Ruben - Cat Cancer Survivor?
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.
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.
- My Letter to Cancer
In one way or another most of us are, were or will be affected by cancer. This is my letter to cancer. It was very therapeutic for me to write. I hope it also serves as a form of therapy to you as well.
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.