PermaLink Possibly futile03/03/2008 11:50 AM
I talked with the internal medicine specialist who's looking after Mary now.  I am not optimistic.

I got a call at 9 this morning from the specialist in feline internal medicine who's now caring for Mary. Basically, they're amazed she's alive. Her red blood cell count last night, before she received a much-needed transfusion, was one of the lowest they'd seen in a long time. What the specialist said this morning was that she wasn't seeing any "young" red cells, raising concern that her bone marrow just isn't making any, possibly because the white cells have pushed everything else out of the way.

She perked up considerably after the blood transfusion. She may need more.

Leukemia in cats is a lot like leukemia in humans. Most people here about "feline leukemia," which is a contagious, manageable viral infection. This isn't that. It's good old eat-your-bone-marrow cancer of the blood. And when it comes on as fast as it has with Mary, it doesn't respond well to chemotherapy.

A good article laying all this out is here at PetPlace.

Mary is quite possibly suffering from "acute lymphoblastic leukemia," which tends to come up out of nowhere and come up fast. And it's not good.

There were some other possibilities they laid out, including a parasitic microorganism that tends to destroy red blood cells and can be picked up from fleas. It's also possible she just has some sort of huge systemic infection, but she has no fever that would usually go along with it.

Her reticulocyte count was way low, what the vet described above as "Mary doesn't seem to have many young red blood cells."

None of this is positive. More tests will be run today, including some x-rays, ultrasound and a fine-needle bone marrow aspirate. That will be the final determinant of whether she's making red blood cells and they're getting destroyed somewhere else, or whether she's just not making them at all.

We have to face the possibility of losing her. Not as suddenly as some of the cats, but too soon. She's a big, fat, obnoxious, bossy cat who is an affectionate kitten when she wants to be. The back of the couch was rather empty without her big bulk lounging on it last night.

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