Liz Erk (lizerk) wrote,
Liz Erk
lizerk

"You're not even going to give him a chance...?"

I understand that by taking in so many "needy" cats from the shelter I'm bound to run into some who have health issues. As tough as Ginny's situation was, it wasn't that surprising, given her background.

But to be told today that little Jeffrey likely has Renal Lymphoma is just all wrong. He's only a year and a half old.

Okay, let me back up. Jeffrey has always been the shyest, most sensitive out of his litter. I mostly attribute that to the trauma of having been adopted out because while he was always loving, he became extremely clingy to me when he came back. He also grew quite attached to my Cora. Each and every day the two would patiently wait for me to bring them their own dishes of food upstairs because they don't like to eat with the herd. And for the rest of the day the two would cuddle in my office on the chair behind me...



...or take turns sitting in my lap, purring lazily while I typed.

This has been our daily routine since last Spring. Over the past month Jeffrey started losing weight. He still acted like himself, but I thought the lack of appetite was due to stress since he was given away almost exactly a year ago. I tried to give him extra treats and more variety of food to entice him to eat more. He'd nibble here and there, but eh...

This past Thursday he didn't want to eat anything at all. He ate a couple of bites on Friday, but nothing to reassure me he was okay. I called the shelter director and after a long conversation about his condition, she made me an appointment with Animed Pet Hospital for this morning.

The day started out promising enough; Jeffrey ate a good portion of his wet food, followed by settling in behind my monitor as he often liked to do:



At 10:00 I picked him up and got in the car. He's so well-behaved, I didn't bother with a carrier. He paced the backseat for about 10 minutes crying, but then settled in my lap for the rest of the ride.

When we arrived at the vet's, one of the techs set us up in a room. They took his weight (he had dropped from 8.7 pounds to 5.9) and then took his temperature with a rectal thermometer. He didn't like either, but because he's so docile he didn't hiss or try to bite the woman.

The doctor joined us a few minutes later and started looking at Jeffrey. Next thing I know he's talking Lymphoma, severe anemia, extremely enlarged left kidney...

I just stared at him. What???

"I'm going to do an ultrasound," he said. "Let's get him admitted and then once we have the results we'll go from there."

The whole time we'd been at the vet's Jeffrey was nervous, but fairly calm. But when the vet tech took him and started to walk away he looked at me with these wide, frightened eyes and let out a, "Waaaaaah!"

"I'll see you soon, Jeffrey," I said softly.

"Give us a call in a few hours," the vet tech said.

I nodded and walked out. When I got to my car I just stared at the blanket on the passenger seat. I really thought this was going to be a simple, "yeah, Jeffrey's got an upset stomach. Give him blah-blah medication and he will be fine." Not 'check him in, we think he has cancer.'

My eyes welled up with tears and then I just started crying. After a few minutes I composed myself enough to call the shelter director. We talked for a while and then agreed to talk again after I called the hospital at 2:00.

Work was kind of a blur. I had a conference call from 1:00 to 2:00, but I honestly can't tell you what was discussed. All I could think about was poor little Jeffrey.

Finally at 2:00 I called the doctor's office. They put the vet himself on and he started by saying, "We have a whole lot of problems here. It looks like Jeffrey has Renal Lymphoma. He's experiencing kidney failure, he has pancreatitis as a result and blah blah blah blah..."

I think I kind of went into a minor shock for a second as he spoke. I stopped hearing him after a while and then when he finished talking I said, "so what do we do?"

"He needs to be put down," he said.

"What??" I exclaimed. "You're not even going to give him a chance? There's got to be something we can try. Aside from lack of eating, he's been acting fine. I'm not going to just let him go like that!"

"He's got a lot of issues," he explained. "He's in really rough shape."

"But why can't we just try?" I asked. "Is it a cost issue? Is there no hope at all?"

"You can have Sheera call me," he said. "But he's in really bad shape. One of his kidneys is completely blown."

"Okay," I said. "I'll talk to Sheera."

I called Sheera the shelter director and I barely got "hello" out before I stared bawling. I told her what the doctor said and then we hung up so she could call him. While I waited to hear back I called Tina. She rushed right home and pulled up as Sheera called me back.

Sheera went into a few more details than the doctor did. Long story short, she told him to have Jeffrey's kidneys flushed for 2 days and then we'll see from there. Basically because of his kidneys failing, he's got high levels of toxins in his body. I'm not even going to try and repeat the terms she used because I'll get them wrong. Bottom line is, one kidney is still in decent shape and if they can bring his levels down, then I can bring him home and continue administering the fluids (if the levels are still high) and then he'll be on a special diet for the rest of his life. And that rest of his life could be anywhere from 4 months to 5 years, depending on how he does with this treatment.

The thing that keeps baffling me is that cats who end up with this kind of illness (they're not 100% sure it's Lymphoma, but the symptoms indicate that it is) are typically both older and have FIV or feline leukemia. The cats all tested negative for those diseases, so I'm just stunned that Jeffrey's so sick like this.

Jeffrey, Billy and Sadie were all tested and spayed/neutered at this same hospital, so I asked that they retest Jeffrey. If he does have either FIV or leukemia it would at least make some sense. It would also mean that I'd need to get Sadie and Billy retested because they're from the same litter. I'd also go and take everyone else for new leukemia vaccinations, but in all honesty I wouldn't be concerned about any transmission because those three cats are the most docile, loving cats and they always run away at the first sign of any aggression. (FIV is typically transmitted through bite wounds during fights.)

So now I'm just waiting out the next 48 hours. Tina and I brought Jeffrey a big towel he and Cora were sitting on, as well as a heating pad. I want him to have the familiar scents of home and be comforted. I'm so worried he'll think I've given him away again. I just can't get that terrified look in his eyes out of my mind.

They wouldn't let us in the back to see him, which made both me and Tina extremely sad. I just wanted to pet him and try to reassure him we were going to be back.

Billy, Sadie and Cora have been all over me. That's not unusual for Cora, but Billy and Sadie don't often hang out in the office. Usually when they spend time with Jeffrey it's in the guest room or living room. And if it's with me it's typically in the morning downstairs. But right now Billy's curled up under my desk and Sadie's behind the monitor where Jeffrey often sits.

I just want Jeffrey to come home. He's too young to be this sick and he's one of the sweetest cats I've ever encountered. He just follows me all around, never puts up a fight with anything I do and gives me a hug everyday. (He, Billy and Sadie are true huggers. I never knew animals could do that until I met these guys)

I'm so tired of crying. This is all just so unfair.
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