Living with cat mammary cancer: Deciding when to euthanize

by Shay J.
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania )

I have an 18 year old female cat that has never been spayed or had sex. Last year she was diagnosed with mammary gland cancer. Now she seems lethargic, she's pulling her fur out, throwing up daily, sometimes crying, losing weight, she appears to be taking deep breaths sometimes and she takes her time lying down.

She has a good appetite but doesn't hold food down well. It looks like her cat food is being swallowed whole and not chewed. She was diagnosed with cat mammary cancer in August 2010. The tumor was removed. I think she may be suffering. I was thinking about having her put to sleep because I don't have the money to care for her.

What should I do? I've had her since she has been 6 weeks old. Do you think the cancer is spreading? What do you think is wrong with my Choo-Choo? Is she near death? Do you think she is in pain? She's pulling out her fur everyday. She is near bald on the right side of her hip.

Dear Shay,

Only you can make the decision whether or not to humanely euthanize your cat, but if she were my cat, I would want to do so. She has lived a long, happy life, and if she seems to be showing signs of struggling to breathe, there is a chance that her mammary cancer has spread to her lungs. Overall, it sounds as though your cat is uncomfortable, and I would ask myself: Would I want it to end this way for her?

Again, only you can make the decision about what is best for you and your cat. I am very sorry to hear of your struggles, and hope you will find comfort in knowing that you have given her a wonderful life, regardless of your decision.

All the best,
Dr. Neely

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