Friday, December 13, 2002

We were blessed today to come home with a "kitty buddy" for Zach. Her name is "Zadie," which is a diminutive form of Sarah, who of course was Abraham's wife. Sarah means "princess," and Zadie definitely fits the bill!

To see a picture of our lovely Zadie, and her coat of many colors, please click here. She is about 1.5 years old and weighs ~ 8.5 pounds. We got her at the Knox County Animal Shelter satellite adoption center. She was a stray that was trapped by a private citizen and brought to the shelter. The cost was $75, and included spaying, shots except rabies, test for Feline leukemia and AIDS (FIV), and a microchip so she could be located if she gets out.

We now start another chapter in the life of our household. It's been three months since I lost Biz, and it was definitely time for both Zach and me to get a new cat. A long, careful introduction process will be our next course of action.

Welcome Zadie! I think Biz would approve.

Monday, December 09, 2002

Just a quick update...our "left behind" cat, Zach, seems to really be craving companionship. It's been almost three months since we lost Biz, and we're thinking seriously about finding a new cat. I don't think I could get another grey tabby, so we're looking for a young female tortishell/calico. Our local shelter and have pictures of cats (and dogs) ready for adoption, but it's hard to even look at them on the 'Net, much less go visit in person, because I want to take ALL of them home...!

Meanwhile, those of you who have lost cats to SCC may want to consider donating a memorial to Tabby's Place, an under-construction shelter in central New Jersey for homeless cats who are on "death row." At least go by and check out this wonderful website!

Saturday, October 05, 2002

I made my grave marker! We had some stainless steel sheet in our garage and I used it and a Dremel tool to etch info about Biz on it.

I'm pleased with the results, although I'm no artist! Click on the images to see them larger:

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

It's now been two weeks plus since I had to have Biz put to sleep. I still miss her; I miss the way she leaned her head into my hand as I stroked her; I miss her practice of "flopping" on the ground for a good petting by essentially doing a partial sumersault; I miss her purr that had to be coaxed; I miss her bright green eyes; I miss her tiger-stripes and her floppy belly.

While I have brief flashes of the great struggle she put up in the last few minutes of her life, the good memories and happy times greatly overwhelm the bad. I'm so very thankful that she was a part of my life and that my appreciation for God's creatures and my maturity as a caregiver were expanded and strengthened.

Meanwhile, Zach, our 9-year-old chocolate domestic long-hair cat seems to relatively enjoy being "cat of the house." He had some very late-night meowing episodes in the first few days after Biz was gone, but since they were not litter-mates or really that "close," then I don't think Zach has experienced much "kitty grief."

I haven't put a marker on Biz's grave yet. I'm thinking now of following my husband's suggestion of getting some stainless steel plate or sheet and etching Biz's name and whatever else I want on it. I think I may do that this weekend.

I miss Biz. But it's a good kind of miss with a slight smile on my face. Biz, my beloved.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

I still stand amazed at the quickness of my healing. I kept thinking I would sink back into a hole over losing Biz, but I just continue to remain thrilled that she was a part of my life and actually glad that she did not suffer long. I even have a pang of guilt from time to time that I am not still overtly grieving, because part of me says if Biz really meant anything to me I should still be in mourning. But I dismiss that thought as of Satan, for it is a lie.

The support and prayers I received from my husband, my friends and kind souls who emailed me to share their similar struggles really helped me. My faith in Jesus Christ and His promise that "all things work together for good for those that love Him and are called according to His purposes" - Romans 8:28 - sustained me.

If you are going through the ordeal of cancer with your feline companion, I urge you strongly to find a friend that will just sit and listen to you and comfort you. If you are not in a position like that at this time, I suggest you check in to the pet-loss forums and/or chat rooms. Feel free to email me (see link in left column) as well.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

I have turned the corner. I am surprised it happened this quickly.

Sunday afternoon, I suddenly realized that when I think of Biz, the good memories come forth much more quickly than last week, and the deep sorrow and pain I experienced has been replaced by simple sadness. My heart still hurts some, but it does not get stabbed like it did last week. I'm thankful for that.

As an only child of an only child with no children of my own, I realized that my deep loss over Biz was because to me, in a sense, she was my "child." Since I have no nieces or nephews or first cousins, I've never really been around children, and so, in that sense, too, Biz was my "only child." To me, that explains why I was so bonded with her and why it hurt me so much to lose her.

She will always hold a special place in my heart.   And, I'm thankful that it seems my hurt heart is healing.   Biz, my beloved.

Sunday, September 22, 2002

It was one week ago this morning that I noticed Biz really struggling to breathe and made the decision to put her to sleep. This whole week has been a mixture of pain, sorrow, grief, anger, wistfulness and denial. Just when I think I'm starting to heal, something reminds me of Biz and I get teary-eyed again. But, I'm pretty sure all what I'm feeling is completely normal.

I found some help at the Pet Loss Support Page. One paragraph on that webpage says, "People who don't understand the pet/owner bond may not understand your pain. All that matters, however, is how you feel. Don't let others dictate your feelings: They are valid, and may be extremely painful. But remember, you are not alone: Thousands of pet owners have gone through the same feelings." That helped me know that I'm not crazy for being so affected by Biz's death.

I remembered yesterday that I had a little digital recorder that had me conversing with Biz (and Zach, our other cat) a couple of years ago. As I listened to Biz talking to me on the recorder, I realized that I cherish this snippet of aliveness and that I didn't want to lose it, so I'm going to record it to my hard drive for backup purposes in case the digital recorder loses its mind. Having this soundbyte of Biz is like a little treasure.

Now, I wonder if I have her on videotape anywhere? Would it be too hard to watch? Yes, right now it would be. But later...after some healing...I would like to see Biz on video. Perhaps those of you reading this who don't have some electronic memory of your pet would need to do something to remedy that before your pet gets to a point where you don't want to remember him/her that way? Just a thought...

Friday, September 20, 2002

I went and visited Biz's grave yesterday afternoon for the first time since I buried her. As I approached the spot in our backyard about 100 yards behind the house at the edge of the treeline, I noticed a tree to the left of Biz's grave was being gently blown by the wind. I'm not sure what kind of tree it is, but it has fairly long fronds on it, and the breeze was moving the fronds in a pattern that looked like the tree was waving to me. Beckoning me to Biz's grave, telling me it's OK.

I touched the large blocks of leftover marble from our fireplace covering Biz's grave, and knew for sure that I need some kind of memorial marker. After a lengthy search on the 'Net for appropriate and relatively inexpensive markers and stones, I've about decided to go it myself. We have a sandblaster in our garage and I can buy a stencil to cut a pattern in so I could make the marker any way I liked.

I've noticed that several people have arrived at this Biz chronicle and tribute after searching for piroxicam in felines or other similar search. I never posted a picture of what Biz's piroxicam salmon-flavored soft treats look like, so here they are. They were mixed up by Don Walker, the pharmacist at the Medicine Shoppe in Maryville, TN:

Piroxicam (Feldene) salmon-flavored "treats"

The treats came in an individually sealed "blister pack." Biz was supposed to get two treats/day, 0.8mg of piroxicam/treat based on her 12.5 pounds.

I'd like to share that while Biz did not suffer from one of the major side effects of piroxicam (intestinal bleeding), she still died after being diagnosed with SCC within one day of another cat who did not take piroxicam, and who was diagnosed about the same time as Biz. However, the tumor growth on the other cat was much faster, indicated by the size of it in comparison to Biz's in a picture that was sent to me by the cat's owner.

Was Biz's quality of life better than the other cat's because her tumor was smaller due to the piroxicam? I cannot answer that for sure, but I am laying this out for those that are dealing with the question about whether or not to give piroxicam to their cats with SCC or other cancers. I say it sure can't hurt to give them the piroxicam, as long as the stool is monitored for signs of blood that would indicate intestinal bleeding. It seems the piroxicam really did slow the growth of the tumor in Biz in comparison with the other cat.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

I've been very touched by some folks who share my pain; they've lost cats within the last week themselves to SCC.

They've each emailed me with their stories, so eerily parallel to Biz's that it brings comfort in a way to me (someone else knows exactly how I feel), but also multiplies my pain since I know exactly how they feel.

I've hemmed and hawed a bit over the last few days about being so verbose in my postings. For one thing, in this soundbyte-laden world, folks don't have the time or don't want to take the time to slog through all my ramblings/musings/feelings. However, I really appreciated the detail in the other blogs dealing with feline SCC on the 'Net, so I am hoping that I'm helping someone like I was helped.

I had the most wonderful vision yesterday evening during choir practice. We were singing a song called "Jesus Be Praised." In the last stanza, I envisioned myself one-on-one with Jesus, singing to Him that I praise Him, and that all of Heaven and Earth declares His Name, when it occurred to me that He was standing there, smiling...and holding Biz. Oh, Lord, my Lord! Thank You for that! How wonderful it felt to know that He knows and understands my pain and that Biz is OK. It's not that I really believe Biz is in Heaven with Jesus waiting on me, but just the fact that He was holding her and they were both bright, loving, warm, calm, happy and peaceful made me really feel good. Delightful.

Jesus, be praised.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Another day has passed since Biz left this Earth. What's bothering me now is this denial phase I'm in. I just cannot bring myself to believe at times that she is gone. I keep expecting to see her coming around the corner in her usual, casual way, rear claws clicking on the hardwood floor.

While I know in my head that she is gone, my heart keeps expecting to see her again.

And then there are the really bad thoughts that popup and torture me. What if she really wasn't really fully gone when I buried her? Was there any life left in her? Oh! Don't let it be so, Lord! Get thee behind me, Satan. Do not torture me, you are not welcome in my thoughts. Biz was released from her suffering; she was truly gone. The Vet always does checks to make sure they are fully gone. Biz is at peace.

I still have awakened every morning thinking of her...thinking it's time to get up and mix up some special food for her...until I suddenly recall that she is not here. Some relief comes when I know that I don't have to worry about whether or not she'll eat or take her medicine. She is at peace, not struggling anymore.

I think of her from time to time during the day, and have worked to the point to where when I look at the picture of her beside my desk, I smile and feel happy that we had the times we did. There is still a twinge of pain over the loss, but more and more fondness over the good memories. That's good.

It's harder when I'm home, since I keep expecting to see her. I must say that having another cat has definitely eased my grieving burden. Zach is a very warm, loving cat; a people cat. While I miss my interactions with Biz, I'm thankful that Zach is here. Of course, no one can take Biz's place, but Zach takes away some of the emptiness in my heart.

One day at a time. I still have not gone out to Biz's grave yet. Part of me wants to, but most of me doesn't. Yet.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

I just learned about an interesting twist in my Biz saga.

Here in the Knoxville, TN area, we had a train derailment on Sunday that caused the evacuation of thousands of people due to a sulfuric acid leak and subsequent cloud/irritating vapors. Some of those thousands of people had to leave their pets behind.

On Monday, some of those folks were allowed to go get their pets, and they brought them to a tent set up especially for examinations to see if any medical problems were evident. And who was there to give those examinations? The Visiting Vet! The same caring person that took care of me and Biz.

If Biz had lasted one more day, then the Visiting Vet would have been attending to the (mostly just dehydrated and not adversly affected) pets, and she might not have been able to come take care of Biz for hours. Again, I'm thankful that Biz did not suffer for very long.

Scroll down (note, the link may have already "fallen off" the page by now) and click on "Getting Pets from Evacuated Area" to see some video of the pets being examined, and see the Visiting Vet in person!

Monday, September 16, 2002

I really, really thought that yesterday would be my last posting about Biz.

And then I realized that her story continues, because she was such a part of me, and I'm continuing on. And that others who are going through this experience don't suddenly stop thinking about their beloved pets just because they're gone, because I sure haven't!

So, I thought I should continue this chronicle to share what I'm feeling now that Biz is gone.

I find myself still automatically looking in the places where she used to sleep. She's not there, I think. Oh, yeah, I remind myself, she's gone. Sadness. Hurt. Tears well up. I bite my lip. She's not in pain, not suffering anymore. Feelings of relief mix with the sadness. Flashes of her meowing, playing, purring, squinting her eyes in trust at me pass before my eyes. Momentary joy ensues, followed by the realization that she is gone. Sadness again. All of this happens in the twinkling of an eye.

Folks at work were sympathetic, and wanted to check on me. I posted a picture of Biz on my office door, and wrote on the whiteboard by my door, "Biz the cat: 08/09/88-09/15/02" It's my own memorial. I plan to take it down tomorrow because I wanted everyone to know I'm grieving, but I didn't want them to dwell on it or think that I'm dwelling. Even if I am really dwelling.

I thought about getting a little marker for Biz's grave. Just some small marble thing, something simple. Not a tombstone that sticks up, but a marker that lays flat on the ground or low to the ground like at some military cemetaries.

I did look this afternoon on the 'Net about whether or not animals have souls. It does bother me that I may not see Biz again, because I believe what the Bible teaches that only those that accept Jesus Christ into their hearts will enter Heaven. And there doesn't seem to be any direct information about animals' souls, except some info about nephesh hayyah (living souls) in Genesis that seems to indicate that animals are living souls. But there will be no pain, no sorrow in Heaven, so if Biz isn't there, I won't know it. If she is there, she will add to my wonder and enjoyment of Heaven. Also, I will be so awed, so enveloped by the love of Christ in Heaven that whether or not Biz is there will probably not matter. Just to be with my Creator Jesus and living in His Light will be enough.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, I find myself missing Biz while also being very thankful that she was a part of my life. I feel regret at the memories of the times that I ignored her or had other things to do besides pay attention to her. I sit in disbelief that she is gone. I get angry with myself that I didn't take her to the Vet more often, even though it was such a horrible, stressful experience. But, deep down, I know I did the right thing by making the decision to release her suffering when I did. I feel like I played God, but I also know He gave mankind dominion over the animals.

More to come as I sort through my thoughts and emotions. Thank you for being with me and reading along.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

Tribute to Biz:

Biz, my beloved. You are not in pain anymore, you are not suffering. You gave me love and only asked for food and petting in return.

You were with me through some very difficult times and it was very difficult to let you go.

But the Visiting Vet said I did the right thing. Her pupils were dialated, indicating that she was in pain. The cancer had spread to her lungs and she would have continued to struggle for breath until she finally died. She was released from her suffering.

The hardest part about putting Biz to sleep was that she did the one thing I was afraid she would do: she freaked out when the Visiting Vet tried to do anything with her. With her last strength, her fear of being handled by a stranger took over and she tried to get away. I had to catch her myself and hold her while the Vet tried to wrap her in a towel and squirt some relaxant in her mouth. Biz let out one big hiss and the Vet squirted the stuff in her mouth. We let Biz go, and she went out on the screened in porch, where she relaxed a bit, but she was still wary and scared and drooling badly. I couldn't bear to watch her.

The Vet went out on the porch and gave her a shot and she howled. That hurt me badly. But she started relaxing after that and I went to her and said final good byes. I left her with the Vet to put a catheter in a vein to give her the overdose of pain medicine that would take her life. After Biz was gone, the Vet wrapped Biz up and brought her to me. She was very relaxed. Her eyes were open, and that bothered me some, and I couldn't really close them. But she was peaceful.

I am so very thankful that my husband was here with me. I'd always imagined I'd go this alone, but him being here to hold me and comfort me really helped tremendously. He was supposed to be teaching Sunday School this morning, but he called the church and said he was staying with me. I sure am glad he did.

On the sixth day, God created animals. Genesis 1:24-25: "And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good."

Biz was good. She has returned to the Earth. She's in a spot in the backyard that I can go visit her memory anytime I like.

Thank you very kindly for all of you reading this who prayed for me. I'll never know the depth of strength that your prayers brought to me, and for that, I am deeply grateful.

Biz, my beloved. I love you and you'll always be "my kitty" and "my little pookie." Corny, but true. Rest in Peace: 10:20am, 9/15/02.

Biz is really struggling to breathe this morning. I did get to feed her some of the Hill's A/D with a piroxicam treat smushed up in it, but I feel like she's tired of struggling and it may be close to the time for her to die.

I called the Visiting Vet a few minutes ago (~0830 Eastern) to see if there was anything I could do for Biz, and she quizzed me on her respiration frequency. It's relatively slow. She said if it was relatively quick or if she was mouth breathing, then that meant she wasn't getting enough oxygen, and that would be the next stage towards dying. She said Biz would probably go to the next stage today, so I asked her to come over and put Biz out of her suffering.

I'm now awaiting for the Vet to get here to put Biz to sleep.

Biz, my beloved. I do not want you to suffer. My desire for you to not suffer greatly outweighs my desire for you to continue to be with me. I'm almost surprised at my calmness. Go in peace, my beloved Biz. Perhaps, God willing, I'll see you in Heaven.

Saturday, September 14, 2002

We just got back from our daytrip and Biz seems to be doing OK. I warmed up a tablespoon+ of Hill's A/D and added some water (not in that order) she ate it all, basically. However, after she was done, when she was swallowing and "licking her chops," it seemed like her nose was stuffed up, like she was having to mouth-breathe. I wonder if the tumor has most of her nasal passage blocked off, and I wonder if the other side is still open enough for her to breathe when she's sleeping (or will she automatically mouth breathe?)

Anyway, Biz doesn't seem any worse for the wear. We were gone for 14 hours. I need to weigh Biz; I can tell she's thinner.
Well, we're going on our trip today (back this evening, so it's really just like an extended work day). This morning, Biz seems to be doing relatively OK; I warmed up some of the Hill's A/D and added water to make it a paste, and took it to Biz, sitting on a couch.

When I walked up to the couch, Biz looked at me expectantly, and almost with anticipation. Made me feel good, like she wanted to eat. I stuck some food on my finger and after a bit of hesitancy, she licked it off. I tried to set the plate with the food beside/in front of her, but it wasn't a good fit with her on the couch, so I got some more of the food paste on my fingers, and she continued to lick it off, so I did that for the whole teaspoon and a half of food that I'd prepared. I was glad, and it didn't seem to bother her mouth tooo much.

I hope she continues to rest relatively comfortably during the day. It's obvious that she's lost weight, and I hope to weigh her soon, but the time hasn't been right here lately, since she doesn't like to be picked up and I don't want to stress her out by doing that to weigh her.

After almost a week of not taking any amoxycillin or piroxicam, her tumor does not seem to be growing much, which surprises me a bit. I took some digital camera pictures of Biz yesterday, and hope to post one on here soon, perhaps tomorrow.

Biz, my beloved.

Friday, September 13, 2002

Biz did not originally eat the food, but later, she went to the litter box, and I tried again as she came into the kitchen. I put about a tablespoon of Hill's A/D mixed with some water and heated it up briefly in the microwave. I set the plate in front of Biz and she smelled it and seemed to want it, but was still hesitant, so I put some on my finger and put it up to her and she licked it off! She then proceeded to eat almost the whole tablespoon's worth.

This is the first sustenance she'd had since the chicken on Wednesday. I also saw her a few minutes later drinking a lot of water. She seems to be resting fairly comfortable now, although her nose still obviously itches (although she doesn't sneeze as much now).

The Vet said that it was unlikely that since Biz is up and around and ate some food that she would die tomorrow, so I feel a little better about leaving all day tomorrow to go to the family picnic. The Vet also suggested that trying to feed Biz small amounts of the Hill's A/D would be a good idea.
I talked with the Visiting Vet this morning. She said that if she goes for many days without eating, her liver will be affected and she'll become jaundiced. And, of course, that's not good. She knew of an animal that had gone two weeks without eating and had recovered, but this was an animal not affected by cancer (I believe). I know Biz is not going to recover (barring some miracle), but if she could eat some, I think she would feel better (?). Maybe it's just me that would feel better. Am I being too selfish?

She suggested getting some Hills A/D canned food for anorexic cats. When I stopped by Emory Animal Hospital a while ago to pick up the Hill's A/D ($1.05/can), they said that they didn't know of a cat (or dog) that had refused A/D. (It's surprisingly the same can for felines and canines). Of course, that cat or dog was probably truly hungry and not suffering from cancer in their mouths, but we'll see.

The Vet also suggested getting some Gatorade to see if she'll drink that so she could get some fluids/electrolytes.

Right now, Biz is under the bed and doesn't want to come out. I'm going to get some of the food (about a tablespoon, the Vet said) and warm it up and set it by the bed to see if Biz will make an attempt to eat it. If she doesn't, I'm not sure what to do next. My husband and I are supposed to go to a family picnic about 2 hours away tomorrow for the day and I'm afraid Biz will die alone while I'm gone.

This is very hard. If you're the praying kind, would you mind stopping for just a moment and praying for me? I need strength, wisdom and courage. And please pray that Biz would not suffer. Thank you.
Biz would not eat anything last night nor this morning. As a matter of fact, she barely responded to me at all this morning. It was one last petting session this morning before I left for work in which she did start a quiet purr.

Thus, she hasn't had any medicine or food that I know of (except for the smattering of chicken Wed. evening) since Monday evening. I don't think she's drinking water, either, but I just can't tell. I only have one water bowl for both of my cats, so Zach could be the sole cat who is making the water level in the bowl decrease.

She can still get up and walk around and jump up on the couch to one of her favorite spots. Part of me wants to syringe feed her, but another part is telling me that I shouldn't try to force anything on her because it might be traumatic for her. There's also still small voice telling me that Biz is OK with dying and that it's a very natural part of her existence.

Is she days away from needing to be put to sleep? Weeks? How long can she go without food and water? I'm going to call the Visiting Vet this morning and get her input. I had chosen relatively early on, at the Vet's suggestion, three things to set in stone that if Biz wasn't doing them anymore, then it was time. Two of them, eating and drinking, have come to pass. The third one was one I kinda left up in the air, but purring was one of the possibilities.

I think responding to me with purring or acknowledgement of my presence is the third thing. And she barely did that this morning. And yet, her coat is still shiny and she can still get up and move around. I don't want to put her to sleep too "early," but I also do not want her to suffer.

I gotta talk with the Vet.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Biz did eat just a smattering of chicken last night and one little pinch off of a piroxicam salmon-favored treat. This morning, however, I couldn't interest her in anything at all.

She doesn't groom herself much any more, so I make it a point to brush/comb her every day. I get a real bonus when she purrs while I'm brushing her.

My husband wisely reminded me last night that I should not try to force Biz to eat, but should just make her as comfortable as possible. I will try hard to focus on that.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

With the remembrance and solemness of today, 9/11, I find myself getting a reality check on my emotions about Biz. Biz is just a cat. Yes, a very special cat to me, but still, just a cat.

How many children are awaking this morning without a Mommy or a Daddy due to the terrorist acts in New York and Washington and Pennsylvania? The magnitude of their loss is comparatively enormous to mine.

My prayers go to the families that were touched by this terrorist attack. My heart fills with rage as I think of the terrorists and their ways. And yet, I stand on the Word of God which says, "Vengance is mine, saith the Lord." One day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father. The terrorists (and all of us, for that matter) will have no choice but to acknowledge Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, whether or not they recoginzed Him as such during their Earthly journey.

And He will repay.

Meanwhile, I will continue to make Biz as comfortable as possible, and encourage her to eat soft foods. I've tried Fancy Feast and other canned foods in the past, but Biz always throws them right back up. Must be something in the processed food that she is allergic to. So, this morning, I added some water to her dry food (Science Diet Hairball Lite) and smushed it up into a paste. She still refused. Last night she walked several laps around the kitchen, approaching her food plate (that had unsmushed dry food on it), seemingly wanting to eat, but ultimately walking away only to return in a minute or two. It pained me to see her hungry yet not able to eat because her mouth hurts. Perhaps I will try some chicken broth this evening.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Well, Biz didn't eat at all last night nor this morning. I followed her around last night for a long time, and she finally did eat one or two bites of chicken, but then jumped away from the plate spitting out the chicken and it was mixed with blood. I comforted her and pet her and told her she was OK.

About an hour later, she was settled down for a nap and I fed her two small pieces of her salmon medicine treat and she ate them OK, but on the third small piece, she let out a yelp and spit it out. It, too, had a little blood on it, so apparently, it's just too painful for Biz to eat any more.

I didn't sleep well at all last night, wondering all the "should I's." Should I try harder to encourage her to eat? Should I mix up something I could feed in a syringe (she hasn't taken syringe feeding well at all in the past)? Should I just let her starve to death if the cancer doesn't get her first? How could I do such a thing? Should I call the Visiting Vet and get her suggestions? Should I try chicken broth? But then, how do I feed her her medicine treats? Should I even bother because eating is such torture? This is all so very hard. I feel like if I don't try hard to encourage her to eat that I'm "letting her down and not being a good caregiver" but I don't want to cause her pain by encouraging her to eat.

The person who wrote to me about giving her cat, Fido, the essiac tea (see the entry for 8/29) said she stopped for a day giving Fido the tea, but has resumed since it can't hurt. She also sent along a photo of Fido, and it grieved me to see him with one side of his face swollen, like Biz's, but worse. Fido is also sneezing and coughing, and has trouble eating like Biz. Our stories are almost parallel.

God gently reminded me through my husband this morning that animals just know when it's their time and it's "OK" with them to go through the natural cycle of dying. Again, I am reminded of Scripture, Matthew 10:29, "not one sparrow falls to the ground apart from the Father's will." His Word comforts me.

Monday, September 09, 2002

I had a bigger struggle than usual trying to feed Biz this morning. She ate one bite of her canned chicken (after much encouragement to start eating) and didn't touch any of her medicine treats (piroxicam and amoxycillin).

So, for the next 20 minutes, in between taking a shower to get ready for work, I followed her around the house, putting the dish in front of her with the chicken that was left and the medicine treats, encouraging her to eat. She refused. She would look at it, and sometimes even lean down like she was going to eat it, but then, like someone had poked her in the side or something, she'd quickly get up and leave.

In the last few days, when Biz refused her food, I could take a part of a treat by itself and put it in front of her and she'd eat it. Then, I'd get another part of a treat individually and put it in front of her, and so on, until she had eaten the whole treat. This morning, I couldn't even get her to eat a part of a treat.

So, I got ready for work, sad and defeated, but tried one more time for her to eat her medicine treat. She was on the bed in a sleeping position, so I just set the treat in front of her face and she ate it! I was able to feed her both of the treats this way. (I need to put a picture on my website so you can get an idea of what a treat looks like...)

It's just getting harder and harder to get her to eat. I don't think she's eating her dry food anymore, and it's hard to tell, because the dry food on her plate usually disappears during the day, but it could be my other cat, Zach, eating it (he has his own dry food dish, as well).

I'm not sure how effective the amoxycillin has been; Biz still has some discharge from her eye that is cloudy. The cloudiness may be a little less than before she started the amoxycillin, but I'm just not sure. I have not seen any blood on the side of her mouth, though, and she has not thrown up any more blood, so maybe the amoxycillin helped there.

I have a business trip next month, and I'm already worried about it: what will I do with Biz? My husband does not have the patience or interest to follow Biz around the house to encourage her to eat. I can't take her to the kennel/local Vet, because she freaks out so much when I take her and it's hard on her and me. I know I worry too much, but it's hard not to when I want Biz to be as comfortable as possible and be exposed to as little stress as possible.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

When I came home from work on Tuesday, I found about three tablesoons of blood on the carpet. My heart lept as I went in search for Biz. She was acting and looking normal.

I called the Visiting Vet and she said that the tumor mass is probably causing bleeding in her mouth, which she is subsequently swallowing. She asked me to look at Biz's ears and gums to check for pinkness. There's no way Biz would let me look at her gums without great struggle, but her ears (the earflaps) looked normal color. If they seemed to be gray or white, then that would have been an indication that Biz is losing lots of blood. Biz's stool was normal color, too, so that was good. Perhaps this was a relatively isolated incident. Still, it scared me.

We also started Biz on amoxycillin to see if that will help any infection that Biz may have - as I mentioned earlier, some of the discharge from her left eye was cloudy, indicating some form of infection. Don Walker, the pharmacist at The Medicine Shoppe mixed the amoxycillin in a salmon-flavored treat and Biz seems to like them OK.

I've changed my feeding routine a bit. I used to warm up some canned chicken and tear the salmon-flavored piroxicam-laced treat into little pieces and mix it up with the chicken, but now I've started feeding the medicine treats first, by themselves, and then some canned chicken. I also leave Hill's Science Diet Hairball lite dry food out for grazing during the day and she still eats the dry food (I would think it would hurt her tender mouth, but she chews well on the side opposite the tumor).

Other than the blood on the carpet, Biz seems to be doing relatively well. She still sneezes often. I still have to encourage her to start eating, but once she starts, she usually eats all of the small portion of chicken I give her.

Sunday, September 01, 2002

I noticed Thursday when I came home from work and was on the floor encouraging Biz to eat her food that there was a small amount of blood coming out of her mouth on the side of the tumor.

I had already talked to the Visiting Vet that day about starting Biz on antibiotics again since the discharge from her weeping eye (the one on the side of the cancer) had some cloudiness to it. She said that means infection. I think the blood coming from Biz's mouth is also a sign of infection and also when Biz sneezes, it is really beginning to sound like there's fluid in her nasal passages (that really doesn't come out much when she sneezes, so there can't be that much fluid) and maybe that's another sign of infection.

I told the Visiting Vet that I still had some amoxycillin left over from when Biz was first showing a bump on her face, but what I actually had was Cephalexin, which, even mixed up in the salmon-flavored treats, has a very strong odor and Biz won't eat them. So, I put in a call to the Vet to see if she would call in a prescription for amoxycillin, hoping that its odor won't be as strong. Unfortunately, I probably won't be able to start Biz on the amoxycillin or other antibiotic until Monday or Tuesday, due to the Labor Day holiday.

Other than the small amount of blood coming from her mouth, Biz is still doing about the same. I stopped applying the Benedryl gel to the inside of her earflap because it did not seem to be helping her in any way. I continue to monitor her stool, and sometimes see parts of it that are darkened, which may indicate blood coming from her digestive system (a side effect of the piroxicam), but it doesn't happen all the time and most of the stool is the normal color.

Biz, my beloved.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

I still don't see any benefit to the Benedryl gel that I'm applying to the inside of Bizs' ear flap. Her sneezing has not decreased.

Also, for the past three days, I've really had to stay with her to encourage her to eat her canned chicken with the piroxicam salmon-flavored treat mixed in. It seems that it's become pretty painful or too hard for Biz to eat. She does still seem to be hungry, for after she eats a little bit of the chicken (and hopefully, ALL of the piroxicam treat), she'll go over to her Science Diet Hairball Lite dry food and munch on it for a while. So, perhaps it's really not too painful for her to eat. I dunno. It's hard to see her this way, and I know it's only going to get worse.

I awoke at 0430 this morning and starting thinking about all I needed to do at work and then also started thinking about Biz; is she suffering? Should I really try as hard as I do to encourage her to eat her food? Or should I just let "nature" take its course? Where is the line of Biz's quality of life and how to I know how much to do to not keep her on "my" side of the line - to just let her go? These are thoughts I'll be pondering today.

A person going through the same thing with her cat, Fido, shared with me that she is going to try Essiac tea. There are stories across the 'Net about the benefits gained by human and animal cancer patients who took some form of essiac tea. However, I've also read stories that it does not help some folks at all. But, Biz and Fido are going to die, anyway, so why not try something that may improve their quality of life, right? I'll be interested to hear how Fido does; his owner just started the essiac tea a few days ago.

Monday, August 26, 2002

Well, I've tried the Benedryl for almost three days now and don't really see a reduction in Biz's sneezing.

She still is allowing me to rub the gel on the inside of her ear flap, but last night, she started squinting her eyes like they were stinging a bit when I approached her with the gel on my thumb. I was thinking that she was not even going to allow me to apply the gel, but she did.

Apparently, the gel/Benedryl has an odor that irritates Biz's eyes some. I'll need to be careful when I apply it not to delay too long after approaching her and spend more time after applying it praising her for being a good kitty. Usually, I approach her and pet her and comfort her and then put the gel on and praise her a bit and go (relatively quickly) wash the gel off my thumb, so I won't absorb too much of it into my own system. Benedryl makes me groggy!

I could get a finger cot (a small latex or some kind of rubber material thing that slides over the end of your finger to protect your skin from the gel), but I figured Biz wouldn't like the smell of them at all and would become resistant to me applying the gel with a finger cot.

Otherwise, Biz continues to do well. She even went out on our back porch yesterday to watch the birds, which is something I haven't seen her do in weeks.

Thanks for checking in with me today!

Friday, August 23, 2002

I did get the Benedryl gel and the piroxicam (Feldene) from The Medicine Shoppe on Tuesday the 20th, but did not get to call for application instructions of the Benedryl gel until Thursday (8/22). The gel cost $15 for 10 syringes (that's 100 doses, or 50 days worth for $15; very reasonable). The piroxicam salmon-flavored treats are $15 for a two week dosage (two treats/day).

The gel comes in this syringe. The syringe is marked in 0.01ml increments; there are 10 doses in this syringe

To give it to Biz, I push 0.1ml of gel out on my finger and rub it on the inside of Biz's ear flap. Amazingly enough, it doesn't seem to bother Biz a bit!

Hopefully, the Benedryl will help her sneezing, but since I've only given her two doses so far, I don't know anything yet. Also, her tumor seems to not be growing at all, and even seems to have shrunk a bit, but I just can't be sure since I don't really have any way to gauge it. Biz continues to do well and is not as lethargic as she has been.

Monday, August 19, 2002

I talked again with Don Walker, the pharmacist at the Medicine Shoppe in Maryville, and he has not had time to make up the Benedryl gel yet. I also needed a refill on the piroxicam, and now I'm concerned that the refill won't arrive before I run out on Wednesday, because he wasn't sure he could get to it on Saturday.

Part of me is hurt, because Biz's sneezing has not subsided (as expected), and I want to get her started on the Benedryl and I'm anxious about how Biz will take to the gel being rubbed on the inside of her ear flap. But if I step back far enough, I can see that Biz going a couple more days w/o Benedryl isn't going to matter much in the long run. And if she misses one day or one dose of piroxicam (Feldene), it's not really going to matter, either.

I need to be a better provider for Biz by calling in the piroxicam prescription earlier. He only sends two weeks worth of piroxicam salmon treats at a time (I think because their effectiveness might be diminished if he makes them up a month at a time - the treats I'd be giving Biz at the end of the month would be "old"), so I need to remember during the first week to call and get the refill.

Biz is still doing about the same. It seems that the tumor in her cheek is not growing much at this point. Sometimes it looks like it's even shrunk, but other times it looks as big as ever. I wish I could get a quantitative analysis on the size of the tumor, but it's just not feasible. She's continuing to eat, drink, pee and poop about the same as she has been, so that's good. No signs of blood in the stool (which is something I need to look out for because of the piroxicam).

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

I talked to Don Walker, the pharmacist at The Medicine Shoppe in Maryville, TN about mixing up something for Biz that she would eat with Benedryl in it. He said it is very bitter and there's not much that would mask the taste. He suggested a medicine that I rub on the inside of Biz's ears. Since the ears have lots of blood vessels, there are certain kinds of medicines that will absorb readily when rubbed on the inside (of the flap, not down in) Biz's ears. The amoxycillin and other antibiotics that Biz took early on are not good candidates for ear medicine, but apparently Benedryl is. Good news, I hope.
I've even tried Benedryl "dye-free" gel caps, but since the dosage of just one gelcap is 25mg, and Biz is only supposed to get 12.5mg, I had to cut it open and let (half of) the liquid drain out. I mixed the liquid with canned chicken, but still Biz would not touch it.

I got some of the Benedryl liquid on my fingers, and the taste was TERRIBLE! It also seemed to make my tongue numb. No wonder Biz doesn't want to eat any of this stuff!

I still have not called the Visiting Vet to talk about getting the Benedryl mixed into a salmon treat like the piroxicam is. Then again, since one can get Benedryl off the shelf, I can probably call the Pharmacist myownself.

Biz continues to have sneezing fits, and I noticed yesterday that the tissue around her left eye is beginning to swell. She sometimes seems to be in pain, and the only indication I have of that is that she sort of "squints" her eyes from time to time; it's almost like a frown. I'm not sure what to do for her, though, to help ease pain.

Friday, August 09, 2002

I've tried several different things to get Biz to take the Benedryl, but she won't. I tried children's (grape) flavored (she practically ran away from that), and then I tried putting powder from Benedryl capsules in canned tuna and canned chicken, but she still turns her nose up from it, even if she has just eaten a small portion of the very same canned tuna or canned chicken immediately beforehand (that has her other salmon-flavored treat with the piroxicam in it). I'm not going to try to force a capsule or pill down her; it's too traumatic for both of us.

I don't want to mix the Benedryl-laced tuna or chicken with her salmon-flavored piroxicam-laced treat, because it's more important for her to eat the piroxicam. However, she still continues to sneeze or try to sneeze, so I'm going to call the Visiting Vet about her calling the Medicine Shoppe to see if they could mix Benedryl up in a treat that Biz will eat.

Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Biz has been sneezing and trying to sneeze more and more over the last week. The Visiting Vet says the tumor mass is probably irritating her nasal passages. We are going to try some pediatric Benedryl (12.5 mg/dose, 2 doses/day for now) to see if that will help Biz's sneezing fits. Hopefully the pediatric version will be more palatable (less bitter) for Biz, and thus easier to give to her than adult Benedryl. Benedryl's generic name is diphenhydramine, so I'll probably look for that. The Vet also said it might be diphenhydramine HCl, too, and that was OK.

I asked the Vet if, when the time comes, she can come to the house and put Biz to sleep (as opposed to me having to take Biz to an animal hospital or vet office because of a law or something). The Vet said she could do it at the house. I was relieved in one way (not to have to put Biz through a last trip to the vet office), but then in another way, wherever that spot is in the house that Biz is put to sleep will stay etched in my memory forever. Better that than the last memory of her in the house is one of her being shoved into her kitty carrier for the last trip to the vet office.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

Biz continues to slowly get more and more lethargic. I wonder if she's in pain, or just doesn't feel well in general, or if her senses are going away (smell, taste) so that she doesn't want to experience life any more.

I'm continuing to give her the piroxicam, knowing that it's probably not doing her any harm, and hoping it is helping any pain she may be experiencing and slowing the growth of the tumor, even if ever-so-slowly.

The eye on the side of her face with the tumor is weeping a little more now, but not as bad as it was weeping when all this started about 2.5 months ago.

I just want to continue to make her as comfortable as possible, and to tell her I love her and that she's my beloved Biz every day.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Biz is still doing OK, but her tumor is definitely not shrinking as possibly expected by using the piroxicam. It definitely continues to grow, and I don't know whether it's growing at a slower rate since starting the piroxicam or not.

I'm at a point of wondering if it's worth giving her the piroxicam at all. It only costs $1/day for her 1.6mg salmon-flavored medicine treats, but at this point, I don't see a benefit. But I guess it's not harming her and it's a pain killer, so if she is in pain, it should be helping her. So, I might as well continue them.

Now, thoughts are returning to my mind (since the tumor is not shrinking) about how Biz will die. Will the tumor just continue getting larger and larger until the whole left side of her face is one big tumor? And her eye would be squeezed shut by it? Or will it metastasize to the rest of her body and specifically her lungs so that she can't breathe anymore? The Vet said it would get to the point where she can't eat or drink.

It's hard for me to watch her slowly die. Again, right now, she seems to be doing well: still eating, pooping, drinking as normal. But still, she is dying right before my eyes. I guess we all are slowly dying right before everyone's very eyes, but with Biz and her tumor, it's a visible reminder that she is dying.

It tears me apart sometimes, for I don't want her to suffer, and, selfishly, I wish sometimes I would just come home from work and she would already be dead from a quick heart attack or aneurysm or something. But God's timing is perfect, and He has all this in His Hands: Matthew 10:29, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father." Biz will die when it is time.

And at that time, I pray for mercy, grace and the ability to let go of my beloved Biz.

Monday, July 15, 2002

Just wanted to give an update since it's been a while...

Biz still continues to do well. The tumor on the left side of her face has not really shrunk, as expected with the piroxicam, but it hasn't really grown, either.

She seems to be eating dry food OK and the only trouble she has is with the canned chicken I give her to mix up with her medicine. Her medicine (piroxicam 1.6mg/day - she weighs ~12.5#) is mixed in with a salmon-flavored moist cat treat, and although she might eat the treat outright, I still mix it in with some warmed canned chicken to make it more palatable. The chicken seems to get stuck in her teeth and she takes a long time to wash up after eating - I assume trying to get all the chicken out of her teeth.

I've continued to monitor her stool for signs of intestinal bleeding (a side effect of piroxicam), but so far, so good.

I went to my Mom's for the weekend and my husband took care of Biz. Everything seemed to go OK for both of them!

Friday, June 28, 2002

Biz continues to do well. The piroxicam does not seem to bother her stomach (her stool is normal color and consistency), but I know I need to keep monitoring it because one of the side affects of piroxicam is gastrointestinal bleeding.

She does not seem to want to eat her dry food (Science Diet Hairball Light), so I'm wondering if her mouth is bothering her due to the cancer spreading and making it uncomfortable to chew. However, her cancer is obvious on the left side of her face and the Vet said her teeth on the right side of her mouth were in good shape, so she should be able to eat on that side OK, so maybe there's something else bothering Biz that she won't eat much of her dry food.

Many of my friends and collegues are praying for me and I am handling this situation better. Of course, Biz is doing pretty well right now, so when she gets worse, I probably will, too.

Monday, June 24, 2002

I started Biz on the piroxicam (note I spelled it incorrectly as "poroxicam" in my earlier blog entries) on Saturday afternoon. The prescription says "0.8mg ATB." (I think...I'm at work and the prescription is at home, so I'm going on memory). I don't know what ATB is, so I need to find out.

I was told by my Vet to keep an eye out for intestinal bleeding (either a dark, tarry stool or bright red stool), because that is one of the side effects.

So far, so good!

Biz is doing well, and continues to act "normally," except for the things I've already mentioned (raising her lip like she needs to sneeze, but not sneezing, and blowing out her nose like she's trying to clear it from time to time, plus still tearing up in the eye on the side of the cancer, but it's not too bad).

I'm feeding her the piroxicam in salmon-flavored treats that The Medicine Shoppe in Maryville, TN, mixed up for me. The piroxicam does not smell anything like the antibiotic (amoxycillin) I previously gave Biz in the salmon-flavored treats (which is good!), but I still mix the treats in with canned chicken, turkey or tuna, so I don't know if she would eat a treat outright. I need to check on that.

I also feed Biz her regular dry food: Hill's Science Diet Hairball Light, and she seems to be able to chew it OK on her right side (opposite the cancer). So, Biz gets canned chicken/turkey/tuna twice a day (with the piroxicam treats mixed in) and then after she eats all that, I put a portion of dry food on her plate for grazing throughout the day. Seems to work pretty well.

Friday, June 21, 2002


Biz, my beloved.

As you probably already know, "My Beloved" is a term used in one of the greatest love sonnets ever written: the Song of Solomon.

The Song of Solomon is about the erotic and deep love between man and woman, but my love for Biz is deep, too, and she truly is "my beloved."

She is the kind of cat that is standoffish, not wanting to be touched, scared of strangers. She is skittish, fearful and the kind of cat that only a "beloved" could love. I am her beloved and she is mine.

Biz is still doing well. She continues to lift the lip on the opposite side of her cancer, like she needs to sneeze, but she doesn't sneeze. She does blow out of her nose, kinda like humans do to see if there is a booger in there, and she shakes her head more often, I think to help sling off the tears that still flow from her left eye.

The Visiting Vet said today that she had not talked to the oncologist from the Univ. of TN yet (on vacation and it may be a week...), but in general, from what she'd read, the prognosis is 5-12 months after diagnosis. That is longer than the 3-4 months that seems to be typical of cats diagnosed with oral SCC that I've found on the 'Net.

We discussed the fact that chemo combined with radiation seems to help prolong life by a few months (or more), but the stress on Biz to take her to the Vet for those treatments would probably cancel out any prolonging of life gained by the treatments. Biz is so fearful of the Vet that I really don't want to put her through that. So, I mentioned to her that I probably won't do any treatment at all and would want to manage pain and make her as comfortable as possible.

The Vet strongly urged me to set three thresholds in stone, that if Biz fails all three, then I need to have her put down. She and her Mom did the same for her 19-year-old cat who contracted Feline Leukemia from a cat bite: eating, drinking and going outside. Her Mom, in Louisiana, had been syringe-feeding the cat for a while, but one day last week, the cat did not want to go outside; she just hung around at her Mom's feet. She knew it was time. Her Mom took the cat to be put to sleep. I think with Biz, it will be eating, drinking and _____. Purring? She doesn't go outside. She doesn't play much. Hmmm. What is the third thing? Responding to me? Pooping? Lethargy? Help me, Lord Jesus, know what to do.

Biz, my beloved.


I've been on a business trip for two days, separated by 2500 miles from my beloved Biz.

While it was good in one sense to be away, to get some separation, to get a breath of relief from the constant turmoil of seeing Biz every morning and evening, I awoke both mornings I was away at 0dark30 thinking of her. Thinking, "is she in pain right now?" "Is she comfortable?" "Is she sleeping, hopefully?" "How will she have changed while I'm away?" "Will I be able to see that the cancer has grown on her cheek?"

And then my stomach would start rolling and churning as I thought about the upcoming weeks, months...would it be months? Would Biz last that long? Would I be able to watch her decline in front of my very eyes? How can anyone go through this? And this is just a cat! My beloved Biz the cat, but still a cat. What if this were my Mom? Is the Lord preparing me in a way for the day I'll have to do this with Mom, since I am an only child, and so is my Mom (and therefore, I will be solely responsible for her care and decisions about her care per her Living Will instructions)...?

Before I left, Biz had been scratching her ears a lot, and was starting to get small bald spots on her ears. The Vet said to do the hydrogen peroxide/neosporin thing to reduce itching. I'm not sure whether that's due to the cancer, or due to the antibiotic, and I forgot to ask the Vet.

The Vet also has recommended that we start Biz on an anti-inflammatory called Poroxicam. She's tried it on a dog with bladder cancer with good results in helping the dog feel better, and to help shrink/delay growth of the tumor. It's not a cure, but Poroxicam helps shrink blood vessels which should starve the tumor. I wish we'd started her on this last week! Side affects after long term use include gastritis/diarhhea, but the Vet said other effects should be minimal. We're going to do it in capsule form, so I can mix the powder with tuna. I don't know the dosage yet.

I am on the plane getting ready to fly back to Knoxville. It will have been approximately 55 hours since I left Biz. I'm anxious to see her, but dreading it a bit, because I know she's dying.

A part of me wants it to be over, for her to be out of pain and in "Kitty Heaven," (whatever that is...) but another part of me wants to enjoy her for as long as I can. It's hard to enjoy, though, because of the cancer cloud hanging over me/her.


I'm back home now. Biz is doing well. She ate well, acted "normally," and is eating her dry food again (Hill's Science Diet Hairball Lite), so her mouth must have healed pretty well from Tuesday week's molar removal and tumor biospy. The Vet said last Tuesday during Biz's exam that the right side teeth were in great shape and did not have any tartar! (Feeding them dry food really does the job of keeping tartar down). So, Biz is able to eat dry food on the right side OK. I'm still going to continue feeding her low-sodium tuna packed in water, though.

I'm glad she's doing well. I'll bet I sleep really well tonight, being back in my own bed and knowing Biz has not deteriorated hardly at all in the two days I was gone.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Today, I feel guilt for "abandoning" Biz, as I'm leaving on a business trip this afternoon and won't be back until Thursday night. I plan on leaving work to go home to pack and spend a little more time with Biz. I feel like every moment is precious, but I don't want to smother her with my attention, because I don't want to stress her out. She's got to be picking up on my sadness/worry signals.

She was hungry this morning, as usual, and is acting "normally." Before I left for work, she was curled up on the guest room bed. I went to her and told her I love her and that she's "my kitty." She contentedly purred as I continued to stroke her head and shoulders. In the dim light of the morning, I couldn't tell anything was wrong with her.

I hope to hear from the Visiting Vet this morning to see if she's talked to the oncologist at the Univ. of TN Vet school about treatment options/prognosis.

Monday, June 17, 2002

This is a blog to document my journey with my 14-year-old DSH tabby cat, Biz, who has cancer. It is my hope that sharing this on the 'Net will help others dealing with this, and will also, somehow, help me cope with the inevitable loss of my beloved Biz.

The results of a biopsy taken last Tuesday (6/11) came back today. She was diagnosed with Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC). I do not know the prognosis yet. The Vet says it usually metastasizes (spreads) to the lymph nodes and then to the lungs.

What I've found so far on the 'Net is that SCC usually occurs on the skin of animals, especially on the ears and/or nose of lighter animals exposed to the sun. But Biz has her SCC in her face, under her left eye. We thought at first it might be just a abscess, but it turned out to be cancer.

Background: about four weeks ago, I noticed Biz's left eye was weeping. After about a week, it was weeping quite a bit and I began to be concerned, but I kept monitoring it. You see, Biz is the kind of cat that absolutely freaks out when I take her to the Vet (not because of the car ride, but because of the Vet visit itself). She will not let anyone touch her or even look at her without hissing, biting and going completely bonkers out of fear. Bless her heart. So, I wanted to monitor her condition before succombing to the horrendous experience (for both of us) to the Vet.

Finally, after her eye had been weeping for almost three weeks, I noticed the fluid was not clear anymore, but had a hint of color - blood color.

I decided I had to call the Vet.

The Emory Animal Hospital in Powell, TN is the Vet I use for my other cat, Zach, who does go in quasi-yearly for shots. Both cats are completely indoor cats and have always been fed "premium" food, such as IAMS, or Hill's Science Diet (dry). For the last year or so, they have been drinking distilled water that I buy by the gallon at Walmart (Zach has had urinary tract infections and I thought our tap water was too "hard," or full of minerals that could help block Zach's tract).

So I called Emory and told them I needed someone to see Biz, but that she freaks out and I was concerned about bringing her in. I really had the thought in my head that since she hadn't been to the Vet in 8 years, that the stress of taking her in might literally kill her. We talked briefly about some sedative to give her before I brought her in, but they were very, very hesitant to give anything to a 14-year-old cat without seeing her first. Catch-22 city.

The Emory Animal Hospital office manager then mentioned the "Visiting Vet," who would come to my house for a reasonable (I thought) $75 + medications, if needed.

I called and made an appointment with the Visiting Vet for Friday, May 31. By this time, I noticed a swelling under Biz's left eye.

She came and, of course, Biz freaked out. I was hoping so much that the Vet would be able to examine Biz at home with minimal stress, but it was not to be. We chased her all over the house and finally had to scruff her and wrap her up in a large beach towel as a "Kitty Burrito," so some examination could be performed.

The swelling on her face was not mushy, it was "hard." The Vet first thought it could be osteosarcoma, cancer of the bone. This made my heart sink. The Vet also said that sometimes, abscesses start out kinda hard before going "mushy," so it could be that, too. She said really the only way to tell was to take Biz to the Vet for x-rays. My heart was heavy with worry and sadness. I'm the kind of person that usually swings to the worst end of news and wallows in the hurt and heartache and what-ifs for some time, and this time was no exception.

My other cat, Zach, picked up on my sadness/hurt, and started throwing up everything he ate. Biz, too, was throwing up most everything as we were starting her on some antibiotics in case it was a bone infection or even an abscess, and Biz's stomach has always been very sensitive. I couldn't feed her the whole antibiotic capsule outright (she wouldn't take them in the past without a huge struggle), and so I had to open the capsule and pour out the antibiotic powder into something she would eat that she could keep down. I tried some Whiskas soft food, some yoghurt, and some of her dry food moistened with water, but she either didn't keep it down, or did not want to eat it at all. This antibiotic is very, very strong smelling (and I assume tasting). Finally, finally, I tried some low sodium albacore tuna in water, and she liked it and ate the antibiotic. Zach finally starting keeping his food down three days after throwing up everything (I thought he might have a hairball, but none ever came up), and then for 4 days, he did not have a bowel movement! I had made an appointment for the Vet last Thursday for Zach so they could check his intestinal system, but when I came home from work Wednesday, Zach had pooped. A small victory!

The Visiting Vet was very supportive and called around Knoxville to find a pharmacist who might mix something up for Biz that would be pallatable and something with which Biz could keep the antibiotic down. Don Walker of the Medicine Shoppe pharmacy in Maryville, TN, specializes in mixing up prescriptions that taste good and do their job for both people and animals. He made some antibiotic treats for Biz and promptly sent them by mail (I live at least 45 minutes away from Maryville), and said if Biz doesn't like them, it's no charge. Well, Biz ate one treat, and then the next morning ate another, but threw it back up. She wouldn't eat any more of them - they still smelled very strongly of antibiotic. I called Don and he agreed to mix up some different tasting treats at half strength. Biz eventually was able to eat those (albeit mixed in with tuna) and keep them down.

We also discussed giving Biz antibiotic by a liquid that I would squirt on the inside of her ear (not in her ear, but on the earflap itself). Don the pharmacist said that steriods and other types of medicines had successfully been given to cats that way, but that not much research had been done for antibotics. Just the fact that he was so willing to work with me and send me all this stuff for free made me feel a little better! Don also has a cat that is difficult to treat with antibiotics, so he was familiar with my struggle with Biz.

This brings me basically up to today, Monday, 6/17. Biz is eating and drinking good and her body functions are normal. If she didn't have the swelling on her face and some weeping from her eye, I'd almost think there was nothing wrong.

I'm really struggling with all this and it makes it very hard for me to concentrate at work. Confounding all of this is my Christian faith and trying to be a good witness to my friends that Christ is in control and knows my pain and therefore I should be comforted and OK with all this, but I'm not OK with all this and it hurts me deeply. I want my faith to shine through my hurt, but at this point it does not, and I feel like I'm letting Christ down. My husband is as empathetic as he can be, but he does not have the bond with Biz that I do, so he does not understand the depth of my pain. My Mom has been through something similar with our previous cat, Tigger, but I'm afraid of leaning on her too much for fear it will hurt her thinking about what she had to go through with Tigger. This all makes me feel very alone, indeed.

I will have to make the decision soon on what treatment to give Biz, if any (chemo/radiation/laser). I do not want her to suffer. I love her and accept the responsibility of her care as she is a loving creation of Almighty God (as am I). I do not want to hang on to her longer than needed and I pray for the wisdom to know when "it is time." I know the Visiting Vet will help me and work with me, and I know my friends at work will pray for me and support me as they can, but the burden falls squarely on me to decide what to do about my beloved Biz.

I pray the struggles, horror, pain, hurt, fear and turmoil that I face in the following days as recorded here helps someone going through the same thing.

Christ Jesus, help me, even as Biz sits near me, innocently looking at me with her big green eyes.