Light at the end of the tunnel

We brought Peekaboo home from the clinic almost a week ago, last Saturday evening to be exact. I thought that she’d slowly return to her usual self once she got home, but it has taken longer than expected. Reason: we ran into a few problems…

Problem number 1. Like most (all?) cats, Peekaboo was REALLY bothered by the Elizabethan collar, a cone-shaped torture device that prevents cats and dogs from licking or scratching or biting their wounds (Note: these three photos of Peekaboo are “post-Elizabethan-collar” photos. The white and red stuff around her neck is just a temporary bandage that doesn’t impede her movements and will come off next week).

Problem number 2. On Friday and Saturday, while she was still in the hospital, the vets had slowly weaned her off her pain medication. Too soon, evidently. By Sunday evening I knew she was in pain. She wasn’t purring or licking food off my finger anymore, so we had to feed her, and administer her meds (antibiotics, etc.), using the esophagostomy tube, which is a feeding tube that connects the esophagus directly to the stomach.

Furthermore, she was very lethargic and wasn’t moving at all, really. And she hadn’t used the litter box at all (even though we put one right on the bed).

I called the weekend vet who told me to give her more of the anti-inflammatory drug, which contains a painkiller, too. There wasn’t much else we could do on a Sunday evening, but first thing on Monday morning I took her back to the vet hospital, where they ran some tests and immediately gave her a shot containing a stronger painkiller. I gave her painkiller shots twice a day until Wednesday (at home). That at least got rid of the pain issue!

She peed inside the cat carrier in the car…so, er, that problem was solved, too! And in fact, as long as she wore the blasted cone, she peed only when we drove to the vet hospital. 🙄 

On Wednesday afternoon the surgeon removed her feeding tube. Consequently, off came the cone!

Life was good again. Peekaboo was back to her old self–happy, relaxed, hungry, and curious. Since then, it’s been all uphill. JOY!!!

Without the awful collar, in fact, she began eating and drinking on her own…she started peeing (etc.) in the litter box, not in the car (!)…she’s grooming herself (as you can see in photo no. 3), and she purrs and talks a lot…

So she’s doing really well. One of my MAIN concerns, in fact, before agreeing to the surgery, was HOW she’d be able to eat without half a jaw…But she is indeed eating–wet food only, right now–and it is such a joy to behold…Cats are such amazing creatures…

More good news: we have some partial biopsy results (from her jaw, which of course was sent off to the lab for testing):

  • the cells aren’t dividing madly, as aggressive cancer cells do.
  • there are indications that this type of melanoma is NOT aggressive.

This means that, IF the surgeon was able to remove every bit of the tumor, and IF no cancer cells have migrated to another part of her body (the lungs, usually), from now on she will lead a normal, healthy life.

Of course, these are big “IFs,” and Peekaboo will have to be monitored for some time…with periodic X-rays of her lungs, for example.

But for now, at least, Stefano and I can sit back and relax…

6 Comments

  1. So glad you opted for the surgery, and that the biopsy was encouraging. May Peekaboo now have many more happy years with you. You will be surprised at how quickly she now returns to normal and adapts to the loss of her jaw, particularly now that she is home. It is amazing how much love helps our furkids improve when they are ill!

  2. Hello. I am so pleased to hear that your kitty is doing so well! I have a 16 year old kitty named Boo! who had 2/3 of his lower jaw removed on 6/29 because of oral squamous cell carcinoma. I had been told that there was nothing that could be done by the Oncologist in early May. Then I found a surgeon in Canada that was very supportive of surgery so 3 weeks later, he had the surgery. Unfortunately, his histopathology showed unclean margins so he had to go back & have a revision done on 7/25. So now he has lost 3/4 of the jaw. He has a feeding tube in but I cannot get him to eat on his own. He drank water after the first surgery but hasn’t so far following surgery #2. Part of the problem is a swelling under his tongue that sometimes happens after this procedure. It will eventually resolve on it’s own but it is so swollen that he has difficulty using it right now. How much of Peekaboo’s jaw was removed? How did you get her to start eating again? I don’t regret the decision to have the surgery at all. I just know he’d be happier without the tube in & that cannot come out until he starts eating on his own. Right now I have to get him back to drinking on his own again as well. 🙁 Thanks & best of luck with your girl! ?

    1. Hi DeAnne, the surgeon removed about 1/2 of Peekaboo’s lower left jaw. We don’t have the results from the margins yet (that will take a bit more time), just those from the central part. That’s why I referred to them as “partial” results…there is more to come.
      As for how I got her to start eating, well, my cats have always licked multivitamins (in a yummy paste form) off my fingers. I knew it might come in handy someday. And it has, on more than one occasion, in fact. But in Peekaboo’s case, even more so.
      I put bits of wet (recovery) food on my finger, and Peekaboo licks it with gusto. And even now that she’s mostly back to eating on her own, I am still starting her off with…finger food.
      I’m giving Peekaboo an anti-inflammatory, analgesic drug called Meloxoral (has to be given with food). It’s the only oral medication she’s taking right now. I mix it in with her morning food.
      The vets also gave her a long-acting shot of antibiotics (14 day coverage) so that I wouldn’t have to stress her out with twice-a-day shots.
      Keep me posted on your Boo. I hope he gets better soon…mainly, I hope that he begins eating on his own again! I know how stressful and scary this can be and am sending you a big virtual hug!
      Fingers crossed.
      Margaret

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