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Cat: Rocky
male, DSH

Type of Lymphoma:

FeLV Status:
Never tested

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Rocky's Case Study  

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Story: Rocky's story isn't a very happy one. At the age of one he lost his home. My guess is that when a house burned down behind a local tavern and the man living there lost his dog, he had to have assumed he lost his cat as well, and never returned. Sometime after that, I happened to be out there for pool league and noticed a cat hanging around the entrance. Being a cat lover, I of course knelt down to pet him and found that he was very friendly. I asked around inside the bar to find out more about him and if belonged to anyone and the response I received was very disheartening to say the least and there were some men at the bar that said not to worry about it they would take care of him in a tone that meant their intentions were far from humane. So I locked the cat in my sister's truck until after league was over and took him home. The ride back to town was unusual as I had never seen a cat drool so much. He was soo affectionate to all four of us in the truck that all of our sleeves were soaked because of him drooling. I thought the drooling was because of the injuries to his head but later found out that he would drool whenever he was in an affectionate mood being petted and stuff.

At the vet's office the next day, it was obvious the he did not receive friendly treatment while he was on his own. A gash behind his ear, fresh wound to the bridge of his nose resembling a wound derived from a kick to the face, under weight and numerous areas of ring worms. I didn't realize just how bad the ring worm was until his first bath.

He recovered quickly and became the 6th addition to my home. I had intended on finding him a another home but when Peetee (rescue number 5) became too aggressive in play with the other cats in the house, I had to separate him to the upstairs and not wanting him to be alone in the evenings up there, Rocky turned out to be a perfect match for him, not only as a play buddy to Peetee but able to put up with him and put him in his place when needed.

All the kitties in the house were happy with these arrangements, no more cat fights for next two years. Four lived downstairs and two upstairs. Aside from the evening, Rocky and Peetee were given what I call downtime, meaning when I was home I split the time between the cats. The downstairs cats would get shut into my bedroom for a couple hours while Rock and Peetee came downstairs to play with me and just roam around downstairs. If I was home all day, this happened every 3 hours or so.

Around the 20th of December 2007, Rocky's appetite started to change. I didn't pick up on it right away I just thought he was being picky. Christmas time brought the cats many treats and at one point it seemed that that was all he would eat. As the days passed he started not eating and he was sleeping a lot. With all the hype about cat food recalls still circulating, even though I never bought any of the brands recalled, I thought maybe the treats were tainted, so I stopped giving them. At that time Rocky wasn't eating many of them anyway but what really got my attention was the bulging on both of his sides I thought he may have a blockage somewhere and it was his intestines, so I set up a vet appointment.

On the 28th of December it was determined with an x-ray that it was both kidneys that were enlarged and bulging out from the rib cage; they were the size of an adult's fist. Blood was drawn and tests were taken revealing an elevation in BUN 108mg and Cre 6.7mg but the blood had to be sent to Marshfield. The vet prescribed amoxicillin in the event of an infection to be given twice a day for two weeks. I gave Rocky the medicine and waited for the results of his blood work. A week pasted. He continued to get weaker and skinnier and still no results so I took him in again January 4th asking for fluids to be given as he was obviously not drinking. At that time I was informed that they still hadn't rec'd the blood results. On January 8th the BUN was at 128mg and was told that it was probably because of the dehydration but the Cre came down to 4.9mg. They drew blood again and gave 60ccs of sub cue fluids on both sides and told me to do the same at home twice a day unless I notice him drinking on his own. Reluctantly I took him home to do just that. At first he would not sit still for the fluid injections so I would give him water with an eyedropper following the amoxicillin. Which was hardly enough but I didn't know what he was drinking while I was gone. Several time I found him with his head resting on the water bowl; it was so heart wrenching to see him like that knowing he wanted to drink but couldn't. Same with his weakness, watching him tip over after only a few feet. So I moved everything closer. His water bowl, food bowls and litter box. The last straw was when I came home from work January 11th and looked all over for him just to find him lying half in the litter box because he was too weak to get all the way in and out. He did urinate, he was urinating throughout this whole ordeal but he did miss the box a couple times because he just couldn't get all the way in.

I hated myself for putting him through all of this with no answers so I called the vet again and asked for the blood results and was told that Marshfield lost the first blood test sent in December and because Rockys? Cre levels had come down on the 8th of January, they didn't bother sending in the second set of blood work. My heart just sank. I couldn't believe that they were content with just letting him continue like this with no definite cause or treatment plan. So I called another local vet who had emergency after hour times and was told that even if I did bring him in there, enlarged kidneys such as his would be referred to specialist. I then called the recommended emergency referral center and took him there the following morning.

When I got there they found Rocky to have a low temperature so they immediately put him in an incubator and started him on fluids. Which right there was more than my vet seemed willing to do for him. On examination the vet found Rocky to be extremely weak, depressed and dehydrated. His notes also revealed a marked loss of muscle mass. Thoracic auscultation was unremarkable. Abdominal palpation revealed extremely large kidneys and a generally, firm, lumpy abdomen.

When the doctor came in to see me he didn't have good news. Without taking any tests and just by Rockys current condition and the size of the kidneys he offered up 3 possibilities with the best being cancer. All of which he said the quality of life needs to be looked at. Even with cancer, he could only guess that with treatment he might live another year at the age of 4, Rocky's prognosis was only to make it to 5. None the less, I was devastated; grateful to finally have some idea of what was going on, but devastated. I had to make a decision. My options were to have blood tests done, ultrasound, biopsy, etc, with him remaining through the weekend those costs would have run easily to $2500.00 and even though I absolutely hated the idea that money was playing a factor in my decision, I have to do what is right for him. The doctor seeing my hesitation and utter helplessness continued to offer alternatives like just doing an ultrasound that could rule out lymphoma, FIP, and polycystic kidneys but first wanted to get more fluids into him making him more comfortable. So after changing my mind a couple times, struggling with what to do, I opted for the ultrasound but the doctor said he still wouldn't be able to get to that until after 4pm that day results by 6pm and my leaving a deposit of 500 on a possible balance of 1500.

As I left the room and started writing out the check for the deposit it kept playing over and over in my head just how sick he was and what he had already gone through and then what lay ahead with more tests that could still produce a poor outcome. When I signed the release saying that if, during the course of testing his heart or breathing should stop, should they resuscitate, well I just couldn't do it. I couldn't put him through any more with such a bleak future. Throughout the last 3 weeks, I tried in vain to find something, anything on enlarged kidneys, to no avail. I found nothing that would lead me to believe that there was a future for him. I previously lost two cats to renal failure but they were both eighteen so that was no help but I did promise then not to selfishly hold onto another one when there wasn't any indication that they would make it. With hands shaking and tears flowing, I decided to end his suffering and let him go. They wheeled him in, in the incubator. He was warm and had a little more energy but still so weak. As I pet him he tried to move around a little, trying to get out through the little arm holes, but still couldn't muster up enough energy to do more than lift his head and kind of turn around. It hurt so bad to see him like that. The doctor came in and gave him the injection and he was gone. I am in tears writing this as I still don't have any answers and in reading some of the other case studies on this website, don't know that I made the right decision. Yes, he is no longer suffering and yes, I did give him a happy home for a couple years BUT could I have done more for him? I keep hoping the doctor there would have done a necropsy prior to cremation and call me to let me know I did make the right decision and I've thought about calling him but then again I really could handle knowing I made the wrong decision seeing how money, or lack of it, played a part.

Had I found your site earlier found the link for financial help I probably would have proceeded with all the tests but just don't know that that would have made anything any better for him either. As for now and forever, Rocky lives in my heart with my other cats and I hope anyone who reads this will demand tests earlier on from their vets, get a second opinion and maybe someone who had a cat that presented with the same symptoms will write in and show how maybe it can be turned around so no one else has to go through this not knowing.

Outcome: Euthanized 12 January 2008.

- By Debbie Rocky's Mom -
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