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Cat: Rupert
male, One-of-a-kind Ginger Tabby

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Rupert's Case Study  

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Story: Rupert is a character. He is a cat with an "in your face" approach to life, that is, if there is mischief to be made, he will make it. He had a rough start -- fished out of a ditch as a half-drowned, tiny kitten by a friend of mine who nursed him back to health. I grew fond of the funny ginger kitten with the big attitude, and so when my friend's circumstances changed drastically and she was forced to give up her pets, I offered to take him. That was 14 years ago and Rupert was then about 8 months old.

We've had many years together through good bad. I often joked with visitors who commented on what a cool cat he is, that they should try to live with him! He's always looking for ways to keep busy, and that usually means trouble!! However Rupert has entertained me, annoyed me at times, and has also consoled me through a variety of life challenges including the loss of other pets and most recently the loss of my mother. He's truly a one-of-a-kind critter who has enriched my life immensely.

In August 2009 Rupert started sneezing -- a lot! I thought it was a cold that would heal itself but also thought it odd because apart from the occasional escape, Rupert was an indoor cat. When it became apparant that Rupert's "cold" wasn't getting better, we visited our vet. He did blood work (a geriatric panel which showed nothing unusual) and prescribed antibiotics which cleared things up nicely. Or so we thought. A couple of weeks after finishing the antibiotics, the sneezing started to re-occur. We went through four such rounds of two different antibiotics. Each time the problem returned, and each time it was a little bit worse.

Six months later, Rupert's recurring sneezing problem was now accompanied by coughing and sinus congestion/discharge. We made another trip to the vet, who this time recommended sinus flushing, x-rays, and that a sample of sinus discharge be sent for analysis. He warned me that the worst outcome could be cancer, but it could also be that Rupert had inhaled some foriegn body that was causing an allergic reaction. The x-rays showed nothing -- no tumor, no cancer, nada... at least so I thought. I took Rupert home that Thursday, groggy from the anaesthetic but already starting to show attitude. He had also been given an antibiotic injection, and in a couple of days seemed to be feeling good again. However, an early morning call came from my vet the following Monday. It was the worst news: there was evidence of lymphosarcoma in the sinus culture results.

Now, what to do? My vet did not encourage chemo/radiation treatment for a hyperthyroid, 15-year-old cat. He felt it would likely not be in Rupert's best interests that he suffer through treatment that may or may not gain a bit of time. His advice was that we keep Rupert comfortable by treating the sinus inflammation with antibiotics and simply let things unfold. When it gets too bad, we know what must be done. I have had the same vet for MANY years and he has never steered me wrong yet. He has taken teary phonecalls from me when another cat was in the late stages of renal failure, and came to my house to help ease that cat's journey from this world to the next. I trust him to give me good advice... But should I be doing more?

Outcome: Updated April 9, 2010 - Seven weeks after diagnosis and Rupert is doing great. The injectable antibiotic, called Convenia, gave him a new lease on life. His conjested sinuses cleared, he put on weight, his fur condition improved, and his energy level... well... it's been almost TOO good! He's been into everything and has been participating in very lively games and late-night races with his kitty "brother" Jasper. Things were going great until about a week ago when I noticed more frequent sneezing, which increased gradually every day until, over the past couple of days, he had been sleeping more and would cough or sneeze repeatedly any time he exerted himself. So today we went back to the vet for another injection of Convenia. Hopefully Rupert will have another 6-7 weeks of relief. Our vet says not to fret about and to be content with the great quality of life Rupert is having. We will carry on this way till further notice, repeating the injection whenever the symptoms re-occur. Maybe with luck it will give Rupert many more happy months (dare I think years?) to come.

Outcome: We are in early days yet, having just found out that Rupert has this terrible disease. Right now I'm doing lots of reading, trying to figure out what to expect and what can be done. For now, we are taking each day as it comes. I console myself in knowing that cats don't comprehend words like "cancer" and he only knows that right now he's warm, safe, well-fed, and loved. So far, so good.

- By Deb Rupert's Mom -
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