his 9 lives (always up to mischief and always getting himself hurt) and has had a very full life. He is a real character and has been such a great mate to my husband and I.

We went to the vet Friday and were told that he has a lump on his lower left jaw;that to remove would mean, chemo, drugs, operations all that. On Friday it was the size of a large marble and now its bigger-in two days. Reading your blog brought home some things that now make sense-like being off his food a little, dribbling, smelly breath, loss of weight and he just seems so much more affectionate-sleeping between us-which he just never has done. This behaviour has been going on for the last couple of months and we put it down to him having something wrong with his teeth.

The vet informed us that there were a few options but the cancer takes over and life just isn't that great. After much deliberation and tears we have decided to send Nanook to the great cat cloud in the sky before he starts to go down hill any further. I know this may sound harsh in some ways but we just could not bear to see him slide any further, we want him to go out on top. I am sure personally we are doing the right thing-it is the hardest thing and we are not looking forward to it, even though we could prolong his life for a few months with drugs etc.

So thank-you very much for putting your thoughts and experiences of the lovely Leo out there for all cat lovers to read.

Thanks Bea and Tony

4/05/2008 8:43 PM  
Blogger Cyn said...

Bea & Tony,

Thank you so much for your kind comments, though I am very sorry that Nanook's illness brought you here.

I don't think it's harsh that you chose to let Nanook go before he declines. I've often wondered if I should have made that choice for Leo; even a year-and-a-half later I still feel rather scarred by the entire experience. But at the time I didn't feel like I had a choice - maybe because he had such an adaptable personality and took things in (relative) stride...so I try and hold onto that and hope I did right by him, even though I'm not sure I would follow the same path if I ever find myself in a similar situation in the future.

Anyway, there are no wrong decisions in these sad matters...I think you just have to go with your gut, weigh the quality of life issues, how caring for a dying animal would affect the human members of the family, etc.

Nanook sounds like a special guy, and I know you will miss him. My condolences to you.

Cindy

4/06/2008 11:44 AM  
Blogger Survey$Center said...

wow...So many comments..
u r so populararararara...Cindy
:-)

5/20/2008 9:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cindy,

My husband and I just learned yesterday that one of our 4 kitties, Milano, has numerous tumors in his mouth. It doesn't seem to be affecting him much as of yet, he is still eating and doesn't seem to be in pain, but the news hit us really hard.

My husband had to go to the vet on his own as I was working, and came back so distraught I knew something was wrong.

My vet, who is a wonderful doctor but also a wonderful human being, and who helped me through many difficult times since my first cat passed away, had a hard time looking my husband in the eye and was so sorry to find these tumors that he did not give us much hope that Milano would get through this. I appreciate his honesty and his attempt not to give us false hope, but I hate the fact that he might be right.

My husband got Milano as a 4 week old kitten rejected by his mom 8 years ago, when we were but a budding couple. He was the last addition to our little family, our baby...

I can't seem to get my emotions under control. I lost my first cat, my very best friend, 10 years ago, after a long battle with leukemia, and the last thing I want for Milano is a long and painful battle.

Like many others, I stumbled onto your post after googling 'cat' 'mouth' 'tumors' in hope I would find some comfort, or at least some information on what is to come next, what to expect. I wasn't looking for technical information as much as some comfort in knowing that others had been through this, and had somehow managed to ease their pet's transition...

I found in your post something (many things!) hopeful, but mostly I found something honest that I know will be very helpful in the weeks (months? years?) ahead. I have so many questions, so much pain, I feel lost...yet I feel now that I will be able to take each day as it comes, with its ups and downs, and that every second spent with Milano will not be spent hurting at the thought of his loss but grateful that I am blessed with another wonderful purring moment.

I am sorry to ramble, but I felt I needed to thank you for sharing your story - and with such eloquence. You allow other people to feel comforted, to feel stronger, and to accept that loss is part of life. Leo was a lucky cat, as I feel you were a lucky mommy to have him.

I hope I will be as strong as you have been with Leo, and show Milano that wathever happens, I'll be there by his side.

Thank you again for everything.
Christine

5/24/2008 12:19 PM  
Blogger Cyn said...

Christine,
Thanks so much for your wonderful comment. I am very gratified to know something here was helpful to you, and your words made me feel like this blog is truly serving its intended purpose.

But still, I feel so sorry for you and your husband and Milano that I can barely hold back the tears (I'm at work now, where crying would be totally inappropriate, otherwise I don't know if my emotions would be so easily controlled!)

My best wishes to you all, and I'm hoping that you will still have a good bit of time left to enjoy and love your dear Milano.

5/25/2008 12:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,

I'm very sorry to hear about your beloved Leo. My husband found your blog while searching online for mouth tumors in cats. We both spent hours reading everything. Thank you for writing it, it gave me a lot of comfort....

Our cat Aino has been struggling with mouth/tooth problems all of her life. A couple of months ago her chin started showing a bump and after trying all kinds of antibiotics (as the vet thought it was just another infection) she has just had a biopsy to determine what it it. The vet already told us she's about 90% sure that it is a tumor, but we're still waiting for the results, which should come next week.

We were quite down last week when the vet already started mentioning saying goodbye to our Aino if it indeed is a tumor. The idea that she won't be with us very much longer really scared us. You're never ready to hear such a thing!
She still seems so alive, so "normal" and despite the clearly visual bump on her chin (which now has no fur and is covered in stitches) and the drooling all over the floor, she seems perfectly fine. It doesn't seem to bother her that much. Definitely not a wanting-to-die-cat.

Reading your blog made us realize that Aino doesn't need to be put to sleep any time soon. She still very much has the will to live and though the vet suggested it, we're willing to let Aino live as long as she wants, providing she won't be in pain.

We're trying to enjoy every moment with her, giving her special treats and just love her as much as we can. Though she is an inside cat, we're now taking her on walks outside, to give her all these new things to discover, hoping it will motivate her to not just sit in a quiet corner and feel miserable.

Anyway, thank you for your blog. In a way it gave us an idea of what to expect with our Aino.

Greetings from Finland,

Iona

PS: some pictures of our cat:http://photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=518098

8/23/2008 8:58 AM  
Blogger Cyn said...

Iona: I am so sorry I didn't reply earlier. Best intentions led astray. I did look at the photos of Aino right away when I read your comment last month - what a beautiful girl! Simply gorgeous. Such an expressive face.

If you happen to visit this blog again, please leave a comment as to what has happened with Aino in the past weeks. I loved your idea of taking her on walks and making her days as happy as they can be. Best wishes to you all.

9/17/2008 4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Cyn,

Well, Aino is still hanging in there. The biopsy of Aino's chin surprisingly enough didn't show any cancer cells. It indicated the mass in her chin is acute bone growth. (could be related to the 6 teeth she had removed due to infections before all this started. It left a gap. Still it's a bit of a mystery...)

Of course that biopsy was a while ago already... The vet suspects a tumor is hidden deeply underneath, as her chin keeps growing. She is still drooling a lot and I keep mopping the floor. :) Further investigation is ongoing....

We do still take Aino outside as much as we can and she loves it! She's still so much alive! As soon as I take the leash, she understands it means she can go out and runs to the door. There she sits patiently and even purrs when I put the leash on. She's amazingly sweet.

Eating poses a bit of a problem for Aino as the mass in her mouth has now also grown underneath her tongue, pushing it up and making swallowing harder. She doesn't eat that much anymore, no matter what we feed her. I suspect she just can't, though she keeps asking for food. It's hard to watch sometimes...

Also cleaning herself seems to be getting more difficult. She needs some help with that although she doesn't like us touching her mouth/chin at all.

The way things are going it seems so very much like the path your Leo has taken, that I just keep thinking there has to be some kind of tumor inside. Can I ask you, how did Leo's tumor feel on the outside of his mouth/chin? Was it a hard mass? Aino's chin is just very hard, it really feels like extra bone somehow... And her breath doesn't smell that great either.

Aino's imminent passing remains in the back of my head. That helps me to enjoy the moments with her extra much! I have no idea how long she will still live, but I fear it won't be that long anymore. A couple of months? Maybe... Hopefully...

Iona

9/18/2008 11:19 AM  
Blogger Cyn said...

Hi Iona,

Thanks for the update. It does sound very much like Leo's condition -- the drool, bad breath, hard mass, etc.

I did not have his lump biopsied (which has nagged me since) and the vets didn't even suggest it. Since you have had a biopsy that didn't show cancer, did your vet think Aino's lump could be ANYTHING else? I remember wondering about Feline Eosinophilic Granuloma with Leo, although the photos I saw online showed different-looking lesions than what Leo had so I never questioned my vet about it. If you have a good rapport with your vet (which I really did not) maybe you could ask about that.

When there was not infection present, the lump on Leo's jaw was rock hard. From the initial x-ray, it seemed to be a bone growth and so that made sense. When he wasn't dealing with infection, he actually liked me to rub the lump (just like normal - he always like to have his jaw rubbed) but when it got infected it would get puffier and painful and his not wanting me to touch that area was a sign to me that I needed to address infection - again.

Such a hard time for you, but it sounds like you are making the best of it. Aino is still loving her life, and you still have some good time left to love her.

9/18/2008 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Cyn,

I googled Feline Eosinophilic Granuloma. It doesn't really look like anything Aino has. There are some scary pictures with a lot of infections. It's weird, but I remember the pictures you took of Leo's mouth and tumor and it looks more similar to that. But my husband will ask the vet about that. (My Finnish isn't that great yet..) Thanks for the info :)

When we first took Aino in and discussed the bump, the vet immediately suspected that it was a cancer tumor. I don't think she ever thought it could be anything else. And she also was very surprised when the biopsy came back negative.

We will take Aino back to the vet next week to have her looked at again. It's been a while since the vet has seen Aino and I think she will be quite startled when she sees Aino's condition now... I'm a bit afraid of what she will say and also my husband fears that the news will be bad... Though we are not willing to put Aino to sleep just like that, the situation is getting worse and I'm thinking about how long to let Aino go on like this...

Iona

9/21/2008 6:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi,

Well, Aino's journey ended yesterday when we were forced to put her to sleep. She simply could not eat anymore and was getting skinnier by the minute. It was hard to watch, as she still tried to eat.

The vet came to our house yesterday afternoon and Aino died on my lap. We're devastated and I keep crying... Aino was still so full of life. It wasn't supposed to be her time yet. It's amazingly hard. The house is quiet and empty. Mornings and evenings are the moments we miss her most.

She will be cremated and we will have a wooden urn to remember her by.

Br,
Iona

9/28/2008 1:05 AM  
Blogger Cyn said...

Iona,

I am so sorry to hear about Aino. There aren't really words at this time to ease the pain, but at least you were able to have her leave you in the most peaceful way - in your home, in your lap, loved.

It will get easier. The rawness will heal and the emptiness will slowly fill with memories that bring smiles instead of tears. It *will* happen, in time.

Take comfort in knowing that you did everything you could to make her last days happy.

Best wishes,
Cindy

9/29/2008 7:54 PM  
Blogger Venita said...

Cindy,

A touch over two years since you lost Leo. I am so very sorry for your loss, but very grateful for your story.

My 15YO Lily has been diagnosed with osteosarcoma. It's in her upper right jaw. The oral surgeons at the University of Penn Vet School say it's too large for a successful surgical removal.

Thus my sincere thanks for your roadmap of the journey we are on. We will likely not travel as far as you and Leo did. Lily, being semi-feral, is not as "adaptable" as Leo was.

Venita

10/11/2008 12:40 PM  
Blogger Doreen said...

I'm so glad I stumbled upon your blog. We just put our 18 year old orange tabby to sleep this past weekend. Corey looked a lot like your Leo and he, too, had a jaw tumor.

I didn't realize that it was a death sentence at first. They told us we had many options, including the partial removal of his jaw - which, frankly, horrified me.

After a round of medications (appetite stimulant, acid reducer, and antibiotic) for 4 weeks, we realized that we were fighting a losing battle. I think we reached the point where we were trying to prolong his life for US, and that wasn't necessarily in Corey's best interest. So we did what we felt was most compassionate, even though I can't imagine shaking this feeling of guilt.

It's good to see that you adopted again. I hope my husband and I can get to that point again one day. Thanks for letting me know that I'm not alone in my sadness over losing a wonderful cat. Your blog made me smile.

5/18/2009 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Lisa said...

I came across your blog while searching the internet after I found out my 12yr old cat Boo has an oral tumor much like Leo's. This was three days ago.
I was so heart broken when the vet told me I didn't even ask how long.
So needless to say with very little info out there your blog has helped me more than you would know. All I the info I was able to find was possible treatments that are not an option.
I now know what may be to come. I just want to thank you and let you know that you experience with Leo is still out there and helping people 5 years later. Not even sure you are still keeping tabs on your blog and its post. But even half a decade later it is
still the best source of info I could find.
I have a long road ahead with my Boo and I plan on spending it spoiling him and sooking him like he always loved to be.
Thank you.

1/09/2011 5:26 PM  
Blogger Cyn said...

Lisa,

You are so welcome. It means more to me than I can put into words...that this blog, and Leo's journey, could be helpful to you. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment here, in the midst of what you're going through.

I'm so sorry to hear about Boo. But you go and spoil him and enjoy the time you have with him now. Probably my biggest regret was that I spent so much time mourning Leo's illness when it was in the early stages when I should have been living in the moment - just like our furry friends do.

My thoughts are with you.

1/09/2011 10:10 PM  
Blogger Cyn said...

A belated response to Venita and Doreen -

I'm so sorry I didn't acknowlege your comments earlier. I remember reading and appreciating them...but I get the comments via e-mail and then actually have to remember to go back to the blog and respond. I will blame old age, and hope you might get notice of this response, even all this time later, and know I really did appreciate your comments.

Venita, So very sorry to hear you had to deal with this with Lily. U of P is probably one of the best veterinary hospitals around, so at least there is some comfort in that.

Doreen, I hope in the intervening time that your loss of Corey has become less raw. And that any feelings of guilt you might have had have been replaced by a sense of peace, knowing you acted solely out of compassion and did what you had to do for Corey to end his suffering.

One of these days I will put an epilogue on this blog, but it's hard for me to "close the book" on Leo, even now. He was certainly a once-in-a-lifetime pet for me. That said, since his passing our feline population went from zero to three (crazy, crazy) cats. And so life does go on.

Hope things have brightened for both of you too since your postings.

1/09/2011 10:44 PM  
Blogger stephen said...

My 19 year old cat, Poppa, is battling chronic renal failure and what is believed to be a tumor in his lower left jaw.
He eats well, if given fancy feast, tuna or salmon, but can no longer drink. I give him subq fluids for his CRF and give him water via a dropper whenever he is thirsty.
Antiobiotics seem to stop any pain, oddly enough. He still sleeps well, purrs non stop, and enjoys being with his family of 2 other cats, 2 labs, and me!
Your blog is a big help and instant tear fest. Poppa has been with me since the day he was born. His mass looks very much like Leo's. He drools interspersed with blood, just as Leo did. He does not have the massive amount of blood that Leo had. Poppa was diagnosed only a month ago. I do, however, suspect retrospectively that he has had this for a while.
It is nice that others out there understand the 'love affair' some of us have w/ very special pets. I love all my animals, but Poppa takes it to a whole different level.
I hate that I can't take this away, but I will do whatever is needed to make sure his remaining quality of life is remarkable.
When he lets me know the time is here, I don't know where I will get the strength, but I will do what is best for him.
Thanks again. I needed this support today.
Rebecca - Houston, TX

5/28/2011 4:24 PM  
Blogger Cyn said...

You're welcome, Rebecca. So, so sorry to hear about Poppa. Your love for him is quite evident and it sounds like you are giving him the very best of care and that he still has a good quality of life. I love what you wrote about making his remaining quality of life "remarkable." That's a great goal. And you will find the strength when you need it.

I could really relate to all your wrote about your "love affair"...I have three post-Leo cats, and they are all very people-oriented (two of them are practically my stalkers -- sleeping next to me as I type this) but none of them have the same bond with me as Leo did.

So, cherish these days as much as you can...and feel some solace, at least, that you've had 19 years with a great friend whom you've given the happiest of lives.

Best wishes.

6/01/2011 9:16 PM  
Anonymous Jen said...

Just another person coming along to say thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your journey with Leo. He sounds was clearly an amazing guy and you are very obviously a wonderful and kind person.

My cat Tippy was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in her jaw a little over a month ago and sadly lost her battle on Monday. I had some traveling during that month and made a deal with her that she would either go quickly before I left or she would last through until after I got back and make it through our birthday (Tippy and I shared a birthday, June 21). She kept her side of the bargain and made it to 17 years old last week. She was always so healthy despite her age. I thought she had a couple more good years in her before she'd be ready to go. Tippy was my first cat and my first pet loss and I did not know what to do when she was diagnosed. She was everything to me. Google brought up your blog and as horrible as it is I'm glad you shared Leo's journey so I could have some idea what to expect and not feel quite so alone.

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.

6/29/2011 1:03 PM  
Blogger Cyn said...

Thank you, Jen, for your very kind comment. It means SO much to me that my blog could be of help to you.

Reading about your "bargain" with Tippy got me teary...not only because I could feel how much she meant to you, but because it reminded me of how hard I tried to keep Leo going past my birthday (he died the next day.) I'm glad Tippy was able to be there to share your mutual birthday...I hope it was a good one, in spite of her illness.

I am so very sorry you had to seek out this blog, but happy for any solace it could give you. Thank you for taking the time to comment in your time of loss. Best Wishes.

7/07/2011 5:15 PM  
Anonymous Arnoud said...

Cyn, thanks for this endearing blog. My 12y old tomcat Salo has the same problem, in an early stage (although it may be a bone tumor), and this week I agreed with the vet that surgery is not an option. Your blog, next to clearly being heartfelt, is also very informative so I know a bit of what may come. It's been bookmarked. Arnoud

3/13/2012 9:14 PM  
Blogger Claudia said...

Cyn
About two weeks ago I found a tiny bump on the lower back jaw of my best friend, my precious cat Flip. My vet took a x-ray and feels it could be a cancerous tumor but we did a 10 day round of clinomyacin and it seemed to get bigger despite the meds. My cat also had multiple teeth removed over the last year.

To get a firm diagnosis, I need a cat-scan, and a biopsy which would include anesthesia to remove some tissue in her mouth and some bone in her mouth to check. I am hesistant to do the biospies since at her age, they seem too invasive, esp with anesthesia.

My vet suggested to leave her be and treat her, like Leo was treated, with anti-biotics and pain meds later as needed. He did not suggest prednisone but I will discuss same with him tomorrow. he was unsure what type of cancer it might be. I hope it is not SCC and we will discuss that tomorrow as I want to bring her back for B12 and fluids.

My vet's thoughts were my only options are: 1) leave her be and treat the pain and any infections as they come 2) treat with herbs and chinese meds 3) chemo 4) radiation 5) surgery to remove part of the jaw 6) trial studies for oral cancer in cats. His vote was a combination of 1 and 2. He thinks that at her age 3 and 4 are not viable options as they will not prolong her life and option 5 might actually put her in renal failure. He said he might consider option 6 once he hears about the study ( I need to hear about it also and see if she is a candidate). The Vet Hospital doing this study will be calling be soon so I will know more.

How do you know what the right decision is? I am so upset now thinking about what to do and hoping I will make the right decision.

This cat is my best friend in the world. She survived so much with me in terms of my divorce and some job losses and moves. She makes me so happy and I try and do the same for her every day of her life. I knew she wouldnt live forever but this has me so distraught there are no words. keep in mind, right now, she is perfectly fine, just 15.....she eats a ton, drinks a ton, craps all the time and sleeps a ton. Shes normal and healthy...for now. This is what scares me...like you...the unknown.

Should I even bother getting a diagnosis considering whats involved? Am I being selfish for wanting one to know what to expect and know how much time we have together? Does it even matter (I am talking out loud obviously).

Please offer any advice you can give. I would be forever grateful. I am just so scared, anxious, upset but also dont want to waste the time I have with her being this way. It serves neither of us well.

I am sorry I am babbling but this is so fresh and new for me and reading your blog did help but i am still so confused.

PS Leo and Flip would have been awesome friends....Flip is so laid back and would have loved chillaxin' with Leo.

If you want, please feel free to email me davisesq212 at aol dot com (I am just so scared).

7/20/2012 11:46 PM  
Anonymous Wendy said...

Hello, I just want to say thank you for sharing Leo's story. He was beautiful, and clearly very well loved. I want to thank you for sharing your experiences as Leo's cancer progressed, and to let you know how helpful your blog is to us, as we are facing the same illness with our beloved cat Molly. She was diagnosed in January, and already the tumor has changed her facial appearance drastically - she drools and bleeds, then things look a little 'better', then worse again. Now her eye is affected on the side of the tumor. I dread the next appointment with the vet, and it stresses her more each time. Such an emotional rollercoaster. Thank you again for sharing your journey with Leo.

2/21/2013 9:48 AM  
Blogger Cyn said...

Wendy, I appreciate your comment so much, even as I'm sorry that Molly's illness brought you here. I hope her condition was able to plateau since you last posted, although I know that this usually progresses far too quickly. Best wishes to you, and many thanks for taking the time to let me know the blog was helpful to you.

3/10/2013 8:18 PM  
Blogger Cyn said...

To Claudia, if you see follow-ups to your post from last year. I'm terribly sorry I didn't respond to your post. I didn't see it - I'm supposed to get e-mail notification of comments but sometimes that system fails. You expressed yourself so well...the anxieties and distress and confusion...I feel awful I wasn't here to give you advice when this was happening. I hope you were able to find support elsewhere.

Our stories never seem to have a "happy" ending, but still I smile as I imagine Flip and Leo chillaxin'! If you see this, feel free to post a follow-up. Thanks.

3/10/2013 8:27 PM  
Blogger Cyn said...

Oh - Wendy - I meant to say to you that a follow-up on Molly would be appreciated, if you feel like it. Thanks again, and best wishes.

3/10/2013 8:32 PM  
Blogger Cyn said...

A far-too-belated thanks to Arnod for telling us about Salo. I hope his journey wasn't too difficult, and it's gratifying to know my blog was able to help you. Take care.

3/10/2013 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Arnoud said...

Hi Cyn,
thanks. Salo had a few good months but the inevitable followed when he couldn't eat anymore. He had a great life and I made sure the last months were as good as they could be.

The house was very empty, so in the end I took on two new (well, older) cats who now enjoy the patio and sleeping places (see Cats Protection Norwich).

3/11/2013 10:08 PM  
Blogger Cyn said...

Thanks for the follow-up Arnoud! I'm glad to hear that Salo had a few more good months. I'm sure you made them count.

Polly and Tilley are lovely girls - both are so cute - and you can see Polly is a friendly lass just by looking at her! It's great that you all found each other.

3/12/2013 12:01 AM  
Anonymous James said...

Cindy,

Our own cat, Stormy, has a hard growth on the right side of her jaw which we didn't notice until she started licking, rubbing, and fussing with it. The vet just called today with the unfortunate diagnosis of osteosarcoma in her jaw, and your blog was at the top of the search results.

We are devastated to receive the diagnosis, and it's all but assured she will not be with us longer than a few more months.

Thank you for taking the time and investing your emotions into this blog. I just finished reading all 9 months worth of posts, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried reading some of them. They helped me to understand what the road ahead may hold, and gave me some much needed perspective with which to deal with the decision when "the" time has come.

It's been many years now since Leo's spirit moved on, but it's so wonderful that he can still impact so many families lives around the world still today!

Thanks again,
James

6/04/2013 10:41 PM  
Blogger Cyn said...

Thanks for your lovely comment, James. It means everything to hear that this blog could be of help to you. So sorry to hear about Stormy :( I can only hope that she is still in the stage when the osteosarcoma is just an annoyance to her...that you still have some quality time left to enjoy each other. Best wishes, and thanks for taking the time to comment.

6/14/2013 7:33 AM  
Anonymous Julia said...

Hi Cindy,
I am avoiding sleep, because I know in the morning I will need to take my own beloved cat for one last trip to the vet. He was diagnosed with an osteosarcoma in his jaw only five short weeks ago. Like many others, I was lead to your blog by grief-stricken googling. Crying, I read it all. And tonight I've returned to reread the last few posts about Leo's death. I am clinging to the sentiment they contain as we face these last hours together.
Thank you for sharing Leo's story. He reminds me a lot of my boy, and reminds me how lucky I am that I was privileged to share his life.
Warmly,
Julia and Lucky Dog the cat

6/16/2013 11:15 PM  
Blogger Cyn said...

Julia, I am so very sorry to hear that you are going through this. It's hard to find the right words on this day in particular, but if you could find any comfort in reading about Leo's journey then I am grateful you found this blog. Hope there are some peaceful moments for you today, remembering the special bond you shared. It's been almost 7 years since Leo's passing...I can honestly say that the sadness I feel reading stories like yours far outweighs any residual sadness I might have about Leo. The cruelness of the end of his life can't take away my overwhelming feeling of being so lucky to have had my life graced by his presence -- just as you said about feeling lucky to share Lucky Dog's life. So I hope that when today is nothing more than history to you that you will be left with nothing more than the happy memories. Take care.

6/17/2013 9:01 AM  
Anonymous Julia said...

Well, it's done now. Our appointment turned out to be at 2:30 in the afternoon, and I dreaded the long day waiting. But it was oddly peaceful.
It was a glorious, warm, calm day here in Massachusetts. Lucky Dog was always an indoor cat, but was occasionally granted outdoor explorations under strict supervision (and often wearing a harness and leash). He loved to be outside, and we called him exploro-cat. We spent over an hour outside that day, sniffing the grass and exploring in bushes. I took lots of pictures, and my husband, Lucky Dog, and I reveled in each other's presence.
Lucky Dog's passing was... difficult. He howled at the sedative; I think the vet nicked a bone with the needle, he was so skinny. And it took two tries to find a vein for the barbiturate. But the staff was very kind, and we were able to spend time with his body after he was gone.
Upon pulling in the driveway, we saw a cat I'd never seen in the neighborhood before, a long haired tuxedo cat (like Lucky Dog), trot across the yard and vanish into the bushes. Soon afterwards, an appropriately Biblical thunderstorm tore through town. A few hours later, the storm clouds cleared and the most beautiful double rainbow filled the sky-- right over our house. I don't know where cats go when they die, but the sight of that rainbow made me weep.
I miss Lucky Dog desperately. I work from home these days, and the apartment is empty without him. I keep hearing noises that I think are him, I round corners and expect to find him snoozing in one of his spots. I pick my head up from my work and look for him, ready to call him to my lap for snuggles. I forget, over and over, that he's gone.
But I already see the happiness that you forecast. Lucky Dog was an exceptional creature. The kind that you are lucky to meet twice in your life. My sister-in-law calls him more human than cat. Already, my husband and I smile to recount his antics and his love. We adopted him when we were only 23, a mere month and a half after we moved in together. We were babies, and he taught us how to be a family.
I feel kind of silly pouring all of this out on your blog, seven years after Leo's passing. But I feel compelled to leave this testament to Lucky Dog's life. And reading other people's accounts of their pets' last days, while often upsetting, was deeply meaningful as I grappled (and grapple) with Lucky Dog's mortality. I flatter myself to think that maybe someday seven years down the line someone will read about Lucky Dog, and it will make them smile and help them prepare.
Leo was a special guy, and you do all of us who are facing similar diagnoses a service by preserving this blog, and even still responding to our distraught comments. Thank you.

6/19/2013 11:19 AM  
Blogger Cyn said...

Julia, I so appreciate you sharing this...beautifully written, so moving, and a wonderful tribute to Lucky Dog. Tears, and smiles as I pictured him exploring the outdoors and how happy that must have made him. Can't thank you enough for posting. Best wishes to you and your husband.

6/20/2013 8:05 AM  
Blogger amber williams said...

our stories are crazy similar. i got my cat from a litter of striped kitties, she was the only calico. when she was about a year old she was hit by a pickup truck and hid under the house for weeks and we couldnt find her. when we did her hip was shattered we took her to the vet and they said that the 2000 surgery may not even help and she might heal on her own. so we let her heal herself and it worked great besides a funny looking hip and some crazy swag when she walks lol.she had a litter of kittens (in my bed under my blankets between my legs) and they eventauly ran away. shes indoor out door and the love of my life. had her since 97. shes always beside me always bringing me yarn and gifts but few months ago she had teeth pulled and they found a lump on her jaw. they dont want to say it bc im not exactly mentally stable as it is. but i know deep down that its not good. it keeps growing. we go back to the vet today (i hate dragging her back there all the time shes afraid im going to leave her like i had to when she had teeth pulled) im terrified of what they are going to say. i hope i find the relief you did. for now shes eating and drinking normal snuggling normal going outside and climbing fences just like always youd never known shes like 16. she doesnt seem to be in pain and only drools when shes sleeping or extremely relaxed. i KNOW my cat and i KNOW shes not in pain (i mean i have to ask her what food she wants if she doesnt meow she doesnt want it and wont eat it. also she can say my name when im not listening to her comes out mamerrrr for amber lol) and i know when somethings wrong. ill know when its her time shell tell me. i cry everyday in anticipation and dread of the days she starts to hide under things and lay in the middle of the room. its what she does when shes ill or in pain. shes been the only contsant in my life. dad left.mom left. brother left. bestfriends abandoned and boyfriends have come and gone as well as other dogs and cats . all i can say is i hope there are pets in heaven its the only thing that brings me comfort. to know shell be up there with my other pets waiting for me happy young and perfectly fit

4/02/2014 7:44 AM  
Blogger Monti said...

I just found out my cat has Oral cancer/tumor last week. Our struggle begins.
He is 16 years old... my main concern is that he is relaxed and pain free on his last months on this earth.
I am so thankful for your blog and I urge you to never delete it. I wish you knew how much it has prepared me for what is coming.
I wish my vet was this helpful.

9/13/2015 4:39 PM  
Blogger Cyn said...

Thank you for your comment, Monti. It really means so much to me that this blog was about to help you. I will never take it down for that reason (and I guess a lot of the credit should go to Google that Blogger still exists and that my blog still comes up in searches.) So very sorry to hear about your kitty :(

Although these tumors seem to progress differently from cat to cat, no matter what your vet should be able to find a way to keep any pain at bay with antibiotics and/or prednisone. I also found myself sort of stranded and given no real information when Leo was diagnosed, so it's not just your vet!

There is really no easy way to deal with this - it's always heartbreaking - but I wish you all the best.

9/13/2015 7:30 PM  
Blogger Cyn said...

For Amber, if you see this: Gee, I'm so sorry I didn't reply to your comment last year. Sometimes I miss comment notifications.

So sorry to hear about your calico (Leo was from a litter of 6 - he was the only orange kitten and just one of his sisters was calico :)

I hope her last days were happy and that you were able to find comfort in your memories - sounds like you had a very special relationship.

9/13/2015 7:39 PM  
Blogger Scott Barker said...

Thank you for this blog. I am afraid we are reaching the end with my best friend and I get solidarity from your posts.

3/11/2016 12:59 AM  
Blogger Cyn said...

In reply to Scott Barker:

Sorry for the belated reply, and sorry to hear about your feline friend. It's such a tough thing for us humans to deal with...I'm glad the blog was able to help you, even a little, through a sad and difficult time. It means something that Leo's journey is still able to be a positive for others going through the same thing (although I truly wish no one had to.) Take care.

4/28/2016 8:54 AM  

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