by Bianca Christie
Ginger is an 11-year old Maine Coon. I've had her since she was tiny, and we've had many adventures together, moving from Texas to California and back. She has a sparkling personality and she is a love machine.
She's a small Maine Coon--at her largest, she was about 10 pounds. She was a rescue, so I think her small size is due to malnutrition.
Her gradual weight loss and occasional vomiting didn't worry me. She held steady at eight pounds for nearly 3-4 years. Then, she started leaving Exorcist-looking trails around the house a few weeks ago. From there, it took a couple of weeks to get a firm diagnosis: our vet could feel a mass in or near her lower intestine, which we could also see with an ultrasound scan, but small-cell aspiration with a needle showed inconclusive results. It wasn't until nearly two weeks after her symptoms started that we got a biopsy, which showed conclusively that the mass was a tumor, which is blocking her intestine. Because of its location, it is inoperable.
Both her vet and oncologist recommended that we try a course of chemotherapy, to try to shrink or eliminate the tumor. Since the kind of tumor she has is slow-growing, it generally responds well to chemo, but it takes time. The chemo is only effective when the tumor cells divide, so with slow-growing tumors, it's apparently a slower-acting treatment.
When we began treatment, we had her weight stabilized at 7.1 pounds after she'd dropped to 6.50. For the first two weeks, we're giving her Chlorombicil every other day and Prednisone every day. We've been doing it for a week and in another week we visit the vet to check her progress. We're also giving her Mirtazipine to stimulate her appetite, and Pepcid AC for her stomach acid.
Sometimes I can tell she feels bad. She sits on the stool I placed by the window, where my husband placed a heating pad under a blanket for her. On those days, she looks out the window, sometimes leaning against the glass. This is usually on the days after she gets her chemo. On non-chemo days, or early in the Mirtazipine dosage, she is her sweet, social self, and I have to peel her off me long enough to do important things like go to work.
Between the intestinal blockage and the medication, it's sometimes difficult to get her to eat, which is stressful because she's lost so much weight. She will also sometimes decide she's not interested in one type of food anymore, probably because she ate it on a day when she felt bad. We keep switching wet food, and I can usually tempt her with roast turkey, which jump starts her appetite.
Fortunately, she is the sweetest kitty in the world about being pilled.
I'm grateful for every day she's still here. Most days are good ones. Until we know if she's responding to the chemo, I'm trying to stay hopeful and keep her engaged.