Last Thursday, May 2nd, I took the cat in to have her teeth cleaned since her bad breath has reached biohazard level. Any time we have a vet visit I feel like I’m subjecting her to systematic torture, like enrolling children in Russian ballet training. The vet called me in the middle of the morning while the cat was under anesthesia: three of her back teeth were loose and she had swelling in her gums. They recommended removing her loose teeth and getting X-rays to assess the extent of the issue. While removing her loose teeth the vet found dead and blackened tissue and sprawling tumors on her gums, and the jawbone and tooth sockets where her loose teeth had been have eroded away.
The biopsy came back yesterday. Squamous cell carcinoma. Invasive.
When I got the call while she was still in surgery I started to Google oral squamous cell carcinoma, then stopped because I couldn’t remove myself from it all and say objectively, yes, prognosis is 30-90 days of survival time, and yes, invasive OSCC will metastasize quickly. Yes, she will die, and very soon.
It’s a strange thing to watch someone die, even if she’s a cat.
I forced myself to work through last Thursday on auto-pilot, then took her home and cried, through her post-surgery stupor and lack of appetite, and I cried harder when she perked up and came to cuddle with me because I knew how much I will miss her love. How much I will miss her.
But I am glad that she doesn’t understand the mental duress of having cancer and perhaps only feels that her jaw hurts, and I am glad there are drugs to alleviate her physical pain. Meanwhile I am the one having episodic mental breakdowns and getting incrementally psychotic and asking all the Why’s and How’s and What If’s. But better I than she. And I am glad that I get to say goodbye.
Even though I am horrible at it.