Rough Day

Wow, yesterday was a doozy for unpleasant news. In reverse order of the arrival of the news:

Michael Jackson died. Okay, yes, the guy turned out to be pretty weird, but he was one talented guy–maybe the most talented guy in pop music/entertainment, ever. He could sing, he could write songs, and man could he dance. As entertainment icons go he was as big as they get, then or since. I suppose if you are younger than about 40 you don’t remember what it was like at the peak of his career, when Thriller was busting records and Michael Jackson essentially defined pop music at the time. Consider that Thriller is still the best-selling album ever, which means it has outsold any album by The Beatles, Elvis, U2, or anybody else. It’s particularly sad that he died just when things were starting to look up for him: he had 50 sold-out concerts lined up.

Farrah Fawcett died. Okay, yes, she wasn’t as big as Michael Jackson but she was something of an icon of the 70s. I’m old enough to remember the poster but not old enough to have bought it.

Madeline, our dear little kitten princess, may have cancer. I found a lump on the back of her neck about a week ago, so we trundled her down to the vet. The vet shaved a teeny patch of her fur so we could look at the lump. At that time it looked like it might be a spider bite and there wasn’t much to do other that to keep an eye on it and bring her back if it worsened.

A few days later it was clearly getting larger rather than smaller. We trundled her back to the vet who shaved a larger patch. The one lump had turned into four lumps, the oldest of which had become raw. On the assumption that it was a spider bite the vet prescribed antibiotics to keep an infection from developing while the spider venom ran its course, and we went home with instructions to bring her back if the lumps continued to grow or multiply.

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(As an aside, Maddy hates being given these antibiotics. If you’ve ever had to get medicine into a cat, you probably know that the best technique is to grab them by the scruff of the neck and hold their head back, because that makes their mouth open and gives you some measure of control over them. Maddy currently doesn’t have any fur on the scruff of her neck so this technique isn’t at our disposal. Our current approach involves me kneeling over her, holding her down by her front legs with a pair of work gloves while Tracie grabs her head and squirts the medicine into her mouth with a syringe. This is barely effective. Yes, she’s still a kitten who weighs just over four pounds. They’re impressively strong and willful little animals.)

By Wednesday we observed that there was at least one new lump, so back to the vet she went. (Incidentally, if you happen to have to care for an unusual medical condition in either a human or an animal, it’s tremendously helpful to take pictures of it with a digital camera. It’s far easier to compare the progress of something if you can look at successive photos of it, and your doctor or vet will be terribly impressed with your attention to detail.) The vet took one look at it and said “that comes off, tomorrow.” No more waiting and watching, time for surgical intervention.

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(As another aside, there are actually three vets involved in this story. There are three vets at the clinic and we’re on a first-name basis with all of them, but for brevity I’m referring to them collectively as “the vet”.)

So Tracie took Madeline in on Thursday and had a long conversation with the vet in which the possibility that we were looking at a sarcoma was discussed, and Tracie related the discussion to me after she returned home. I guess the possibility of cancer had crossed my mind previously but I’d pushed it aside.

Tracie brought Maddy home later that afternoon. She was a little groggy from the anesthesia but not unexpectedly so, and today she’s pretty much her usual self–aside from having a big shaved area and a nasty-looking incision. She’s shaved from just behind her ears to just in front of her shoulders, and the incision is about 8cm long with big sutures holding it shut. Yes, I have photos of it, too, but you don’t want to see them (trust me) and besides a princess is entitled to her privacy.

So, now we have to keep her from scratching her sutures, keep her brother and Zed from messing with her, and keep our fingers crossed while we wait for results from the lab. The vet sent her collection of lumps off to a lab so that they can determine what’s going on. We should have results on Monday or Tuesday.

By adam

Go ahead, try to summarize yourself in a sentence or two.


  1. Hi Adam,

    Long time subscriber/customer, first time poster, and fellow cat enthusiast. I’m very sorry to hear about Maddy, my fiance and I have been enjoying the kitten videos quite a bit.

    If it helps at all, my parents have a small fluffy female named Furon who has an auto-immune problem that requires daily pregnizone (sp?), but is otherwise a healthy 5yo who seems largely indestructible and ( when outside ) is spry enough to kill birds twice her size. Cats can be amazingly resilient, as it turns out.

    cheers, Jeff

  2. Thanks for your kind words, Jeff. Yes, cats are remarkably resilient. Maddy seemed to be pretty much her usual self by the morning after her surgery. It makes us cringe to see her dashing around and wrestling with Edwin, but we figure that if doing so hurt, she’d stop. We are pulling them apart when it looks like there’s a chance that Eddie will get his claws hooked on her sutures, the thought of which makes us cringe even more.
    We won’t know until we get the lab results what her long-term prognosis is. One of the vets remarked that if it is cancer, it’s nothing like she’s seen in 20 years of practicing veterinary medicine. Another friend of Tracie’s with a good deal of relevant knowledge and experience (hi Steve!) expressed the same opinion. We’re cautiously optimistic.

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