It’s not just malignant. It’s very aggressive.

All of Peekaboo’s test results are in (see my July 4 post; Peekaboo is one of our cats…11 years old…I took the above photo of her in 2015).

The biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of an aggressive malignant oral melanoma.

I won’t go on and on about all the discussions Stefano and I (and friends and family) have had in the past couple of weeks, especially this past weekend…all the going back and forth (surgery…or no surgery???), all the online research we’ve done, reading horrible stories on various cat forums, the heartbreak, the anxiety…”what should we DO???”…

You can imagine all that…

We haven’t been sitting around…doing nothing but talk, I mean. In addition to speaking with the oncologist and the vet surgeon at our own vet hospital, last week we sent her test results to a well-known oncology specialist vet( outside of Florence) who called us on Saturday, recommending we go ahead with the surgery.

Even with that second opinion, I still didn’t want to put her through all that misery…the pain…the risks of doing this surgery…etc. During the weekend, talking things over with Stefano’s aunt (also a cat lover) and his cousins, I decided to let Nature take its course: palliative care…curcumin…pain killers…But no surgery. Definitely absolutely NO SURGERY. How do you explain to a kitty that she’ll have to undergo such a painful procedure blablabla? You can’t. It’s not fair, I decided. She might never recover…never be able to eat properly again…and then she will die anyway, eventually…So WHY do it? Those were all the things rushing through my mind this past weekend.

But what happened today changed my mind. This morning I took Peekaboo to see another vet surgeon, highly recommended, at a clinic here in Florence. He went through her tests very carefully and calmly and told me that, if this were HIS cat, he’d go ahead with the surgery. I still wasn’t completely on board, though…

Until we looked into her mouth…

I’d seen the melanoma almost two weeks ago, when it was just a tiny oval on the side of her gum. Well, it’s not an oval now, and it’s not tiny, either. In just two weeks it has spread quite a bit. Now you can see the blasted thing clearly. It’s growing.

It freaked me out, I have to admit.

I took Peekaboo home and decided I needed to discuss this new bit of information with our vet and the main vet surgeon over at the vet hospital. I was there within a half hour. I told them both what I’d seen this morning in her mouth, and here’s what we agreed to do (we = all of us, Stefano included, of course…Oh my poor sweetheart, getting all this awful news while at work!):

I’ll take Peekaboo to the hospital day after tomorrow (which happens to be my birthday…I hope it brings her luck!). The vets will do another CAT scan to see how much the tumor has spread. Then we will decide what should be done.

  1. If the blasted thing has spread TOO much, meaning that a manibulectomy would impair her QOL, then I’ll just take her home, and we’ll go with the palliative care option. Right now the tumor isn’t bothering her: she’s eating (even dry food), playing, purring, etc.
  2. If, as we hope, something can be done to give her a good QOL for quite some time, we’ll go ahead with the surgery.

Whatever the choice, it’s going to be hard on all of us…first and foremost, on Peekaboo, of course, but also on Stefano and me. And I can’t help but still ask myself: are we doing the right thing? Or rather, are we doing the right thing FOR HER?

To be honest, right now I don’t have an answer…

Incidentally, I’d really appreciate hearing from anyone who might have had this sort of experience with their cat. Thank youuuuuuu!


  1. Dear, Margaret. I am so sorry to read this. I realize there are really no comforting words, so just know that I am wishing you and your husband and Peekaboo of course, blessings and peace. Fondly, Linda moody

  2. If the surgeons think the mandibulectomy can be safely performed, I would go ahead with it. One of our dogs had this procedure a few years ago, also because of oral cancer, which had invaded the bone. One side of his jawbone was disarticulated at the TMJ, and then removed up to his canine tooth. Like you, we were very worried about what his quality of life would be like following the surgery. However, aside from an almost imperceptible off-set to his jaw when he closed his mouth, the missing bone was invisible, and he ate and drank quite easily. There was a bit of a learning curve for him to do that (he was rather messy at first, which didn’t bother him!), but, as our family vet said, animals don’t feel sorry for themselves. She will wake up from the anesthetic, be aware something has changed, and the attitude will be, “Right. How do I adapt?”
    Pain is unlikely to be an issue as veterinary pain meds are good, and you will be given lots of support to help ensure she recovers as fully and quickly as possible
    We also opted for laser treatment of the wound site to encourage healing, and Murphy lived for almost 8 happy years following his surgery.
    I know a cat’s anatomy is different from a dog’s, but, given our experience, I would not hesitate to agree to the surgery for my cat, assuming it had been recommended by a properly qualified and experienced surgeon. We would have had our cat have the same surgery when he, too, developed oral cancer, but the vet recommended against it, only because he was 18, and in some degree of kidney failure!
    Even if there are now distant mets, going ahead with the surgery may prolong Peekaboo’s life, as well as make it more comfortable. The surgery seems horrendous to us, but she will recover from it, and adapt to the resulting changes quickly. And, as with Murph, if it hasn’t spread, she may well live quite happily for many more years. You have to give them a chance.

  3. this is a very difficult road to take for you and the poor little cat. Follow your heart and you will do right. Whatever your way of handling this, we support you

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