November 2014 - CleoOur 2014 November patient of the month is the lovely Cleo. She is a 19.5 year old, domestic shorthaired black cat. We first saw her in August of 2008 for her initial consultation. She had a history of projectile vomiting, lethargy, poor appetite and a fever. Intestinal wall thickening and enlargement of intra-abdominal lymph nodes were found via ultrasound. And a biopsy of the small intestine confirmed a diagnosis of small cell lymphoma. Small cell lymphoma generally warrants a more favorable long term prognosis with chemotherapy, however Cleo’s history of fever and mesenteric abnormalities were concerning. Cleo was treated with a modified multi-drug protocol. She did have some minor side effects from certain chemotherapy drugs, so her regimen was catered to her at each visit. She was confirmed to be in remission 1 month after starting chemo, and finished her treatments in December. We have seen her several times since she finished treatment for follow up exams and repeat ultrasounds.

Cleo’s mom shares her story: “My husband and I have 2 great cats, Cleo and Jackson. In 1995 my friend had taken in a stray mother cat and I adopted Cleo as a tiny, 8 week old kitten. Cleo was 1 of 6 kittens and ADORABLE, with big blue eyes that later turned gold, a shiny black coat, a feisty personality, and 6 toes on her two front feet which gave her cute little ‘mitten’ feet.

Cleo has always been a talker. She follows me around the house from room to room, always chattering and answering my questions with a series of meows. She has a favorite one-eared, stuffed rat, which she often carries around, and drops at my feet whenever she’s hungry. Cleo loves to be outside. She’ll wait by the back door and dart outside as soon as it opens. She rolls on the warm bricks, samples the grass, stalks the birds at the feeder and prowls through the garden like she’s in a jungle. Cleo is also very brave and protective. There have been several occasions over the years where I’ve dropped items or tripped, and she has come flying down the stairs and straight to me to check if everything was ok- I could almost see the imaginary, cat sized super hero cape attached to her as she ran down the stairs. Cleo is sweet and funny, and along with Jackson, a very special part of our family.

For the first 13 years with us, Cleo woke me up at 6am every morning by softly (and insistently!) patting my face. This is a great alarm clock on workdays, not so perfect on weekends… One morning Cleo didn’t wake me up, and I knew something was wrong. I took her to regular vet and they referred me to VRCC. After some tests, sadly, Cleo was diagnosed with cancer. It was heartbreaking for me to think she might be gone soon.

Throughout her cancer treatments, the VRCC Oncology team was great. Cleo is very friendly at home, but she doesn’t like the vet, and would often growl or swipe. Dr. Elmslie and the entire VRCC team were always very patient with her. It was rough, but Cleo went through several chemotherapy treatments very successfully. And during this time, we did our best to spoil her at home, with lots of hugs and attention, outdoor time, catnip, special foods and very focused care.

Thankfully, Cleo is a very brave survivor. Cleo is almost 20 years old now, and doing great. She continues to take her medications very well, and also receives subcutaneous fluids. She’s active, alert and talkative, and spends as much supervised time as possible outside. I truly appreciate the excellent care provided by Dr. Elmslie and the entire VRCC team. Along with Jackson, Cleo is a cherished part of our family and I’m extremely grateful that she still wakes me up every morning at 6am.”