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WWYD: Given unspayed 10 year old female cat with mammory tumors

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  • WWYD: Given unspayed 10 year old female cat with mammory tumors

    My SO's Aunt recently moved in with her daughter's family, who has someone very allergic to felines. So aunt asked if we could help with cat. We said we could take cat on a foster-type basis to find a new home for cat (we've done that before- mostly with kittens).

    SO goes to help Aunt move and comes home with cat. I ask before he leaves to get any vet records cat has. Turns out, cat went to vet once when she was a kitten "for her shots." Also turns out that cat is NOT SPAYED. So my reaction at that point was you have to be kidding we cannot find a new home for an unspayed female cat. So I find a low-cost spay program near us so we can get kitty spayed (about 100) and find a new home for cat, cause honestly, we don't need another cat.

    Then, once the 8 pounds of black terror allowed me to touch her, I discovered a mass around one of her teats. Egads. So I contact the spay program to see about this and they recommend an exam first (it is at a vet clinic). At this point I research types of mammary tumors and have concluded it is almost definitely cancer, and it looks like the chances of survival aren't great. So I figure I will take her to the exam and see what we can do to make her comfortable until her time is here.

    So we see the vet, who says, yes it might be cancer or it could be something else, we won't know until we biopsy. Which would be done when they take it out. Vet seems to think survival rates of cats of mammary tumors are not as bad as I have read, and has had fairly good success spaying and removing mammary tumors at the same time. Since cat is otherwise healthy, best thing would be to do surgery.

    So we thought about it, and I made an appointment for cat to have surgery. If we were rich, this would not be a problem whatsoever. I do not want to watch cat die knowing I could have kept cat healthy and happy for many more years. However, we are not rich. I am paying off past debts from years while I was underemployed and college loans. Family has been very generous in helping me pay off these debts. In addition I have 3 horses- all of which are unsaleable for one reason or another, and have restricted my ability to pay off debts faster.

    Now I am second guessing this, really only due to the cost. Vet said he could do it for 500, which is a very good price for that surgery in this area. Aunt and her daughter have said they will contribute but haven't specified a price point. I am annoyed with them and the situation, but am also loathe to press them on the $$, since daughter has four kids, one which has special needs and one of which has had a bevy of mental health issues recently. A very generous friend of mine, who was super supportive during my divorce and helped me to rehome a number of kittens in the past, has offered to contribute $100.

    So WWYD? Get surgery? Or keep cat comfortable until it needs to be PTS?

    I'm literally losing sleep over this.

  • #2
    I'd get a needle biopsy of the lumps and perhaps a quick radiograph to evaluate for internal metastatic lesions before taking her to surgery. If she's got metastatic cancer, I'd support her for the small amount of time she likely has left, and then put her down. I would not bother with spaying her or removing the tumor...I'd just keep her inside and keep her comfortable.

    If she does not appear to have metastatic cancer, I'd go ahead and spay her and removed the tumor.

    Good luck, and I'm sorry you have to deal with this


    • #3
      Well $500 is a very good price if you choose to go ahead with it. If you do fine needle aspirates for cytology and radiographs for metastasis thats likely going to be an additional $3-500. It may be high or low yield. Ideally yes this would be the first step, but as costs are a conern Id just go ahead and spay her and remove the mass. Generally mammary carcinomas in cats are far more forgiving than in dogs, they are slower growing and slower to spread. Tough call, but if she wont be a bother in your house for a few years and you can get some financial support from your aunt then that may be the best route. Another option is to leave her intact and keep her indoors until her time is done. Intact female cats can be irritating at times, but they are easier to deal with than the intact males!


      • Original Poster

        Thanks for your replies and you are confirming what I was thinking writing the post- we should just go ahead with the surgery.

        Thanks very much.


        • #5
          What is her feline leukemia status? I ask because I once adopted a positive cat who got a mammary tumor. We had it removed and it grew back almost immediately. Not sure if that was a coincidence or not but definitely made me think twice.
          McDowell Racing Stables

          Home Away From Home


          • Original Poster


            Not sure how to edit a thread title... can't find a button for that!!

            Cat had surgery. Chain of teets removed and spayed- and of course- had pyometra! I thought those were mostly deadly if not treated ASAP, but I guess in cats they can kind of hang around and fester. Came in a little under $700.

            Relatives were told of price and are "going to try to scrape something together, but not sure how long it will take."


            Poor kitty has a cone of shame, and a bandage around her middle- effectively turning her into sausage cat.


            • #7
              Kudos to you for stepping up for poor kitty! Hope the rest of her life with you is peaceful.


              • #8
                You are a better person than I OP. I don't think I would spend that kind of money on someone else's cat who just didn't want to step up and pay for it.

                It's one thing when it's my own animal...it's another when it belongs to someone else and they refuse to take responsibility for it.


                • #9
                  too late now, but here's some info:

                  Mammary carcinomas and adenocarcinomas (MACs) are relatively common tumors in cats. The postexcisional survival period of affected cats is inversely proportional to tumor size, but the reported median survival periods for different tumor size categories is quite variable. This variability diminishes the prognostic value of reported data. In our study, cats with MACs greater than 3 cm in diameter had a 12-month median survival period, whereas those with MACs less than 3 cm in diameter had a 21-month survival period. Survival periods for cats with MACs smaller than 3 cm ranged from 3 to 54 months; therefore, tumor size alone is of limited prognostic value in cats with MACs smaller than 3 cm in diameter. In cats with MACs larger than 3 cm in diameter, tumor size appears to have much higher prognostic relevance, because this study, as well as others, have indicated that cats with MACs greater than 3 cm in diameter have a poor prognosis, with median survival periods ranging from 4 to 12 months.

                  J Feline Med Surg. 2010 Mar;12(3):214-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jfms.2010.01.004.

                  Early detection, aggressive therapy: optimizing the management of feline mammary masses.

                  Giménez F, Hecht S, Craig LE, Legendre AM.


                  Catedra y Servicio de Reproducción Animal, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Calle 60 y 118 S/N (1900), La Plata, Argentina. fgimenez@fcv.unlp.edu.ar

                  Erratum in
                  J Feline Med Surg. 2011 Feb;13(2):155.



                  This article reviews the incidence, etiology, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of mammary tumors in cats.

                  PRACTICAL RELEVANCE:

                  Approximately 80% of feline mammary masses are malignant, with adenocarcinoma being the most common tumor type. Early diagnosis is, therefore, essential to improve the prognosis and quality of life of affected cats.

                  TREATMENT APPROACHES:

                  Surgery is the most widely used treatment for malignant tumors. However, as mammary tumors are often advanced and metastasis has already occurred by the time of diagnosis, surgery routinely does not provide a cure. Ovariohysterectomy or hormonal therapy are the treatments of choice for fibroadenomatous hyperplasia (the most common benign mass) and usually lead to a successful outcome.

                  Copyright 2010.
                  there's a bunch of studies on various chemotherapy regimens that have been tried, but none seem to extend survival time in cats.

                  So good luck. You probably bought this cat a year of good-quality life.


                  • Original Poster

                    Yeah I looked at those stats and information before I even took her to the vet, but the vet didn't really seem to know about survival rates and didn't offer an opinion on them. A needle aspirate or x-ray were not mentioned. A needle aspirate occurred to me, but since the vet didn't mention it, I assumed that it would not be diagnostically helpful.

                    To keep costs down, we skipped the biopsy (150) and bloodwork (100), so we won't know whether it was benign or malignant, but it doesn't really matter since we won't be doing chemo or any further surgeries, etc.

                    Believe me, when we first found out about this I was very much against surgery- I was not going to pay for surgery for a cat that wasn't mine. Other people in my life have been quick to suggest euthanasia, or doing nothing, but it's different when you are actually looking at the cat in your house and saying, are we going to watch her die or are we going to do something that we know will help her? And the vets very much presented the options as "this is what we should do, but its up to you."

                    I still don't know if we did the right thing, but the cat is doing well. Still annoyed with the family members though- I feel like giving a cat to family that you know needs medical treatment is just RUDE!


                    • #11
                      a year for a cat is like 5 years for people- most people would happily undergo surgery and pay $700 to get 5 years of life.
                      Will the vet give you a break on the price for it not being your cat and your good deed?


                      • #12
                        You did right by the old girl. Doesn't help with the $, but you easily could have put her down and you didn't.

                        Best of luck for your family.
                        "Never do anything that you have to explain twice to the paramedics."
                        Courtesy my cousin Tim


                        • #13
                          Good job for helping this kitty.
                          I LOVE my Chickens!


                          • #14
                            Good for you for saving the cat's life! In terms of the family issues, I think the best thing to do is just forget it. I know, it's not pocket change and it's not fair, but the odds are that they will, eventually, produce just enough money to irritate you all over again. If you dwell on it, you'll just make yourself nuts. You did a great thing, they did a kinda crappy thing, so you basically came out ahead.


                            • Original Poster

                              Yeah I know I got good karma on this one.

                              Kitty is doing okay. Eating, but not interested in water, and isn't peeing where she's supposed to. I switched out her covered litter box for a low-sided one with shredded paper and instead she peed on the floor. Put the litter box where she peed on the floor and so she peed on the pillow she's been sleeping on. Argh.

                              She went back to vet for a recheck yesterday, got the bandage off, and since she's not drinking we're doing SubQ fluids and have added Baytril to the Convenia she already got. She's still on Buprenex as well. Temp was normal though- everything is healing well, she just isn't interested in water. Very odd for her. And not peeing where she's supposed to!!! I switched the litterbox back to her regular one but left the top off, so hopefully she just didn't like the smell of the other one.


                              • #16
                                Oh, you are a really, really good person. Karma! And good luck with Miss Kitty.
                                What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Simkie View Post
                                  I'd get a needle biopsy of the lumps and perhaps a quick radiograph to evaluate for internal metastatic lesions before taking her to surgery. If she's got metastatic cancer, I'd support her for the small amount of time she likely has left, and then put her down. I would not bother with spaying her or removing the tumor...I'd just keep her inside and keep her comfortable.

                                  If she does not appear to have metastatic cancer, I'd go ahead and spay her and removed the tumor.

                                  Good luck, and I'm sorry you have to deal with this
                                  This, exactly!
                                  Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.

                                  Proud Closet Canterer! Member Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.


                                  • #18
                                    I'd be SUPER annoyed with the relatives too. Esp. since they probably could have prevented this just by spaying her. But you did a very good deed and you will get the karma points. Hopefully they will just get the karma.
                                    Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.

                                    Proud Closet Canterer! Member Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.


                                    • #19
                                      As for the peeing problems, maybe she has a bladder infection. Maybe some antibiotics would help? Keep trying litter until you find one she likes.
                                      Every mighty oak was once a nut that stood its ground.

                                      Proud Closet Canterer! Member Riders with Fibromyalgia clique.