Yay! We are very happy to share that it has officially been one year since Castiel’s diagnosis and amputation surgery and there is no sign of cancer reoccurrence. He has check-ups with his oncologist at SAGE every three months where X-rays and blood work are taken, and he is subject to much poking and prodding to check for any lumps. At his last check-up his X-rays were clear, blood work looked good, (the albumin abnormalities seen before are gone), and there were no lumps or bumps. I cannot say Castiel was on his best behavior. Apparently, he was a little testy with his caregivers; he was scared. Thankfully his care team is used to flattened ears, biting, and bathroom issues from scared kitties and take such things in stride. We do a lot of apologizing.
The only new health development is that Castiel has developed hypothyroidism, but this is not related to the cancer. His veterinarians tell us hypothyroidism is common in middle aged and older cats and may be due to the fire-retardant materials used on furniture and carpets and the like. Apparently, cats are more sensitive to these chemicals being smaller beings that spend much time lounging. He takes a chicken flavored pill twice a day. He thinks it’s a treat.
We will continue with 3-month check-ups this next year as we know it is always possible that this kind of cancer can come back, and the first year and a half isa time for extra vigilance. Castiel has a great medical team though with his hometown vet, Dr. Rau at Benicia Cat Clinic and his oncologist and radiologist at SAGE. We hope he will continue to remain cancer-free but if cancer does rear its head again, we are determined to catch it early. We are thankful we chose to go through with the amputation. I cannot begin to tell you how incredibly difficult that decision was — the hardest decision we have ever made. We have had a wonderful year together filled with lots of love – a year that likely wouldn’t have occurred without the surgery. Castiel got to enjoy all the things he loves – playing feather toy with his humans; supervising puzzle completion; napping in his human’s desk drawer on work from home days; playing with his tiger siblings Clover and Aleksandr; eating pumpkin goo while the humans carve pumpkins; and lying around in the sun with his belly in the air.
Castiel remains our ridiculous parlor panther. Surgery didn’t change his purrsonality and he proved wrong those family members who voiced their disapproval for surgery and predicted Castiel would be depressed and never move. He continues to amaze (or should I say thwart) us with his ability to get up on things, usually in the process of stealing food — ours or his siblings. He will leap from chair to hamper to desk in an effort to snarf down his sister’s remaining food. We place his sibling’s food in high places to try to prevent him snacking up their leftovers, but Castiel is like a very awkward supersized squirrel in his acrobatic attempts to access food. As a result, his weight is still not where we or his veterinarians would like it. We will all have to try harder. We want to protect his joints as best we can and reducing his weight will help. Castiel, however, remains the most food motivated and obstinate cat on the planet, possibly a leftover from his kittenhood as a wild catty (before rescue).
As we pass the one-year anniversary, my husband Brian and I want to again express our gratitude and thanks to all the people on this website and the Facebook page who have reached out to us and/or whose stories of their pet’s journey has helped us along our path. Thank you so much! We are so very grateful for your support.
For those beginning this path, please know that you can always reach out to us. Some of the products we have found useful are ramps (adjustable and nonadjustable) and wide steps. Castiel, as a front leg amputee, can get up places easily but getting down has proved trickier. We have come to learn the “Hooman, I require assistance” meow usually when Castiel has got himself up somewhere and is in a pickle about getting back down. Castiel took to his ramps and steps immediately. The ramps/steps are carpeted which makes them especially easy to maneuver on. We have them leading to the bed, the desk drawer he likes to nap in, his favorite chair, the sofa, and the cat tree. We tell folks our house is Cat ADA. His siblings like to use them too, although his sister Clover has a bad habit of napping halfway up the ramp creating a fluffy obstacle. The ramps make is easier for him to get around and are also easier on his joints, something we are concerned about because he is a big tripawd cat and is now 11 years old. I have also found raised dishes helpful and have placed carpets over a faux marble entryway, which frankly the humans found slippery too. Our home is about practicality for all its residents. Castiel is a love, our handsome parlor panther. We love him so much and are so happy to be celebrating another Christmas holiday season with him. Below are some pictures of him.