Thursday, November 20, 2014

Saying Good-bye to Tammy

While the news was good for a while and we had high hopes for a full recovery, the final outcome for Tammy was not good. Her tumors returned and a second surgery showed some promise, but that didn't last, either. When the tumors again returned, they were somehow "angry" and we knew there was nothing left to try. An x-ray showed extensive metastases throughout her body, including her lungs. An x-ray just one month earlier showed none of this. It was an extremely rapid change.

Amazingly, though, she was still active, eating well, never missed the litter box in her life, and she even still enjoyed playing with the "red dot."  But now she was breathing rapidly, just to get enough oxygen, and she needed to rest often. It was her breathing difficulty that led us to take her to the vet for her final visit two days ago.

She was only 12. It just doesn't seem fair. She was one of the nicest cats we've ever known...always cooperative with whatever was required of her - vet visits, accepting new food when we needed to change everyone's diet, cuddling often, and never starting any fights. She even knew her name and usually came when called.

Her rabies tag will now be added to the Memorial Wreath I hang every year for the holidays. If it seems there are too many, I agree. I miss them all and wish they didn't have to go. But after 13 years rescuing more than 1,000 cats (and several hundred dogs), losing some is inevitable. Most rescued animals come from difficult situations, and we were happy to have been able to find them new homes, or to love them to the end at our home.

RIP, Tammy.....

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Tammy's surgery was a success! Cancer free!

Tammy is about 12 years old, rescued from life on the street at about age 3. I had her spayed right away, along with her sister, Judy, and they quickly became settled into life at the shelter. Judy got lucky and was adopted that year, leaving Tammy behind to make friends with the other cats on her own. She did very well and became a favorite at the shelter. But no one wanted to adopt her. So I took her home with me.

However, it wasn't long before I noticed she was still going into heat on a regular schedule, 3 times a year. The vet who spayed her said not to worry about it and that repeating the surgery was unnecessary. She wasn't going to get pregnant, after all. So we put up with her yowling 3 times a year for the next 9 years.

Then it happened: This summer she developed some odd growths on her belly. She already had a somewhat large, fluid-filled cyst on her abdomen for the last few years, but again, the vet said it was just a "water sac" and not to worry about it. So we didn't. But the new growths had me concerned, since older female cats can get mammary cancer if they haven't been spayed. Tammy was still making estrogen, so she was a good candidate for a cancer diagnosis. And the nodules were hard and rough to the touch.

I took her to our new vet right away and scheduled surgery for the following week. We wouldn't know the outcome until she had x-rays to be sure her lungs were clear and the tumors were removed and examined.

We were all very happy to discover she did not have any malignancies and took her home to recover.

Here are some of the masses the
vet removed:
In this cluster are one ovary, part of the uterus that was left behind, and a fluid-filled cyst.

Tammy is very lucky to have survived this scenario that could easily have gone in a different direction. It's always a good idea to be sure your vet knows what he or she is doing. Just like human physicians, get references and check into their history for complaints. That's usually not easy, but asking around among people you know who have used their services is one way to get information.