In 3 short days, my world went from joy over the end of the tax season to absolute despair. On April 20, 2013 we said farewell to Rascal, the light of our lives for 7 years. Oral squamous cell carcinoma in cats is aggressive, ugly to treat and deadly.
The tumor wasn't visible at her annual checkup in January. On Wednesday, April 17th, the vet opened Rascal’s mouth and revealed a massive growth in her throat, blocking her larynx.
Warning bells sounded only in April. We had cut out dry food to help Rascal lose weight. She was finicky, but she liked to eat. She seemed to be the same crazy kitty that we fell for at the SPCA back in 2006. Then, I noticed that most of her food was going uneaten. We knew we had a problem. But we never imagined what awaited us.
The vet debulked the tumor to make space for food to go down, sent a sample for biopsy, and kept her overnight. When I picked Rascal up on Thursday, she was so glad to be home that she leaped from the carrier. I made gruel of some critical care food mixed with warm chicken broth. That day, she ate nearly the whole can. We knew that she had weeks at best; but watching her eat with a little enthusiasm lifted our spirits just a little.
All went well for a day, as I administered food, antibiotics and pain killer. And then, Rascal stopped eating again. We watched her pace back and forth to the bowl, confused, restless, unable to sleep, even with morphine. She was clearly hungry, but she could no longer get anything down.
To her, we had always been the source of food, getting outside, rubs, chasing and playing with the fishing pole. As we sat in vigil, she kept head-butting us, following me around and purring excessively. As we always had, she was asking us to make things right again.
The dismal prognosis and quality of life issues for this cancer precluded surgery and radiation. At dawn on Saturday, I called and made the arrangements. And we held the light of our lives as she crossed the Rainbow Bridge. In 3 days we went from normal kitty to no kitty.
Please learn to check your cat's throat as part of regularly examining the body for tumors. Below the squiggly, please find 3 minutes of Rascal's life in pictures. We miss her terribly.
Rascal's Life in Pictures
My Life, by Rascal