Oral cancer -- advice for end of life care?

david68

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After losing her brother 7 months ago to lymphoma, my 13 year-old sweet little girl has been tentatively diagnosed with oral squamous cell carcinoma. I'm heartbroken. The vet did a biopsy, but I get the feeling it's just to confirm what she already knows.

She was given a steroid injection to reduce swelling, and we have her on gabapentin for pain control. I was wondering if others who've been through this have any suggestions for making her as comfortable as possible for the time she has left. Should I get baby food for her to eat? What palliative treatments have worked best?
 

hexiesfriend

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Sorry no one has answered your question specifically about this condition. Hopefully this isn’t what it is. End of life care is about letting your kitty find her new spot when she thinks it’s time and you taking care of her there. They always let you know the time is coming no matter how we want to battle it. I just went through this myself. I’ve had many cats and they always let you know the time is coming by moving to a different usually more secluded rest spot. I would take your cue from your baby for now. Mine had issues opening her mouth and lapping food and she was ok on gravy type food that I added a little water to. The more fishy the better. Hopefully someone else knows more about this condition.
 

reba

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Oh god I just went through this. You can search my thread.

It was awful, the cancer was so aggressive. I went down the path you are and it was so hard getting him to eat. It was in his jaw and he didn’t look as bad as some cats.

I got lucky in a way. I pressured the the vet to give him more aggressive pain meds, which she did, but they needed to be compounded. Over the weekend he started sneezing and I was hoping against hope that it was something else so I ran him down there. He had lost another pound in 5 days and the xray showed the cancer was eating the bone like it was cotton candy.

So my decision was made for me. I was there and they were wonderful in terms of having a special room and letting me take all the time I needed. It was honestly better than the home euthansia IMO.

TBH there are posts here where the person kept their cat alive while the tumor grew and devoured his tongue. There is also a pretty horrific youtube video of a cat slowly dying that way. I couldn’t do that. He want peacefully before he was in too much pain (and even then who knows, cats hiding it so well.).

Also I’l repeat that if your cat has bad breath, get their teeth cleaned. I never knew this was the risk and the vet didn’t mention it. The inflammation in his teeth was what caused the cancer to kick in I’m sure. He was only 9 and I’ll never forgive myself for not doing that. It wasn’t a matter of money either; I just thought he had halitosis like some people do. Stupid.
 

fionasmom

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I am sorry that you are facing this. I lost my Matilde to this about 15 years ago. I noticed a slight swelling in her face and a decline in appetite. We did the biopsy which confirmed the SCC, but she declined incredibly quickly. While the decision is yours, I absolutely agree with reba reba that any attempt at surgery, jaw removal or the like, is beyond what anyone should attempt. So, yes, get baby food, soft lickable treats of any sort, very soft food, ask about syringe feeding if this would apply to your cat, and get pain meds. Watch her carefully for signs that she is hiding pain.
 

reba

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I am sorry that you are facing this. I lost my Matilde to this about 15 years ago. I noticed a slight swelling in her face and a decline in appetite. We did the biopsy which confirmed the SCC, but she declined incredibly quickly. While the decision is yours, I absolutely agree with reba reba that any attempt at surgery, jaw removal or the like, is beyond what anyone should attempt. So, yes, get baby food, soft lickable treats of any sort, very soft food, ask about syringe feeding if this would apply to your cat, and get pain meds. Watch her carefully for signs that she is hiding pain.
I kept looking at him and his face was changing shape over the last few months. I think it was probably because he was losing weight, but it was nothing dramatic. And then his breath got even worse and that’s when I had his teeth extracted. He didn’t get bounce back after the extractions and then that was when the cancer was discovered (which I read was what usually happens). At any rate, I know people syringe feed and all that, but he hated it and he was clearly not feeling well. He was still trying to eat, but was dropping weight like crazy. I don’t think an extra month of suffering (plus the pain meds have their own side-effects) would have been for anyone but me.
 

di and bob

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I gave my cat that had oral cancer a low dose of Prednisone daily. Started out with one pill twice a day and finally ended up with half a pill once a day. Please discuss it with your vet. it made a big difference, he was MUCH more comfortable, and never developed any side effects. we had him on it for almost two years, bless his little soul.
 

reba

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I gave my cat that had oral cancer a low dose of Prednisone daily. Started out with one pill twice a day and finally ended up with half a pill once a day. Please discuss it with your vet. it made a big difference, he was MUCH more comfortable, and never developed any side effects. we had him on it for almost two years, bless his little soul.
Boy that’s great. I barely could find any cats with oral cancer that survived more than a few months. My vet did give him prednisolone, but it only worked for a week or so.
 

di and bob

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I think your boy got an injection. I received a prescription and gave pills everyday on a maintenance dose. I put them in tuna or a lickable treat. You can hide them in cheese too. I reduced the dose after talking with the vet. He did really well on it. The drooling stopped completely, and you could see he felt better.
 

reba

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No he got the pills and I tried crushing them up and putting them in his food, as well as pill pockets, the usual. I can pill anything, but I had no idea what kind of pain I was causing him. That’s the thing. I didn’t know and he couldn’t tell me and there are usually no contextual cues with cats as to how much pain they are in.
 

di and bob

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If you break the pills in half or ask the vet if you can crush them, you can put them in those lickable treats. I use Delectable Lickables in the stew flavors, my cats get 3 different meds each every day and have never turned down the treat. My meds are liquid though. I had one older cat that took Lasix every day and I used a piece of pill pocket to 'cement' the pill to a tiny piece of bacon. I wouldn't try to force him to take the pills, I'm sure that would hurt his throat or mouth. Try to find something he can't resist, like low sodium tuna water?
 
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david68

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Thanks for the replies. My cat was having stomatitis/gingivitis problems, and most of her teeth were removed about a year ago. That was supposed to be the fix for the problem and give her a new lease on life, and I guess it did work -- for a while. She regained weight and maintained it. Then she started acting like her mouth was bothering her again. With cats being so uncooperative about mouth exams, they had to sedate her to investigate.

I have previously lost another cat to oral cancer, but that was 30 years ago. That was my first cat I had from when I was 4 to when I was 22.
 

hexiesfriend

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David68 in reading these posts I realized I did lose a cat to this, my Oscar. He had it in the roof of his mouth and for some reason I didn’t make the correlation that that was oral cancer. He ended up with a hole in the roof of his mouth that we had biopsied. We didn’t realize what it was until the end end when he stopped eating. In hindsight he lived with this for probably 3 years, without me knowing. He would get sinus infections from the food going into his nasal cavity that they treated with convenia. I guess it depends on where the oral cancer is as far and pain and disability. Your kitty will let you know. I’ve also had the stomatitis battle too!
 
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david68

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I have some good news. My cat's biopsy came back NEGATIVE for cancer. I think the vet was surprised. She does have severe stomatitis, so that will require some aggressive treatment, but at least it's not a death sentence.
 
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