What is this lump in my cat's middle?
January 15, 2009 5:12 PM   Subscribe

My cat has a lump which could be an inflamed lymph node or, well, that's the question.

My cat - who is entering his 15th year (approximately - he is a shelter cat that the shelter guessed was 7 when I got him, judging by his teeth) had a small leg fracture in August which necessitated a cast for about 6 weeks. He did great with the cast and once it was off, was incredibly active. This is why we didn't think anything of it when he started losing weight - until the day came when I just realized it was *too much* weight, so we carted him to the vet. They thought it was a thyroid problem, and we ran all the bloodwork.

Everything came back normal - thyroid, urinary, not diabetic - he's in fantastic shape. Except that he keeps losing weight. He was slightly anemic (I'll never know HOW with what that guy eats) and had some low white blood cell count. He was also running an eye infection. They gave us antibiotics and ointment for the eye.

10 days later we were back and he had lost some more weight. This time the vet felt a lump in the middle of his body. They did an xray and could see the lump, and don't know whether it's an inflamed lymph node, or, well, something worse. I can feel the lump now, it explains why he's been squeaking extra loud when I pick him up =(

My poor little guy is getting weaker by the day. He was a loud, chatty fellow who would have an extended conversation with you, would poke you in the leg if he felt he didn't get enough attention. Now he's just sitting in his little cat bed, sleeping, and can barely squeak out a meow. We're going for a sonogram on Saturday, but I am going crazy with worry.
  • What else could this be?
  • Is there anything else I can be doing to help the cat? We've upped his food and he's eating like crazy (we're feeding him wet food - Wellness canned - morning and night. He won't touch the dry food any more). He has multiple warm and comfy places to sleep. We have steps everywhere for him to get up and down.
  • Is my vet doing the right thing or should we get a second opinion?
  • Is there anything else I need to know?
Money is not a problem, but at some point I don't want to be the crazy cat lady throwing money at the cat for my sake, I want to do what's best for the cat.

I am going crazy with grief here.
posted by micawber to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I would really rather not say this but cancer is a pretty clear possibility. Noncancerous tumors are also common in cats, particularly older cats. And it could be a lot of things. Trying to figure it out on the internet is probably not the best thing to be doing now. Although they can live to be quite a bit older, 15 is on the old end of average for a cat, this is more true in a shelter cat. Unless you have a good reason not to trust your vet, wait to get the best information you can to make decisions. Trust your judgment as regards how far to go with treatment of your cat: you will know what is right when you are dealing with actual decisions.
posted by nanojath at 5:41 PM on January 15, 2009

We had a cat when I was growing up (this would have been about twenty years ago in Texas), where something similar happened in the neck area. The "something worse" turned out to have been larvae of some sort. They sliced it open, extracted five ... well, somethings from the incision (they were about the size of a small bee each). Turns out some insect had somehow gotten her eggs into a cut in his neck.

Ollie went on to live at least another eight years after the procedure. Good luck.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 5:43 PM on January 15, 2009

Best answer: Cancer, lymphoma, leukemia, some other infectious process, etc. Not to sound overly harsh, and I know you're upset, but from your description, he's 15 (average life span of cats is 12-15 years, no?), he's in pain, sleeping a lot, not acting like himself, has some abnormal growth in his body that sprung up: it sounds like he's either very sick or dying. (I am not a vet, I am not your vet, this is not veterinary advice just a layman's opinion.)
posted by gramcracker at 5:45 PM on January 15, 2009

I'm really sorry to hear this. I've had similar episodes with a cat and a dog, which both turned out to be splenic tumours. They are sometimes operable, depending on the type of tumour and if it's spread.

You sound like you are keeping your guy comfortable, and that's likely the best you can do until you find out for certain.

Give him love and hope for the best.
posted by peggynature at 5:49 PM on January 15, 2009

Best answer: Very sorry to hear about your cat. My cat is going through some major health problems as well - fibrosarcoma - so I think I understand your grief and worry and desire to get more information as soon as possible.

However, I don't think there's anything you can do - other than keeping your cat as comfortable as possible, which it sounds like you're doing - until you get the results of the sonogram. A biopsy may be in order, but your vet is the best judge of that.

You're taking good care of your cat. You also need to take good care of yourself. There are so many different things it might be. The internet can't diagnose him for you; AskMe-ing and Googling his symptoms might only lead to more worry. Best hopes and wishes for both of you.
posted by expialidocious at 5:58 PM on January 15, 2009

If your cat's condition is markedly deteriorating, ask to have the sonogram tomorrow. Cats are remarkably stoic when in pain, but will give you myriad indications that they are not well: lethargy, silence, change in sleep habits, change in urination/defecation habits, appetite loss, weight loss, dull coat condition, cessation of grooming, listless eyes, etc.

Countless conditions can cause these symptoms (as well as lumps), so only proper diagnosis can reveal what ails your cat. But the sooner he receives medical care, the better. In the interim, make sure he is properly hydrated (drinking water), eating his food, and relieving himself regularly.

If after diagnosis, your vet proposes a treatment plan that may seem difficult, expensive, risky, or otherwise challenging (or questionable), then by all means get a second opinion to determine your next steps. Additionally, if your cat's condition is something regularly handled by veterinary specialists (e.g., surgeons, oncologists, etc.), consider visiting one for that specialist's advice and treatment proposals.

Best wishes to you and your cat.
posted by terranova at 7:22 PM on January 15, 2009

Response by poster: thanks everyone for their reality check and their input. i was just going crazy with waiting. we love our vet but speed is sometimes not one of their strong suits.

it's a lump attached to the pancreas, not pancreatic cancer, likely lymphoma; going to the oncologist next week.
posted by micawber at 1:31 PM on January 17, 2009

Response by poster: Our guy started to deteriorate on Monday evening, and we put him to sleep that night.

Thanks again to all for their attempts at solace.
posted by micawber at 12:07 PM on January 21, 2009

My deepest condolences, micawber. You tried to do all you could for your cat.

... for your little guy.
posted by terranova at 12:40 PM on January 21, 2009

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