Struggling Cat Update: My Biddy Boy

About a month ago, my 16-year-old diabetic cat, Biddy, started acting a little odd. At first it didn’t seem like much: Biddy has always been very food-motivated, and he was suddenly less interested in food. He was still eating, but he would leave some of his canned food in the bowl instead of eating all of it in 5 minutes.

In case the specific type of food had become less appealing to Biddy, I tried a few other brands, but things took a turn for the worst. Biddy started throwing up. It didn’t happen every day, and the severity varied, but after a particular episode I decided it was time to go to the vet.

The vet was immediately concerned. I knew Biddy had lost weight, but it was more drastic than I thought: He went from just over 16 pounds to just under 14 pounds:

The vet ran some tests and X-rays, and she recommended that we get an ultrasound. Her suspicions were that Biddy has intestinal lymphoma, which apparently appears in cats not as cysts but rather as a thickening of the intestines.

Almost a week passed before the first available ultrasound appointment, and during that time Biddy continued to eat less. He also almost entirely stopped pooping, and he had a few more large throw ups. He lost another pound during that time.

I was dreading the ultrasound, as I thought it might spell the end for the cat I’ve adored since the day I picked him up as a kitten from the Humane Society over 16 years ago. Fortunately, the good news is that Biddy still has a chance for a comfortable, happy life for the next 6-12 months by taking a combination of steroid and chemo pills.

The bad news is that they’re even more certain that we’re dealing with lymphoma, and not just a thickening of the intestine. There’s also a mass between his large and small intestines, and that’s causing the digestive issues: He literally can’t pass food beyond that point, which poses an immediate issue.

Fortunately, the steroids–which he’s now taking once a day–should help the mass very quickly. Unfortunately, steroids and diabetes do not mix well, so there’s also a risk he’ll have a bad reaction to them. The chemo pills should take about a week to kick in.

I also picked up some GI-friendly food for Biddy that might have a little easier time passing through his system, and I’m feeding him in small doses to hopefully avoid some of the more violent purges of the last few weeks.

I’m sharing this because I’ve talked about my affection for Biddy for many years now, and some of you may have gone through something similar with your pets. If there’s anything you’d like to share about old pets and animal cancer, I’m here to listen and learn. I understand that I’ll need to let go at some point, but if Biddy is comfortable, I’m here to support him ’til the end.

19 thoughts on “Struggling Cat Update: My Biddy Boy”

  1. Jamey

    So sorry to hear your news, as I know watching your YouTube Channel over the last year or so, how much you love both of your cats.

    Over the last 10 years we’ve been adopting Greyhounds from the Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP) here in Melbourne. 2 of them were ex-racers and the other 2 hadn’t raced.My wife always had dogs growing up, but I’d never had a dog or a cat, so I was a bit apprehensive about owning a dog at first, but I quickly became attached to the Greyhounds as they are such a gentle breed, very affectionate and just big couch potato’s at the end of the day.

    Unfortunately we have lost 2 of our 4 dogs to cancer, and on both occasions it was something that was only picked up at the last moment and both had to be put down straight away. Sleepy started limping on his back leg one day and we took him to the Vet who found he had an aggressive bone cancer and the most humane thing to do was to put him down. The more traumatic experience was our gentle giant Nigel. We had contracted CoVID and were in isolation, and during this time Nigel started crying in pain and was very sensitive when we touched his stomach, he also lost his appetite and his gums started losing colour. Because we were in isolation, we had to call a vet to come to our house and stand on the front verandah to assess Nigel, he suggested he take him directly to a 24hr Vets and we got the call that night to say he had a cancerous mass on his stomach that had burst and that they would have to put him down. Because we had CoVID, only my wife and youngest daughter were allowed to do a very quick visit to see Nigel before they put him down – so we were all very upset.

    In both cases the cancer was a ticking time bomb that we and the Vet were unaware of until both dogs showed signs of distress, and in both instances the dogs had to be put down immediately.

    As horrible as it is to know that Biddy is dealing with this terrible disease, my only advice to you is to make the most of the time you still have with him and to make sure he is as comfortable as possible. I’m glad, however, that you have immortalised Biddy and Walter in your games “Rolling Realms”, a tile in “Between 2 Castles” and the upcoming “Expeditions”.

    If only our pets could live as long as us.

    All the best

    Stuart

    Reply
    • Thank you for sharing this, Stuart, and I’m sorry your family had to go through this trauma with your dogs (especially poor Nigel). I appreciate your advice of making the most of my time with Biddy. I’ve tried to give him lots of love over the last 16 years, and I still have plenty more to give.

      Reply
  2. I lost my shih tzu to an inoperable stomach tumor. He was averse to food because of it – he didn’t know about the tumor – he had a good appetite but thought that specific foods were to be avoided. So he might eat whatever food for a week and suddenly take a whiff and literally jump sideways away from his dish to avoid it. As things progressed, he was eating less and less – he also stopped jumping on/off furniture because that would jiggle his insides too much and he’d hurt. He ALSO had been debarked so had no mid-range; he could whine, or he could scream bloody murder. That was how he got our attention. When he started getting so very thin, wouldn’t eat ANYTHING, but was still hungry, and stood there screaming at us in what became a super pitiful tone, I knew he needed to be put down. The alternatives were to force-feed him, which I wasn’t prepared to do, or watch him starve to death in front of us. It was during the thick of Covid, so the vets weren’t even letting people inside. My old-school vet brought us to her exam room via back door so we could be in there with him. I miss that ungrateful little sh!t. Terribly. After 37 years of rescuing dogs, I don’t currently have one of my own. It’s nuts.

    From what I was reading of your story, I immediately thought renal failure. A cancer diagnosis is not any better. My advice to you is not to toss too much money at chemo or radiation. In my experience it doesn’t really prolong the pet’s life. If palliative care is cheap such as steroids or NSAIDs, that’s easier. You manage the symptoms and pain until they can’t be managed. You’ll know when the time comes – Biddy will tell you. I’m very sorry you’re going through this. I’m afraid there’s no way for it to suck less.

    Reply
    • I think Biddy was getting close to that point too, Sara–I’m so sorry you and your shih tzu went through a similar situation.

      Fortunately the pills aren’t expensive–the diagnosis was very expensive, but not the medications.

      Reply
  3. I’m so sorry Jamey, aging pets situation is just the worst and I know how hard it is and how much you love him. You’re doing all the things and I wish you peace and strength!

    Reply
  4. I am so sorry to hear about Biddy – cats are wonderful and give so much love and joy to a household. We have never got another pet since my wife’s cat disappeared as it still makes her sad to think about it today. You are giving Biddy the best life he could lead and I wish the happiest days for him and you – you have given him all of the love for the last 16 years and there is still time to have all the loving moments.

    Reply
  5. Sorry, Jamey. This sucks. We lost our dog of 15+ years in 2020 and it’s still tough. I think the pain is one way of knowing how much we love them. Or something like that…I don’t know, that’s probably not helpful. Sorry.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Josh–I appreciate that, and it is helpful. I’m sorry you went through that process with your dog–15 years is a long time!

      Reply
    • It is helpful. I know there are those who can hold it all in through losing their pet. I don’t know one, and I am definitely not one of those people. I cry freely and often when it happens here. Not that stoic people don’t feel pain, but there is no shame in showing it.

      Reply
  6. Jamey, I don’t have much to add as I don’t have experience with cat cancer, but I do have experience with loving cats, with worrying about cats, and with losing cats.

    I hope the medication will help Biddy to still have a wonderful and long time in your company. Give the little boy a good hug! I’m rooting for him.

    Reply
    • Thanks Karel! I’m sorry you’ve lost some cats. The medication is going well so far–Biddy is acting much more like himself today. 🙂

      Reply
  7. Hi, Jamey. I’ve been in your position too many times and understand how awful it is. Hug your buddy Biddy close and know that you have been an amazing caregiver. You and yours are in my thoughts.

    Reply
    • Great – now all I can think of is that stupid robot from whatever show from back in the day that went “biddy biddy biddy” Buck Rogers, I think it was.

      Reply

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