Quick summary: Pinchita joined us in May, 2010 when she accompanied us back home from Aruba. She was a little scrap of a thing and we expected she'd need some time and care to bring her health up to speed. Turns out she had some big problems. While some of those problems cannot be fixed, she's doing quite well, considering. The last update is from October, 2010.
We have since retested her for feline leukemia and she is positive. So she remains separated from the other cats, although she recently acquired a roommate in Leo the rabbit. Turns out that feline leukemia, however, is the least of her worries. Shortly after arrival here, she was also diagnosed with intestinal lymphoma, based on the results of ultrasounds performed at the time. This diagnosis was not absolute; only a biopsy finding cancerous cells would be definitive and she was too ill at the time to consider anesthesia and an endoscopy. Last year's ultrasound showed considerable inflammation and enlargement in several different areas. So the diagnosis was made based on what was seen in the ultrasounds. Her prognosis was 1-2 months; perhaps 6 months if she's a truly exceptional case.
So she's been treated with prednisone since then and has done remarkably well since then. Our regular vet (who is housecall and, of course, doesn't do things like ultrasounds, surgery, etc. when she calls) has been slowing reducing her prednisone dose. She has more than doubled her weight; she was 9.84 lb. at her most recent weigh in and was looking rather like a bowling pin. She recently crested the 10 lb. mark, but I think having a roommie to keep track of has helped keep her weight in check.
She recently had another ultrasound; this time, we had a different vet do it so as to get a second opinion. I can't read an ultrasound image to save my life, but apparently there are no signs of lymphoma at the present time. Neither our regular vet nor the vet doing the second ultrasound have actually seen the original images (which reminds me to call that vet to get them so I can pass them on) so they can't comment on last year's images. It is possible that Pinchita does have lymphoma and it's currently being managed positively. Apparently, because this particular lymphoma is incurable, one wouldn't say that she's in remission. It's also possible that whatever suggested lymphoma in the first place was actually caused by something else.
There was something in the most recent ultrasound that suggested a possible prior bout with pancreatitis.
Overall, this was very good news indeed! Outwardly, she certainly appeared to be doing well enough that we expected her innards look better these days. The vets cannot say for sure, however, that she doesn't still have lymphoma. And it sounds like if:
- she does have lymphoma
- and her treatment was altered too quickly
that her health might decline due to the resurgence of the lymphoma. This would be especially bad news because it seems that, in this illness, once you lose ground it's very difficult--practically impossible-- to regain ground. And the patient would likely die not long after beginning to lose ground.
Soooooooooo, we're treading very carefully with her prednisone. Although we have decreased it, it's being decreased very slowly and after months of staying at the previous dose. We haven't done anything as a result of this most recent ultrasound. She'll have another ultrasound in a month or so and compare those to prior images.
If she doesn't have lymphoma, that would be fabulous news because she can live a good long time with feline leukemia which means she'll live a good long time with us. And that makes me exceedingly happy.
Here's a picture of Pinchita's adorable belly; it's from a few months ago.
And here's a picture from just last night, showing her suede-like belly due to pre-ultrasound shaving. Although she's usually one for a good belly rub, it appears she does not like people fussing with her shaved belly!