Palliative Care: Gia

Written by Becca Gordon

In January, we rescued several cats from a kill shelter, including one we named Gia.

Gia was found stray and estimated, by the shelter staff to be 5-6 years old. She was unspayed and had been diagnosed as having stomatitis (inflammation of the gums) which is incredibly painful.


Staff at the kill-shelter and EHS volunteers knew this was a special girl. Despite being in pain and unwell, Gia was friendly, loving and cuddly. She would seek affection and purred easily.

Gia was found alone and on the streets during the winter months. It is heartbreaking to think how lonely and scared she must have been. We’re quite certain Gia was someones cat, whether she was dumped or lost we cannot know for certain as she was not microchipped. Whoever loved her (or didn’t) will never know that every day of her life could very well be her last.

After several more vet visits and tests, other things came to light about our sweet grey, beauty. After her spay surgery, our vet estimated her age to be at least 10-years-old, rather than 5-6. She has early stages of Kidney Disease and Gastrointestinal issues (possibly small cell lymphoma). Most disturbingly, a lump had been discovered as well.

The lump was removed during Gia’s spay and sent for biopsy where it was discovered to be a malignant Mammary Carcinoma. Gia has breast cancer. Breast cancer is not uncommon is older unspayed cats.

To better understand what our options were, we brought Gia to a consultation with a board certified veterinary oncologist. With Gia’s various maladies, her age, the physical toll it would take on her, and the likelihood that even the most aggressive treatment (double mastectomy combined with chemotherapy) would not prevent another tumor from potentially re-surfacing elsewhere in her body and could only buy her another couple of years at best, the veterinary oncologist determined she is not a good candidate for treatment.

She is currently residing in a palliative foster home where she will be made comfortable, loved, and cared for until such a time as her quality of life fades. To say that this is heartbreaking is an understatement. No animal deserves to suffer what Gia has.

There are studies that show spaying cats under a year or even 6 months of age reduces the risk of mammary gland tumors from 85-91%. Which means this was completely preventable.

In so many ways people failed Gia. If only she’d been microchipped, if only she’d been spayed, if only someone had cared. Well, many someones do care now but it appears too late to save Gia from all of this. We can only make her comfortable, make her feel safe and allow her to feel loved for whatever time she has left.

Palliative Care Stories:

Winnie – July 10/2018
Jewel – July 25/2018

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