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My 8+ yr old FIV+ cat has been losing weight (LH Buff Maine

Coon). Down from 12+ lbs...
My 8+ yr old FIV+ cat has been losing weight (LH Buff Maine Coon). Down from 12+ lbs to 9.2 lbs. Coat got dull. Vet felt a large mass in his abdomen today. Said she did not need to do x-rays as it was prominent. I've had multiple cats with FIV and was told not to treat with chemo. Is there any change in the thinking on this more recently?
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Answered in 38 minutes by:
11/16/2017
Dr. Beth
Dr. Beth, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 447
Experience: Veterinarian in practice since 2004, 5 years of exclusively feline medicine, 7 years general practice, 4 years shelter medicine
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Hi, I'm Dr. Beth and I'll do my best to help you today! To make sure I don't miss anything, please give me a moment to review your question - I am not the fastest typist so it may take me a few moments to type out a response.

Thank you for trusting us with your questions, this service is used for general information only and is not a substitute for a veterinarian patient relationship by examination.

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Your Tommy is a very handsome boy, I'm so sorry for your bad news today :(

Unfortunately cancer/tumors are pretty common to develop in cats with FIV.

Cancer in cats in general is not typically curable with chemo, but the way we use chemo for them is always having the goal of making them feel better, never worse. Basically try to knock the cancer down to a level that they aren't feeling it, for as long as we can. With really aggressive tumors, sometimes nothing seems to help, but generally we always have some options of things to try.

Did your vet talk to you about at least trying some steroids?

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Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Not at this time. She wanted me to use Cerenia.

Ok - so Cerenia works in multiple different ways, so if you can get him to take it, can help reduce nausea and there fore help appetite, it also has some anti-inflammatory properties.

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If people don't want to pursue full chemo, I usually at least talk about doing steroids, as some thing like Prednisone has some anti-tumor properties and the good side effects of increased appetite, weight gain, and drinking more. I had a cat have a baseball size tumor shrink in 5 days to where I could feel nothing abnormal

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But the steroids don't work forever, the stronger cancer cells will eventually take over and it won't seem to help. But I have had many cats feel better and eat better for weeks or even a few months on steroids alone.

With more aggressive cancers, sometimes the steroids don't do much, but I think it is always worth a try if it is not stressful to medicate them - we can give it in a long acting injection form, or a kitty friendly flavored liquid.

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Customer reply replied 2 months ago
I wonder why she didn't mention it. I have multiple cats on steroids. Was she concerned maybe about the FIV...would it possibly cause the reverse effect by decreasing his immune system more?

It can have some effect on their immune system for risk of infection above what is already there for the virus status - but if they are staying indoors, there is a low overall chance of complicating infections.

Know too that is is always an option to get a second opinion with another vet, such as a veterinary oncologist, or a vet that specializes in feline medicine.

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To me these situations are a sort of, if it is unlikely to hurt, and there is a chance it can help, and it doesn't break the bank, we don't really have anything to lose.

There are other chemo options too, like Leukeran, which is a pill given a few times a week depending on their size, along with the steroids - I've had some cats do well with no side effects for over a year on that combo - but of course every cat is different and some things for the response can relate to what type of cancer it is (which we don't know for sure without a biopsy).

But even if people don't pursue a biopsy, if they want to do something, we generally have some options we can at least try. If steroids will help, I usually see a difference within about 3 days for how they are feeling and improvement with their appetite. And if it seems to help, we keep them on it for as long as it seems to be improving their quality of life.

Dr. Beth
Dr. Beth, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 447
Experience: Veterinarian in practice since 2004, 5 years of exclusively feline medicine, 7 years general practice, 4 years shelter medicine
Verified
Dr. Beth and 87 other Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 2 months ago
Great advice. Thanks so much.

You're welcome - at least gives you a few specific things to ask your vet about or bring up if you seek a second opinion.

Thanks for the great rating- if you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

If you'd like to request me in the future for pet-related questions, you can do so by accessing this page: https://www.justanswer.com/veterinary/expert-drbethg/?rpt=3800

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
I wanted to let you know that an ultrasound guided biopsy was done on Tommy last Wed and it is lymphoma. He has a large mass in his spleen and a smaller one in his intestines. He's already lost another 1/2 lb. I've decided to use the Prednisolone to keep him comfortable. It was not an easy decision and I am looking into other supportive therapy for his immune system. Thanks for your help.

Thank you for the update - I'm sorry it wasn't better news :( I think the prednisolone is pretty much always a good option-

One thing to potentially explore, as it has helped for some of my cats issues, is the use of essential oils - I get mine from http://animaleo.info, I am not affiliated with them in any way, but the oils are sourced and tested by a veterinarian for safety, she has several blends for immune system support. She also will give advice through her facebook page for what could be most helpful to consider for a given situation. Just another option to consider-

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Thank you for pointing me in the right direction. I use essential oils myself so I will check that website. Thanks again.
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Dr. Beth
Dr. Beth
Dr. Beth, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 447
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Experience: Veterinarian in practice since 2004, 5 years of exclusively feline medicine, 7 years general practice, 4 years shelter medicine

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