Tuesday, March 10, 2015

4023 Jasper, update

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Jasper allowed me to check his neck this morning.  There's still a lump there, a small one, maybe a bit smaller than a ping-pong ball.  I wish I'd been able to check it right after the vet had drained it yesterday,  so I'd know if this what what had been left or how much it has already refilled.

I guess I'll be finding out soon.

Monday, March 09, 2015

4022 Jasper

Monday, March 9, 2015

Jasper had a vet appointment this morning.  Given that he freaks out in the car (as in seizures) I was very happy to find that the vet in the van is still making house calls (not in the house --  an enormous fully equipped office he parks in the driveway).

The initial possible diagnosis was very bad, but in the end, it was much better.

You have to understand Jasper to forgive me for not noticing earlier that he had a problem.  He was feral when I brought him home eight years ago. I'd been staying in a hotel near Princeton, the kind of hotel where you have a kitchen, livingroom, bedroom, and bathroom.  He was a few months old, and was begging at an entrance near the parking lot, "performing" by being cute, and sometimes getting food from guest's kitchens, and sometimes getting kicks.  It took me three days to get him to let me touch him.  When I left, he went back to the country house with me, crying and seizing.

He's very timid.  He's never been a lap cat.  The only time I'm allowed to pet him is when he comes to me and asks for it, and then only on his forehead and back.  I am not allowed to touch his undersides, legs, paws.  He doesn't want to be picked up, ever.  He won't hurt me if I do anything he doesn't like, but he will struggle to get away.  He sleeps at night against the back of my knees.  And everything new, strange, or different scares him.  He trusts me, but that has limits.

So, anyway, last week I noticed that his collar was riding unusually high on his neck, practically under his ears.  I stuck a finger under it to check that it wasn't too tight, and discovered that although it was loose, it wouldn't go down.  He actually let me run my fingers around his neck, and I discovered a lump, firm, a little larger than a golf ball, on the underside of his neck.  Took his collar off and called the vet.

I might have been able to get an earlier appointment with a different vet, but that would mean a car trip, and I decided to spare him the stress.  He's eating, drinking, piddling, pooping just fine, his activity level is the same as always, weight hasn't changed, doesn't seem to be in any distress, so I figured a few days would be fine.  Plus, one other factor that I really feel guilty about ---

I think he's had the lump for at least six weeks or so.

Jasper loves to play with his drinking water.  He has always loved to splash in it.  One front paw, then the other, over and over.  It's almost like he's fishing, or washing his paws after using the litter box.  So the water dish has high sides to lessen the splashing on the floor.  But, since like the end of January, he's been fighting with the water dish.  He'd hook it and pull it off the tray.  He'd try to dump it on the floor.  I actually saw him grasp it with one paw on the inside and one on the outside of the rim, and try to lift it.  I read online that some cats don't want the water near the food dish, so I moved it.  Didn't help.  I then put it under a chair, and he seemed to accept that.  What I did notice, but didn't think about, was that to drink, he was standing on the rail under the chair.

When I felt that lump under his throat, I immediately understood.  Reaching over the edge of the dish to drink hurt. It bumped the lump.  Poor baby!  I felt so guilty!  I gave him a shallow bowl, and he's happy.

So, the vet.  He felt the lump, and said that whatever it is, it's wrapped around Jasper's trachea.  And that area is full of important blood vessels and nerves, so no surgeon will touch it without an MRI, and even then probably not.  (His van is equipped for x-ray and minor surgery, but not fancy stuff.)  If we decide to treat it, it would probably be radiation and chemotherapy.

He thought about it a bit, and then decided to do a needle biopsy (he has a microscope) so maybe we could have some idea what we're dealing with.

The needle went in easily, the doctor's eyebrows shot up, and he aspirated about an ounce of fluid.  It's a cyst!  It didn't feel like a cyst because it was so firm.

We have options.  It will fill with fluid again, but we can just drain it again.  The only danger then is infection, which can be handled.  If it turns out that it refills too rapidly, or if it causes breathing problems, then surgery is an option.  Cysts are easier than tumors.

Poor little boy has been traumatized, plus he got his distemper shot which might make him feel a little under the weather, so he's been downstairs for a snack and for some petting only twice today.  Mostly he's hiding out on my bed.

He has no idea how relieved he should feel.