Cadet Gronwall – West Henrietta, NY
Female, domestic short hair
Approximate Date of Birth 2004
Diagnosed with IBD February 2014
Diagnosed with Splenic Mast Cell Cancer April 2014
First Entry, December 8, 2014:
December 2013: Cadet with her bonded friend Wanda had spent almost 2 years at a shelter before I adopted the pair right after Christmas 2013. The shelter estimated that Cadet was 10 years old and that Wanda was 8. The only history I received on them was that they were surrendered by an older woman along with 4 other cats as she had too many cats to properly take care of and that the two were inseparable.
January 2014: When we brought Cadet home she was highly stressed and very wary. She vomited every couple of days which I initially attributed to stress. When her vomiting failed to stop after 2 weeks in her new home I was concerned. I reached out to the shelter to see if she had a history of vomiting or hairballs but was informed that they had never noticed any issues with her while she was under their care. I immediately switched her diet from the Orjien dry food and Fancy Feast pate that I was feeding back to the Cat Chow and Friskies that the shelter fed to see if her troubles were diet related. After a few weeks with the return to her normal diet she was still vomiting about every 3 days. It was time for the vet.
February/March 2014: At the vet we discussed the likelihood of IBD, cancer, stress, or other as yet unknown causes for her vomiting. They took a blood sample and recommended we start a novel protein diet. For Cadet, this was Royal Canin Venison and Pea Hypoallergenic (can and dry). Since her vomiting was almost always between 2 am to 4 am we also began feeding her a late meal around 9 pm with the thought that there was acid buildup in her system. At home she gets portioned fed while at the shelter she was free-fed so this was also done to rule out differences between the two environments. She also was getting L-lysine mixed into her morning canned food as Wanda had previously been diagnosed with kitty herpes. The blood work was largely unremarkable with the exception of low B12 levels. The vet recommended a course of B12 injections in conjunction with the novel protein diet. The vet also recommended an ultrasound to look for other potential causes of her vomiting. About 3 weeks after starting the B12 and novel protein diet Cadet was doing great. She hadn’t vomited at all and I was sure that we had found the cause of her issue.
We arrived for her ultrasound and I was in good spirits. I had a great update to provide the vet. No vomiting. Her stools were firming up (they had been on the soft side since bringing her home). She eats like an Olympic athlete. She was even up a bit in weight. The vet allowed me to come back with Cadet to watch the ultrasound. There it was determined that there was some thickening in her intestinal walls but unfortunately it also determined that her spleen was HUGE – several times the average size for a cat. She was kept at the vet until the afternoon when they could do a biopsy and it wasn’t but a few hours when my sunny outlook was crashed into darkness. The vet took a quick look at the biopsy, and while sample was sent to the lab, he already knew it was a splenic mast cell tumor. He didn’t sugar coat his diagnosis. Cadet had 6 months to live if we did nothing. She likely had 12-18 months if we removed her spleen. I was lost. I had just adopted this cat less than 3 months earlier and now I was being told that I would lose her. Not only that I knew Wanda would be devastated without Cadet. We had no choice. Surgery was scheduled for the following week.
April 2014: Cadet did well during the surgery – much better than I did. She recovered quickly as well. My IBD research was placed on hold as we worked through what a cancer diagnosis might mean. At the recommendation of a friend, I started her on Bio-Preparation F3 (micro algae supplement) once a day mixed into her canned food. She continued on the B12 injections, novel protein diet, and L-lysine.
May 2014: After she recovered from surgery I asked the vet what was next in treating her cancer diagnosis. They suggested chemotherapy as a potential option. So Cadet and I traveled 1.5 hours away to see the closest vet oncologist. Here they did another blood panel, x-rays and ultrasound. The blood panel showed no circulating mast cells (good news) and that her B12 levels were normal thanks to the injections. It also confirmed a thickening of her intestines but no other abnormalities in her organs. The one item of concern was an enlarged lymph node near her heart. The oncologist recommended monitoring her, maintaining her novel protein diet and discontinuing her B12 shots. No chemotherapy was indicated in his eyes. A follow-up was scheduled for August unless her symptom’s increased. Cadet’s vomiting was about once every 3 weeks at this point in time.
August 2014: At Cadet’s 3 month check-up with the oncologist another round of blood work, x-rays, and an ultrasound were done. There were no changes. Her blood work was good. Her B12 levels were stable and normal (after 3 months without B12 injections). Her ultrasound showed no changes from 3 months earlier. Her x-ray still showed an enlarged lymph node but it had not grown any larger in the 3 months. The location of the node prevented a biopsy to determine the cause of the enlargement. The oncologist was content with her current condition and set her for an annual check-up unless she started having symptoms again. Cadet’s appetite remained good. However, her vomiting had increased to once or twice a week. With the oncologist happy with Cadet’s cancer health screens it was time to get back to working on her IBD. Cadet was still on the novel protein diet. She was getting fed 6x a day (mini meals at 4:30 am, 6:30 am, 2:30 pm, 4:30 pm, 7:30 pm, and 9:30 pm or thereabouts). In hindsight, the only change to her diet was I had stopped giving her the L-lysine and Bio-Prep supplements. Her vomiting had also changed from the early morning primarily liquid vomits to a vomit shortly after eating consisting of the undigested meal she just ate. She was started on 5mg of prednisone daily for IBD at the end of August.
September/October 2014: Cadet’s vomiting subsided after a few doses of the daily pred and she stayed vomit free for the month of September. In October, her pred was dropped to 5 mg every other day. She was stable for a few weeks after the decrease in pred. Then her vomiting began to increase back to once or twice a week. At the time the vomiting started back up again we had tried an automatic feeder. Unfortunately, the first feeder we tried dumped too much food. The second feeder we tried, Wanda didn’t like so Cadet was eating her own meal plus half of Wanda’s meal. Unfortunately, the extra food caused a flare up of her IBD. It took a couple of weeks to level Cadet back out from her excessive gorging and we went back to manually feeding her 6x each day.
November 2014: Cadet is currently still being fed 6x a day the Royal Canin Venison and Pea diet. Every other day she gets: 5 mg pred in a pill pocket, an L-lysine treat and Bio-Preparation (small dot of algae supplement in a pill pocket). She continues to vomit about weekly, shortly after eating. We will be discussing with the vet her medication level to see if we can reduce the vomiting.
December 11, 2014: Just back from the vet. Cadet is going back to 5 mg pred daily for 2 weeks. If she stays vomit free we will step her to 2.5 mg daily and hope that works for her since the 5 mg every other day isn’t working. If that doesn’t work… I suppose we will need to try a different med. Here’s to vomit free days in our future!!!
January 2015: Changing her prednisolone to daily has worked wonders for Cadet. She now vomits only when we are late coming home and her first afternoon meal is more than an hour late. She is still being fed the Royal Canin Venison and Pea diet 6x a day. She also gets an l-lysine treat daily with her daily 2.5 mg prednisolone. We have discontinued any additional supplements.
July 2015: Cadet had her annual re-check with the oncologist. The good news is that her internal organs looked good. There were no indications on the ultrasound that her IBD had worsened or that her splenic cancer has spread to other organs. However, she has started to develop cutaneous mast cell tumors on her skin that we will remove and have biopsied. She continues to do well with the multiple small feedings and daily prednisolone. We have been able to go weeks between vomit episodes.
October 2015: Cadet continues to do well with her IBD. Unfortunately, she has developed another small tumor on her skin that we will have removed and biopsied. Her weight remains good. Her activity is good. Most importantly, her quality of life is good.
April 2016: Cadet is still on daily 2.5 mg prednisolone and this is keeping her vomiting and IBD symptoms in check. Unfortunately, multiple small mast cell growths have grown on her head and neck. A liver biopsy indicates that the cancer has spread internally as well. The oncologist recommends Palladia chemotherapy which we have begun.
June 2016: Cadet responded amazingly to the chemotherapy. All of her skin tumors disappeared within 4 weeks of starting the palladia. The oncologist recommends at least 6 months of treatment, potentially longer if Cadet continues to tolerate the medicine.
August 2016: Cadet is still doing well on the palladia for her cancer. She is however fighting the administration of the pills so I’ve had to drop her prednisolone back to every other day and increase the dose to 5 mg. She went through a transition period with increased vomiting but has since settled into a stable routine.
November 2016: Cadet has begun to have a decrease in appetite. She is on 5 mg prednisolone MWF along with her palladia for mast cell cancer. She will eat when coaxed with tuna but has begun to lose weight. Her behavior and activity levels are normal.