Kirsten calls her seven year old Bengal cat, Mala, her miracle cat. She was only a year old when she developed large cell lymphoma of the intestine.
Large cell lymphoma is the most aggressive form of lymphoma in cats, and life expectancy is only four weeks from diagnosis without treatment. Even with chemotherapy, average life expectancy is usually about four months. A small number of cats will go into complete remission and stay healthy, with upto five years being reported in the literature.
When Mala was just over a year old in August 2013, Kirsten noticed her being more quiet than usual, and her normally shiny coat was dull. Then she noticed blood in the litter tray and took her to the vets, where they found a lump in her belly on examination.
Kirsten was warned that although biopsy would be needed to confirm the diagnosis, the most likely cause was cancer. Given the poor prognosis and high cost of treatment, the vet offered euthanasia as an option, but Kirsten wouldn’t hear of it because Mala was such a big part of the family.
Unfortunately, the biopsy confirmed the more aggressive form of lymphoma, but Kirsten said “as long as she has a chance at survival, we would get her the treatment”.
Before she could start the chemotherapy, Mala first had to have an operation to remove the tumour from her intestines. She needed a matching blood donor, and Kirsten got in touch with the breeder, who brought in Mala’s father and brother. Luckily her brother, Pepe, was a match and the operation went smoothly.
After the operation, the chemotherapy could start. Mala had to regularly visit the vets for injections, and then follow up with tablets at home. Typically, only 50-75% of cats with lymphoma show any positive response to chemotherapy. However, she was one of the fortunate ones and went into full remission in 2014.
Amazingly, Mala has remained in remission and is doing well: “seven years old and her usual happy, energetic self”. She really is a miracle cat!
Do you know a pet who has come through something against all odds? Let us know in the comments below!