Castiel’s First Surgery

Castiel underwent surgery at his local vet to remove the lump so that it could be tested to determine if it was benign or malignant. We remained hopeful…maybe we would get the entire lump and good margins and all would be well. We were hoping… and my husband was thinking this could happen but I knew that cancer sends out tendrils and I was worried. The fact that it had grown considerably in the last week was alarming. I had been reading everything I could on feline fibrosarcoma. I went nuts on Pubmed, I plowed through veterinary journals. But I was aware that all my Googling and reading wasn’t equal to a Veterinary degree and years of practice. I learned enough to ask some questions – enough to be scared.

Castiel did well in the surgery. Thankfully, he had no issues with the anesthesia and came out of it quickly. His surgical scar was enormous but the lump appeared to be gone.  We hoped it was gone.  Castiel spent the afternoon recovering at our vet’s office and came home that evening. She told us he might be groggy, that we shouldn’t let him jump or move around much, that he might not be hungry.  She put an Elizabethan cone on him. He fussed with the cone on the way home, plotting its removal.

When we arrived home, he flew out of the carrier like a bat out of hell and immediately shirked his way out of the collar and  gobbled down his sibling’s leftover supper. He  wasn’t interested in keeping still. We had to settle him down as he was making his suture bleed. We gently cleaned the suture and replaced his cloth cone. He sulked. He kept tripping over it when he walked and it made it hard to eat. We drove to the pet shop and bought an inflatable doughnut cone. He hated that one too. Back to the cloth cone.  He was still drugged so he wasn’t in pain — that happened at about 3 am. We gave him the pain medicine the vet prescribed  and he napped until breakfast time. Never one to miss a meal, he was up meowing as soon as the sun began to rise.

It took another three days to get the histopatholgy results.

I hate this cone too.

A vet visit to investigate the lump

We showed our vet the lump. She seemed calm… she always seems calm even when she is being bitten or covered in cat poo, as is usually the case with Castiel.  He always pees and poos when he is nervous — a real nightmare at vet visits. Our vet’s office takes these nervous movements in stride, even when he smells up the whole office so bad that we’re left gagging. No amount of fasting solves the problem, we’re convinced he saves up poo for car rides and vet visits.  We come prepared with pads and cat wipes. We often joke that we should get our vet a full raincoat that she can reserve for his visits. Our vet is super nice and gentle — and calm. And she was calm while she felt the lump.

She mentioned that lumps could be lots of things.  I think she was hoping it was something else too. We clung to that hope — even though, I didn’t think the result would be good. She did a Fine Needle Aspiration. She took X-rays of his leg and thoracic area (lungs). The X-rays didn’t show anything, just a little arthritis in that leg. We had to wait three days for the FNA. They were painstaking. We wanted it to be a lipoma or a cyst but it wasn’t rubbery and it didn’t hurt but still we wanted to believe it wasn’t malignant.

Three days later, we received a call from our vet with the results — it showed inflammatory cells and spindle cell proliferation.  The report said there was “concern for sarcoma” but more testing was needed.  The pathologist couldn’t say for certain. We clung to hope. Spindle cells don’t necessarily mean cancer — but they often do — they often mean some kind of sarcoma.

Our vet suggested we do a surgery to remove it. We scheduled the surgery for the first available date –early the following week. We wanted to test sooner but there were no appointments.  We debated if we should have the surgery at a specialty vet hospital but our vet was confident she could do the surgery. I wonder if maybe she thought it might be something else too. We still had hope it might be something else. In retrospect, we probably should have gone to the specialty hospital when we suspected sarcoma, but we didn’t know it was sarcoma and we were still in diagnostic mode.

In less than a week, the lump grew. Cancer means rapidly dividing cells. Benign things don’t grow that fast, I told myself.

We found a lump

It was an ordinary Tuesday when I came home from work and my husband told me that he had found a lump on Castiel’s left front leg.  It was big, irregular, and felt hard and rough. It was like a peach pit had become embedded in the tissue of his leg. It wasn’t rubbery, it didn’t move, and it didn’t hurt.  I’m a human osteologist, I knew this was bad. My husband had already booked a vet appointment for the following day.  Family suggested that it could be a cyst but I didn’t think it was. I thought it was some kind of sarcoma and I was terrified because while my husband didn’t know what that meant, I did.

The lump seemed so big — how did we not notice it before? We snuggle with Castiel every night… we give him multiple daily belly rubs… but he is a big cat (a bit chonky) and it was kind of tucked in the inside of his arm.   We felt like the worst cat guardians ever.  We started looking back and re-examining every little thing. He’d had a limp for two years on that front leg. We’d brought him to the vet multiple times. He’d had X-rays and blood work, other than a little arthritis in that leg they said the tests were normal.  We thought it was arthritis or because he was a bit overweight. He had started limping after a blood test not a vaccine.  He was on a slimming plan and had slowly lost some weight. We remembered that he used to play chase more and jump more. He didn’t do those things as much now. We thought at nine years old that he was just settling into middle age.  Could the cancer have been slowly growing for two years? We should have asked for more extensive tests and investigated the limp further.  If we had watched his diet better, we would have noticed it earlier. If we had spent less time working. We spent the entire night on “what ifs.” We felt terrible…so terrible. He depended on us and we felt like we had failed him. We meant well but we had failed.

We vowed that every cat in the household would get full weekly pat downs from now on; that we would always investigate things – that when we heard quacking we would consider zebras.  We went crazy with guilt. It was if our whole world came to a crashing halt.

Introducing Castiel

Castiel is our adorable goofy parlor panther. He is a 9-year-old black cat named after an angel who doesn’t quite get humans from the tv series Supernatural. We adopted Castiel at 6 months of age from a local rescue group. It was love at first sight. I swear our hearts double in size every time we look at him. He has two adopted much loved tiger siblings, one-year-old Clover and three-year-old Aleksandr. We all live in the SF Bay Area, and all the cats are strictly indoors as we live in an area with coyotes, hawks, and mountain lions.

Castiel is possibly the most food motivated cat on the planet. He is constantly plotting to steal his siblings chow. He is an expert at breaking into cupboards and is not opposed to helping himself to leftovers. He is a big long cat whose people and vet have him on a strict slimming plan, which he thinks stinks.

Castiel has had a few prior health issues but nothing serious. He got blocked up something fierce after chewing up a double roll of toilet paper as a kitty – about $800 worth of enemas and care solved that issue. He has suffered some constipation issues over the years that resulted in a vet prescribed small Miralax dose but otherwise he is a pretty typical cat.

He spends his days lolling around the house, following sunbeams, lying across jigsaw puzzles, playing with his siblings and catnip toys, and playing fetch and feather toy.

Less than a month ago everything seemed perfect, and then we found a lump.

Hello Tripawds!

Add an excerpt to your posts to provide a summary for readers in many blog themes!

Read this for important information!

Welcome to Tripawds. Please read on for important tips. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging. Don’t miss our helpful WordPress tutorial videos if you need help getting started with your new Tripawds blog.

Visit your blog dashboard to change or remove the site header, cusomize your sidebar widgets, change the blog theme, and much more!


Tripawds Blogs shall NOT be used for commercial OR fundraising purposes.

The free Tripawds Blogs platform shall not be used by an commercial entity. Any blog created by a veterinary clinic, product manufacturer or any other commercial endeavor will be deleted and all users removed without warning. Please contact Tripawds regarding guest article submission opportunities.

Direct appeals for financial assistance to help cover care expenses will be deleted without notice. Everypawdy in the Tripawds community faces their own share of high expenses related to surgery, recovery and care. Veterinary financial aid resources can be found in the Tripawds News blog. Please see the Tripawds Fundraising Appeals Policy for more information. Thank you for your understanding.

Do not reply to this post!

Please publish a new post (or edit this one) to share your story. The Tripawds community is only notified of new blog posts in the Recent Posts widgets found throughout the News blog and discussion forum pages. Members will not be notified of any comments made on this default first post. You can also choose to edit or delete your sample page.

Publish a blog post or your site may be deleted!

Please be sure to publish at least one blog post to let us know you that you may use your blog. NOTE: Failure to do so may result in your site being deleted. If you upload photos to your Media Library, but fail to publish a post, we’ll never know they are there and they may be gone forever!

Another way to ensure your site does not get deleted, is to upgrade it with a Tripawds Supporter subscription.

By default your site will be indexed so Tripawds members will be notified of your update in the Recent Posts lists throughout this community. If you change your Privacy settings to discourage search engines, your posts will not be indexed! 

To limit the amount of spam you receive, any first comment a reader makes on your blog will require moderation. Be sure to “Spam” any inappropriate comments, and approve those from your readers so their future comments appear immediately. You can change your comment options from the Settings -> Discussion tab in your dashboard.

Thank you for sharing your story, and happy blogging!