Thursday, December 17, 2009

More about Leukemia in cats

We got Baby Scout's ashes back yesterday. We are having a very hard time accepting her death. A few weeks before she was vibrant, healthy and active. 

Here is some more info to go with this post about leukemia in cats.

It's hard to find info about leukemia in cats because most results on Google are for Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) - which is a misnomer, it's a retro-virus, like HIV, not cancer itself, though it is suspected that it can cause cells to become cancerous.

Baby didn't have the virus. Baby had leukemia the cancer on its own. I got a little sad yesterday because I was telling someone and they scolded "Oh, well you should have vaccinated your cat!", implying I was neglectful and deserved it. I had to explain that it wasn't the same thing - but I'm not sure they believed me. It hurt because my husband and I treated Baby like she was our own baby. She couldn't have been more protected and pampered with care. Still I resisted my urge to slug this person. After all, if I thought someone failed to vaccinate a cat, wouldn't I "tsk tsk" too? I've been wondering if I should just tell people she died of "cancer" and leave it at that.

Info on standalone Leukemia in cats
There's two types of Leukemia, acute and chronic. Lots of subsets of each.
1) Chronic hits older animals, but is much slower, more treatable and the symptoms can be more subtle.
2) Acute usually strikes the young to middle aged and healthy. It kills very quickly. Based on Baby's health beforehand, symptoms such as very large, immature blasts, the extreme severity, and very sudden onset, I think she very clearly had Acute. The prognosis for this is "bad" as I highlighted below. Autopsy revealed it had already spread to her spleen.

A good plain-English article on Leukemia in cats and dogs

Therapy and prognosis for the different types of leukemia are quite different. ALL tends to have a very poor prognosis, and affected animals often succumb to secondary infection.... Unfortunately, pets with ALL often die within days to months of diagnosis.

A more medical article on Leukemia in cats with photos of blood cells

Although there are many similarities between the human and animal forms of the disease, the clinical course and outcome are very different. The prognosis with chemotherapy treatment is poor in canine and feline patients, and the average survival time is only a few months. Untreated, the estimated survival time from diagnosis is less than two weeks


Daisy said...

That was a very thoughtless comment that person made about vaccinating your cat. I guess they just didn't understand the difference between FeLV and leukemia.

In regards to the FeLV, we chose not to be vaccinated for that after discussing it with our vet and weighing the risks of vaccine induced sarcoma vs. our negligible risk of exposure to the virus being totally indoor cats.

ps: I had to tell you that we cracked up over the enchilada comment on our blog!

A Bay Horse said...

Hey Daisy! That's a really good point about the sarcoma. We had a cat we didn't vaccinate after they had a bad reaction the first time and then the vet told us about the risks. Ours are all indoors too, except for supervised leash safaris in the yard. Yup, our neighbors think we are "crazy".

I used to call baby a little "taco" when she'd bundle herself up like that. That pic reminded me of it. :)

achieve1dream said...

I would just say cancer when telling people what she died from. The whole leukemia difference confuses the uninformed. I'm sorry for your loss and I probably would have been tempted to slug her too. :)

Michelle said...

Thanks for the informative post. The silver lining here is that you can take this opportunity to educate people that have no idea about leukemia in cats, and possibly help someone else. I'm so sorry for your loss. When you lose a pet, the pain never goes away, you just learn to live without them.