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Ruben - Cat Cancer Survivor?

Updated on September 25, 2012
Fat Boy is a silly cat - he's also blind now
Fat Boy is a silly cat - he's also blind now | Source

Ruben's Rescue Story

A few years ago I acquired a giant, fat, gray, tabby cat named Ruben from my cousin. This cousin asked me to take the cat because he was unable to keep him. As the story went, it was either I take the cat or the cat would be put on the streets to fend for himself. Now – I know what you’re thinking. It’s the same thing I thought – “Why did you get this animal only to treat him this way in the end?” I don’t like having my pets outdoors but I simply cannot live with a cat in my house. This is pure torture for me as I would voluntarily have 30 cats if I wasn’t so allergic. So I thought and thought and came to the conclusion that Ruben would be much safer and happier living in my 15 acre yard than living on the streets of a busier area in the city. I knew I would feed him daily and there are barns where he can hide from the weather. In the end I agreed to bring my cousin’s big, beautiful baby home with me.

I learned immediately that Ruben is an absolute sweetie who craves attention, loves to be around his “family”, and is very food motivated. He didn’t get to be so fat by hating his food! Over the years other cats have adopted my yard and bonded with my family - and eventually they all disappeared. Yet Ruben stays on. He is the longest surviving outdoor cat – and my family and I have formed a very strong attachment to him.

Ruben in the front with with best buddy Bella
Ruben in the front with with best buddy Bella | Source

About 8 months ago I noticed my Fat Boy (as I affectionately call him) was losing weight at a rapid rate and he was disappearing for a few days at a time. This was very unlike him because Ruben knew the feeding schedule. He always greeted me at the kitchen door for his meals. After a week of not seeing Ruben I became very worried and started searching all the property buildings for him. Eventually he came out of hiding, probably because he was sick of hearing me call “Ruben, come on Fat Boy, come on“ over and over. My Fat Boy looked pitiful and skinny. I carried him to the back porch and made a bed out of a small laundry basket and some old rags. Ruben slept a lot and ate a little. Anything he ate was vomited back up almost immediately. Then I noticed Ruben’s back leg had swollen to almost twice its normal size and he had a huge lump on his underside.

I made Ruben a vet appointment and spent the day crying, positive the vet was going to diagnosis my Fat Boy with cat cancer and say the best treatment was euthanasia. I was half right. The vet diagnosed Ruben with cat cancer. She said he appeared to have a solid mass lining his underbelly up his chest to his neck. She said the only way to be 100% sure and to know the type of cancer would be to do a biopsy. With or without the biopsy she felt strongly that Ruben had a fast-moving, aggressive cancer that could only be treated with radiation or chemotherapy. I couldn’t afford either treatment so I told the vet it would be silly to put my beloved cat through the pain of cutting him open. The biopsy wouldn’t benefit my cat; it would only satisfy my own curiosity. I then took Fat Boy home from the vet’s office with a promise for pain meds when he showed signs that he needed them.

Ruben got a special nighttime bed in my basement (to minimize my allergic reaction) where he could stay safe and warm at night. I researched everything I possibly could about cat cancers and I learned that the single best thing an owner can do is feed his or her cat a high/only protein diet. I read reviews of every holistic cat food on the market and looked at comparisons of the nutrients and ingredients of them. I decided on Blue Mountain for Ruben. The first thing I noticed was the price OUCH almost 20 bucks for a small bag. Then I noticed the smell YUCK it smelled like rotting flesh (or so I am guessing). But neither of those things mattered when I knew my cat had been given such a short life expectancy.

I spent as much time with Ruben as I could. I kept him indoors at night where he slept comfortably and soundly and I gently rested my hands over the lumps that started this entire journey. First I noticed the swelling had gone down in Fat Boy’s back leg. It looked completely normal again! Then I noticed Fat Boy wasn’t content to sleep in the basement anymore. He was going to the basement door and yowling to get outside. I secretly wondered if he wanted out to pass away peacefully in the environment of his own choosing. But he was always on the porch in the morning waiting for his Blue Mountain holistic high-protein cat food. Ruben’s appetite had come back and he was even putting on weight again. The kids were ecstatic how well the old cat seemed to be doing. He was even starting to purr again, just a tiny purr you could only feel if you put a finger under his chin – but a purr nonetheless.

A month after Ruben’s appointment at the vet I noticed a difference in the size of the biggest mass on his underside. The thing had shrunk from the size of a small tangerine down to the size of a golf ball. And about a month after that it had shrunk to the size of a pea. I couldn’t believe it. Ruben had gained weight, his fur looked shinier, he often purred so hard he drooled, and his lumps were all reduced in size.

Now, several months later, I thank goodness I listened to my intuition and I didn’t let the vet cut open my poor cat. I am aware Ruben could still die from cat cancer any day but I have been given extra months to spend with him. That makes me the happiest cat-mommy ever. I don’t know if my cat does have cancer, or if the vet was wrong, or if the cancer just disappeared (which has never been my experience with cancer before) but I am grateful for each day with my Fat Boy.

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    • Teresa Coppens profile image

      Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Wow, what an inspirational story!

    • profile image

      Debbie 4 years ago

      Hello precious owner of Ruben,

      My 14 1/2 year old cat has cancer too. I really can relate to your story.....I discovered that a high protein, no grain food wouldn't feed the cancer causing it to grow. I immediately put my kitty on it as well as an all natural supplement that I ordered on line called C-Caps. I know that God honored all of this and extended his life by 2 1/2 months already. I'm so happy that you had the same experience with precious Rueben.

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      Hi Rolly :)! Thanks for your super kind words. Ruben is indeed very, very loved. I cant imagine how sad our family will be when he finally gets too old to continue on. But for now he is fat and healthy and still drools when he purrs heheh

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 6 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Ardie.... Ruben could not have ended in a better home with much TLC and even some suffering on your part with the allergies you made it together. What a great story of success and love...

      Hugs to you both

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      Hi Sharyn! Im so glad to see you here :) My Fat Boy is just like one of the children so I know my heart will break IF anything ever happens to him. Sadly he had a lump on his back the other day that burst. Im hoping it was just an abscess from a fight - I can take care of that...but it just looks different. He's back indoors for now to minimze chance of infection and he is NOT happy about it - but he is playful, purring and eating so... Thanks for reading Ruben's story.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 6 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Oh Ardie ~ our pets are definitely family too. I think you made the right decision. So glad to hear the lumps have diminished. Not only would the surgery have been costly but it would have been extremely invasive. I have no doubt that you are making Ruben's life the most comfortable possible. As a cat lover, I definitely feel for you and hope things remain calm for a long time.


    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      Hello my anonymous visitor :) I appreciate that you took the time to read and comment. SO sad about your friends kitten. Thanks for the well wishes for my Fat Boy. He still seems happy as of this morning.

      Hi Flora. So sad sad about these pets. We get so attached to them and then all we can do is make them comfortable and hope for extra time. I will keep your kitty in the same thoughts as my sweet Ruben.

      Hi UnnamedHarald - thanks for taking the time to read. Ruben/Fat Boy seems happy so far so no lumps! Happiness for the happy time I still have with him :)

    • UnnamedHarald profile image

      David Hunt 6 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

      I have no words to say. There is a lump in my throat.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      What a wonderful story! I am trying to give my cat extra time too. She doesn't have cancer-she has early kidney failure. But she is happy and eats regularly so I know she's not ready to give up.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      That is incredible, it could be with the extra love and care you gave him, it made the cancer shrink! I remember a friend of mine in college had a cute little kitten, that was tired all the time because the kitten had leukemia. It was so sad, the kitten finally died, but she was so little. I hope your cat lives long and healthier.

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      RHW - Ohio has had plenty of good freezes but I dont think that will stop the mold spores - my worst allergy of course hahah My oldest walked in the back door last night and said "Mom, I think Earth is confused". She said she saw dandelion fluff in the air as she walked from the school bus in 60 degree weather!! Amazing.

      Dallas, I sure hope so, thanks for reading! :)

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 6 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Perhaps your cat will live out his eight remaining lives! Thanks for sharing.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I bet it is Ardie - my doc said lots of people are going crazy with allergies this year. I don't know bout Ohio - but we have not even gotten a good freeze here. It's snowed a few flakes and that's weird. We have always had lots of snow by now!

      Thanks so much! You were a great hand holder before my girls appt! Lol. Ahhh moms!

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      RHW - Oh YAY Im glad its "just" allergies. I guess it makes sense...I have been having allergy/cold symptoms for a while now too and I wondered what I got in that made me allergic or sicky - since nobody else here is ill. Im so glad she's ok :)

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Yay! I love getting the doc appointments over!

      Thus is interesting Ardie so I had to tell you since you also live in the Midwest. My doc says since our weather has been warmer - they are seeing a lot of problems with allergies because mold is growing like crazy. Normally we know ice - cold weather kill allergens but not this year. We haven't had enough good cold weather. So my daughter has perfect tonsils but drainage running down the back of her throat has caused "cobbling". She said it's like your skin splitting apart and cracking and it's what makes it burn and hurt when you swallow even thought the tissue is not infected.

      So all that worrying over allergies! Man - can we moms make things so much worse than they really are?? Lol. Wow - I feel a ton better!

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      RHW, hahah she probably is a little nervous herself but won't mention it for fear of upsetting YOU - us female creatures tend to be like that. Its almost time for your appt so I will be thinking of you all :)

      Teresa, thanks! If I could I would choose to be a crazy cat lady :) I'd have the things lined up at my feet looking cute and fuzzy. Its funny because I just walked out to feed FatBoy and he looked all content and happy - as if he knew he's an Internet sensation for a day!

    • Teresa Coppens profile image

      Teresa Coppens 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great story Ardie. We have so many animals at our house including three cars and they are all important members of our family. So glad Fatboy appears to be on the mend. Cherish all the time you are given!

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Aw thanks so much Ardie - you are good people:) I am trying not to worry but yes - the fact that I keep asking questions like I am just wonderin' things and taking her temp is probably not subtle is it? lol

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      I bet - so many things can go through your mind...try not to worry too much because she still might sense it :) I will worry about you both all night until I hear back from you!!!!! Im sending my love.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      im not gonna lie - I am scared. I will let you know:) I am not posting anything on FB because I am trying not to let her know how much I am worrying! yikes but at least tomorrow we will know more:) thank you!!

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      RHW, I dont think your daughter would be very happy to eat the cat food...remember it smells like rotting flesh? Im so sorry she's still sick :( Hopefully its just a slow moving virus that will be knocked out soon and thats why antibiotics didnt work. Let me know tomorrow what you hear pleeeeeeease. Poor thing.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Ardie - you know today my child is sick again - she has been sick for weeks - they have treated her with antibiotics and you know how a mom will start worrying and trying to figure out what could be underlying - this cat diet crossed my mind! omg! I was even thinking I would feed it to her if it helps! 8:45 tomorrow morning for yet another doctors appointment:(

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      Aaaw, Tammy!!! I feel so sad for your fat grey stripey cat :( It amazes me how attached we can become to our furry little friends. I remember my first cat ever getting put to sleep and I sobbed for days – my eyes got so raw I had to get a prescribed eye cream from my doctor haha Pathetic! Thanks for sharing my Hub :)

      Hi bscott4388 :)You cant adopt the cat in your yard now – because he has already adopted you! Best wishes with him and thanks for reading.

      Thoughtforce, It stinks to love cats so much and then swell at the sight of them. I already decided Ruben will come in and stay with me when and if he gets worse. For now he wants to be outside and I accept that. FOR NOW :) I brought him in out of the snow the other day and he was so distressed he was pacing at the backdoor yowling until I let him back out.

      Sunshine! Im so glad you like Ruben, he’s a sweetie. He said if you ever come over he promises not to pee on your coat :) Thanks for the votes!

      RHW, that’s so sad about your sweetie! She’s so lucky to have you and your family :) I never realized how important food was to a cat. I thought any cat food was as good as the other. But the vet was the one who told me to look up the differences in ingredients. I think there’s even an aging one for your cat. Mine is on the one to boost immunity. I’ll keep everyone posted. IF anything ever happens I will be missing from FB for a few days.

      Hi homesteadbound – Im so jealous you can hold your baby on your lap at the computer! I do hold my cats but then I have to change and wash up real good. But to just sit and pet them while I read would be so nice :)

      ThoughtSandwiches :) Ruben IS awesome! Hahah And I agree ‘F’ cancer. I’ve seen it too much lately and its take a good many people from me so I have no nice words for it. I feel much like Sunshine625 in her Letter to Cancer. As a matter of fact I am going to link it in here now that I think about it :P

    • ThoughtSandwiches profile image

      ThoughtSandwiches 6 years ago from Reno, Nevada


      Ruben is awesome! are you to care so much for him! You made the right decision as a biopsy would have only served your curiosity. Yeah...F cancer (cat or otherwise).

      Thanks for sharing this great story!


    • homesteadbound profile image

      Cindy Murdoch 6 years ago from Texas

      I love my kitties too. In fact one has been sitting on my lab (still is) the whole time I have been reading this. I am so glad your fat boy is feeling better. I'm glad he found a good home with you.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Ardie - I was so happy for you! Wow - that's neat the food helped him - I'm gonna start looking for it so I can give it to my aging cat! I am also allergic to her - I have to wash my hands immediately after petting her or my face blows up and everything inside my head itches like mad. It keeps me from petting her so much and I always feel bad she can't understand when I'm in a hurry that I can't touch her! She was a rescue too - was found abandoned as a kitten - almost dead and infested - so sad - she is a fatty now! Lol

      Keep us posted on how he's doing:)

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I'm not a fan of cats, but your story made me like Ruben. My daughters have cat allergies. Well told Ardie. You got my vote and so does Ruben!

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 6 years ago from Sweden

      Such a lovely story and I know how it feels to love cats and be allergic to them. I have the same problem. In my case I can have my cat indoors but I must wash my hands after I have touched her and I can never have her in my lap or so. You are doing what you can and Ruben is lucky to have you and your family. I hope Ruben will be ok!


    • bscott4388 profile image

      bscott4388 6 years ago from Chicago, IL

      Aw Rueben. He reminds me of the stray cat I found in my back yard. I have been feeding him turkey and tuna and I really want to adopt him. This was a very great read!

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 6 years ago from North Carolina


      This is such a moving story and I think you are doing what is right for Rueben. He is one lucky kitty. I know I probably talk about my Gordy to much. My kids wanted a kitten so we went to the pound. Instead they found a GIANT obese grey stripped tabby who was sweet and friendly. He ended up being the best pet I ever had. I lost him a few years ago, he ran outside and got hit by a car. I will always love him. I feel for cat owners everywhere. This is a wonderful hub!

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 6 years ago from Neverland

      Hi Haunty and thanks :) Ruben is such a sweet cat. I mean some cats are just needy and others can have a mean streak (like evil Bella). But Ruben just wants to cuddle and he's never scratched. He's a sweetie

      Hi Tams! Im sorry you were almost in tears...I should've mentioned early on that he is still alive :) And as Im typing this he is eating. 8 am like a little clock hahah

    • Tams R profile image

      Tams R 6 years ago from Missouri

      Awww! I was almost in tears thinking Reuben was going to die. I'm so glad he is getting better. I hope it continues.

    • Haunty profile image

      Haunty 6 years ago from Hungary

      Such a moving story, Ardie! It speaks of how much your loving care could do for this cat. I hope Ruben will recover completely and wish him a long and happy cat life! :)