M. Giant's
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Tuesday, October 23, 2007  

My Cat Has Ass Cancer

Late one evening a few weeks ago, Trash and I noticed a weird little pinkish damp spot on our bed. I assumed that M. Small's sippy cup full of juice had leaked and didn't think much more of it.

But then, at bedtime, Trash saw what had happened. As soon as I get in bed, Strat likes to crawl up on my chest and get pets and kisses and turn around in circles and stick his ass in our face. And there was something wrong with that ass. Something even more wrong than usual.

We decided to take him to the vet the very next morning, which happened to be a Saturday. Dr. P. wasn't in, so he saw Dr. R. instead.

When I got home, Trash asked me what the deal was.

"You don't want to know," I said.

"Yes, I do," she said.

"I swear to God you don't," I insisted.

So consider yourself warned that things are about to get nasty.

Cats have anal glands. I first became aware of this years ago, when I was playing with him while he was on his kitty condo. He was upside down, his ass sticking straight up in the air, when suddenly a few drops of thin brown liquid shot skyward from his fundament with a startling ploot.

"Okaayy, play time's over," I said, thinking his weapon of choice had escalated from paws to claws to poo. That's an arms race I want no part of.

I later found out that it wasn't in fact poo, but the product of his anal glands, which had burst open as is normal for cats at a certain age. He was fine.

We've had very little trouble with his anal glands ever since -- we've never had to bring him in to get them "expressed," as the hopelessly euphemistic term has it. But apparently something else happens to a cat's anal glands as he ages.

Now, here's where it gets gross.

As a cat gets older, that stuff that fills up the anal glands starts to harden. But it still builds up. Eventually what happens is a bursting type of situation, and then what your cat has is an infected abscess in a very sensitive spot. I have no idea what it must be like to poo past something like that, but I suspect we're lucky it didn't put him off his litter box completely.

So Dr. R. did some...oh, let's just call it "creative expression" and have done with it. She also put him on some antibiotics.

While we were there, I thought I might mention a few other things. For instance, almost every night during the last couple of months he's been parking himself at the bottom of the stairs and unleashing an ear-splitting feline aria, just at that point where either Trash or I is just about to fall asleep -- the same point where, if something wakes you up at that moment, you're up for another hour. How he's able to unerringly pinpoint that precise second from another floor, I don't know. So I asked about that. Oh, and also, the fact that he seems to have lost a pound since May.

Dr. R, took a bunch of blood to check his sugar levels and screen him for hyperthyroidism, which can sometimes cause more youthful (read: nocturnally noisy) behavior in an older cat. All the tests came back negative. His kidneys and liver are also great, there's no infection in his urine, and his blood sugar couldn't be better. He's like a furry, seventeen-year-old Swiss watch with diabetes.

So after he finished a round of antibiotics -- and a second round that Dr. P. put him on -- I brought him back in to see Dr. R. again this past Saturday. Yes, that's the very day after we found out Turtle's time was about up.

Dr. R. looked at Strat's anus a lot more closely than I've ever cared to, and while satisfied that she had healed, she said that there was something hard and irregular in there. In other words, a tumor. And the chances of it being non-cancerous are, as she put it, slim.

That's the bad news. The good news is that Dr. R. has seen a lot of these in her career, and cats who have them often live happily for years.

But let's be realistic. The longest I've ever heard of a cat living after being diagnosed with the beedies is four years (if you've heard of longer, please share), which we're coming up on in December. We've found ourselves wondering how Phantom would do as an only cat. We've asked her about that, but she doesn't seem to have an opinion on the matter that she cares to share.

We never expected Strat to outlive Orca, let alone one of the cats who followed her. But here he is, still, and something tells me it's not going to be the beedies or the ass cancer that gets him.

It's going to be me, at 12:40 on a Tuesday night, at the bottom of the stairs.

posted by M. Giant 9:19 PM 6 comments

6 Comments:

This comment has been removed by the author.

By Blogger Bunny, at October 24, 2007 at 4:27 AM  

I can't speak as to diabetes - my diabetic cat has only been diagnosed for a few months. I can offer some words of optimism for elderly cats with cancer, though.

My beloved cat Mouse was diagnosed with cancer when she was 15. Inoperable due to her age - odds were slim she'd survive anaesthetic.

She died at 22. Some cats just keep on kicking.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 24, 2007 at 4:29 AM  

ive seen (as a vet tech) several cat that have lived well over 4 years with the beedies. One is 15 and we have been treating him for 8 years now. Granted he was younger than most when we diagnosed him but he is doing GREAT!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 24, 2007 at 5:34 PM  

For a great resource on diabetes in cats, go to felinediabetes.com. They have a great message board and lots of informative articles. Lots of people on there have had their cats survive diabetes for a long time. Unfortunately, my cat only lasted 2 years after diagnosis.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 24, 2007 at 6:22 PM  

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of Turtle as well as Strat's problems. I have made a donation to the Los Angeles SPCA in Turtle's memory to help the wildfire victims.

By Anonymous Michael, at October 25, 2007 at 6:05 AM  

on the topic of cat glands

By Anonymous Anonymous, at October 28, 2007 at 8:59 PM  

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