Cat with lymphoma

One of my cats had a biopsy on her liver and intestines around Christmas-time, and it’s now official; she has systemic cancer. The vet says it’s a slow-progressing kind, and she might live up to 2 more years with treatment. Since she’s not in pain and in good spirits, I’ve decided to go with the treatment.

I’m not looking for medical advice or general expressions of sympathy, but wondered if anyone else had been through this.

How long did your cat live, or how long has it been alive since it was diagnosed?

My kitty is taking Leukeran (aka Chlorambucil) pills and Prednisone drops, each on alternate days. Leukeran is a chemo pill that has to be handled with gloves, and frankly it’s creeping me out to have it in the house. I’m mostly worried about her spitting out or vomiting up the pill, and am a bit worried about cleaning her litter box (I wear rubber gloves for that now too). If you had a pet who was taking Leukeran, how did you deal with these issues?


Sorry to hear about your cat. I went through that with one of my kitties. We had a similar regimen, although I think maybe we were doing prednisone daily. Towards the end of her life, we also gave her pepcid daily.

I bought a big box of latex gloves from the pharmacy and used those with the leukeran. It freaked me out a little, too, especially as I had a toddler in the house at the time. But, as far as I know, the only problem with it was my attitude! My kitty was a champion pill taker, and once we got into the routine, I never discovered her spitting them out.

Camille was given a life expectancy of up to six months when she was diagnosed, but she lived two more years. It was a rough couple of years, though. She would be doing well for a while, then start losing weight/vomiting again, we’d have to adjust her meds, then she’d be doing OK again. Such a roller coaster. It was really hard to know what the right thing to do was. Good luck to you and your kitty.

Sorry about your kitty!

My in-laws had a cat (the Notorious C.A.T.) that got lymphoma, and they also went with treatment. He lived about three years, and was so healthy & in good spirits that we used to joke about Cat and his “cancer”.

When he started to decline, it went pretty quickly, he stopped eating, but never suffered much, my in-laws had him put to sleep before that could happen.

Austen is taking Pepcid too, either one or two quarter pills a day. She’s been taking them on and off over this past year, since she started on the whole not eating/not keeping down what she did eat thing–which is what led to the biopsy after other treatments and advice from her regular vet didn’t work. She lost about 3 pounds last year, and I’m trying now to get her weight back up at least a little.

She has spit out the pill once, but fortunately right into the palm of my gloved hand, so it was just a matter of getting it into her mouth a second time (although that was a bit tricky, trying to hold her still with one hand since I didn’t want to touch her with the hand that had held the wet pill).

There’s just me in the house, and another cat who has diabetes.

My sister and her kids, my elderly parents, and a friend have all expressed an intention to come and visit this spring or summer, and I’ve been wondering if it wouldn’t be better for them to stay at some nearby hotel than with me while this is going on.

I know it will probably come to that eventually. After the biopsy, I was afraid that I would have to make the decision to put her to sleep right away, but her kitty oncologist seems to think she has a good chance of living comfortably for some time.

The same group of vets saved my other cat Lucia when she nearly died of pancreatitis a couple of years ago, so I have a lot of confidence in them.

I’m encouraged to hear that both your in-laws’ cat and BetsQ’s lived so long under treatment.

Miss Mapp, sorry about your kitty. You’ll know if you should stop treatment, but I certainly recommend starting it. I tried it with my breast cancer kitty and I knew she was miserable immediately and couldn’t understand it was for her own good.

So I stopped the chemicals, had larger tumors removed (surface) and she lived a perfectly normal life for 2 years. And it was one day happy spunky purry kitty trying to get made up in the bed and the next day sick kitty who was put to sleep. There was not much downtime.

You’ll know what to do and she will love you for it even if she throws up pills on your pillow! :slight_smile:

She’s been on the treatment a little over a week now. She hates taking the pills–and I don’t blame her–but I think she’s improving. Her apetite’s improved, and she isn’t vomiting as much as she used to.

That’s what I’m hoping for, at some distant date. When my other cat Lucia was so ill, I told Austen,“Promise me that when you go, you’ll just go. Don’t drag it out.” We’ll see if she intends to keep that promise.

My mother went through that with her cat last year. Every time I would come to visit I would say something like “It looks like Winnie (the cat) is getting really thin, is she ok?” and after about a month or two of me making comments they decided to take her to the vet. They spent $1000 on surgery to remove what is was she had, and that’s when they found out it was cancer. They put her on some sort of chemo pills, but I don’t recall what they were called. After about 2 months they ended up putting her to sleep because she was so thin/frail and seemed to be in a lot of pain.

I was with my mom while they put Winnie to sleep which was horribly emotional and I’m not sure if I would recommend to someone to do that. But my mother wanted to be there petting her as they put her to sleep and I was pretty much there to comfort my mom.

As long as you can afford the medication and your cat doesn’t seem to be in a lot of pain, then I would keep up with the treatment and hope for the best. My grandmother had a cat that had tumors removed and lived for another couple years, so it is entirely possible that treatment could help.

I’m reviving this old thread with an update. The thread might be a zombie, but my kitty is not!

Miss Austen is in remission and her oncologist says I can take her off the chemo pills and check again in 6 months. We are now expecting that she’ll still be here in 6 months. She’s already lived beyond the 2-year prognosis they gave her when she was first diagnosed. So the treatment, which we both detested, was worth the trouble.

That’s great! Good luck to you both!

Oh! what good news!!! skritches for Austen

Miss Mapp,

Thanks for the update, it’s very encouraging.

How long did it take for Miss Austen to get back to normal, or at least the new normal? My cat started chlorambucil / prednisolone about 2.5 months ago. His diarrhea ended shortly after treatment began, and he feels okay for a 15 year old, but on some days it’s clear he doesn’t feel great.

He had started Pepcid about 6 months before starting chlorambucil / prednisolone because he also has the early signs of CRF. So pill time is big fun at our house!

I just wonder if after 2.5 months this is as good as it gets, or can I expect further improvement?

It’s been awhile since Austen’s treatment began, but as I recall, she stopped the frequent vomiting right away. Her appetite also improved, but it’s never been really good. She did–and still does–have bouts of not wanting to eat that worry me. I did watch her sometimes, lying as if she were asleep but with her eyes open, and wondered if she was in any pain.

On the good side, she did begin to be more active after a few months of treatment. When she was younger, she used to greet me at the front door with a head-butt, coming up on her hind legs to bump her forehead against mine when I was bending down to take off my shoes. She would also climb up on the back of the armchairs so she was closer to my eye level whenever she wanted to “say” something important to me. When she was ill, she stopped doing these kinds of things and I thought that she was just getting old. But she began to do them again.

In spite of the occasional lack of appetite, we did eventually get her weight back up over 8 lbs. I had to switch cat foods a lot when she lost her taste for one. I also bought a baby scale so I could keep track of her weight at home. Ounces do matter when a pound or two is a significant percentage of body weight. At her worst, when she was just under 5 lbs, she felt like nothing more than fur and bones.

If you haven’t bought a pill-shooter for the chlorambucil, I highly recommend it. You can find them in pet supply catalogs. There’s much less chance of “misfires” getting the pill down the cat’s throat and you can get the pill into the tube directly from the bottle and not even have to touch it with gloved hands.

I’m glad that your kitties are doing so well!

We just lost our 15-year-old cat Socks today. He was diagnosed with small-cell lymphoma three weeks ago, and we’d been giving him Leukeran and Prednisone, along with a thyroid medication for his enlarged/overactive thyroid. About a week and a half ago, his eating slowed way down, and he started vomiting more than ever last weekend. I took him in to the clinic that was treating his cancer, and that vet gave him Mirtazapine for the anorexia and nausea. He also advised giving him a “drug holiday” from the other medications until he was able to eat and keep his food down. He also told me that Socks should have a dental treatment as soon as possible after he started eating again, because he had an abscess on at least one tooth (he was first diagnosed after we got bloodwork done for a dental, assuming he’d been losing weight because it hurt to eat).

The new drug was miraculous. He started eating that evening, and by the end of last week, he was eating more than his usual portions. I started him back on the Prednisone and then the Leukeran. He seemed to be having more trouble actually picking up his food and chewing, though, so I scheduled a dental with his regular vet, with the oncologist’s blessing. He went in this morning, and the vet called me at about ten o’clock to tell me that he’d come through fine and was waking up. She called again about an hour later to say that there was trouble - he’d become cyanotic and she’d put him on oxygen and given him a diuretic. She did an X-ray and saw a shadow on his lung - she had no way to tell if it was pulmonary edema or a cancerous mass. After two hours on oxygen, despite looking occasionally like he might come out of it, Socks died.

We won’t ever know whether the effects of the anesthesia and the IV fluids were too much for his lungs or whether the cancer had spread. His heart was strong, and his blood values looked good, so this came as a shock to us and to our vet. However, I keep having to remind myself that, despite my determined optimism (read: denial), most cats don’t actually live to 20 and that 15 years is not a bad amount of time to have had with our kitty.

Big_Boy, I hope that your kitty has a better outcome - I don’t mean to be discouraging. Our guy obviously had more going on than we knew about, and after 2.5 months of treatment, yours sounds like he’s doing pretty well. I’ll keep a good thought for him and for Austen. It sounds as if they’re having the treatment experience we’d hoped for!

Because it doesn’t seem right not to have one, here’s a picture of Socks and our other two cats. Socks is the big guy on the left who’s trying to pretend the other two don’t exist. We’re all going to miss him a lot.

I’m sorry for your loss, InternetLegend. :frowning:

Miss Mapp, I’m very happy to hear the good news about your lymphoma kitty. It’s nice to see that some of them do beat the odds. Mine, unfortunately, didn’t–I lost my beloved little Russian Blue, Meep, at the age of 5 in 2005. We got eight more good happy months with her due to the treatments, but eventually she just couldn’t fight it anymore and we had to let her go. I’m glad to hear that your kitty had a better result, and I wish her many years of good health!

We still have a box of the rubber gloves we used to handle the chemo pills. I think of Meep when I look at it, and think I should probably get rid of it, but I never do.

InternetLegend, I’m so sorry to hear about your kitty. :frowning:

It’s something I’ve tried to brace myself for since Austen was first diagnosed. I really didn’t expect her to still be alive at this point; although we’ve gotten through this so far and she’s doing pretty well right now, she is getting to be a somewhat frail and very old lady, nearly 18…

For 3 weeks,she is responding well to her chemo administered by oncologist 15 mile away,no vomiting, no diarrhea, lost .5 kg over 2 weeks and is severely anemic; she now gets appetite stimulant every 48 hrs , Pepcid daily (but no blood in stools), and 5mg Prednisone 1x daily(it had been 2x).

Vet is more worried about anemia now,than cancer , says if we cant get her RBC count up, she’ll need a blood transfusion - sounds good to me, cause if the cancer IS in her blood, wouldn’t a transfusion help a LOT?(new blood?)

I did not have pet insurance, her weekly chemo and anesthesia are running $500-600+ every week.
She is now doing better every day, though not as much spring in her step.
She seemed to like sour cream tonite though she has never had milk nor “people food”.

The chemo protocol is weekly for first 8 weeks, then biweekly for 16 weeks—then,I don’t know.

Anybody else run up a tab like this for a beloved tabby/companion?

It’s as much as I earn, almost ! Yikes!
and is sour cream ok/good for anemia?
boy, what they didn’t teach me at Harvard!

Austen’s treatment wasn’t as expensive as that. The chlorambucil was $140 for 50 pills, and they lasted 3 or 4 months depending on whether I was giving her 2 or 3 per week. The prednisolone was about $40 and lasted a month. There were also regular checkups with the kitty oncologist that could be expensive–$200 to $500 depending on what tests they were running. We still have those visits, though only every six months now to be sure that Austen’s remission is continuing.

She is 18 now, skinny and cranky with the cold weather, but otherwise the vets say she’s doing remarkably well.

Captain Midnite: boy have I got a drug connection for you! Our cat just started leukeran this week, which is how/why I found this thread. Needed to know what others’ initial experiences were.

Our cat is being treated by a fancy schmancy practice of specialists in Seattle who quoted us $180 for the first round of this stuff. We then got a quote from a local compounding pharmacy, certain it would be better, but no, also $180. We then learned about Diamondback Drugs in Arizona. Their charge? Get this: $30. Shipping’s extra, of course, but it comes in a thick styro cooler full of frozen gel packs. Overnight Fedex, which we requested, was $50; those who can wait will pay $17.

Btw, we’re so grateful for this thread. The huzz and I were sick with worry since giving Tammy Faye her first dose of leukeran yesterday. She’s definitely in a low spot and seems to sense that she’s going lower–she’s trying to hide under the bed, a place she never goes and wouldn’t be wanting to go to if she didn’t feel so tragically awful.

Miss Mapp’s description of Austen’s remission is especially heartening. We definitely needed to hear that this is possible. A question re that: do you stop the leukeran when they’re in remission? There’s so much we don’t know.