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Old 04-09-2011, 10:14 PM
 
3 posts, read 20,221 times
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Two pictures of the mass in mouth, with the one in better lighting taken today (picture too big for this page so I only put the links):
http://oi51.tinypic.com/33yid12.jpg
http://oi56.tinypic.com/316p56d.jpg

I noticed there's a lump on his gum when he was yawning 3 weeks ago. I brought him to the vet during the weekend and the vet said she can't really tell for sure what that is unless we do a biopsy, but she suspected that it might be caused by gingivitis since he has bad breath and the gums are kinda red. She prescribed the antibiotic doxycycline for a month. Bad breath was gone in only 2-3 days, but the mass on the gum did not. In fact judging by looking at it for a second or two when he yawns, it looks like it had doubled the size in 3 weeks.

I've been going to this same vet for 5-6 years; started to go regularly ever since Mimi was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism. Visits are not too bad, but that time she didn't really try to open my cat's mouth to see what's wrong inside. I might be wrong, but if something's definitely wrong in the mouth, don't you have a way to open his mouth for even a few seconds? I just felt that she wasn't even trying. So I went to see another vet today for a second opinion.

This place is a lot closer to my house (10 mins vs 30 mins to my regular vet). It doesn't look as good and clean, but it has 5 stars on yelp, and that's why I decided to give it a try. (free first visit too!)

I saw the vet for 40 minutes. After I told her what the problem is she tried to take a look. Of course my cat wasn't happy but she was able to see it. I know it's difficult to see so I also showed her a picture I took earlier today when Mimi opened his mouth yawning. She said was it this big already when the other vet see it? Because it doesn't look like gingivitis at all. She said the mass is probably cancerous, but a biopsy is needed to make sure and also for further treatment. I'm concerned about using anesthesia at his age, she said anesthesia nowadays is safer and the risk is low, but more important is what to do after the diagnose. She said it's the best if it's a benign mass, but if not, it'll be either chemotherapy or surgery. I asked how likely it is that the mass is benign? She said judging by her experience most of the time it's cancerous. I told her that I've seen pictures online of cats after this type of mouth surgery (the most radical one needs to take out part of the jawbone), it's too invasive and I'm not willing to do that to my cat. I asked for her advice, and she said it's a difficult decision, and she wouldn't know what to do if it's her cat, but at the age of 20, it might not be good for him too to go through so many procedures. She said maybe instead of looking for a "cure" I should go for hospice care. She said that route would be continuing the antibiotic, or stop and use it again when bad breath returns. The mass will grow and eventually he will have trouble eating and quality of life will go down and then we'll have to decide when to put him down.

Mimi really doesn't have any health issue other than hyperthyroidism and the recently discovered mass in his mouth. Numbers are fine on his bloodwork results, he's eating normally and peeing normally. He's not having any kidney problems or the FeLV that's popular with cats. My friend's 14 year old cat is already having trouble going #2. Mimi looks so healthy and alert, I just can't imagine putting him down for a little thing in his mouth! The vet said it sucks but it does happen, there was one time she had to put down a dog that had a huge mass on the side of his head, but other than that he looked perfectly healthy.

I still have to discuss with my family and my boyfriend (it was his cat and he gave him to me 12 years ago). I'm leaning towards just letting him live comfortably for the rest of his life. I didn't really think about chemotherapy until after the vet visit today, so this afternoon I did some research online. Different cats respond to it differently, some cats go through it fine, but some refuse to eat and the quality of life goes way down. Given Mimi's age, I don't think he would be going through it like a breeze. Prognosis for chemo and surgery on mouth cancer is only around a year. As sad as I am to see him go, I really don't want to put him through so much if he's only going to live another year. It's already hurting my heart to see him trying to cough and spit out the antibiotics that I give him. The vet also gave me an estimate of $700 for the biopsy including catheter, IV fluid, heart monitoring, anesthesia (propofol for older cats), pain meds, etc. It is quite expensive, but not impossible for me. The vet said as a doctor, she would want to find out what that mass is, but she said for me, what I need to consider is the cost versus how necessary it is. If I'm not going for chemo or surgery, is it necessary to find out what it is? But there's a really slight chance that it's benign and the procedure to get rid of it would be relatively easier.

Please forgive me for such a long post, but please share if you have any experience on something like this.
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Old 04-09-2011, 10:44 PM
 
Location: Near Nashville TN
7,201 posts, read 13,703,859 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cabbit56 View Post
Please forgive me for such a long post, but please share if you have any experience on something like this.
Brevity snipped.

If he were my cat I would go for the biopsy. If benign, have it removed. If cancerous, and the jawbone was involved, at his age, probably let it go until his quality of life became an issue. Then gently let him go.......
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Old 04-09-2011, 10:53 PM
 
Location: Ohio
15,715 posts, read 15,806,219 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by =^..^= View Post
Brevity snipped.

If he were my cat I would go for the biopsy. If benign, have it removed. If cancerous, and the jawbone was involved, at his age, probably let it go until his quality of life became an issue. Then gently let him go.......

^^^^^^This is what I would do too.
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Old 04-10-2011, 01:02 AM
 
3 posts, read 20,221 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by =^..^= View Post
Brevity snipped.

If he were my cat I would go for the biopsy. If benign, have it removed. If cancerous, and the jawbone was involved, at his age, probably let it go until his quality of life became an issue. Then gently let him go.......
Yes after discussing with my family we came to the same conclusion. If it's really cancer then we'll let it be, and if it's benign hopefully the surgery to cut it off would not be too stressful for my cat. We'll see.

I don't have anyone I can talk to besides my family and my boyfriend because my friends wouldn't understand. One time I tried to explain to 2 of my close friends that Mimi is not just a pet, he's more like a friend to me, a friend that I have to take care of and would scold me if I didn't open the door for him. They didn't quite get it and said it's too abstract for them. One of them asked is she or is Mimi a closer friend to me? I was like lol no it's not like that. Well they never had pets, so I understand.

I never really thought about Mimi dying, I knew it should be soon since he's old, but besides not as active I think he's just the same as I got him 12 years ago. So reality hit me like a brick after I took Mimi to see the vet 3 weeks ago. I cried my eyes out so many times since then but reality kinda sank in. For any living creature that day will come, and I should be glad that compared with a lot of other cats who died young, mine's journey to the end won't be too bad. He's a pretty tough little guy, my boyfriend told me he's the only one in his litter that survived to an adult age. He was once bumped from behind by another cat when he was standing on the window edge and fell off 2 stories. He wasn't hurt except for losing a bit of his tail, so since then he's had a shorter tail than other cats. (The cat that bumped him off didn't live quite as long, she died last year.)

I recall the time when I heard my 80 year old grandma trying to comfort my then 92 year old grandpa, who was terminally ill. She said you know, you've lived longer and healthier than most, don't be too sad, the end will come for everyone, and you've gotten more out of life than most people do. He was in a hospice for a month or so then passed away. It kinda applies to my cat, what is life to him anyway? I think the quality of life is first priority. If constant vet visit, damaging chemo drugs and surgery is only going to prolong his life for a year, am I doing it for his benefit or doing it only to make me feel better?

I've gone on and on again, but yeah I hope at the end it turns out to be a right choice.
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Old 04-10-2011, 01:13 AM
 
Location: Ohio
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Well, you will find a lot of us here who understand EXACTLY how you feel right now and what you are going through. Many of us have been where you are now........more than once.

For what it's worth, I think you have made the right decision.

We will all be hoping and praying that it is benign, right along with you.
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Old 04-10-2011, 06:13 AM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,502 posts, read 50,259,978 times
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good luck and I think you are making the right decision. You can always find folks who understand and folks to talk to right here. This is a very supportive group.
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Old 04-10-2011, 06:49 AM
 
8,867 posts, read 16,443,134 times
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Hello and welcome!

I too think you are making the right decision for Mimi and I would do the same. You are among people who understand the bond between pet and human here.

Please keep us posted on your beloved Mimi.
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Old 04-10-2011, 09:05 AM
 
Location: Tampa, FL
2,637 posts, read 12,097,705 times
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I'm very sorry to hear this, and I hate to bear bad news, but I lost a fifteen year old cat about this time last year due to a fast-growing oral tumor. They basically told me there was nothing to be done but palliative care because even if they performed surgery to remove it, it would grow back as big as ever within weeks. When I read up about this I found this to be true and the prognosis quite bleak. It also presented at first as a teeth/gum related issue but quickly it became obvious that it was a tumor. The vets who saw it all agreed that although a biopsy would be required to confirm, it looked cancerous to them and that was consistent with the fast rate of growth. The first vet said they'd have to remove half her upper jaw if we attempted surgery, and at her age and with her other health issues, he didn't think she'd make it and said he thought it would frankly be cruel to try and it was kinder to just make her comfortable until it was her time. And I agreed, and don't regret that we didn't attempt surgery or chemo. We had her euthanized and I'm still crying over her. In restrospect I think we waited a little too long, but I couldn't do it until I was sure she was ready to go, and when she'd had enough, she made it clear to us that she was ready. She had a good run, though, and she died peacefully. Sorry I don't have a more positive story to share.
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Old 04-10-2011, 10:31 AM
 
2,455 posts, read 6,191,945 times
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(((HUGS))) Cabbit! How heartbreaking this is, and stress? I too think you are making the right decision, and if it is benign, have it surgically removed. If not, my advice is to give as much pain medication as possible, and make your baby's life as comfortable as possible, until it is time for him to go to the Rainbow Bridge.

Take one moment at a time, don't forget to breathe, and cry if you feel like it. Hold your baby close and bury your face in him, telling him how much you love him now and forever more.

Sending my thoughts and prayers to you. Peace.
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Old 04-10-2011, 01:17 PM
 
Location: In a cat house! ;)
1,749 posts, read 5,095,466 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cabbit56 View Post
Yes after discussing with my family we came to the same conclusion. If it's really cancer then we'll let it be, and if it's benign hopefully the surgery to cut it off would not be too stressful for my cat. We'll see.
I agree with your decision. I would do the same.

Also, I like your vet. Sounds like she explained everything well, and didn't suggest the whole 9 yards at whatever cost (financially and emotionally) for you AND Mimi.
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