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The Divine One

Copyright Barbara Samuelson 1998

This is my cat Punkie Louise. Yeah, my cat is special. Isn't everyone's cat "special"? Punkie is 16 years old. She's very particular about who she likes; generally she doesn't like much of anybody. Only a select few people have made it past her criterion. She's very verbal, sometimes annoyingly so. She's my buddy and I would like to say that she listens to me when I need an ear, but she doesn't.

January 1996:

Punkie is currently undergoing chemotherapy. She was diagnosed with Intestinal Lymphosarcoma. She had been vomiting, with much pain, and had stopped eating. The disease came on very suddenly and without warning. This cancer is, apparently, considered treatable. Not curable, treatable. She is currently taking prednisone each day and cytoxan every third day. She goes into the vet for further chemo each Wednesday.

Although the vets that I take her to have been wonderful, it is still pretty awful. She's responded very well to the surgery (they removed an egg-sized malignant tumor) and to the treatments. But she still has only a limited survival time overall. Because she's been an indoor kitty, dragging her weekly to the vet is upsetting to both of us. Knowing that I'm giving her poison is also upsetting. Loosing her would be worse. My friend Greg helped me with my perspective on the whole thing; he said that as long as she appears happy and active that she should continue to enjoy life. When she loses that, it's time to let her go.

Pets are such very special presence in our lives. Punkie loves me even if I've gotten fat or overslept or forgotten to pay a bill or been a real bitch that day. What a gift. And all I have to do is feed her, clean her box, pet her some, and acknowledge her presence. Way ahead of a lot of other relationships I've been in.

Well, this has been sort of cathartic for me to be able to write this about my cat. She means so much to me and this experience has been really hard. It's not over yet, because I know that the time will come when I finally do have to let her go. I'm not willing to deal with that till I absolutely have to do so. So There!

(If your pet has been diagnosed with cancer, please check out the website links I've listed near the bottom of this page for information and help. There are many other websites with good information, contacts, and support out there on the internet.)

February 1996:

Punkie has gone thru 5 weeks of chemotherapy. She's really responding well to treatment. I have to pill her daily with the prednisone and every three days with Cytoxan. These are essentially poisons that attack fast growing cells (hopefully just the cancer cells). She's lost a bit more weight, mainly because she's gotten even more picky about what she'll eat, and because if she vomits, then she won't eat more till the next morning. I make sure that she's getting the food down now. She had lost 1/4 lb last week and had gotten down to 7 3/4 lbs. This week she'd gained 1/2 lb back. Something to celebrate!

She's become very playful; almost back to her old self again. She's a joy to behold. She's been sleeping with me under the bedspread but on top of the blankets. This is new, and then she decided she wanted to be under the blankets with me. This was great; she's never been a particularly affectionate kitty, except that her purring kept me awake most of the night. I got earplugs. It's been too warm lately (spring thaw) for her to get under the blankets with me. Affection, in this case, is a mixed blessing.

She still hates going into the Vet for treatment. They assured me that she'd get used to it. WRONG! But after next week, I'll only have to bring her in every three weeks or so. It's been somewhat expensive, too, but at least I can afford it right now. I don't exactly have money left for much else, but I'm not doing much else. Kinda works out.

I don't know if anyone is reading this page. I would like to hear from others who've gone thru this kind of experience with their pets.It's so bittersweet. When she plays and looks good, it's doubly great. But there's always the fear in the background if anything goes wrong that it'll be the beginning of the end. I know this sounds very dramatic from "just a cat", but she means a great deal to me. Perhaps I didn't know just how much she meant to me till she got sick.

It was nice to get a bit of solace knowing that she'd managed to put some weight back on this week. It's been a rough week for me otherwise; other important areas of my life are quite problematic right now. But I'll end on that note for now.

March 1996:

Punkie is now only going in for chemotherapy every three weeks, although she still gets the pills every day. She never did "adjust" to visiting the Vet. She's just too shy. She's been so playful and happy, and a real joy to be around. I know that I'm "spoiling" her, but it it hard not to try to give her everything she wants. The hard part is in not being able to figure out just what she's asking for! Last night she was up and down and under the covers with me then back out. This went on most of the night, so, needless to say, I'm pooped tonight. With all the stress I'm going thru in the rest of my life (work and otherwise, sigh) she's the easy part right now. Attending to her is relatively easy compared to all the other demands on me. And the rewards are pretty immediate with her. She purrs to let me know how happy she is and that I've given her what she needs. Can't say the same for anyone else around me right now, darn it! :)

April 1996:

One of my biggest problems going thru "this" is not knowing what signs to watch out for with Punkie. Her fur started getting greasy looking. I took her in for her 3 week check up at the vet and made of note of the change in her fur for the doctor. The doctor said everything was fine and didn't comment on her fur. It made me kinda crazy, but I figured that if something was amiss, he would have pointed it out. (the doctor just leaves me a phone mail message, I don't get to talk to him in person) So, over the next week or so, her fur got even worse. This began to really frighten me. I called the vet back, being fairly insistent this time, wanting a response. The assistant talked to the vet and the vet assured her that there was probably just more hair growth than normal and that Punkie just couldn't keep up on her normal grooming to clear off the oiliness. He really hadn't wanted to comment on Punkie's condition without seeing her, but that was his best guess. Didn't sound exactly plausible to me, but her next visit is next week. She seems really good in all other ways, playful and happy, so I just let it go again. Now, when I take her in this next Wednesday, if he doesn't respond...well, I don't know what I'll do. BTW, her fur actually looks better tonight. Ain't that the way?!? The thing that this points out to me is my trouble dealing with unknowns and ambiguity. I know I'm that way, but it doesn't mean I have to like it!

May 1996:

Well, Punkie has gotten thru another trip to the vet for her chemotherapy. Her fur is actually better, but now I've managed to get the vet practically obsessed with it. Took long enough! I've had to stop giving her the gunk he prescribed to fix it, because she wouldn't eat anything that had the gunk on it. Oh well. She's currently "in remission", which seems to mean that she's holding her own against the cancer. I've heard from lots of folks about their animals that have gone thru chemo. It's really the pits, but I've felt so lucky having her with me, it seems worth it. I do dread the day when she starts to fail. And I know it's coming.

Lately, she's seemed almost human to me. She's so full of expression, so communicative. She gives me so much pleasure and asks so little (except at 3am when I can't figure out what the heck she's demanding by repeatedly smacking me in the face with her paw!). Guess I need to spend more time reading the kitty communications rule book, eh?

June 1996:

OK, so I'm *becoming* a worrywart! I've been watching Punkie like a hawk and been so worried because her fur is looking crummy again; her tail isn't fluffy at all. I was sure that when I took her in for her chemo check, it'd be "bad". Well, in fact she's gained weight! She's up to ("up to"???) 8.25 pounds now. This is good! And I sure wasn't expecting to get any good news. I just don't even have a clue what to watch for, but I'll unfortunately probably find out at some point. Yeah, I know, I just sound so negative. Just waiting the the other shoe to drop. Makes it hard sometimes to relax and just appreciate the time I have with her now. :(

July 1996:

Punkie has lost all of the whiskers on the right side of her face. The Vet says that the loss of her whiskers is a good sign that the chemo is working. Whiskers and guard hairs on her coat are produced by rapidly dividing cells, the same type of process that kills cancer cells. So if she's losing whiskers, then she's also losing the cancer cells. He said it's typical for this period of the process, 7-8 months of chemo, to see this. And that I should start to see a real softening of her coat as she loses the guard hairs. Guess that's why her tummy fur looks so different. He said she's in good shape. It's kind of hard to *get* that while she continues to look worse, she's actually doing better! She also started losing hair just behind her head and just in front of her tail. I finally figured out that when she crawls under a banister in my new place she bumps herself on it as she passes under at precisely those two places on her back. She's been full of energy, playful, generally herself. And, she looks like hell!

I almost brought home a kitten on my last visit to chemo before today's visit. There was a delightful kitten up for adoption at the Vet, and I thought having him around might encourage Punkie to groom him and therefore herself. It might be company for her (she bit my foot one night because I'd been gone "too long" and she was mad). I thought it'd also help me transition when I lose her. So I offered to take the kitten, but it wasn't meant to be. They wanted to hold him for another person who'd promised to see him (the other person was waaaay late, but...), so I just left my name and number. I never did hear from them and the kitten wasn't there when I went in today. Guess it's not time yet. It's really amazing to me sometimes that I think I can even begin to determine how to take care of myself in this situation without ever having been thru it before. Guess I'll have to get used to figuring it out as I go along.

August 1996:

Punkie is doing really good, good for remission that is. Gee I really wish that one visit to the Vet, they'd say, "Yup, she's cured, she's over the cancer." She is in a stable remission. She's eating well, playing a lot, seems happy. When I took her in to the vet today, another woman followed me in who's cat was yowling even louder than Punkie. I mentioned that to her and she said that her cat was there for his chemo visit. Punkie was yowling right along with the other cat, so we figured that they must know each other by now because they are on the same chemo schedule. Her cat had gained back most of his weight and was also considered in a stable remission. He'd been in treatment for 6 or so months. Actually, I think I'm almost beginning to finally relax with all this. Even though I will admit that I sometimes wake Punkie up to be sure she hasn't died! So much for "relaxing", eh? I've put two new pictures up (below) from this month. If you check closely, you can see the 3 whiskers she has left. You can also see how her once lush fur has diminished. She's still a very sweet and pretty cat, nonetheless, by golly!

September 1996:

Well, normally I would have made my entry to Punkie's diary last week, but she turned up with an infection at her last check up. So, today I'm finally able to report that she's ok again. I am, however, extremely upset with the Vet. Apparently I was supposed to have been given some antibiotics to give her every 12 hours last week, but I never received them, wasn't told about them, just got charged for them. I stupidly just paid the bill, figuring that whatever extra they did for her was appropriate. The only way I knew any different was the message that the doctor left for me this week, saying that he wanted me to continue giving her the medicine he'd given me last week. Last week??? Wha' medicine??? Anyhow, I have gotten things fairly straightened out with the Vet's office, although I will not entirely trust them again. People make mistakes, but this could have been very costly to me, costly in terms of losing my pet. I will definitely watch them from now on. So, Punkie is sitting behind me as I type this, complaining about the food as usual. She's been happy this week because I've been home sick all week with the cruddiest flu---dizzy and nauseated, yuck! But she gets to sleep with me all day and all night. But I'm probably going back to work tomorrow. I think most of the dizziness (the falling-down kind!) has abated, and I even awoke feeling hungry this morning. Don't know when I've been this sick in a while. Anyhow, Punkie is ok, and probably stronger than any of us figured. This is good!

October 1, 1996:

Punkie has lost another whisker. She's now only got two whiskers; one on her left eyebrow and one on her left cheek. October 5, 1996: Punkie is now down to 1 whisker, her eyebrow whisker. My poor baby is having an awful time crawling around under the covers at night and finding her way back out! I wonder how long it'll be before the last whisker hits the floor.

October 1996:

Punkie came through her latest chemotherapy well; she's testing out in remission again, and with her white cell count in an acceptable range. So, no infection. Now, the next hurdle is to have her be ok with me leaving for my vacation. A neighbor of mine has agreed to take care of Punkie, so that I don't have to board her. She's agreed to pill her as well, though she hasn't seen me do it yet. She's an older woman, so I want to make sure that she doesn't have to chase Punkie all over the place to catch her like I've had to some mornings. The little devil (Punkie, that is) is fast on her feet.

November 1996:

Well I'm back from a spectacular vacation in Alaska and Punkie is back home. I ended up taking her to board with the Vet. This was really best because I could count on her being pilled every day and if anything did go wrong, she'd be in the right place to get expert help. I had worried that taking her there would traumatize her, but when I went to pick her up, she was just fine. I think she actually enjoyed it! They like her there and she probably had people to chat with all day long instead of being left by herself most of the time. She looked great and they said she'd eaten regularly and been no problem at all. The Vet only agreed to take her because she's on chemotherapy. They don't normally board animals, so I really lucked out.

End of November 1996:

Punkie has just had her November chemotherapy. She hadn't been eating very well since I got back from Alaska. She wouldn't eat any canned food at all, although she'd eat her dry food. She was drinking lots of water, but not seeming to urinate in her litter box very much. She'd been getting cooked chicken twice a day, but I knew she was losing weight. Anyhow, the doctor said that she was probably fighting off another infection; her white cell count was back down again, and that she was drinking water as a result of consuming the dry food and having to compensate for its being dry. So, she's back on antibiotics. She's still happy as a pig in you-know-what; playful, lively, etc. She had lost another 1/4 of a pound, like she has any to spare at this point! So it appears that we're starting into the infections stage of this process. And I need to keep on top of it. She's been on chemotherapy for just about a year now. I'm very lucky that I still have her.

December 8,1996:

Punkie lost her last whisker today (sigh). I went to pill her and found the whisker lying, forlorn, on the rug. She's eating better and acting very lively.

December 1996:

Punkie has had her last chemo for this year, and it's been quite an emotional roller coaster for me. As I look over all that I've written, I'm really glad to have had this medium to express myself within. I guess this has been more about me than about Punkie, but I really have little idea about how she's felt about going through all this. I hope that I've made the right decisions for her. She appears to be having a pretty good time of it, except for all the pills and the doctor visits. I can't imagine what I would have felt if I'd just let her go.

Her chemo went well; although she is still having loose stools. They gave me another pill to give her (poor thing!) for that. They'd cut it into quarters and she's supposed to get a quarter in the morning and another in the evening. Well, I got one down her and found that all the other attempts were futile and upsetting her greatly. When they cut them into quarters, it took the ingredients out of the possibility of staying cohesive once they hit her saliva...so, she gets it into her mouth, it expands and tastes like hell, she gets upset and, on the last attempt, started foaming at the mouth and vomiting. YUCK! So, I need to find a way to encase the quarter pill in something else or give up. I'll figure out something. Or not!

January 1997:

All the while that I've been watching Punkie for any sign of decline, she's been gaining weight. I didn't look at the report from the Doctor until my friend pointed it out to me this last visit. She's gotten back up to 8.25 lbs!!!!! I should've noticed because she has felt really heavy in the bed, ya know when they sleep right on top of your legs and they're so heavy that you can't even move or roll over...well, now I know why?! So, I got her past the diarrhea. Poor thing, she was getting upwards of 6 pills a day. Anti-diarrahreal pills twice a day; a pill before each of those to keep the second pill down; her prednisone and then her cytoxan. I was amazed that she'd even let me come near her. But she has suffered all this and more and appears to be doing well. The other thing I found out is that I thought she was really an excessive amount of water, but she crawled into bed with me one night and I felt a very wet paw next to me. She'd been "digging" in her water bowl, splashing all the water out! Her wet paw was akin to a smoking gun! She's such a little devil.

February 1997:

Punkie actually had a second visit in January for her chemo; she goes in every third week. They found her to be in very good shape, although slightly anemic. So they gave me some "glug" to give her filled with vitamins. I've been giving it to her each day and you can pretty much tell by the spots on my rug where she was when she received it. She's always been pretty good about receiving anything in liquid form, but this stuff is kind of smelly and a bit sticky. This morning I gave it to her and got some on the back of her neck. When I came home early to rest (I've got my first cold of this year) and she crawled into bed with me, I could feel where the medicine had stuck her fur together. She's been very lively and playful. She's been eating like a piggy, but her weight is back down a bit. The vet's office had forgotten to enter her weight the last time she was in, so I don't know exactly how quickly it's dropped. She's now back down to 7 pounds 12 ounces. Oh, and she's still "digging" in her water! But she's having a good remission. I was pleasantly surprised that several folks were concerned that I had not posted Punkie's February progress earlier. They thought something was wrong! But I try to wait until she's been in for her chemotherapy so that I have a true status to report. And, yes, I did skip her second visit in January, but I actually didn't figure that anybody would notice. Sure surprised me! So her next visit is mid-March. And I'll try to get her status posted quickly. Thanks for all your kind thoughts and concern for Punkie.

March 1997:

Punkie hasn't been eating well lately and I knew that she'd dropped some weight. She's down to 7.25 pounds now, but all her vitals are still reading good. The Vet said that her blood count is good and she has no temperature; the only thing that looked suspicious was her drop in weight. He said that many older cats that are going thru chemo will get heartburn or gastritis and then not want to eat. So he's given me Tagamet to give her every 12 hours, and if I don't see an improvement in a week that he wants to try a general antibiotic on her. He said that sometimes the chemo can mask a low level infection or inflammatory response in the white blood count. He also did a urine culture which should be ready in a few days that will tell us more. It's so hard when she's already so small to see her not want to eat. I try to get her what she wants, tuna, special cat food, we cook her chicken, but if she's not feeling well, then she just won't eat. But the Vet has really paid attention to her and has been very attentive to her. I really appreciate it. I think she's going to be all right if we just stay on top of any changes that appear. She'd "broken out" in fleas recently---she was crawling with them, so I called the Vet to ask if it would be ok to have her flea dipped. They said no, that it would be too traumatic. I know there is a program of pills she can take, but I didn't want to add more to her pill regimen. They didn't even suggest the pills, but suggested the Advantage drops. They seem to have worked right away; I still see a few fleas, but they are "groggy" and easily removed. And it seemed not to have disturbed Punkie at all. I remember trying to powder her many years ago for fleas; it upset both of us. And then there was the time I tried a flea spray---she foamed at the mouth and totally freaked me out. These drops really work and they're so easy to use; I wish I'd had them years ago. It's always something, isn't it?

April 1997 - Part 1:

Punkie has gained weight! She's back up to 7.5 pounds. She's eating every meal and back on cat food full time. It's such a relief! She's doing so well that there's not much to report. I like that! She'll be going back for her next chemo in 3 weeks, so maybe I'll post more then. I'm going to just relax this time. :) And I've finally gotten some newer (1997) pictures of Punkie to show. Check them out below.

April 1997 - Part 2:

Punkie's second visit to the vet this month (she goes every three weeks) has been another, thankfully, routine visit. Her weight is stable; her blood count is stable. Her only problem has been she's a bit constipated. So, I get to try giving her a Laxatone, a laxative and lubricant for hair ball removal. My partner had noticed that first thing in the morning, Punkie would seem to cry out just before her first bowel movement. Well this may correct that situation. She's off the Tagamet, and the vet said that seemed to be ok. I got to speak directly to the Doctor today, which was nice. He said that he'd even been told about Punkie's Web Page, viewed it, and liked it very much. I'm glad, he's been so attentive to her. He said that she's really doing well through this process and been in stable remission longer than most. I'm sure glad, because I really don't want to think about when it all ends. So, that's the latest.

May 1997

Punkie is doing just great! Her weight is stable, her blood count is stable. Things couldn't be better! This is really becoming pretty routine. Gee, what'll I have to worry about? Well, to be honest, I've always avoided buying a case of food for her. It's really just a silly superstition, but I thought if I bought her food by the case (which is, of course, cheaper), that she'd die and I'd be left with all the cat food. Not that I couldn't give away cat food, but that she'd die just because I bought a case for her. Silly? YES! Well, yesterday I actually bought her a case of food. Tempting fate. And she's fine! Think of all the money I coulda saved! Yes, I'm just another silly, superstitious human being. Like I said, what'll I have to worry about? ;)

June 1997

Punkie hadn't been eating very well for the last week. Taking her into the vet for her chemo today, she's down to 7 pounds again. The vet said that she's constipated again and he palpated some of the fecal matter out and gave her a hydration therapy. So, she'll be back on the Tagamet and Laxatone, poor thing. Her blood count was also borderline, so I'm to not give her any of the cytoxan for a week to let her white count rise back. She felt lighter when I'd lift her so I'm not surprised that she'd lost weight. There's so little of her left, it's always a shock to feel less! I'd been cleaning out some old stuff including pictures and came upon a picture of her from several years back. I'd almost forgotten what a puffball she'd been. She was 11 pounds at her height and loaded with fur. I'll have to scan the picture. It was a shock to see the difference; guess I've gotten used (?) to how she looks. NOT!

July 1997

I haven't had a chance to add in the info from Punkie's last visit, basically because it was a very extended visit for her to the Vet. Nothing wrong, just that my partner and I went back to Alaska for 2 weeks and the Vet was the very best place for Punkie to be. She would get pilled correctly and if anything went wrong, she would be in the best place possible for the best care. I haven't gotten the doctor's report from her visit and will be calling him the beginning of the week. Poor Punkie! Her next scheduled visit is this week! She just gets "sprung" and now she's going back in....she'll probably hate me forever!

July 1997- Part 2

Just got Punkie back from the Vet. She's down to 6.5 lbs, but I think it's because she'd stayed with them for two weeks and not had her regular food. But, here's the surprise: She's made it to her 18-month-remission stage, which means that they consider her a candidate for a possible full recovery! I can hardly believe it. What a shock for this died-in-the-wool pessimist! She's going on to a reduction in medication and her chemotherapy visits will only come every 4 weeks instead of 3. If she stays stable, then we reduce everything more until she's no longer on chemo at all! ZOWIE!!! They did remind me that full recovery is rare, but to even have made it this far is an accomplishment. My partner credits me with most of it because he says I've been so diligent with her medication and chemo visits and following the doctors orders. Whatever did it, I'm just happy. And very surprised!!! So, now I've just gotta get some meat back on her bones and make sure she gets what she needs and keep my fingers crossed.

August 1997

Punkie came through her chemo exam this month with flying colors! Her blood count is stable and the Vet said everything looked good, except some small sores on her head. He surmised that she'd been in a cat fight with another cat. Must be her imaginary friend, because she never sees any other cats. Hmmm, wonder what she got into... Anyhow, I was disappointed that she still only weighs 6.5 pounds, so she hadn't gained any weight. I could swear that she *feels* heavier! But, be that as it may, she's doing really well on less medication and this is GOOD! So, now she doesn't go in for another month. I'm sure she's happy about that.

September 1997

Well, the Punkster has sailed through her chemo this month with flying colors! She's doing just great and on top of that, she's gained 1/2 pound! She's all the way up to 7 pounds of lean, mean, fighting kitty machine! Alright, Punkie!

October 1997

Another great report! My hopes were satisfied; Punkie has gained another 1/2 pound! All the way back up to 7.5 lbs. Another month--another 1/2 pound!!! Her bloodcount is good again and the Vet says she looks very good. Now I just have to wait for him to reduce her medication again. It really feels good to see her putting weight back on once more. And she's been really playful and seems happy. Guess that might just be because she's feeling so much better. Me, too!

November 1997

Well, she didn't gain another pound, but the Doctor reported that last month she weighed 7 pounds 7 ounces, and this month she weighed 7 pounds, 9 ounces. Hey, it's a gain! Her blood count is good, he said she looks really good. He also said that next month will be her 23rd month of remission. Then, after her 24th month, he'll begin stepping back her medication. Maybe, when they reduce her medication, she'll gain more weight. It seems like a million years ago that she tipped the scales at 11 pounds. All I can do is wait, and hope. But this, right now, feels pretty good! Yessiree! Oh yeah, I bought a new chair and ottoman. Punkie has decided that her newest favorite place is under the ottoman. It's got a cover that reaches the floor, so you can't see that she's under there until she walks out---it was sure a surprise the first time she strolled out! I can't believe that there are people who don't understand that ALL animals have personality.

December 1997

Well, due to the fact that the darned supermarket chain that I buy Punkie's favorite food has gone and stopped carrying "her" food, Punkie is back down to 7 lbs! Those creeps! I tried all kinds of different foods for Punkie, which didn't promote her eating very well during that period. But I finally found one she'll consistently eat again. What a time to change her food on her?!?! Really made me mad. What the supermarket chain did, basically, is change their line of in-store catfood to include gravy. This fills up the cans and probably costs less. Well, Punkie doesn't like gravy. (Sigh)

Aside from all that rant, she did have another successful chemo treatment and the Doctor said that maybe her next treatment will be the last. I'm not entirely sure what that means other than maybe we can get her off some of this medication. I KNOW she'll gain weight if we do. I'm taking her back in on Dec 31st. Hopefully, we will end the year up on a really good note!!!

December 31, 1997

Punkie came thru another Chemo with flying colors, and, TA-DA, her weight is back up to 7 1/2 pounds!!! The Vet still wants to have her get one more chemo treatment (sigh), but it won't happen until 6 weeks from now (Feb 11th). He's just doing one more chemo to be on the safe side. At least I can reduce her cytoxan to once a week now. I still have to give her prednisone every day, though. Every visit we get some progress; guess I can't ask for much more than that. She's been really happy these last few months, so I KNOW she's feeling much better. So am I!

February 11, 1998

Punkie had her LAST vincristine injection today! She's doing really great! The Vet said that her recovery is a real rarity and he sounded pretty excited by it himself. This is what we've been waiting for, hoping for. I don't have to give her any more cytoxan and no more chemo treatments! I still have to pill her every day with the prednisone, but that should taper off ultimately. I don't take her back in until April 7th, and then the Vet wants to see both of us and give her a physical just to check on her progress without the chemo. The only surprise was that she'd only gained 2 ounces. I'd swear that she'd put on more weight than that. She's been eating like a piggy and my partner said she looked kinda bulgey on her sides...oh well. I wonder if her whiskers will grow back now...hmmmm.

So, to everyone who has wished her well, thanks so much, it seems to be working.

April 7, 1998

Punkie has "Beat the Big One!" to quote her Vet. Dr. Gardner said that today after checking the results of her blood workup and urinalysis. Her kidney function tested good and her white blood cell count is in the normal range for her!!!! So, her lab profile is great! Enough exclamation points!!!! She only has to take her prednisone every other day for two more weeks, and then, no more! Boy will she be happy about that. When I've pilled her, her little paw comes up trying to block me from putting the pill into her mouth. So, now she doesn't have to go back to the Vet for 3 MONTHS!!! And, then they'll check her and probably only give her a distemper booster shot. We BEAT THE BIG ONE!!!

It's almost too good for me to believe. We actually did it. We beat it! Oh, I forgot to say, she's all the way up to 8 pounds, 3 ounces! That's the first time she's gotten above 8 pounds in a long time; and she's actually got the beginnings of some whiskers. So, it must be time to celebrate! Friskies all around!

May 1998

Punkie continues to improve each day. She's gotten no further pills for a bit over a week now, for which she hasn't thanked me yet!!! Just above her eyes you can see some wispy whiskers and Greg says there's some starting near her nose. Her fur really looks so much thicker and better. She got fussy with her food again, but only to reject the case of the "same" food she'd been eating for months already. Greg has been cooking chicken liver for her and she seems to like it along with a variety of other canned food we keep shoving under her nose. She's in good spirits and very playful.

June 1998

Punkie is thriving. She eats almost everything we put in front of her. I guess I keep checking in here because I still can't fully believe that we beat it! I was watching her eat (she now gets petted WHILE she eats, of course), and it just struck me that she doesn't have cancer anymore! What a concept. I don't take her back into the Vet until next month, and, hopefully, that will be just a routine check up. I'm expecting to see some major weight gain; I feel less and less of the bones on her spine each day. I haven't put any newer Punkie pictures up because I'm trying to get my work together for a show, but hopefully I can soon.

July 1998

Punkie lost weight! She's back down to 7 lb. 12 oz. The Vet thought that maybe she had developed hyperthyroidism, but after running a test on her, decided that she's just fine in all categories. It's a mystery. We're going to just concentrate on feeding her lots and lots and try to fatten her back up. She's been eating just fine, but should have been putting on weight. It's always something, isn't it? She's certainly adding more whiskers all the time. I finally saw a cheek whisker popping out a few days ago. But the good news is that all her vitals and tests came out in good shape. So, we're just going to monitor her weight and that will hopefully respond to our feeding her lots.

August 1998

Punkie is still doing great!

September 1998

Punkie continues to do fine. I guess she'll never put back on the weight that she's lost from the chemo; once, long ago, she weighed 11 pounds. Her appetite isn't what I'd like, but she's bright-eyed and playful and still very verbal. And she's cancer-free!

October 1998

Well, I wanted to take Punkie in to the Vet to have her teeth cleaned, but the Vet wanted to do a checkup first because she'd have to have anesthesia for the teeth cleaning. He is always very careful and caring with her. He found that she'd lost more weight (down to 7 lbs, 2 oz) and was more concerned about that than having her teeth cleaned. So now I'm pilling her with Pepsid AC (poor baby) to see if her stomach is the problem (like maybe an ulcer) for the next month and hopefully she'll put back on some weight. She's really active, playful, all her tests came back really good. So, we'll just have to see. It took me three shots tonight to get the first pill down her; I'm out of practice.

December 1998

Punkie continues to do great. I've decided not to post monthly anymore because she is doing to well and I've gotten lazy...Her whiskers continue to grow, her fur looks better and better, and she's so playful that you'd think she was a kid again. So, have a happy holiday season and we'll check back in next year!

February 1999

Well, Punkie is back to eating like I want her to eat. She will seem to lose her appetite for a few days and, of course, I get worried. I have given her some PepcidAC, but only 1/2 and only every other day for a couple of days. Then her appetite returns as mysteriously as it left. It seems to happen whether I give her the Pepcid or not...but the Vet had recommended it, so I know it won't hurt her. And I've begun to notice that her fur (always a good indicator) gets sort of greasy around the time that she's not eating. Then it perks back up and she starts eating again. This maybe just the way she's going to function from now on. I'll have to gather more data. But it always does bring me up short, emotionally. I do not want to lose this little kitty. She's such a devil but she's my little devil and means so much to me. And, I worry, therefore I am....

April 1999

Punkie seems to be entering a sustained weight-gaining phase! I'm so pleased. She's been a real chow-hound lately and has eaten almost everything I give her. This is the first sustained weight gain she's had and it's really so encouraging. I know she's been feeling better, I can see it in her play. She tears around the house at breakneck speed and has a great time. She's really been enjoying the birds outside the front windows; we call it her "Kitty TV". We get mourning doves, chickadees, house finches, scrub jays, and have two hummingbird feeders. She loves it and has to have "her" chair set up each morning so she can see out. I think we're all glad it's Spring.

Wow, I just went back and read my entries for Punkie in April 1997 and 1998. It's been almost a year since she's been off the prednisone and other pills! Wow! Guess I can truly say we beat it now!

June 1999

Well, I just weighed Punkie and it's really hard for me to believe, but she's still only 7 1/2 pounds. She sure looks bigger and feels bigger when I pick her up. Having just gotten back from Montana, we had some left over Doritos (junk to eat while driving), and I had forgotten how much she likes them. Well, she's been enjoying them as a sort of frosting on her cat food for a few days now. Who ever heard of a cat eating Doritos???? But she's doing really well and coming up on her 14th birthday. Pretty good for an old girl, eh?

August 1999

Punkie has been doing really well except we've run into another "bout" of not eating very well and her fur gets all greasy and she even has some dander. I'm going to be taking her in to the Vet soon anyhow for her regular checkup and vaccines, so I'll have them look her over. She's playful as ever, so I don't think there's anything too wrong. Her eating picked up some when I started giving her the GimPet NutriGel for hairballs. She's also not interested in the Doritos now. Who knows what her next eating quirk will be? She still does, however, "have" to smell everything we are eating. It's like she's looking for that special thing to eat and it might be something we have, even a glass of water. Such a character!

And here's the Vet's report as of 8/20/99: Punkie gained some weight (7.14 lb) and is in fine health. She needs her teeth cleaned (but we knew that) She got her vaccinations all taken care of and got all her nails trimmed. She was really good for Dr. Reed.

September 1999

Punkie has been doing great, but recently started coughing. We weren't sure if it was a cough or a choke on a furball. So Greg took her in this morning because I'm back at work, and the doctor said she may have a very minor respiratory infection. He couldn't hear anything unusual in her chest, but saw the hint of an infection on the x-ray and prescribed an antibiotic. It is to be given with food twice a day for 7 days. If she vomits the antibiotic up, we're to call the Dr. and he'll switch to a different one. The x-ray showed that her stomach has no new tumors as well. It's really nice to hear that!

November 1999

I can hardly believe it's already November, but I've received my first query about how Punkie is doing, so here we are again. She is doing great. She got through the little infection with flying colors and continues to thrive. She's quite a little trooper. So unless something comes up, I'm going to not post anything for a few months. Please trust that she is fine and well and happy. And thanks for caring, she and I appreciate it!

February 2000

Punkie is definitely Y2K compliant! She's made it to the next century with the rest of us and has added some new amusing, though sometimes annoying, habits. She now "needs" to jump up (with assistance) into the kitchen sink and drink the water out of her last days dinner bowl, not once but at least twice each morning. Why the water tastes better in the sink than the water I provide for her on the floor is a mystery to me. Must be a kitty thing. She also is being butter "trained" by Greg to lick butter off his finger, but only when she is in her window seat. Her fur looks better than ever. She's getting plenty of attention from both of us since we're both home all day now. And when we are out and return, boy do we hear about it! When she's not scolding us, she's a real delight.

May 2000

Wow, I hadn't realized that it had been that long since I'd posted about Punkie...too busy looking for a new job to take the time. Well, Punkie is doing really great. She had a check up and the Vet found that her kidneys weren't operating at quite 100% so advised us to put her on a low protein diet. I guess it is pretty typical for older cats (in human years she will be 76 years old in August!), so nothing unusual. She actually likes one of the canned food samples that they gave us, so we're ahead of the game here. She has also dramatically decreased her consumption of water (she never gets milk) and her urine smells much milder. She also appears to be gaining weight. They said this might be a side benefit. Now THAT'S a BENEFIT!

She's not pleased that I've gone back to work, but we gotta pay for her new food. It is actually not that much more expensive that what she liked before, but I can only get it through the Vet. As long as she likes it and eats it, it is worth it.

How old is your cat? Check out the table below.


Cat Years
Human Years
3 months
5 years
6 months
10 years
1 year
15 years
2 years
24 years
5 years
36 years
8 years
48 years
12 years
64 years
15 years
76 years
18 years
88 years
21 years
100 years


August 2000

Punkie is turning 15 this month! While I'm so pleased that I've been able to share her life with her for 15 years I'm also sad to see her really starting to slow down. She's become much less active and eats only one can of food a day. I'm afraid that she is beginning to decline and we may not have her much longer. I may take her back into the Vet to see if there's anything we can do to assist her. I expect that it is mainly her age and that it is a "normal" decline. I have had wonderful years with her (aside from the illness) and she has brought me much joy. I can only hope that I've been as good for her as she has for me. I know I've caused her stress at times and feel great regret for it, but it appears that she has forgiven me that and loves me back in spite of my failings. I am very glad that I took her through the cancer and hung in there with the treatments. These last years since her cure have been some of the best between us. I believe that she's glad, too. I'm certainly not writing her off, but I do want to be as prepared as I can to let her go if I need to do so. I was considering not writing about this, but this website has been my place to write down my thoughts and feelings since its inception, so why depart from that now?

Oh yeah, one funny note: Punkie has always been "vocal", but these days it has become almost nonstop. She yells at her water; she yells at me; she yells at the window; she yells when she wakes up. I jokingly thought I'd change her name to Old Yeller! I don't think she'd appreciate it, though.

November 2000

Punkie is doing just fine. She's eating pretty regularly now that I stopped giving her the GimPet. It was apparently filling her up to the point of not wanting to eat her regular food. And, we've been giving her so much affection in the manner of combing her that she's actually got less fur on her left side than on her right. The way this happened was that she always "falls down" (flops) on her right side when she wants to be brushed and so we obliged. Trying to get to brush her on her right side is proving a challenge now. She's quite a character.

February 2001

Punkie is doing Much, Much better now. She'd gotten down below 7 lbs and was just not eating. She had become a furry bag of bones, but the Vet determined that it was mostly arthritis and put her on prednisone. This has worked miracles! She's eating like a little piggy and is mostly back to her old self again. We started her on the prednisone at the beginning of January and saw the change almost immediately. This also includes the fact that she's not quite so LOUD now. (yay) I hadn't wanted to post until I knew she was going to be alright. So it truly is a great Valentines Day!

May 2001

Just an FYI: Punkie is great and doing just great. She has been considered fully cured and recovered from her lymphosarcoma since April 1998! That's my girl!

July 2001

Punkie went in today for her yearly exam and now weighs in at 7 lbs, 15 oz! That's only a bit over 3 pounds off her original "fighting weight" of 11 lbs! She's doing great and next month will turn 16 years old! The Vet said she was a one-in-one-hundred cat for having survived this long after cancer.

October 2001

Punkie is now old enough to have kidney problems (16 in August). She's just had her first hydration because her kidneys are not functioning well at all. Her condition is definitely treatable and the Vet will be watching for any further deterioration of kidney function. I sure hate to keep putting her through more treatments of any kind; it seems as though she's been through so much already. But she's worth it. Definitely!

November 13, 2001

I had Punkie euthanized today. She hadn't eaten in almost two weeks and was not responding to the sub-cutaneous hydration that she was receiving on a daily basis. She was down to 6 lbs, all skin and bones and did not seem to be able to get comfortable in any position. I do not think that her kidneys were responding to the hydration, but the main concern for me was that she had no appetite at all. This has been the hardest thing that I think I've ever done. I know that it was the right thing to do, but I really didn't like the idea of killing my pet. I know that she was suffering and that she would never get any better. That made me decide to euthanize her; the quality of her life was too poor to make her endure more, no matter how much I would have wanted her to stay around for me. Since I do not know what comes after death, I believe that she is now in one of three places: happy and not in pain, reborn in another form, or just gone (and therefore, not in pain). She was a truly wonderful cat; very bright and playful. She was a joy in my life. I miss her terribly already.

If your pet has been diagnosed with cancer, please check out the website links I've listed at the bottom of this page for information and help. There are many other websites with good information, contacts, and support out there on the internet.

Email me at:

I missed Punkie so much-there was such an emptiness in our house-that I got a new kitten the very next day. Part of me thought that I wasn't being "loyal" to Punkie to replace her so soon, but my partner said that it was a tribute to Punkie that I needed another cat to fill the void that she left. I do know that I did the correct thing for Punkie by having her euthanized, but it's never the easy thing. I've told others over the last few years to do the "right" thing for their animals and I didn't hesitate to do it for Punkie, but, boy, it was hard. I guess that I'll be mourning her for a while...until the pain lessens. I was never privileged to have a pet for this length of time before and it was wonderful, and, yes, I would do it all again.

Our new kitten is named Rocky. She really fills the house up with all her kitten antics. She's a ball of fire and tremendously amusing. She's not Punkie, but then no other cat will be. Oh, here's Rocky's page



More Punkie Pictures!

August '96 #1

1997 Punkie Pictures!

A Reflective Pose (27K Bytes)
In the Window (25K Bytes)
In the Window (29K Bytes)
Such a Look! 10-97 (29K Bytes)
Sleeper 10-97 (29K Bytes)

More 1997 Punkie Pictures!

New Favorite Spot (40K Bytes)
Punkie's Squint (15K Bytes)
Punkie Under the Chair (15K Bytes)

1998-99 Punkie Pictures!

Pilling Punkie (13K Bytes)
Punkie in 1999 (25K Bytes)
Punkie in December 1999 (26K Bytes)
Punkie in her window seat (31K Bytes)


Punkie in 2000

Close-up September 2000! (34K Bytes)

Punkie Pictures for 2001


See Punkie's Mom's Home Page

Keeping Cats Indoors is for the Cats...

The average life expectancy of an outdoor cat is just two to five years, while an indoor cat may survive for 17 or more years. Cats who roam are constantly in danger...

Cars - Millions of cats are run over by cars each year. Seeking warmth, outdoor cats crawl into car engines and are killed or maimed when the car is restarted. Motorists risk accidents in attempting to avoid hitting free-roaming cats.

Animal Attacks - Torn ears, scratched eyes, abscesses, internal injuries, diseases, and sometimes death result from encounters with dogs, other cats, and wild animals like raccoons, coyotes and foxes.

Human Cruelty - Each year, animal shelters and veterinarians treat cats who have been shot, stabbed, or set on fire. Unsupervised cats may also be captured and sold to research laboratories or used as “bait” to train fighting dogs.

Overpopulation - Unaltered free-roaming cats are the single most important cause of cat overpopulation. As a result, millions of cats for whom there are no homes must be euthanized each year.

Disease - Cats allowed outdoors risk exposure to fatal diseases, including rabies, feline leukemia, distemper, and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Vaccines are not 100 percent effective



Hopalong & Second Chance Animal Rescue

Pet Harbor-find a friend, save a life

Petfinder-Adopt a friend

Virtual Pet Adoptions

Alameda Pets

Cat Health-Related Links -Excellent alphabetic list contains many great links

The Feline CRF Information Center - Excellent Resource!! (Check the Links Page)

Larry T's Cat Page

Biffy Battles His Cancer

Pelz Pets

Kathy's Catsnstuff -Information about Natural Pet Care

The Electronic Zoo

NetVet - Cats

Raven's Cancer Diary

Woodrow's page

Gordo's Page

The Directory Of Cat Web Sites

Click Here to View Punkie's Awards

This Dogs and Cats With Special Needs WebRing Site is Owned by

Barbara Samuelson

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