A very sad day…

Maggie May went to VSG this morning for her chemo, but unfortunately didn’t survive the anaesthetic.

Apparently it all happened very early on in the procedure, and very quickly; the vets didn’t even get a chance to take her blood to test or give her a proper physical examination. It was just too much for the poor little baby.

When we picked her up from VSG, she looked so peaceful and comfy. Because she died under the anaesthetic, she wouldn’t have been in any pain. Prior to going under, the vet said that she had been quite smoochie and cuddly with all the staff there, so they had given her a bit of a cuddle. I think Maggie knew.

The vet said that she’d had a look inside Maggie’s mouth, and the tumors had grown and locked her jaw semi-shut, which is why we were having so much trouble feeding her. She said that if Maggie had survived, we would have had major issues with that very soon.

On the way home with her, I kept looking in her cage, expecting her to move or snuffle, but deep down I knew that wasn’t going to happen. We’ve brought her home and left her in a place away from the other two cats until we get home from work where we will give them a chance to see her. She will be cremated tomorrow.

I’ve told Oliver, all of my close friends, and one of my aunts (the other one couldn’t care less, I’m sure), but with Priya being in South Africa she won’t have checked her phone yet. I feel really terrible that that may be the first thing she wakes up to on her phone. She loved Maggie dearly, although she was allergic.

Maggie with Priya.

She was so good last night. She woke me up a few times, but she got really cuddly. She cuddled in nice and close. She spent most of the night cuddled up on my right upper arm, while my left arm cradled her. These are the last photos I have of her alive this morning. She was so comfy in bed. It was such a shame we had to disrupt her. Over the last few days she’s been yelly, discovered her love for the toilet and shower, given Dad and I loves, been quite good with her food (we changed the type of syringe we were using), has been outside on her own, demanded to go out on the deck with D’arcy, and has gotten really cuddly with me at night time. She’d had a really good night and a great last few days.

I thought I’d leave with some of my favourite photos of her. She was, and still is, our littlest bubbie girl.

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Adventures outside!

Maggie decided today that she wanted to take a trip outside, so naturally it was babysitting time.

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Stitches out!

Maggie got her stitches out today! It’s slightly improved her mood, which is good. The surgeon said that she had tolerated the surgery and treatment well. He said she’s got a little ‘Elvis smile’.

She was weighed. She’s lost 700g, so she’s gone from 4.0kg to 3.3kg. The vet said that the weight we should aim to get her to is at least 3.5kg, so she needs to put on at least 200g. She is still eating moderately well, but they’ve issued her more antidepressants to stimulate her appetite so she’ll be on those until she’s eating a bit better still. We mentioned how picky she is, and the surgeon basically just said, “ah, so she’s a normal cat now.” She’s still not allowed any cat biscuits, treats, or other dry food yet as there’s a risk of a hole opening up between her mouth and nose and causing a fistula. Ironically, dry food is exactly what she’s craving right now. The vet said that we can soak some dry food in water and puree it, so Mum is going to do that for her tonight.

I do a couple of night art classes on Wednesdays and Thursdays, so I eat quite late. Last night I microwaved a thick piece of steak that Mum had half cooked for me before class, and brought it into the lounge in a bowl to eat with Maggie, who always has a small plate of wet cat food next to her on the couch arm in case she wants it. At that point, she aggressively turned her nose up at her food when I offered it. She has never been the sort of cat to scavenge or even show any interest at all in any human food you may be eating, but boy was she obsessed with the smell of the steak! I cut up a couple of pieces for her, around 5mm in size, and she ate them with gusto. We never know exactly what she may feel like eating on any one day, so when she shows interest in something like that, by God I’m going to give her some. This also means we have around 8 half full little tins of cat food in the fridge. After her steak, she decided she would actually have some of her own food, and curled up eating that while I had my dinner. She has started to go to the kitchen (where her food usually is) and eat food from there, but we do keep food in little nooks and crannies she likes to frequent, and we bring her food in bed whenever she wakes up. She accepts the offer of food around 50% of the times we offer. On a weekend, we try to feed her 6+ times a day. Sometimes it’s around 10 times. She eats tiny amounts often.

She also got her right ear cleaned out. When she had her surgery, they shaved the right side of her face and head, including all her whiskers and the fur inside her ear. This means that that ear has gotten very dirty, and the last couple of days it has been irritating her to no end. Thankfully, now it is no longer annoying her. We’ve been given some feline ear cleaning solution to use every morning for a while. It sounds relatively easy to use; you put a few drops into the ear, give the base of the ear a wee bit of a light massage to make sure the solution can get right down into the ear (not too rough or you can damage the ear drum), and then leave the cat to shake their head.

She yelled the whole way to Veterinary Specialist Group (VSG) and the whole way back home again. Dad took some business calls on the way home through the Bluetooth car kit, and she decided that that was the best time to start yelling loud. One woman even asked Dad if he had his cat with him. BUSTED.

She’s on a bunch of different medications now. She has:

  • Metacam (meloxicam): non-steroidal anti-inflammatory solution (NSAID) to reduce swelling. This was $78NZD for 15mL. The dose she’s meant to have is 1mL a time.
  • Palladia: tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) chemotherapy drug to slow cancerous cell regeneration and growth. We can’t get this one from our normal vet because it’s regulated, so will have to get it from VSG. We have to bring her to VSG every 2 weeks until they’re sure she’s tolerating it. Once they’re comfortable, we only need to bring her in every 6 months. She has to have this twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays. She was originally going to have three doses, but it was originally developed for dogs, so the doses are too big for her body weight, so the vet has lowered the frequency of doses. It cost us $57NZD for 6 of these pills, so they will last 3 weeks for Maggie.
  • Remeron (Mirtazapine):  atypical antidepressant with noradrenergic and specific serotonergic activity to stimulate her appetite. This was $13NZD.
  • Epi-Otic ear solution: to clean Maggie’s right ear and reduce itching. This was $39 for a 120mL bottle.

It’s always such a long day for her when we have to go to VSG. The poor thing wet herself on the way home, so she wasn’t too impressed having to sit in it.

Once we got home, we let her out of the cage and then started to head off for work. When Dad went down the stairs, she poked her head through the railing to see where he was going. When Mum and I went down, she followed us downstairs and tried to escape. Mum got out while she was a bit distracted. She then ran up the stairs and poked her head through the railing to see me again.

Overall, we’re still making small improvements every day.

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Maggie is finally home, after almost two weeks in hospital.

She was extremely placid on the way home; she gave herself a bit of a clean before curling up and going to sleep. She barely cried at all… only once or twice.

Poor thing has been in a cage for so long, she’s absolutely relishing being able to stretch right out. She’s also obviously missed having carpet under her feet, and has been a little shit. She stops to have a good scratch on the carpet every now and then. This was all after a good exploration of the house and her housemates.

She’s slowly adjusting to having only one eye. She walks well, but if she needs to shake her head while walking, it puts her off balance. She’s not allowed to jump up or down off anything, so we have to be there to help her. Luckily, you can almost see exactly what’s going through her head when she wants to do that. She’s had me absolutely bounding out of bed a couple of times already. She loves being in bed with me. Her favourite thing to do is cuddle on my chest. I can leave her in there under the covers for hours and she will just sleep. She has a little area just outside my bedroom door with a soft towel, a bed with a blankie, her lizard, and a bowl of water and food. She goes there at night time so we don’t worry about her needing to jump off the couch or anything like that, and she sleeps the whole way through the night.

She eats reasonably well; we feed her small amounts several times a day during the day. She’s pretty bony still, but we’re hoping she will plump up a bit with time. She’s able to eat normal wet food (Dine usually), though she initially enjoyed the food given to us by the specialists, which is urgent care food. She’s not allowed dry food yet, and the wetter and softer, the better. She still gags a bit, but once she composes herself, she gets stuck in again. The gagging seems to be getting better, so hopefully she won’t be doing that for much longer. She’s still drinking plenty of water.

The others haven’t really responded the best to having her back, but they certainly haven’t responded the worst. Rosie had a wee growlie session but I had pushed things a bit far by taking Maggie for a cuddle on my chest while Rosie was right next to me. In all honesty though, that’s not totally abnormal, since Maggie and Rosie have never gotten on well, with Maggie being the big bully. D’arcy has responded the worst out of the two. While Maggie was in hospital, he pined for her. He would cuddle up every day to a towel that she had used for a while. When she came home, there were no growlies or hissies, but he’s been rather depressed. She probably smelt a bit different, but obviously she also looks different. We’re also giving her more attention. We’re not neglecting the other two, but I think it is affecting D’arcy, because he’s a tad quiet, moody, and depressed. We make sure to give him extra loves when we can.

The vet rang us just after we’d picked her up saying that he’d received the results of the biopsy back, and part of the margin is dirty, so he’s likely left a small amount in there. He got all he could, but this means the cancer will likely come back. She’s on chemotherapy at the moment, as well as antidepressants to stimulate her appetite, and some other medication. She’s going to go have her stitches out this coming Thursday.

So far, this has cost us just under $9,000NZD (under ~$6,500USD) with Veterinary Specialist Group in Mt Albert, Auckland, New Zealand. I’m not sure how much her chemo drugs are going to cost, but I will update when I know.

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