I just got back from taking Bert to my vet. I wanted to get a second opinion and be able to talk about all the options. The vet did the physical exam and felt something that seemed like a mass as well. It wasn't sounding good. We talked about exploratory surgery as a possible option and potential prognosis, which wasn't promising. I was really sad to hear this, but it felt good to get a second opinion, so I knew I did the best I could for him. The vet said if it's a tumor, he might have but a few months to live, with or without the surgery.
The contract vet that the CCC's works with (who Bert saw on Monday) only does house calls. Since she doesn't have an office, she's not able to do surgery. Apparently my vet knows this other vet, and she offered to donate the use of their surgery facilities, equipment, and medicines if the contract vet was willing to do the exploratory surgery at her office. Wow!
My vet then listened to Bert's heart and heard something like a murmor. This could complicate surgery, so, she did an x-ray. The x-ray revealed that the enlarged mass that both the contract vet and my vet felt, is likely not a tumor after all, but rather a very enlarged spleen, that may be caused by an infection, possibly mycoplasma. She said enlarged spleens in cats are not common.
She ran a fecal test too, and it showed giardia, which is probably the source of the diarrhea and gas.
We start by treating the giardia and when the diarrhea is gone, I'll take him back for a followup exam. At that point she might take some blood to look for the infection and we start treating it. She sent me home with panacur and some prescription food to help with the diarrhea.
Oh, and his heart is enlarged, she's suspects he has heart disease. She said if we get these other things fixed up, she would talk with one of the other vets at the clinic to see if she would be willing to donate an ultrasound so we can measure the thickness of the heart and know more about the severity of the heart disease.
So, as you might imagine, this vet visit was accompanied by a wild intense mix of emotions. At first when the intestinal mass was confirmed, my heart was feeling heavy, two vets confirming the same thing meant Bert wasn't long for this world. Then when she came back with the x-ray results, she seemed happier, more hopeful. Now, I'm feeling excited and hopeful but very nervous about getting my hopes up. Could his troubles really just be from giardia and an infected, inflamed spleen? Seems too good to be true!
As we were about to pay the bill for this visit, I was told there would be no charge for any of this. Wow! Their extravagant generosity on top of my stifled excited, joyful hope about brought me to tears. I was quite willing to pay, but they wouldn't have it.
So, I think it's too early to say we are out of the woods, but I sure feel a lot more hopeful than I did before this visit. Meanwhile, for Bert, it'll be lots and lots of this:
and of course tummy rubs
Right after we got back, I gave Bert his first dose of panacur and he ate it right down in his fancy prescription food. He did awesome at the vet, he was scared but super friendly and sweet. He loved it when the vet and technician rubbed his head - that's so his favorite thing! Thank you everyone for your kind comments, they have helped me in more ways than you can know.