My Cat Beat Skin Cancer (Feline Subcutaneous Hemangiosarcoma)
For owners facing the dilemma of your cat having cancer, I hope this hub helps to reassure you that it is possible for your cat to survive even an aggressive form of cancer.
Spur is a domestic short haired male cat with lovely apple green eyes and a teardrop-shaped nose, we estimate that he was born in 2000. We got him from a friend of a friend so we don't know much about him other than he's a sweet lovable guy who acts much like a playful attention-loving puppy. He came along at a perfect time to be a companion to our other male cat who was acting lonely in his old age. And they were wonderful companions until the other cat passed away in 2007. We got a young female cat in 2007 who is now Spur's frisky little sister.
He's an indoor cat but loves to roll around on the lawn, chew on grass and spy on the neighbors from under a lilac bush.
We discovered a lump in the right side of Spur's abdomen in April 2012. After doing some research on the Internet as to what it could be, we didn't make much of it. We thought I could be fat. But decided to take him to the vet for an exam just in case. The vet looked him over but needed to do a biopsy to determine the nature of the lump. Unfortunately, because Spur was uncooperative, they needed to sedate him for the procedure. We had to find the time to drop him off and pick him up the same day as they do not provide overnight boarding. We became concerned after a week when we felt that the lump had grown larger and firmer.
We decided to take him to another vet, we found a 7-day animal hospital. They did a biopsy but could not determine exactly what the lump was from the sample. We told them to go ahead and remove the lump. Because more test were required, we had to talk to an oncologist to find out as much as we can. So we took him to the University of Guelph (in Canada). The University did tests on the tumor. They also did an ultrasound of his abdomen and an MRI. They determined that he had feline subcutaneous hemangiosarcoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer. The University vets suggested doing another surgery immediately to remove more of the tissue around where the lump was located. His second surgery was a month after his first surgery. They ended up taking a muscle out of his right flank also. And polypropelene mesh was used to patch the abdominal wall. Thank goodness surgery went very well. And he recovered quickly without any signs of lethargy or pain or change in behavior. In fact, he acted so normal that we had to keep him in a wire kennel (for a large dog) while he healed because he kept jumping up on things.
After surgery, an oncologist said we could consider chemotherapy to prevent recurrence. After discussing the pros and cons, we decided not to pursue this. Chemo would damage his organs especially the liver.
The vets couldn't give us any specific advice as very little research and data gathering has been done for cats with this type of cancer. We were told that they come across this more in dogs than cats. And cats with cancer are usually put down immediately. They do have some data for dogs with this cancer. Cancer usually shortens the life of dogs especially older dogs. But as with humans, results vary for each case. And we gave Spur all the help he needed since he was healthy and full of life.
The only negative about the whole ordeal is now he hates going to the vet. Each time we take him for a checkup, he puts up a huge fight along with blood curdling screams when they try to take a blood or urine sample. Poor guy.
In the photo below you can see how the pattern on his coat is a little crooked but it is hardly noticeable that he lost some of his fur. It took about 6 months for his fur to grow back in completely. For a while I was worried how it would end up looking because it was growing back in clumps at a very slow pace.
But as you can see in the before and after pictures, he didn't change much. What a happy ending to my story, he's as energetic and lovable as ever.
Around October 2015 a hernia has developed where the mesh was inserted. The vets think the mesh dissolved. It's not life threatening at this point. So we decided to leave things alone and monitor any change in size or shape. If it becomes twisted or tangled in his organs it would be fatal. The vets say because of his age, Spur may not be able to survive anesthesia without complications. So far he's not bothered by it, and he's still got a very healthy appetite. In fact he's eating more these days!