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Farewell Lil' Kate

With great sadness, we said goodbye to Kate yesterday, April 25th, 2016.

What first seemed to be an abscess under her chin that appeared overnight a few weeks ago, and then was assumed to be a snake bite, turned out to be a secondary infection in connection to very aggressive cancer.

Kate had been unresponsive to the meds were had been giving her, and even Dr. Bill coming and sedating her to treat the wound made no difference. Kate has not been getting better and after she had retreated to her shelter to be as far away from everyone as possible, we finally sedated her yesterday to take a closer look. We found a large tumor on her neck and the evidence of malignant melanoma. The decision was made to euthanize her to end her suffering – she was eating with difficulty and was clearly not going to recover. During her post-mortem exam, we found her lungs ravaged with cancer. While she was not showing signs of any respiratory distress before, it would not have been long until it would have been impossible for her to breathe.
This is a very sad time for us, especially since we have lost so many cats to cancer – melanoma specifically. It has certainly caused us to raise many questions about why. As we have looked back over our losses in previous years, it has become clear that the cats that have been diagnosed with melanomas have all been related in some way. Our research partner, Dr. Brian Davis from the NIH, has been interested in this commonality and obvious genetic connection and that is why every time we experience a loss like that we send him valuable genetic information to continue his research on cancer.

The cats here are interesting to study in relation to why melanoma occurs and why it is more prevalent in certain bloodlines. Unlike with humans, there are so few factors that may be contributing to cancer – just their diet (which is always meat), their water source, their stable and relatively unpolluted environment, the sun and of course, their DNA. They don’t use cellphones, they don’t eat produce treated with insecticides, they don’t drink alcohol or smoke, etc. It is so important that we work to unlock the secrets of cancer – not just for them but for everyone who has been affected by it. Loss is painful, and Kate will be missed and will always be loved, but she will follow others that will have their passing hopefully play a part in discovering ways to beat a vicious and unfair disease. Cancer really does suck and we are tired of it taking away animals and people that we love.

You can view a beautiful tribute to her by Derek Krahn below and her In Memory here.

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