The Trouble with Alex



Alex is our Sphinx cat that we got about three years ago as a rescue. In the veterinary world, a gomer is a pet with every kind of problem imaginable. They’re generally hard to treat because they’re multiple conditions tend to interfere with each other. They are always sick and always developing new conditions. Most vets own at least on gomer in their life. Alex is ours.

When we got him, he had inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which is why he’s so skinny looking. His intestinal tract doesn’t absorb the nutrients he eats very well. This leads to a smelly, dirty litter box. He is on steroids to manage that.

In the three years we’ve had him, he’s developed early kidney disease and heart disease. He’s on medication for the heart disease and we had to change him to a less effective medicine for his IBD because steroids and heart disease don’t mix (gomer). We haven’t needed to treat the kidney disease yet.

He also has widespread yeast infections on his feet. He’s on medication for that.

He has also had multiple non-healing wounds on his feet and ankles since we’ve had him. Over the last couple months, one of those lesions had turned into a mass. We biopsied it and it’s cancer. He’s now on pain medicine too.

So now we face a dilemma.What to do? Ideally, we would amputate the leg. It would give him the longest, pain free, time. But, he’s 15 with multiple other conditions. He also has another lesion on a different leg that is starting to change and looking cancerous. If we amputate and he develops cancer in another leg, we’re stuck. Is it fair to put him through surgery if he’ll just develop more cancer in a few months?

We could do chemo. It’s not super effective for this kind of cancer. He might not respond at all. And he’s starting to hate all the meds he’s on and not take them. Adding another isn’t high on my list of things to do.

We could do radiation therapy. That requires general anesthesia each time, multiple times a week. He’s not a great anesthetic candidate with his heart and kidney issues.

That’s the veterinarian in me reasoning things out. The owner/human in me knows this. He is in pain despite the pain meds. He is not bearing weight on his leg. He is not eating as well and he is not coming out from under the covers of our bed very often. He resents his medication and if he won’t eat it, I can’t get it into him. He’s a jerk and bites and scratches when I try.

The best thing would be to amputate. To get rid of the pain. But then, there’s the other legs.

We haven’t made a decision yet. Like I tell my clients, there’s no right answer, it comes down to what’s right for you. It is a terminal disease. This time, I don’t just get to leave the room and wait for someone else to make the decision.

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2 Responses to “The Trouble with Alex”

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  1. Believe me, I know how hard this decision is. I’m so sorry you have to make it. I read a great blog post by Hoover’s doggy oncologist which you may appreciate. It’s about halfway down the page, called “But what would YOU do for your dog? One veterinarian’s perspective.”

    Sue @ Mommy’s Pen´s last post ..The Kindness of Strangers