Pouncer, her brother, Sammy and another littermate, were abandoned by their mother when they were 3 weeks old. When I found them, the one had already passed, and I thought that the others weren't far behind. I brought the two of them in the house and with the help of my nieces, warmed them up. Pouncer, from the start, showed her fighting spirit. She was so hungry, and told me to feed her NOW. I took the two of them to the vet, got them checked out and bought some kitten milk replacer. That started one of the most tiring, but rewarding three weeks of my life. I became their mother. I did everything for them that their mother would have done. Well, I didn't lick them, but rather used a wash cloth to clean them. |
They grew strong and big. They were the joy of my life. Their first birthday passed. At the end of October, I noticed something not quite right with Pouncer, she made a weird noise when she purred, almost like a gurgling noise like if you swallow air. I took her to the vet and she was diagnosed with Unilateral Laryngial Paralysis. A rather complicated thing to describe, but nothing to worry about on it's own. A few days later, I noticed the third eyelid on one of her eyes was very swollen, so off to the vet she went again. He could find no cause for the swelling, but put her on some medication to help it.
It was a week or so later that I noticed that she was having laboured breathing. She was breathing heavy like if you'd just done heavy exercise. Back to the vet again she went, the 3rd time in a couple of weeks. The diagnosis wasn't good, she had fluid buildup in her chest. They drained the fluid and took a sample of it to send to the lab. Over the next couple of weeks, she had to go in 3 times to get her chest tapped. The results came back inconclusive. They sent us off to the Vet college for more extensive tests. They diagnosed her very quickly, she had a large mass in her chest, she had lymphoma. She was only a bit over a year old, and she had cancer. My options were to do nothing or try chemotherapy. Without the chemotherapy, they gave her two weeks. It was a hard decision, but ultimately what decided it for me was I can try it and if it didn't work, or made her sick, I could stop it. I couldn't do it the other way around.
It took a couple of weeks, but just before Christmas, she became like a kitten again. You couldn't tell she was sick at all. She was like that for the next three months. Everyone was so impressed at how well she was doing, and I was able to remain firmly in denial that there was anything wrong with her.
That denial came to an end at the end of March, when she started to be less active, started to just not be herself. After some tests, it was as I feared - the cancer had come back. Her chest wasn't filling up with fluid this time, instead the tumor was pressing against her esophagus and trachea. They had me give her a higher dose of prednisone, which almost immediately helped. She had stopped eating, so I was syringe feeding her. In mid-April, she started retaining fluid, so went on Lasix and an injectable pred instead of the pills.
My only other option at that point, other than letting her go, was to try a different chemo drug called CCNU. She would get it once every four weeks. We tried it the first time on April 25. Within a few days, she was feeling better although still not eating on her own. A week or so later, I read on a feline lymphoma group about appetite stimulants, so I got one from my vet. Within 3 days, she was eating on her own again - in fact she was eating everything in sight. She ate so much, she ended up getting sick from eating so much, but that lasted only one day and then she was fine again. After that, it was just a matter of her building her strength back up and gaining the weight that she lost. By the time she went in for her second dose of CCNU, she was almost back to normal, although her activity level never reached what it had been back earlier in the year. The vet took xrays of her chest and it was very good news, they could no longer see the mass on the xrays, it had gotten too small. Everyone was very encouraged by this news, we felt she would be around for a long time yet.
Just over two weeks later, the lymph nodes on the sides of her neck and under her chin enlarged rapidly overnight. This was bad news. I knew the end was near. I started syringe feeding her again, I wasn't going to let her starve to death. She never seemed to be in any pain, but just seemed very tired. I never saw that look in her eyes like she wanted to give up, just that she was so tired.
In the early morning hours of June 15, she passed away peacefully in her sleep. It was a long hard battle, one that neither of us gave up fighting. The cancer took her physically away from me, but her strong, fighting spirit still lives on.
Pouncer, the things about you that made you special I will carry with me for the rest of my life. You taught me so much. I miss your chirping, I miss your soft, silky fur. Rest in peace, my sweetie, you have earned your wings. I love you.