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Cat: Oliver
male, Tabby

Type of Lymphoma:
Small cell intestinal & liver lymphoma

FeLV Status:

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Oliver's Case Study  

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Story: August 2008: Walking out to my car one day last August (2008), I stumbled upon Oliver, a beautiful yet bone-thin gray tabby who was surprisingly very friendly. He walked up to me when I called him over, and when I noticed he had no tag, was filthy, and sort of dazed, I brought down a can of Tuna, since I didn't have any real cat food. Though I am highly allergic to cats, there was no way I was going to abandon this little baby, and with the help of my boyfriend took him to a cheap local vet to check him out. He was found to have no microchip and after walking our neighborhood and checking the local shelters, we found no posters advertising a lost cat who resembled him. The vet informed me that he had been neutered, declawed in the front, and was probably about 4 years old.

October 2008: After about a month of nursing him to semi-health I had fallen in love, and made a prompt appointment with my allergist. Yet Oliver was not gaining weight and you could see and feel his collar bone, hip bones, and his entire vertebrae. I decided to get him checked out more thoroughly by a more respected veterinarian, and after several blood tests, they noticed that his liver ALT was in the 200 range, while a normal level is less than 100. They also estimated that he was probably between 7 and 8 years old. The doctor was worried but mostly concerned that he gain weight since he is a very long and tall middle aged cat and only weighed about 6 pounds, half of what he should weigh. The doctor put him on denamarin and had me come back to see him in a month for a check-up.

November 2008: Oliver comes back in for another blood test and still only weighs about 6.5 pounds. His ALT has risen to over 500. The doctor suggests an ultrasound to look at the liver, as well as a fine needle aspirate of the liver.

Let me make a note that besides for small bouts of diarrhea while finding a cat food that he liked, Oliver had no symptoms of illness besides for the low-weight. He wasn't falling all over himself, was not lethargic, and was in fact becoming more active as he started to feel like he had a home. This is a cat who couldn't even meow or make any sort of vocal noise when I found him because he was so starved; he would open his mouth like he wanted to make noise, but nothing would come out. When I found him he didn't even know how to play and was quite uncomfortable with being pet, so the fact that he was starting to enjoy chasing toys and loved eating made me feel like he didn't really display any traditional symptoms of illness.

I was THRILLED when the aspirate came back negative for lymphoma, though the ultrasound did show that his liver was enlarged. The doctor told us to continue the denamarin and come back in 2 months for new blood tests.

February 2009: Oliver is still not gaining weight, but he is appearing to be happier and happier with his home. I spoil him incessantly and try to give him the tastiest cat food possible, but the weight just won't come on, and he weighs in at only 7 pounds. His blood tests come back worse with his ALT at almost 600. His doctor tells us that he still suspects lymphoma, l but informs us that the only definite way to find out is through a biopsy which will cost upwards of $2500. We decide to do another aspirate and ultrasound, with the aspirate coming back negative and the ultrasound showing that his liver is still enlarged.

March 2009: Oliver makes it through the surgery like a little champ, though it's torture to see him in such a state. He is diagnosed with small cell lymphoma of the liver and intestines, and we begin a treatment of a once daily 10 mg prednisone and a 1.5 mg leukeran pill every other day.

April 2009: Oliver is gaining weight!!!! He is up to almost 9 pounds (that's about 2 lbs in only a month) and his blood results are all majorly improving!!! He doesn't appear to be showing any side-effects of the medication at this point and still isn't showing any signs of having lymphoma (no vomiting, no diarrhea, and a very healthy appetite).

Outcome: May/June 2009: Oliver goes in for two more blood tests and is showing further improvement. It has now been almost 1 year since Oliver found me and though I have a little less money, my life has never been better. I have always been a 'dog person' but I have to say that Oliver is the light of my life. We go in for another blood test in a few weeks, but I am sure that his results will only be better. Whereas in August 2008 he could barely walk because he was so malnourished, be now RUNS around the apartment and jumps and leaps onto the bed. My heart flutters every time I hear his little feet pitter-pattering at breakneck speeds, and I can't stop smiling when he body slams his favorite feathery toy. I have no idea how much longer he will have to be on the meds, but in his case everything seems to be working positively.

- By Sonja Oliver's Mom -
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