I have enclosed a letter from the surgeon who saw my 13-year-old cat, Tom. Both she and my regular vet think he has cancer but cannot verify it without a biopsy. I rescued Tom 11 years ago in upstate New York, where I found him starving and flea-infested. He was later diagnosed with feline immunodeficiency virus. I am now living in Florida, and several weeks ago I noticed he couldn't stop eating but was losing weight. My vet thought he had a thyroid condition or diabetes, but the blood work showed otherwise. When an ultrasound showed some sort of obstruction, I was sent to the surgeon. The options would be to put Tom through additional tests, do the biopsy surgery, wait a week and then try chemotherapy if it turned out to be cancer. If not, I was told he would probably be dead in a month. My husband and I decided not to put him through this ordeal and took him home. He is acting very normal, running around, going to the litter box and cleaning himself, and he does not act sick or in pain. He is constantly hungry, and I am feeding him whenever he wants food. I give him and my other cat a can of Fancy Feast in the morning, Wellness dry food all day and Fancy Feast appetizers for snacks along with Temptation treats. I am writing to see if I can be more proactive with him. I spoke with my vet and she agreed to bring him in for an antibiotic injection and B-12 shot next week. I am giving him an omega-3 fatty acid supplement every morning in his food. Is there anything else I can do for him? I know I may be grasping at straws, but I want to make sure I am doing the best for him.
J.B., Estero, FL Jul 24, 2011
Your cat's primary care veterinarian took all the right diagnostic steps in my opinion, correctly referring you to a small-animal surgery specialist. I have reviewed the specialist's report and proposed approach, which would be invasive and stressful to your old cat and costly for you, with no guarantee of any immediate cure since the surgery would be exploratory. I have mixed feelings, especially with older animals such as yours for whom quality of life is paramount. Advanced diagnostic, surgical and other therapeutic procedures may help extend the animal's life, but if there can be no guarantee that the quality of life will be improved, I err on the conservative side -- more so when the quality of life may be jeopardized as by exploratory surgery, anesthesia and subsequent therapeutic procedures. Younger animals have more resilience. Discuss with your veterinarian adding probiotics and digestive enzyme supplements to your cat's diet and providing some less-processed food such as raw or lightly cooked ground organic poultry meat and organ parts (liver, gizzard) that may prove beneficial. His compromised liver may be improved with the addition of silymarin (milk thistle), lecithin, taurine and S-adenosylmethionine; mix such supplements in a little tasty canned mackerel for cats who like fish. Visit Dr. Fox's website at www.DrFoxVet.com/info.
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