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Rafiki needs your prayers


Site Supporter
Happy for you and the kids that all turned out so well.
I saw the topic and was tempted to jump to the end to see how things were doing.
But I did the right thing (maybe not?) and read start to finish. I am happy for you that
all turned out well in the end.


Site Supporter
OK, so I am going to copy/paste some info from Facebook. Not ideal as I always posted much more info here but I really do need input from some of the folks here that aren't on FB.

January 12th
I need prayers. We took Rafiki to the vet today because she stopped eating. She started being finicky last Saturday but I could still hand feed her until Thursday so I made an appt for Saturday as I suspected a URI. On Friday her breathing was heavy. Vet did bloodwork (normal), x-rays and an ultrasound and found fluid in her lungs and a large mass near her liver. We are now at the specialty vet waiting on an ultrasound to see if it is operable. Depending on the results, she would then have a CT scan to see if it can be removed. I expected her to have bloodwork and antibiotics. I am in total shock and have been bawling my eyes out. My miracle baby had liver fibrosis at 2 and was given 3 years to live. We finally found the source (mycoplasma in the middle ear) and cured her in 2017. I just can’t lose her now. I am praying for another miracle. UPDATE: Ultrasound is showing large lymph nodes in both the belly and near the lungs and the spleen appears abnormal. They want to do biopsies of the nodes as well as the mass. They are now saying it may be lymphoma and I may be looking at chemo rather than surgery. She is currently in an oxygen tent. and will have biopsies of the masses as well as the fluid later tonight They want to keep her overnight for observation. I am devastated.

Jan 14: Chemo #1 She lost a lb in 1 week.

January 21:
Went to vet for chemo #2 but oncologist detected a heart murmur. Cutting the prednisone dose in half and she will see the cardiologist tomorrow. Bloodwork was all good. Urine culture was negative for infection so if the cardiologist clears her she will have her chemo tomorrow. Lost another 1/2 lb.

It is a 3 week wait to see the cardiologist so the oncologist had me drop off Rafiki this morning so that the cardiologist could fit her in. They took an ultrasound and then X-rays. The ultrasound shows an enlarged heart and a level 2 (out of 6) murmur. Fortunately we had x-rays taken last week so we know that it is the treatment that caused this and they don't think that there will be any lasting effects. .On the bright side, the amount of fluid in her chest and lungs has diminished and the lymphoma is definitely responding to treatment. She was cleared for her chemo treatment and had it today. She was sent home with Pimobendin (heart med) and Furosemide (diuretic) and instructions on how to monitor her breathing. She ate 2.5 oz of food and will have another 1.5 in an hour.

Jan 22:
Dang that heart pill is huge! And yippee it is every 12 hours. I coated it with coconut oil but it still took me 3 tries this morning. Appetite is still very good. She ate 4 oz of raw last night, 3.5 oz this morning plus cooked turkey + lots of freeze dried turkey tenders (to stuff some of the smaller pills into) and duck hearts. The advantage of having a large cat is that if the treat is not too large, she will often wolf it down instead of chewing.
Update on Rafiki: She still has a funny fur-cut so I know this is not just a bad dream. But she had a good day today. I think I had a total of 10 pills to give her. I had to use a pill pusher for the large heart meds and the bitter antacid but was able to stuff the rest into freeze-dried turkey treats. Her food intake increased to 7.5 oz (from 5.8 pre-diagnosis) of meat plus numerous treats so hopefully she will stop losing weight as apparently chemo burns calories. Breathing rate is normal. And tonight SHE initiated PLAY! Baby girl is a fighter!

Jan 30 and Feb 1 - a chemo pill at home

Feb 4:
Today is Rafiki’s 6th birthday. 3 weeks ago we were told that she had less than 2 weeks to live. The chemo for the lymphoma has caused an enlarged heart so now we have 2 things to worry about. I am just so thankful for every extra day I have with my girl.

Skipped chemo this week as Rafiki needed a follow up with the cardiologist and the oncologist was not in to coordinate it. Felt it was ok as the chemo pill was on 2/1.

Feb 13:
Rafiki has a big day today. She will have X-rays, a follow up the cardiologist, an appointment with the oncologist and hopefully chemo #4. She has a great appetite and is very playful. In the night she dragged Jammu’s bed, that she had previously dragged up a flight of stairs to the master bath, back down the stairs and into the kitchen.

We spent 4 hours at the vet. Mixed news. On the positive side, her weight has climbed to 17.9 lbs. Her heart murmur has improved slightly and the x-ray confirms it. On the negative, the elevated respiration is not heart related, it is fluid in her chest. They tried to aspirate it but Rafiki was having no part of it. If they sedated her, she would have to stay overnight. We opted to give her chemo #4 and bring her home. We are hoping that it kicks in fast enough to reduce the fluid. If not, we will bring her in thru ER. She came home desperately STARVED and devoured all her food without waiting for it to warm up.

Feb 14:
Yesterday's chemo was the heavy duty one. When she had it last month, she felt much better within about 24 hours. They were not able to aspirate her then either but the chemo got rid of the fluids. I am hoping that that happens again this time. Her respiration rate at rest was between 32 and 44 breaths this morning. Higher than I wanted but she did not appear to be in distress. Hubby worked from home a bit this morning to allow more time between her 2 feedings.

Last time she had that chemo, she appeared to feel better the next day and the X-rays the following week showed greatly diminished fluid. She had prednisone a couple of days before that so that may have helped as well. We had a very long discussion with the oncologist yesterday and since the respiration rate increased gradually over the past week, we felt that things would probably not get worse rapidly and that is why we opted to wait and give the chemo a chance before putting her thru sedation. that is more or less what has been going on. Really looking for any kind of advice here.


Staff member
I'm not sure what kind of advice you are looking for? It sounds to me like your vets have a good plan of action for Rafiki, and I wouldn't want to contradict that. I can't remember, did they ever do a body to determine what kind of lymphoma she has?


Site Supporter
Looking for anyone who has gone the chemo route and what to expect regarding pitfalls. I am really hoping to hear from SV Dad because he has gone thru it recently. He wrote some great advice but that got wiped out when the database was reloaded.

Background: They did 4 biopsies when this all began and found evidence of small cell lymphoma in 3 sites.

On Wednesday, we had "the talk" again because of the labored breathing caused by the fluid in her chest. They were not able to aspirate more than a few drops and I did not have them send it out for analysis as the doctor said that it would not change the treatment plan. She suspects that the fluid is from the lymphoma so unlike fluid from HF it would not respond to diuretics. So we had to make the decision to:
1. Sedate her to aspirate but we would have to leave her overnight
2. Palliative care
3. Continue with chemo #4 and hope that it clears the fluid rapidly
4. Continue with chemo #4 and bring her back in the morning to sedate her and aspirate the fluid

We went with #3 and kept a very close eye on her for 48 hours. We came very close to bringing her in Thursday morning and again in the evening.


Site Supporter
For now, it looks like Rafiki's chemo is working! I had a wonderful day with my girl including some snoozy time watching TV. And yes, she fell asleep sucking my finger! She started feeling better on Friday. Her respiration rate is back to 28 breaths per minute so it looks like the fluid in her chest is gone. She only ate 5 oz of meat yesterday and without much enthusiasm so I rubbed some Mirataz in her ear this morning after the first 2 oz. She has eaten 7.5 oz so far today. It was a scary week but it looks like we are back on the right path.