Despite extremely rare condition, Toby is back to normal and expected to have many more years
One family is relieved and thrilled after their 11-year-old cat experienced an incredibly rare health crisis – and is now home and happy!
Toby lives with Mandy Lichtmann, RAPS’ Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator, and Eyal Lichtmann, RAPS’ CEO, and their family. The trouble started in April, when the normally extroverted and cuddly Toby became withdrawn from the family. Soon, he was vomiting continuously and not eating.
Dr. Assaf Goldberg at the RAPS Animal Hospital examined Toby and ordered blood work, X-rays and an ultrasound.
“It showed a mass in his bowel so surgery was recommended,” Mandy says.
Due to the location and the size of the mass, the surgery was very challenging. The mass caused severe damage to the intestinal segment involved, leading to a blockage of the gastrointestinal tract. Toby could not pass food and therefore he was vomiting and had decreased appetite says Dr. Goldberg. The mass was inside a 15-centimetre section if Toby’s gastrointestinal tract.
That meant that section had to be removed and the tract on either side joined together during the surgery. Despite the complicated procedure, all went well.
The doctor and the family awaited the biopsy results. Blockages like this are frequently cancerous at Toby’s age and everyone prepared for the worst.
“I thought we were going to lose him,” Mandy says.
Toby was hospitalized at the RAPS Animal Hospital for a few days with IV fluids, antibiotics and pain medication and supportive care. After a few days, he returned home with a feeding tube in his neck.
“I had to tube-feed him up to five times a day,” she says. “He was a really good patient, thank goodness, because not all cats are when they are being tube-fed. The hospital was great whenever I had any concerns. After about a week, we took him off all pain meds and he was a total trooper. He really started to come back to life, his personality came back, he started to eat on his own and since then he’s been great.”
Then came the great news: The growth was not cancerous. It was a benign and extremely rare condition called gastrointestinal eosinophilic sclerosing fibroplasia. It could have been fatal but, since it was removed, Toby is expected to suffer no side-effects.
“He’s back to normal,” says Mandy. He’ll be on a special digestive care diet probably for the rest of his life, but that’s a small price to pay for the Lichtmann family to have their old Toby back to normal.
Dr. Goldberg says this condition is so rare that most veterinarians will never encounter it in their careers.
Veterinary medicine has advanced dramatically in recent decades and conditions that might have led to an animal’s death are often ameliorated or cured with innovative care.
“We love stories like this,” says Dr. Goldberg. “It is such a joy to tell a family that their pet is going to recover and that they will likely have many more years together.”