I will never publicly lament a personal tragedy on Facebook again.
Scroll down a few entries and you’ll find a piece about my sweet cat – both in the adorable sense and in the tubular Bill & Ted sense – mysteriously getting an aggressive and sudden case of large cell lymphoma.
The vet took one look at him and said, “Yes, this cat most likely has cancer.”
They took his blood and did a $400 test to determine that he most likely had cancer. They also gave me a generic antibiotic – just in case it was a virus.
“But we’re pretty sure it’s not a virus. He definitely has all the telling signs of cancer.”
Then the results came in and they said, “Well, your cat most likely has cancer, but before you can take him to an oncologist for chemotherapy, we need to do another $350 test to determine that he actually has cancer. However, your cat has cancer and he will die in about four weeks if he doesn’t get chemotherapy.”
Two things. I knew knew full well that I could not afford weekly chemotherapy treatments. Also, even if I could afford them, large cell lymphoma is the worst cancer a cat can get. It grows rapidly and it kills fast. Even with chemo, cats rarely live more than an additional four months. I researched ways to make Taxi comfortable until he passed away or had to be put to sleep. I researched all of the terrible things that would start to happen to his body as the cancer worsened.
Since he refused to eat, I propped him up on my knees and squirted high calorie fat-paste into his mouth. I fed him like a baby four or five times a day. That guy was living off of fat-paste and special cancer-cat food. His coat was ratty and he was sleeping through the night – something he never used to do. Normally he’d sleep all day, gathering up his strength and making a list of things to knock over or destroy as soon as D and I went to bed.
I don’t know the exact moment I realized that Taxi was getting better. I had opened a pack of Tuna to snack on and Taxi walked over. He ate the tiny piece I put in his bowl. He hadn’t eaten on his own in a while.
Within a week he was up to half a pack a day! Yet, even though his energy levels even perked up a bit, I didn’t want to get my hopes up. Then his test finally came back in – negative. For cancer. The vet called and left me a message that basically said:
“I mean, it still looks like he has cancer, it just looks like Dog cancer. You should still take him to the oncologist and they will still recommend chemotherapy.”
Something wasn’t right. Within a week, Taxi graduated to human baby food because he was still being a dick about that fancy dry food I bought. The swollen lymph nodes in his neck had vanished. He even began to unleash the spirit of the hunter in the night! In other words, Taxi never had cancer. An malignant, 100% fatal cancer does not magically vanish because you funnel fat-paste and pure love down their throat.
While on a run to get more supplies, I went to vet in the back of the Pet Smart and described the ordeal to the vet-tech at the counter.
“Well, were there black specs in his urine?”
“Uh-huh, see, that’s most likely a kidney thing. He probably just had a kidney infection. Didn’t they ask you at the other vet?”
“Huh,” the tech said, popping a zit on her chin, “that should have been … like… the first thing they asked you. How old you said he was?”
“Like cat years or human years?”
“Eh, either way. Still too young to have cancer. They definitely should have ruled out an infection first. First thing any vet should ever ask you: is there weird stuff in their pee? Could have saved you a lot of trouble and damn near a thousand bucks. Those tests are … like… $400 a pop.”
She wiped the zit on her pants and I nodded in agreement and paid for the paste. I’m sorry. The zit thing just really sticks out in my memory. Mostly because this girl who pops zits behind the counter of the vet in the back of the Pet Smart knew what was wrong with my cat by asking a simple question, yet a vet with an amazing reputation on Yelp led me a cancer goose chase.
I felt mighty sheepish telling everyone that I made a huge deal over what turned out to be an infection. That’s what I meant with my opening statement.
Taxi grimaces when I bring the syringe out. He hates the Fat-Paste of Life, but he muscles through it like a champ. I hate that I spent the last month thinking that he was going to be dead by now and I hate being extra-extra poor, but I’m muscling through it like a champ (or trying to.)
My little wiener cat doesn’t have cancer.
He also just knocked over a chair.
He could knock over all of the chairs, though, and I’d still be happy because I’ve still got my little Siamese Shetland Panther.