"Maui" the cat, Gliding through Hospice
Meet “Maui”, a spunky 15 year old, HANG GLIDING cat with advanced liver cancer.
At the time of her diagnosis, Maui was expected to live 1-3 weeks, now 4 months later, Maui went hang gliding with her mom and her soon to be dad as they celebrated becoming engaged.
“Maui is happy as long as she is with me. If I leave her at home with a pet sitter, she refuses to eat. I made a promise to her after she was diagnosed with cancer, that I would take her with me wherever I went and not leave her” says Mary.
Maui’s mom adopted her as a kitten from shelter in Cleveland while she in medical school. With Mary’s rigorous education, Maui spent many late nights on her mom’s lap and has moved all over the country with her, always by mom’s side.
When Maui began to show symptoms of being ill, they were very subtle and her mom attributed them to aging.
“Maui was increasingly picky about her canned food. She always ate it but I had to try different varieties and she began to eating less. Maui was also losing weight, vomitting and sleeping more, however her attitude was normal & she still seemed happy. I just thought Maui was becoming pickier about food in her old age” describes Mary, “But when my sister came to visit me, someone who knows Maui but doesn’t see her often, she was very worried at how thin she was, this worried me that there really was something wrong.”
The following day, Maui went to see her veterinarian. Her veterinarian ordered bloodwork that revealed elevated liver values. Radiographs were recommended next, which revealed a large mass in her liver. Images of her chest also revealed likely metastasis to the lungs. Her vet recommended an ultrasound of her liver to get a better look at the liver architecture, this confirmed Maui very likely had cancer. Mary was beyond shocked and couldn’t believe this was causing her symptoms. Maui’s veterinarian gave Mary the following options: Surgery to remove the mass +/- chemotherapy or radiation afterwards, or euthanasia.
“I devastated and in shock. I felt so guilty that I didn’t take Maui into the vet sooner, but I really didn’t realize she was sick” said Mary, “In hindsight I now realize that all those subtle behavior changes were signs that something was wrong. I wasn’t ready to let her go & I didn’t think she was ready to leave either, but I also knew she may not make it through a difficult surgery”
Mary’s sister encouraged her to take Maui home and think over the options. She researched end of life and comfort options and found a veterinarian specializing in hospice care. Mary made an appointment, the hospice veterinarian came over, assessed Maui and made recommendations to help Maui and Mary navigate this difficult time. The hospice veterinarian helped Mary set up her mom so it was easier for Maui to get to her food and water, as well as get to her favorite sleeping spots. The hospice veterinarian showed Mary how to identify pain and assess quality of life— which will help guide Mary when it is time to make that a decision about when to say goodbye with euthanasia. Maui was prescribed a steroid to help with potential shrinking the tumor and a liver antioxidant. If Maui were to become painful, a pain reliever was prescribed to keep on hand and use if needed.
“I felt so relived to find that hospice and comfort care were options for Maui! I knew in my heart that it wasn’t time to say goodbye. To know that she is comfortable and that I have the guidance I need—it gives me so much peace about her situation as difficult as this is.”
Maui has exceeded all expectations. Now, over 4 months after her initial diagnosis, she is still enjoying time with her family. Maui noticeably sleeps more, but she she is still strong, active, eating well, and enjoying time with her family. What’s more? Mary took her on a trip and got engaged! Watch the video of Mary hang gliding with Maui right after becoming engaged! Mary describes that Maui was calm and melted in her arms during para gliding, as she always does.