Sarcoma At Site Of Injection

by Amy
(London, Ontario, Canada.)

This is Rusty.

This is Rusty.

Reader Question: How Do I Know When To Put My Cat Down?


My name is Amy and my beautiful cat's name is Rusty. I've had Rusty since I was 3 years old and I'm now 19. Last year the vet located a small lump on her back, between her shoulder blades that he believed was a very very aggressive, cancerous tumor due to injection site. At that time he told us she did not have very long to live - about 2 months. After hearing news that Rusty would die soon my Mom stopped giving Rusty her monthly flea medication (she is an outdoor cat). Each month the lump grew larger and larger; starting off at the size of a grape and progressing to its massive size now (slightly smaller than the size of her head).

Six months after that visit with the vet we noticed she was constantly itching/scratching at her lump so we took her to another vet (a family friend) to get her put down. I told the vet Rusty was eating and moving perfectly well and he agreed it was not her time to go, but that she just had a bad case of flea infestation. He also examined her lump and noticed a couple "soft spots" that he said would eventually break open and cause a "mess". He said "you'll know when it's her time to go". Thus, that brings us to today. Presently, my family and I are discussing how long Rusty has to live and when we will put her down. I've uploaded a picture, and as one can see she has a severely large lump on her back. I can count one main, large, stiff lump in the middle, one hard pink lump on the right, one soft lump on the left and two small stiff lumps at the base. It is clear to see that the main lump has broken open. It has been leaking a
clear, slightly yellow fluid for about a month now. The pink section on the left has recently developed and spread - what is it exactly? It is also apparent in the picture that she is balding in those areas of concern.

I am VERY concerned. She is an extremely happy cat. She eats normally, but does sleep an excessive amount. She only showed discomfort when the vet aggressively grabbed her lump. She still cleans herself but cannot reach the areas of the lump and is unable to clean it. I can't tell if it is her time to go, she acts happy but looks horrible! I would appreciate your help more than I could ever explain.


Veterinarian Answers Reader Question Regarding: Knowing The Right Time To Put A Cat Down

Hi Amy,

It sounds as if your veterinarian has diagnosed Rusty with an injection site sarcoma, which is an aggressive form of cancer in cats. The oozing that you have noticed can develop when the tumor outgrows its blood supply and parts of it start to break down. Infection can also cause drainage in cases like these.

When it comes to knowing when it’s time to let a pet go, I tell my clients to look for five things: eating, drinking, urinating, and defecating – all of which are necessary to keep the body going – and the final criteria – joy. This last one is hard to define, but essentially it revolves around whether or not a pet still seems to want to be around. Does she more or less act in the way that she has in the past – greeting you at the door when you arrive, that sort of thing.

When you start noticing significant changes in one or more of these quality of life parameters, it’s time to seriously consider whether or not euthanasia is in her best interest.
My thoughts are with you during this difficult time.


Jennifer Coates, DVM

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Jul 23, 2013
Love Rusty
by: kelly the cat lady

Putting your animal down due to illness is the ultimate act of your love for her. Although you will miss her dearly no matter when you do it, remember waiting is about you not about Rusty. Do it before she suffers. She has been a good friend for a large part of your life. She deserves your love now more than ever.

Aug 29, 2013
by: Anonymous

Everyone -- Stop giving your cat shots. The same thing has happened to two cats of mine. Its not as uncommon as the vet has you think !!!

Feb 23, 2014
Impacted owner
by: Colleen

I am the 'family member' of a beautiful 8 year old, biped, tortoise shell kitty with injection site sarcoma. Murphy is now 2.5 years past initial diagnosis. She has had two separate surgeries to remove the mass between her shoulder blades, but has had recurrence each time. She is now beyond a safe or quality recovery, should we pursue that option a third time. As we struggle with all the issues raised on this site, there are a few things that I would want all current and future pet owners to know....1. injecting a kitten between the shoulder blades is now proven to be unsafe and is 'old medicine', currently practiced only for the convenience of the injector, not the animal. New 'care parameters' recommend injecting as low as possible on a foot and more recently in the tail. A skilled practitioner will know how to do this. A well meaning,unskilled animal shelter volunteer is more likely to continue doing this injection between the shoulder blades because it is easier for the worker.DO NOT accept this! run, don't walk, to a veterinarian who has the ability to do an 'appropriate site' injection.

If your kitty should be the one in 1000 (or less) to develop sarcoma, the tail or the extremity can be amputated. Since this sarcoma only spreads to organs, if ever, in the late stages of disease, amputating a portion of the tail or a foot is the surest way to save the animal and hopefully halt the spread of disease, by eradicating any margins of tumor via amputation. While this sounds brutal the risk/benefit of vaccines is also worth consideration. I have lost a kitty to distemper and a sister lost a kitty to feline leukemia. Vaccines do serve to protect our animals from these dreadful and potentially common diseases. 2. If you have an animal with injection site sarcoma I please know that the pharm. companies are now acknowledging incidence of this Cancer as related to their vaccines. As a result there is an opportunity for your kitty to have BEST PRACTICE specialty care at one of the major vet ctrs. where state of art diagnosis and image guided surgical techniques are occurring,PAID FOR BY THE PHARM CO. WHO MADE THE VACCINE. You will need assistance from your veterinarian for referral.

The earlier the better. God Bless!

Mar 06, 2014
help for my cat
by: Bonnie M

My cat has vacination related sacoma as well. She had surgery 6 months ago but it didn't remove it all. I have been giving her Pine bark essiatic tea, tumeric, and pumpkin,and makeral oil. It seemed to help at first but one of the sores broke through the skin. For a while it seemed like it was healing up but today it started oozing all over and I don't know what to do. I have tried covering her leg to get her to stop licking but it is higher up , more on the hip and I haven't been able to find anything that I can keep on her. Any advise would be helpful I feel so useless.

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