Preparing for an Important Check-up

Sorry, it’s been so long since our last update. The fact is everything has been going so well that there was very little to report. Castiel has remained cancer-free since his amputation surgery in October 2021. And not only did he remain cancer-free he has remained his same goofy self –rolling around with his belly in the air, playing feather toy, smothering his humans with love in the morning, snuggling with his sis Clover, and hanging out on the window perches with his bro Aleksander.

It’s been quite an ordeal going to oncology check-ups every three months. His oncologist relocated from the SAGE cat hospital that was less than 30 minutes from us to one that is an hour from us when traffic is good. Castiel HATES car rides. He gets so scared and poos and pees and it is truly awful for all of us. We feel terrible bringing him that distance and wish we could explain our reasoning to him.

The oncology office was also not as understanding as his home veterinarian about him arriving in a smelly, messy state (“code brown,” we call it). We tried various vet recommended medications to calm him but all we got was drugged cat who still pooed and peed when scared. He is also a difficult patient — he hisses, flattens his ears, and threatens to end the veterinarian and her staff. His local vet knows this is a bluff, but the oncologist doesn’t. We hate bringing him the extra distance, but we want to make sure during this period (the first 1.5 years) where cancers are more likely to re-occur that he had a trained oncologist and radiologist looking him over carefully to ensure that if the cancer did re-occur that we could get treatment started early. Thankfully, there have been no signs of cancer.

He did develop hyperthyroidism last year but we are told that is not unusual in cats over 10 years old. His local vet checks his thyroid regularly and so far, it seems controlled. He takes a flavored chewy pill daily that we order special from a pharmacy to help maintain his thyroid — doesn’t even know it’s medicine. He thinks it’s a yummy treat. It’s much more expensive to have it made into a treat but not fighting with him to take a pill is priceless.

Castiel had a thyroid check-up two weeks ago, his bloodwork and urine were all normal and everything is looking good, except he lost a few ounces of weight. His thyroid number is right where it should be. The doctor didn’t feel any lumps or bumps and Castiel is eating well. We have been trying to watch his weight and slim him down a bit. He is 18 lbs. and some ounces, but we hadn’t been terribly successful. He still regularly tries to steal his sibling’s food and frequently succeeds if I turn my back on him in the early morning hours. It isn’t a lot of weight, but our vet weighed him twice just to rule out wiggling. We don’t know why he has had a slight weight fluctuation or if it is anything at all to be concerned about. Castiel is getting older, so it’s possible he is just thinning out a bit as he ages, or our weight control efforts are working better than we thought. But his previous cancer diagnosis has taught us to be hyperalert for any changes in weight or behavior. His behavior is more-or-less unchanged, although he has been napping downstairs more lately but it is summer and it’s hotter upstairs and he’s big black cat so he gets hot easier, so that may be why he is napping downstairs more often. Or it could be arthritis that has him sleeping downstairs more, although his mobility hasn’t changed since his surgery. He gets around just fine on all three, although he can be lazy and does like to be held and carried — but he has always liked that.

Tomorrow, he has what we hope will be his final check-up with the oncologist, if everything looks good. After that he will follow-up regularly with his local vet, no more special oncology checks every three months. We are hoping everything goes well, and aside from the weight issue have no reason to believe anything is going on. It would be nice for him to not have to travel so far in the truck for care, and if I am being honest, it would be easier on us too. These oncology visits cost close to $1,000 every 3 months. A similar check-up at the regular vet is about one-third of the cost. And the one-hour drive each way to and from the oncologist is stressful for us all and it requires a few hours off work — and while employers are good about allowing time off for childcare or eldercare, they are not so understanding about cat care — even though we consider Castiel to be like any other family member.

If you are reading this, please keep our sweet parlor panther (Castiel) in your thoughts and prayers or whatever kind of luck you believe in, and let’s all hope that there is no cancer re-occurrence. It’s going to be a nerve-wracking few days while we wait for test results. In the interim, none of us are looking forward to the drive tomorrow. Hopefully, the oncology office is readying the freshener spray.

Castiel and his feather toy
Castiel on his favorite chair (that he personally broke in)
Castiel with his little sister Clover
Castiel being silly
Castiel with radar ears