Farewell, sweet Annie

5 years ago

Yesterday, after a confirmation of advanced bladder cancer, we had to say goodbye to our gray tiger kitty Annie. On occasion my articles would always seem to mention her and her active brother Willie. Annie’s journey started 17 years ago at my mom and sister’s, but after testing my sister’s allergy tolerance, it was decided to bring her home with us.

To say that she lived a privileged, well-loved and somewhat lazy life would be an understatement. Most of Annie’s days were spent laying in her favorite chair on my sunporch or curled up in her leopard-print bed on the window bench watching a parade of birds, squirrels, chipmunks and the occasional fox or deer. Life was good for Annie and we will see her again someday at the Rainbow Bridge.

Bladder Cancer or Transitional cell carcinoma (TCC) is an aggressive, malignant cancer of the urinary bladder that affects dogs, cats and other domestic pets. Oftentimes it invades into the urethra, causing obstruction of the urinary tract and disruption of normal urine flow. Animals usually are taken to their veterinarian for an inability to urinate or difficult urination, blood in the urine, or urinary incontinence.

What Symptoms Can Be Present as the Disease Progresses?

Early Stages: include straining to urinate, frequent urination, bloody urine, licking, redness or swelling at the penis tip or vulva.

Late Stages: include vomiting, continued weight loss, painful abdomen, reclusive behavior, exercise intolerance, difficulty sitting and walking, constant pacing and possible constipation.

Crisis — Immediate Veterinary Assistance Needed Regardless of the Disease: difficulty breathing, prolonged seizures, uncontrollable vomiting/diarrhea, sudden collapse, profuse bleeding – internal or external or crying/whining from pain.

How is it treated?

TCC can be a difficult disease to treat surgically. If the tumor is small and its location has been detected, surgery will be possible, but if the tumor is localized to a specific area, surgical resection with or without a tube cystostomy (i.e., placement of a permanent urinary catheter) may be an option. Some cases of TCC must be treated with chemotherapy or radiation due to the nature and location of the tumor.  The surgery will be a delicate procedure that should be performed by an experienced vet. There are areas of the urinary bladder that cannot be operated on, and if the tumor is located on these areas, surgery won’t be possible.

It should be noted that most animals will instinctually hide their pain. Vocalization of any sort that is out of the ordinary for your pet may indicate that their pain and anxiety has become too much for them to bear. Please consult with your veterinarian immediately.

Talk to your veterinarian about the best treatment protocol for your pet.  More information can be found at www.petmed.com.

If you are looking for a new furry family member, stop by the Central Aroostook Humane Society at 24 Cross Street, Presque Isle.  Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., closing for lunch from 12 to 12:30. Please be responsible: spay and neuter your pets.

Gloria Towle is the secretary and a member of the board of directors of the Central Aroostook Humane Society.