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Saturday, March 24, 2007  

Turning Turtle

Turtle's been through four fatal diseases in the last 24 hours.

We've noticed she's been losing weight, so we made an appointment to take her to the vet yesterday after work. Turns out she's lost two pounds since December, and she wasn't a big cat to begin with. On the way in, the carrier was so light that one time I checked to make sure she was really in there.

The vet, Dr. M., got very quiet when she was checking Turtle out, which is never a good sign. Feeling around Turtle's belly, she discovered something really big in there, either an enlarged liver or spleen. After her initial examination and some time in the back, she came back with the first three things she thought it might be. One was feline leukemia. One was Feline Immunovirus, or FIV, which is kitty HIV. One was FIP, which is Feline Infectious Peritonitis. None are treatable. All are terminal. FIP is the hardest one to check for, so we had to rule out the other two first. The techs drew about three gallons of blood from her and I brought her home totally bummed. She wasn't happy either.

Dr. M. called this morning to say they'd ruled out leukemia and FIV, and if I wanted to bring her in today for an X-ray, we could go from there. I actually had to drop her off for a couple of hours this time. Turtle barely holds still for pictures of her outside, let alone her guts.

When I got back, she told me that they'd eliminated FIP as well. Which I thought was good news. Dr. M. led me to the back room and showed me the X-ray films of Turtle's spleen. Now, normally a kitty's spleen is too small to even show up on an X-ray. However, Turtle's was approximately the size of, well, Turtle. Dr. M. hadn't initially thought that Turtle could have cancer at her age (she's not even three yet), but the size of the spleen indicated a likely mass cell tumor somewhere in there. Her best-case scenario was having her spleen removed and hoping that got it all. But before we did that, Dr. M. suggested an ultrasound and liver biopsy to make sure there wasn't any cancer in the liver as well. Because if there is, taking her spleen would be a waste of time and a boatload of trauma for nothing.

Even more bummed when I got home with her this afternoon. Trash and I discussed it. We agreed that we'd wait to hear survival statistics on this kind of thing from the vet, but that if Turtle was going to be suffering, we wouldn't prolong it. M. Small was dirty from his visit to the park with Trash and Bitter, so I gave him his bath. Bummed.

I was drying him off when the phone rang. We missed the call because I'd left the cordless upstairs, but the caller ID indicated the vet's office. But it had closed an hour before, so we couldn't call back. I handed a barely-diapered M. Small off to his mom and dashed back up to the vet's to try to catch Dr. M. as she left. Which, since it's only an eight-block drive, only took me a couple of minutes.

She was still there, but only because she'd thrown together some prescriptions for Turtle and was going to tape them to the front door for us. Prescriptions? For the Big Casino? Well, when the final bloodwork came in, it turned out that her red blood cell count is consistent with a form of anemia, which may be what's causing the enlarged spleen. So it's possible there's no cancer in there at all. The even better news is that this form of anemia is treatable with Prednisone. Dr. M. stood there in the empty building and talked to me for like ten minutes, telling me what was going on and answering all my ignorant questions.

We still have the ultrasound scheduled for a week from Monday just in case, but we might be able to cancel that if her red blood cell count has gone back up and her spleen starts shrinking. Fingers crossed.

I'm worried, but I've lost a cat before and lived through it. The one I'm really concerned about in this is M. Small. He already knows she's sick and has remarked to me a couple of times, "You took Turtle to the doctor." I really hope I don't have to explain to him that Turtle got so sick that she couldn't come back. If the three of us have our own cats, Strat is mine, Phantom is Trash's, and Turtle is his. They were babies together. He used to sit in his Intellitainer and wave a kitty toy for her longer than he'd do anything else, including sleep. She's the only one of the three of them who will always put up with his shit. I really, really hope she's only anemic.

Excuse me, I have to go give my son's cat her pill and a hug.

posted by M. Giant 9:30 PM 14 comments


I'm crossing my fingers for Turtle's speedy recovery!

By Blogger shallahb, at March 25, 2007 at 5:56 AM  

Poor Turtle! I hope the medication fixes her up.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 25, 2007 at 6:33 AM  

Oh, mannn. But hey: Turtle's an unpredictable lil' beast. I bet her diagnosis is just as unlikely to go to those scary places it might have.

Your vet sounds completely awesome, by the by. A lot of people doctors aren't that good.

By Blogger Febrifuge, at March 25, 2007 at 6:33 PM  

Thanks everyone. And yes, Dr. M is the best.

By Blogger M. Giant, at March 25, 2007 at 10:10 PM  

Shouldn't that be M. Doctor?


Hugs to Turtle, and to all of you.

By Blogger Linda, at March 26, 2007 at 3:28 AM  

I hope he gets back to tip-top shape soon, he's a cutie pie.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 26, 2007 at 7:17 AM  

Praying for anemia! Man, I never thought I would be saying those words.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 26, 2007 at 8:40 AM  

Irony of ironies, my dog is currently getting an ultrasound for spleen issues as well (her liver is involved, too, which makes it all even more bumming). AND my 19-month-old already asks for her while he's eating, and gets upset when she leaves the room. So I'm mentally there with you on all counts.

Here's hoping EVERYTHING turns out well for all of us!!!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 26, 2007 at 8:54 AM  

I hope your vet is right about the anemia. Since she took a boatload of blood, I'm assuming she's ruled out kidney disease and hyperthyroidism, which are the problems that sent most of my elderly cats down the prolonged (and ultimately fatal) weight-loss slide. Looks like Turtle's too young for those problems though, so hopefully prednisone (the wonder drug that works wonders) will fix her right up. Good luck!

By Blogger kmckee7, at March 26, 2007 at 10:30 AM  

I hope your Turtle gets well soon and there's no need to difficult conversations with M. Small.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 26, 2007 at 12:43 PM  

Oh, please get better, Turtle! And Jennifer's dog.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 26, 2007 at 4:54 PM  

Oh no! Turtle's kitty cousins are crossing their paws for a speedy recovery. We just found out one of ours has a heart murmer, so well I know that sinking feeling, when you are suddenly confronted with your beloved pet's mortality. It ain't fair.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 27, 2007 at 2:17 PM  

Sending so many positive intentions for Turtle! I know she's got a lot of friendship left to give to M. Small. She's not going anywhere.

By Blogger Soul Kitten, at March 27, 2007 at 7:43 PM  

Thinking warm fuzzy thoughts for Turtle!

By Blogger RandomRanter, at March 28, 2007 at 10:15 AM  

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