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What is Intestinal Cancer?

Intestinal cancer is a term used to describe abnormal cell growth or tumors occurring in the gastrointestinal system. This growth can be benign or malignant. Malignant growths are considered cancerous and can cause severe issues, potentially spreading to other systems or vital organs. Benign tumors can still cause issues in the intestinal tract, including blockage, and may require removal. Intestinal cancer in cats and other companion animals is most common in the small intestine but can affect the duodenum, stomach, large intestine, colon, or rectum. Without early detection and proper treatment, the prognosis for a cat with intestinal cancer is poor, and the condition can be fatal. If symptoms are observed, seek medical attention immediately. 

Intestinal Cancer Average Cost

From 496 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $8,000

Average Cost

$6,000

Symptoms of Intestinal Cancer in Cats

The symptoms of intestinal cancer in cats are very similar to other gastrointestinal issues. This can make diagnosis difficult. The most common symptoms are vomiting and abnormal stool, but viruses, parasites, bacterial infections, and exposure to toxins can cause these symptoms as well. As tumors grow or the cancer spreads, symptoms become more evident. Tumor growth that results in a rupture of the intestinal wall can cause internal bleeding, which can be seen in the animal’s vomit or stool. 

Symptoms Include:

  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in vomit
  • Dark or black colored feces
  • Blood in feces
  • Constipation
  • Trouble defecating
  • Gas
  • Abnormal stomach sounds
  • Fever
  • Abdominal mass or swelling
  • Lethargy
  • Pale gums and mucous membranes
  • Anemia
  • Dehydration
  • Internal bleeding
  • Death

Types

Several types of cancer can affect the gastrointestinal tract. The most common intestinal cancer found in cats is lymphoma. It is also possible for cancers found in any part of the body to spread, including to the intestines. Some of the more common types of intestinal cancer than occur in cats and other companion animals include:

  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Carcinoid cancers
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumors
  • Hemangiosarcoma
  • Leiomyosarcoma
  • Lymphoma
  • Mast cell tumors
  • Plasma cell tumors
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Causes of Intestinal Cancer in Cats

Tumors are caused by abnormal cell growth. The body naturally produces new cells in the gastrointestinal system, but when these cells mutate and refuse to stop production, it results in cancer. The exact cause of intestinal cancer in cats is not known. Studies suggest that environmental factors could be a possible cause, but no definitive information is available. Risk factors for intestinal cancer in cats include age, infection with feline immunodeficiency virus, and infection with feline leukemia virus. Males are slightly more likely to develop intestinal cancer as are some breeds, like Siamese. 

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Diagnosis of Intestinal Cancer in Cats

The similarity of intestinal cancer symptoms with those of other conditions can make diagnosis difficult. Your veterinarian will rely on a differential diagnosis, which is a process that involves ruling out conditions until the issue can be identified. Be prepared to discuss your cat’s complete medical history, the symptoms you have observed, and the timeframes associated with those symptoms. A physical examination will allow veterinary staff to look for observable clues that might help rule out or identify the underlying cause of their condition. If your pet has intestinal cancer, an abdominal mass may be identified during the physical examination. An identified mass can suggest inflammation, cancer, or parasitic infection. Veterinary staff will also draw blood and complete a full blood panel. This can help identify infections, elevated white blood cell counts, and may rule out some conditions. 

If cancer or other conditions are suspected, x-rays or other imaging techniques will be used to determine which organs are affected and look for signs of tumors or other issues. Intestinal cancer is usually observable on an x-ray or ultrasound. Imaging methods can also aid in biopsy procedures, determine the extent of the cancer, and monitor its spread. If a tumor is observed, a tissue biopsy will help veterinary staff determine if the condition is benign or malignant. In harder to reach tumors, your veterinarian may need to aspirate or remove cells from the mass with a large needle. Analysis of the biopsied material will provide your veterinarian with the information they need to properly diagnose your pet.

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Treatment of Intestinal Cancer in Cats

The treatment method used when intestinal cancer is diagnosed will vary depending on the cancer’s location, severity, and staging. In some cases, treatment may not be possible, especially if cancer has spread to other systems in the body or is affecting one or more major organs. If treatment is a viable option, the methods used will target removal or reduction of the tumor. These treatments may be used in conjunction with methods designed to treat symptoms. Common treatments for intestinal cancer include:

Surgical Removal 

The most effective method of treatment involves surgically removing the tumor or tumors and repairing the damage it may have caused in the gastrointestinal tract. Although surgery can be a risky treatment option, it is the best method to remove the cancerous cells. Surgical intervention will require hospitalization. Your pet will be placed under anesthesia for the procedure and will be carefully monitored by veterinary staff. 

Chemotherapy 

If surgery is not an option, chemotherapy treatments may be used to shrink the size of the tumor. This treatment method has had some success in cats and other companion animals. In some cases, chemotherapy may be used in conjunction with surgery. This generally occurs when it is difficult to remove all of the cancerous cells using surgical methods. Chemotherapy can weaken the immune system and have a negative impact on your pet’s overall health, making the treatment somewhat risky. 

NSAID Pain Relievers 

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drugs may be prescribed to reduce fever, pain, and inflammation. In some cases, NSAIDs have been shown to aid in shrinking tumors as well. This treatment is fairly low risk, but proper dosing for the animal’s size is needed to reduce the risk of side effects. 

Antibiotics

In cases which a tumor or cancerous growth has ruptured the intestinal wall or is causing tissue death, antibiotics may be prescribed. This type of medication is used to fight and prevent bacterial infections. This treatment method has a low risk of side effects, but will not directly target the cancer. It is only prescribed if infection is a concern. 

Antihistamines 

Some tumors, like mast cell tumors, can release histamine in the body and cause a severe allergic reaction. Antihistamine drugs can help prevent the physical reaction and reduce discomfort associated with histamine release. This low-risk treatment does not target cancerous cells and is only used to treat symptoms. 

Intravenous (IV) Fluids 

To combat dehydration and lethargy, fluid therapy may be recommended. This symptomatic treatment is generally provided inpatient and for a shorter period of time. IV fluids are commonly used for many procedures, including surgery. There is a very low risk associated with using fluid therapy. 

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Recovery of Intestinal Cancer in Cats

The prognosis for a cat with intestinal cancer can vary from poor to excellent. This depends on the location, severity, and stage of the cancer. In cases which all cancerous cells can be surgically removed, there is generally a better chance of recovery. If your cat is able to return to your home, ensure it receives a healthy diet. Proper nutrition may aid in healing. A special diet may also be needed while the cat recovers from intestinal surgery. Generally, soft foods are recommended. Follow all of your veterinarian’s instructions, including proper dosing of medication and returning for any recommended follow-up visits.

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Intestinal Cancer Average Cost

From 496 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $8,000

Average Cost

$6,000

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Intestinal Cancer Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Mama cat

dog-breed-icon

tabby

dog-age-icon

12 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Weight Loss Not Eating Anddiarrhea

Hello, In the past month I have noticed that one of my cat has lost a lot of weight and has diarrhea. I took her in to be seen by the vet and he put her on an antibiotic and some other medication to build the good bacteria in her gut. We’ve been on the medications for almost 2 weeks in a improvement. We went back in and he put her on another antibiotic and anti-inflammatory meds. It seems like the diarrhea has gotten worse from puréed consistency to pure liquid coming out. She’s about 8 pounds or under when she used to be about 12 to 13 pounds. She’s been on steroids to antibiotics and the other medication to build her gut bacteria for three days and no improvement. The vet has recommended to go in and do a ultrasound of her tummy. He thinks it’s Either cancer or inflammatory bowel disease. Her white blood count is up also. I am a little bit lost because I feel like it’s either she’s going to be put down or have a chance at life. I wish the vet would’ve given me more insight and direction and I am lost at this point. She is on prednisolone 5 mg, metronidazole 0.5 ml biomox, pro pectolin

Sept. 22, 2018

Mama cat's Owner

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Chubby

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Siamaese

dog-age-icon

7 Years

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Fair severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Diarhea
2 Pound Weight Loss In 3-4 Mon

My siamese mix started loosing weight, vomiting, diarhea about a month ago,so i took her in to the vet. They did labs, all labs were normal,they hydrated her and sent her hoke with Flagyl. She had lost 2 pounds in 3-4 months. The voliting continued so we did ultrasound and fecal sample. Fecal sample came back negative. The ultrasound showed mass like thickening of the ileum with partial, chronic obstruction. It is concerning for neoplastic process (e.g. carcinoma, round cell), however a fivrotic inflammatory process cant be excluded. Diffuse, thickening of the small intestinal loos could be secondary to infiltrative disease (e.g. IBD, round cell neoplasia), however hypertophy is also a consideration given the presence of chronic partial obstruction. Mesenteric lymphadenopathy may be reactice or metaatatic. Bowel biopsies are needed for more information. I have a oncology appointment this Wednesday to discuss surgery. They said i have two choices,but wont know until i do biopsy. I can do biopsy and surgery or go prednisone route until the end. I hope the oncologist is open and honest. Is there hope surgery can remove all of this or is surgery not an option? I give her buepenorphine every 12 hours because i cant have her in pain. She is happy,purring and eating lile a regular happy cat. I am tore up and scared the surgeon will promise me things that arent true like she will be cured. Does this sound like its treatable? Would doing prednisolone and pain meds be a painful way to go out? Im lost and very sad. Ive raised her since 7 months. She is my pretty pound kitty. Help.

Sept. 8, 2018

Chubby's Owner

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Hansel

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tabby

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea (Occasionally With Blood)

Hello! My two-year old cat, Hansel, has been having diarrhea (occasionally with bright red blood) for a week or so. The frequency of bowel movement is normal (once or twice per day), but when he does go, it's loose and tinged with blood. He vomited once per day during the first three days of symptoms, but not since. Appetite has decreased a little. Took him to vet, and his white blood cell count was 35,000 (which she said indicated an infection somewhere in the body). No fever and no dehydration. She thinks it is either IBD, Pancreatitis, or Gastrointestinal Lymphoma. His mood is good, and he is playing and showing interest in treats! Slightly decreased appetite with "normal" food. May I ask your opinion on what may be going on?

Sept. 4, 2018

Hansel's Owner

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Beemer

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Siamese

dog-age-icon

16 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Peaceful, Placid, As Is His Nature.

My 16 dear old male chocolate point Siamese presented with loss of appetite, sluggish. Two weeks before that, he had 3 teeth taken out. He lost 500 grams in two weeks. I took him back to fat, and she thought she felt a lump in his intestine. She kept him in, all the tests later, she diagnosed a lymphoma bigger than an egg on the X-rays. Blood expiration was inconclusive. Referred to specialist vet. Confirmed today it is a cancerous lyphoma on his intestine. They have recommended surgery to remove the growth, the CHOP chem ongoing.

July 24, 2018

Beemer's Owner


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1 Recommendations

Surgery and chemotherapy would be a treatment of choice for feline intestinal lymphoma, if the Specialist has passed Beemer for surgery I cannot think of anything else that I could add at this point. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM http://veterinarycalendar.dvm360.com/managing-feline-gastrointestinal-lymphoma-proceedings

July 25, 2018

My fur baby Tiger just passed away from cancer a few months ago. I am on here because I can’t sleep really. I took him in because he started going outside the litter box. I saw a vet I usually donT see because I was alarmed. Tiger had fleas but was an indoor cat. He had a possible tapeworm. The vet prescribed medicine for a supposed tapeworm. I never saw any fleas and he didnt see any signs of a tapeworm. My regular vet though he had cancer I feel like the tapeworm medicine sped up his death. I know it’s a toxin. By the time he finished taking all of that medicine his little legs wouldn’t hold him up. I am devastated. I just wanted to ask- if you give a cat tapeworm medicine and the cat does not have a tapeworm (but instead gastrointestinal cancer would that cause a cat to pass away more quickly. I am blaming myself really. I am praying for all the kitties on here.

Sept. 10, 2018

Mary Elizabeth W.


Thank you very much, Dr Turner for taking the time to respond to my question. I will proceed with the recommended course of surgery and chemo. I’ll only get one chance to do the right thing by my old man, so I will put my fears and doubts to one side. Once again, thank you for your kindness.

July 25, 2018

Beemer's Owner

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Amber Cat

dog-breed-icon

Calico

dog-age-icon

17 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Wasting Away, Groggy And Medicated
Wasting Away, Groggy And Listless

Our 17 year old calico, Amber, was diagnosed with IBS and pancreatitis about 3 years ago after vomiting regularly. Prior to that diagnosis, we took her to a couple of vets that prescribed a change in food and some antiemetics, which failed to give her any relief. Finally we took her to a "cats only" vet who diagnosed the IBS and pancreatitis. But even he was nebulous about how to treat it. At first we went after the IBS thinking that the pancreas condition may be unrelated to the vomiting. When that failed we treated her with prednisolone. The effect was instant and the vomiting stopped - virtually the same day. Over the past few weeks she's stopped eating and has dropped 30% of her body weight and was running a high fever.. The same "cat vet" gave her an antibiotic injection and hydrated her. Over the past week she seems to have taken a turn for the worse. The cat vet has recommended pain medication to try and keep her as comfortable as possible while we hospice her and give her a 100 ml fluid drip once a day. I've been attempting to syringe feed her with her cat food diluted in chicken broth, with most of it ending up on me instead of in her. She's such a fighter. Even while laying on her little blanket moaning, she'll still drag herself across the floor to relieve herself in her box. Then struggle back to her spot, falling over several times along the way. I feel so helpless. I want to give her every possible chance. But is an all out treatment program which may well include invasive surgery - and all that goes with it - a reasonable course for a 17 year old cat?

July 17, 2018

Amber Cat's Owner


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recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

Without examining Amber and confirming any diagnosis I cannot say what the most appropriate course of action would be; however in a 17 year old cat I wouldn’t think that surgery would be suitable for her or for the risk:benefit balance when we consider the effects of the anaesthesia and the overall recovery. You should however discuss with your Veterinarian about Amber’s options and continue with palliative care. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 18, 2018

Amber passed away this morning at about 1:AM. She was a sweet and gentle little spirit but with an iron will and she clung to life ferociously. At times, I would almost think she was gone – and then , somehow, she’d pull herself up, drag herself across the floor to use her cat box. But, I think she was as comfortable as possible with the medication that we had and I'm glad I didn't subject her to more stress and trauma. I was with her stroking her coat as she took her last few gasps of breath. I’m glad we took this route and kept her at home. It was better for her. Still heartbroken

July 18, 2018

Amber Cat's Owner

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Abby

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Ragdoll

dog-age-icon

14 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Weight Loss
Increased Appetite
Tumor
Loose Stool
Ibs
Random Vomiting
Sometime Slight Blood In Stool

The vet has just discovered a mass / tumor in my male cat's abdomen today about 4cm to 5cm. Our cat was a street rescue about 6 years ago and the vet guessed he was about 7 years old at the time making him around the 12 to 14 year old range. Out cat has a history of IBS and was being treated with low dosage of prednisone over 2 years which resulted with our cat become diabetic. We slowly stopped the prednisone and begin using insulin and a wet food diet for a few months before he went into remission and no longer needed insulin. In the past we have had a number of blood tests and a ultrasound performed only to be told they didn't have an answer. The vet gave us pain medicine and told us to us it if we think he is pain and gave us a 2 to 4 month time frame!! The major issue is his weight. 2 years ago he was 8.2pds and today he is just over 7pds for large framed cat ( Ragdoll mix Pt Seal ). Since he is older we think having surgery or Chemo might be to much for him and looking at another suggestion that might help or slow the tumor.

dog-name-icon

Ringo

dog-breed-icon

dsh

dog-age-icon

13 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Abdomen
Weight Loss
Constipation
Lack Of Appetite
Dioreha

Rest in peace my sweet baby boy 30 Nov 2006 -- 27 Dec 2019 A month ago on 26th November he had his annual checkup, blood test and vaccinations and was fine, on the 23rd December he was having difficulties pooping so we took him to the vets, we were given meds and came home, today (27th December) he went in for a follow-up and had a tumour so big in his colon he wasn't even woken up from his x-ray anaesthetic. When we dropped him off at the vets in the morning cancer was a 45% possibility but with treatment, he would have about a year of good health left before decisions needed to be made OR 50% just a large hard poop for some reason that needed investigating with a 5% chance he wouldn't wake up from the anaesthetic due to a heart murmur - so the thought he wasn't coming home tonight or tomorrow was so remote I wasn't prepared when they rang us to inform us they said it wouldn't even be fair to wake him up from the anaesthetic as he would have 3 months at best but they would be bad and it wouldn't be fair to him, we didn't even get to say goodbye until after he'd passed as they couldn't wait for us to get back to the vets.

dog-name-icon

Little Mouser

dog-breed-icon

Domestic long hair

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Lethargy
Vomiting
Blood In Stool
Pain When Lifted

Little Mouser was the apartment complex TNR feral kitty that I took into my home about a year and a half ago, when I feared she would die overnight from frigid outside temperatures. She weighed only 5 lbs. As she adjusted to indoor life, I noticed that, while she ate well, she had more or less constant diarrhea and never gained more than 2 lbs. in spite of eating and drinking well. X-rays showed distended bowel loops but a normal cardiac, liver and kidney profile. The vet put her on prednisone and recommended a prescription diet. Mouser started to thrive and socialize with me - to the point where she was sleeping with me at night and being very interactive. The vet said she probably had kitty Crohn's disease. However, about 6 months ago, Mouser started to vomit as well. The vet put her on a course of flagyl, but Mouser had no remission or relief. About a month ago, her diarrhea became mixed with blood. She had a hard time getting comfortable in any position for long and started leaking stool all over everything. I covered my apartment in disposable puppy pads. Two weeks ago at night, she bit me savagely when I tried gently to move her on my bed. I landed in the hospital for 3 days with cellulitis from the bite. When I came home, Mouser was anxious, prowling and uttering cries as she attempted to use use the litter pan - when she made it to the litter pan - there were diarrhea and blood spots all over the floor. She started hiding and isolating and would no longer play with her favorite toy or use the scratching post. About a week ago, Mouser started passing more blood with her stool and became increasingly lethargic in spite of more medication. I made the decision to put her to sleep and she crossed the rainbow bridge yesterday afternoon. The vet said that, in the end, if she had Crohn's there would have been periods of remission with intermittent flareups. However, Mouser's steady decline indicated another diagnosis in the differential: diffuse abdominal lymphoma.

dog-name-icon

Bugzie

dog-breed-icon

dsh

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

My cat Bugz has had several ultrasounds, needle aspirates, blood work and stool and urine tests. They now want me to do a 3k scope to determine if it's cancer. They haven't found anything with the other tests. All he has is diarrhea. No vomiting or weight loss or blood or vomiting. He's been on prednislone, but it didn't do anything. He's now on Royal Canin gastrointestinal fiber response. I see some improvement. Should I do the scope? It seems like an ungodly amount for a exploratory procedure. Thanks.

dog-name-icon

Jennie

dog-breed-icon

Domestic shorthair

dog-age-icon

15 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Lost Of Appetite
Black Diarrhea
Straning And Constipation

I have a 15 year old cat. About two years ago, she literally started leaking diarrhea. I had to cover everything until I could get her into the vet. I woke up in the morning and there was diarrhea spots all over the cover I had on my bed. Mega colon was the first suspicion. She was put on a low dose of prednisone & Cisapride, which helped tremendously. But she really started to decline this last December. We did an ultrasound, I was with her the whole time. A mass in her colon was confirmed. Metronidazole was added to her medications. Currently she's starting to have more bad days than good. She strains really hard to deficate, and many times she is unsuccessful. When she does, it's black diarrhea. Sometimes she doesn't make it to her litter pan. I can also tell that she's having pain occasionally. She's becoming more frail. But then she has a good day when she wants to eat a lot, play, and gets very sassy. I'm not sure how much time I have left with her. I tell her every night when we're cuddling under the covers how much I love her and how happy she's made me. I'm starting to get a plan together for the end...who will come to the house to see her off, as I do not want her last minutes in a veterinarians office. I might have 3, 6, 9 or more months with her, but I want to have a plan set.

Intestinal Cancer Average Cost

From 496 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $8,000

Average Cost

$6,000

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