Friday, December 10, 2010


It is with great sorrow and regret that I must announce Oscar's passing. One week ago, a chest x-ray at the Carlton Vet revealed the severe building up of fluids in his lungs, most likely as a result of the tumor in his abdomen growing and causing some obstruction. (For those of you who are medically minded, you may like to know that Oscar's heavy breathing over the last few weeks does not appear to have been a side-effect of the mirtazapine after all.) Oscar had difficulty breathing, so much so that his respiratory rate was 80 breaths per minute.

Some palliative care was given, with the knowledge that it could only be a temporary measure; Dr Miller from the Carlton Vet drained some of the fluid from Oscar's lungs with a needle last Friday, and on Monday (the day after Pussy Galore II went back to her mother), he prescribed a diuretic medication called Frudix to help drain the fluid from the lungs. This improved Oscar's condition somewhat, to the point that
by Wednesday his respiratory rate was about 40 (more comfortable, but still awfully fast). But Oscar lost his appetite, grew weaker and even thinner, had difficulty maintaining his balance when jumping and injured one of his paws, and continued to vomit whenever he strained in his litter box. I finally made the difficult decision that his quality of life had been too compromised and that euthanasia was the humane action.

This morning (Friday, December 10 in Australia) I called the Carlton Vet. Oscar spent a quiet and happy morning at home with myself and my partner Kevin; the sun was shining and we had just decorated the room for Christmas. Oscar slept a little in his basket, sat with us for a while on the couch and then on the floor and purred a little for us while we stroked him.
Around midday Dr Craig Miller and nurse Melissa Horwood of the Carlton Vet kindly came to our house to administer euthanasia to Oscar. He was in familiar surroundings, on the couch where he spent most of his days, and was I at his side the whole time; I also held him in my arms as he fell asleep from the initial sedative. He was fifteen years and nine months old.

Oscar will be cremated, and his ashes will rest next to those of his brother Gerald on a shelf in our living room.

These are some of the last pictures I took of him (including his last couple days, when I let him outside in the backyard for the first time):

And this is the very last picture I was able to take of him:

When I first adopted Oscar at the Toledo Humane Society in May 1995, when he was only two months old, he had been raised by human hands after a woman in Ohio had found him and his litter-mates behind a Meijer's department store, after their cat mother had died giving birth. I spoke to the woman who had saved Oscar; all of Oscar's siblings had already been adopted, but nobody wanted Oscar because he was black. The woman begged me to adopt Oscar because she had promised her two kids (who were with her) that if Oscar didn't get adopted that day, then she would adopt him herself. And she begged me to please adopt this black cat, since she already have five pets! And I assured the woman that I wanted a black cat, and I promised that I would give Oscar a good life. And I really hope that I have.

I want to express my gratitude to everyone, human and animal, who followed Oscar's blog these past few years. I have always found great comfort in the kind words of strangers who love and care for animals. I also want to thank Oscar himself for being my beautiful and beloved companion for the past decade and a half. I loved him unconditionally, and he did the same for me. He will be sorely missed.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Daddy and Uncle Kevin are extremely thankful on this Thanksgiving that my health has improved, cause ever since last night I've started acting more normal and I purred long and loud today for the first time in a few days.

And I'm feeling so much better because Daddy changed my appetite-medication back to Periactin. Daddy called Dr Craig at the Carlton Vet on Wednesday evening, and Dr Craig looked up a website about Mirtazapine, and it turns out that my behaviour that was scaring Daddy for the last few days—including my rapid breathing, anxiousness, and periods of spacing out when I would hang my head and stare at nothing—was all consistent with the side effects of Mirtazapine observed in other cats! And Dr Craig said that the antidote to Mirtazapine was none other than Periactin, so Daddy started giving that to me. And even though Periactin didn't stimulate my appetite last weekend, it might maintain my appetite from now on; we'll see. And Daddy took me to the Cartlon Vet again this morning to make sure my blood pressure was OK and the doctor said it was normal, so hurray!

And as for my periods of weakness when all I could do was lie on the floor and pant—that was probably due to the hot weather (it was almost 90 F each day), but now that the weather has changed and it's been raining and it has cooled down to the 60s outside, I have so much more energy and I'm back to my old bad habits like jumping up on the table to get Daddy's attention.

But the only bad thing is that I'm straining when I poo, but I don't think it's my anal glands again since those got cleaned out last week, so Daddy is going to call the vet again tomorrow to see what can be done.

Meanwhile Pussy Galore II is sweetening up to me and she's been avoiding me because she can tell that I've been feeling bad but yesterday evening she jumped up behind me and batted at my head with her paw cause she wanted me to play with her. I politely ignored her. Then at night when Daddy went to bed lo and behold PGII planted herself next to me in the living room:

But she's not exactly snuggling up to me or anything and that suits me fine.

So I'm so happy that I'm feeling better! And Daddy says that he bought a turkey for Thanksgiving and is planning to roast it tomorrow or Saturday and I can't wait cause I love the smell of turkey!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Another Oscar Update - and Pussy Galore is back!

Hello everyone - I'm not feeling very good these days. Today is Monday and my appetite is very low and it's hot here in Melbourne and I'm very weak and bothered.

It was one week ago that Daddy gave me another Leukeran chemo pill, and at first I didn't show any change in my behaviour. Then on Tuesday night a visitor arrived, and it was Pussy Galore II. Remember her? She's with us for a couple weeks until her mommy comes back from overseas. I don't really mind, but PGII was not happy to see me, so on Tuesday night she spent the whole night in the upstairs den, and even though I went upstairs to say hello, she hissed and growled at me and hid behind Daddy's desk. Then on Wednesday Pussy Galore spent all day hiding under the bed in the bedroom, and in the evening she decided to plant herself by the upstairs banister outside the bathroom.

It wasn't until Thursday that she finally came downstairs, but she limited herself to the dining room, and she hid behind the curtains so she could look outside into the back yard.

On Thursday my appetite went down, and on Thursday night and all day Friday I had lots of trouble pooing and I would vomit after I pooed and this happened about three or four times. So that got Daddy really worried so that night he gave me a Cerenia pill to stop my vomiting, but it didn't help much because I was straining so much when pooing. And my poo on Friday night was really weird looking and covered with a bright brownish orange film. So I didn't feel good.

And I didn't see very much of Pussy Galore, since she spent most of the day sleeping in Daddy's closet in the bedroom, although she would occasionally run up and down the stairs, and she would lick water from the water fountain, all the time trying to ignore me.

And then Daddy took me to Carlton Vet on Saturday morning where Dr Craig felt my anal glands and saw that they were all swollen! So that's why I was straining when I pooed, and the brown film on my poo was probably from the glands. So he put rubber gloves on his hands and squeezed my anal glands to empty them out and I let out a little squeal since I felt I had no dignity left! And then Dr Craig prescribed me a new pill called Periactin which is an antihistamine that was supposed to stimulate my appetite. But it didn't work very well, and over the weekend all I ate were little bits of chicken that Daddy had cooked in a soup:

And Daddy also bought some milk that's designed for cats because it's lactose-free, so I drank a lot of that. But I didn't feel like eating anything else at all.

And it was on Saturday evening that Pussy Galore finally ventured into the living room (which is my domain) and spent a long time in the front bay window looking out at the front yard. And I felt very weak and energyless all weekend, so whenever she hissed at me, I just ignored her. But she's been hissing less and less.

So today is Monday and Daddy picked up a new medicine today called Mirtazapine which is a people-drug that people with cancer use so he actually picked it up at a pharmacy and it's an anti-depressant that is supposed to stimulate my appetite better. And Daddy boiled some more chicken around midday and I could smell it so I begged for some chicken and I ate about 1 tablespoon of cut-up chicken but that was about all I wanted. And all afternoon I've been hopping around from spot to spot trying to make myself comfortable, but it's so hot today that I just can't get comfortable, I'll sit on my pillow for about five minutes, and then I'll hop over to the arm of the sofa for another five, and then I'll jump to Uncle Kevin's chair, and then I'll stretch on the floor, and then I'll curl up in my basket, and then I'll wander into the kitchen where it's cool, and I can't make up my mind. And I haven't seen hide nor hair of Pussy Galore, who spent the entire day upstairs in Daddy's closet again. And I haven't vomited since Friday night, but I haven't pooed either, since I just haven't eaten enough to poo. And Daddy is very worried about me because I'm not eating very much, and every night before he goes to bed he sits with me and whispers sweet words into my ear and tries to get me to purr. And Daddy is hoping that the Mirtazapine will take its full effect tomorrow or Wednesday and get me eating again!

So if you're a kitty cat like me and you're reading my blog, send me healing purrs and pray for cooler weather that will be more comfortable than today!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I'm feeling so much better!

Hello everyone! I feel so much better today after Daddy spent three whole days feeding me all sorts of yummy food. He went across the street to a convenience store and bought some gourmet cat food and finally found one that I really really like and it's the Dine brand Salmon & Chicken Pate. And he offered me a yummy about every two hours so I kept eating and eating and I gradually got my strength back and now I can jump up on the couch more easily and I stopped cocking my head to one side and I don't limp as much when I walk now.

And Daddy took me to the oncologist today and Nurse Naarah took my vitals and they were all normal including my temperature which she took by sticking that thermometer up my kitty bum and when she did it I turned my head to her ever so slowly and gave her my best look of disdain and everyone laughed because she says I always give her that look. And she put me on a scale and I weighed 4.6 kg (that's about 10 lbs 2 ounces) which means I've gained a little weight since Monday. And Dr Peter said that my tumour doesn't seem to have grown since he saw me two weeks ago, and that it's a mystery why I had such a setback last weekend, but he suggested that we wait a few more days for me to get my strength back, and then maybe on Monday give me one Leukeran pill and see how I react; and if I deal with it OK, we can wait another whole week to give me another pill; but if I react at all, at least we'll know whether chemo, even in a low dose, is likely to affect me. For the moment though I'm enjoying watching the birdies and sitting in the sunny bay window:

and sleeping in my basket:

And I've been very attached to the living room the last couple days and haven't left it at all, not even to climb the stairs, so daddy put my litter box downstairs so I don't have to attempt climbing the stairs until I get all my strength back. And Uncke Kevin says I have happy-kitty face instead of sad-and-sick kitty face. So I'm back to my old habits of lounging on my sofa in the evening, and even though I do look thin, I'm more alert than three days ago, and I'm purring loud!

And to celebrate, Daddy cooked a yummy potato and cheesy bake:

And I demanded a lick, so I got some!

So I'm so happy!

Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm Not Feeling Good

I haven't been feeling so good ever since last weekend. After my last blog I was feeling a bit more normal, and I was eating well (lots of salmon!), and I would stretch my paws on my Kevin pillow at night:

And in the daytime I would curl up in my basket for my naps:

But then on Wednesday (November 3, which is when the results of the US election were coming in here in Australia, and I should know, because I sat on Uncle Kevin's lap while he watched the TV broadcast), Daddy gave me my first pill of Leukeran, which is that low dose of chemo I mentioned in my last blog. I'm supposed to get a pill every other day, so Daddy gave me a second pill on Friday just before he and Uncle Kevin headed off to Canberra for three nights while Uncle Nick and Auntie Fiona looked after me. But I didn't feel so good the whole weekend, and Uncle Nick and Auntie Fiona could tell that I was acting sore because I wouldn't eat very much and I was very weak. And Daddy and Uncle Kevin came back today with all sorts of stories about Canberra:

But I wasn't interested, and I started walking funny and had difficulty balancing on my back right leg (not the one that has the tumor), and I didn't feel like eating very much, even when Daddy offered me salmon. And I would cock my head at an angle when I walked, and I would always hold my chin down, so I looked weird. Daddy was so worried about me that he took me to the Carlton Vet, and Dr Craig gave me lots of reflex tests to make sure I didn't have some neurological problem, and he said that my reflexes were all very good, and he thinks I'm probably having another bad reaction to chemo, so Daddy didn't give me a third pill today, but he's going to wait to see if I start feeling better tomorrow. And Dr Craig gave me a shot of a medicine that should stimulate my appetite, 'cause everyone wants me to gain weight, since I dropped to 4.54 kg today! (That's only 10 pounds!)

But even though I walk funny, I still like to get up and try to walk around a bit, and I can still jump up on all the arms of the couches, so I'm still keeping myself moving. And Daddy got McDonalds for dinner and I wanted some of his chicken sandwich and Daddy was smart enough to share with me anything I like to eat! And after dinner I wanted to curl up in my Kevin pillow so bad, 'cause he was away for three whole nights, so the Kevin pillow was smart enough to oblige.

Thank you all you kitties and humans who have sent kind comments to my blog. It makes my Daddy so happy to know that there are so many animals and animal-lovers out there who care about animals that they're never even met. Daddy also wants everyone to know that, even though I'm not feeling good right now, he's watching me very carefully and making sure that I maintain a good quality of life...and that I get lots of Kevin pillow and salmon.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

October Oscar Update

Wow, so much has happened in the last month that I hardly know where to begin. At the moment I'm not feeling very well because the chemotherapy isn't shrinking my lump and I keep losing weight and now I weigh only 4.75 kg (which is about 10 and a half pounds) and we're not sure yet what my next treatment will be.

It all started a month ago when Uncle Kevin had his birthday on September 24, so Daddy bought him some balloons that I got to play with:

Then Daddy took me to the vet on September 30 after starving me all morning and I wasn't there five minutes before Doctor Peter measured my lump and said it hadn't shrunk any so he didn't want to give me any drugs that day until he investigated some other options so I got to go home! And I was so confused 'cause it made no sense for them to stick me in the cage and take me all the way to the vet and take my weight and then not do anything! But I got to eat lunch when I got home and then I napped on my Kevin pillow:

And since Uncle Kevin got presents, Daddy bought me a present too, which was a toy mouse that I politely ignored.

And on October 7 I got taken back to the oncologist and Dr Peter gave me a new chemo drug called Carboplatin that made me feel wonky for a whole week, and all I felt like doing was sitting in the window:

and sitting in the sun on the stairs:

And on October 14 Daddy took me to the Carlton Vet for the usual blood test a week after chemo, and it turned out OK; and then I started to get my appetite back and for the next week I was feeling pretty good. And I even had a visit from Indiana from next door:

and I started to sit in my uncle Kevin's lap again (and you can see the patch where the doctor shaved me to take a blood test)...

But on the evening of Oct 22 I started feeling weird and was drooling all night for no reason; I think it was because Daddy overfed me with some fish he was eating for dinner, 'cause I threw it up that night. On the next morning I felt back to normal, but then over the next few days I started losing more weight and didn't feel like doing much but sleeping. And when I would climb the stairs, I walked very slowly and sometime lost my balance; and when I would stand up on the arm of the sofa next to Daddy, it would sometimes wobble a little.

So when Daddy took me to the oncologist again on October 28, it was no surprise that my lump had grown some more, and that's why I'm losing weight, because cancer tumors drain all the energy from the rest of the body. So Dr Peter and Daddy talked a little bit about what to do next, and the doctor prescribed an anti-inflammatory called Metacam which Daddy has given me every day since then, and my appetite has been really good, and Daddy has been spoiling me with salmon from a can which taste delicious! And Daddy will call the oncologist on Monday to report on how well I'm doing, and maybe they can start giving me pills with low doses of chemo, and I think the idea is that these will target the blood supply of the tumor and get it to shrink that way, although it would happen very slowly, if it works at all. And Daddy is very worried about me because he doesn't like to see me weak and unhappy, but Uncle Kevin keeps telling him that I'm still eating good and I still sit on Daddy's lap each day and purr real loud and I still have lots of life left in me that I can spend showing my Daddy how much I love him.

Tomorrow is October 31 here in Australia, which is Halloween! And even though Aussies don't really celebrate Halloween, it's a very special day for black cats, so I expect to be worshiped!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Chemotherapy has resumed

Well, I was right about the withholding of my food last week 'cause the next morning (which was a Thursday) I got stuffed in my cage and got taken to the vet and they did all sorts of things to me, or maybe I should say, what didn't they do to me? 'Cause first they shaved my belly and did an ultrasound and then they took my blood pressure and then they put little patches on me and did an electrocardiogram, and after all that they gave me chemotherapy! And I had a new doctor this time named Laura since Dr Peter was on vacation, and Laura and nurse Naarah gave me a different chemo drug this time called Mitoxantrone, which they hope will knock me around less than the Doxorubicin did. And they gave me less sedation than they did before, so I didn't feel as goofy this time when I got back home, but I did feel a little weird all the next day.

And here's what I look like after they shaved me in various places for my ultrasound and ECG:

And Laura said that the ECG shows that I have a heart murmur, which might be caused by one of the walls of my heart starting to harden, either with age or as a result of my high blood pressure; but she said the heart murmur wasn't "clinical" so it didn't prevent me from getting chemo again. And for the first few days after my chemo I felt awful and climbed the stairs very slowly and even felt a little dizzy when I got to the top, and I didn't want to eat very much at all, but Daddy and Uncle Kevin did coax me with some people-food like chicken and fish.

On Thursday night I was wide awake and couldn't settle down, and I was kinda the same on Friday, and I kept myself pretty quiet:

And occasionally I would stretch out next to the heater, but still be very quiet:

But on Friday night I crawled into bed with Daddy, which I haven't done for a long time, and I slept next to him the whole night without waking him, which I REALLY haven't done for a long time! But over the weekend I still didn't eat much and wasn't looking very good, and I did vomit twice, so Daddy got the vet to prescribe me some anti-nausea pills called Maxolon, which he was able to pick up on Tuesday, and ever since I took them, I started eating a bit more. And on Wednesday I just wanted to be held so I clung to Uncle Kevin's belly:

And when I wasn't on his belly, I was at the top of the stairs enjoying the sunshine:

And on Thursday morning my Daddy stuffed me in the cage again and took me to the Carlton vet where the doctor weighed me (I was 5.23 kg, which is about 11 and 1/2 pounds) and then she took my blood, but I didn't fuss this time. At least Daddy didn't have to starve me this time! And when I got back home, Daddy took the day off work and I sat on his lap ALL DAY, except for when he fed me more chicken.

And on Friday the vet called to Daddy to say my white blood count was fine, and they also did a test to see if my thyroid was acting up, and the result was negative, so my heart murmur isn't being caused by any thyroid problems. (I remember that my brother Gerald had thyroid problems many years ago and had to have radiation treatment; he was even radioactive for a week afterwards!). And on Friday I started feeling a bit better and I ate more and more hard kibble.

And today was Saturday and I was such a good kitty that Daddy gave more chicken in the evening, and I keep eating hard kibble and wet kibble, and Daddy and Uncle Kevin get more and more happy when they see me eat more and more. And I always drink plenty of water, too:

So tonight I curled up on the Kevin pillow and soaked up all his attention 'cause I'm a good kitty.

And Daddy and Uncle Kevin will watch me closely every day to make sure I'm recovering OK, and I'm due for another chemo treatment on September 30 but I remember Daddy saying he'd like to talk to the oncologist about switching to a different chemo treatment where I take a special chemo pill every day instead of a big intravenous treatment every three weeks; but I'm not sure what that's all about so I'll have to wait and see. In the meantime it's time for my evening nap, so good night all!