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The Night Before the News About My Cat, Gracie.

It’s the night before; before I learn things that I don’t want to know. I can’t focus very well. I can’t think straight. I was going to write a post about how to get your cat to eat when they are sick because I have some different tips that you might not have sorted out on your own, but how can I write about that when one of my cats may be gravely ill?


This is a key part of what I realized today: Learn to trust your gut instincts. Don’t second guess. Don’t ignore them. We all have, maybe it’s magical, but at least it’s an inherent insight about what is the truth of a situation. The problem is how to have confidence to take action based on your gut feeling and to not fear that your choice was wrong and what you really should have done was made a list or asked ten friends their opinion, when you knew the truth all along.


©2003 Robin A.F. Olson. My first mama cat, Gracie.

My 14-year old cat Gracie is one of the sweetest, kindest, most gentle cats I’ve ever known. She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. She was beaten by her former owner and threatened with death. A woman I used to do rescue with got her when she was pregnant and shortly after she had three kittens, Gracie became one of my very first foster cats.

Gracie was a great mom. Two of her kittens were adopted together and the remaining one, who was skittish from birth, I kept. Her name is Petunia. Gracie never seemed to find a home either and that was fine with me, so Gracie became my forever cat and we never looked back.

The Mighty Huntress
©2006 Robin A.F. Olson. The Mighty Huntress.

I love Gracie’s bright green eyes and her luxurious coat, well, it once was luxurious, today it’s dull and somewhat sparse. Something happened to Gracie shortly after a dental many years ago. Her skin erupted in horrible lesions and we could not cure it no matter how many specialists, tests, treatments, biopsies and remedies we tried. Steroids worked for a short time but when faced with giving them to her for life-knowing it would shorten her life-I opted not to give them to her. I did, however get her comfortable and once she stopped barbering her fur off and itching, I knew she would be okay with slightly irritated skin (she stopped scratching at herself and her fur grew back to some degree by keeping her on a very clean diet).


I spent two years trying to find the solution to Gracie’s skin issues. Along the way we found a single cancerous growth on her belly. Dr. Larry removed it and said it was the type that did not spread and was considered excised. Of course I think about that now and wonder if that truly was the case or if it was a dark passenger all these years and now it’s blossoming full of poison inside Gracie.


Mind if I sit here
©2007 Robin A.F. Olson. In her most beautiful-before the dermatitis took her lovely fur.

My “spidey” sense kicked in a few weeks ago and I couldn't ignore it. Gracie had been eating VERY slowly-so slowly that the other cats would push her out of her food. I put a stop to that and tried to get her to eat more enthusiastically by sprinkling dehydrated chicken on her food or other treats she liked. It didn’t work. I knew something was wrong. I noticed she wasn’t biting at her food, just barely licking at it. I looked in her mouth and her teeth were covered in tartar. She just had a dental cleaning less than three years before and already her teeth were terrible. Surely that was the problem.

So two weeks ago Gracie had most of her remaining teeth removed, with the exception of her canine teeth and front teeth. The hope was that she’d get her appetite back now that her mouth didn’t hurt, but that didn’t happen.

Something was wrong. Gracie didn’t get better. Her appetite was still off. We blamed it on antibiotics and stopped giving them after getting the all clear from Dr Mary. We thought it was due to her age and mouth pain post-dental so we gave it more time, but I kept bringing her back to the Vet saying something is wrong.

The Girls
©2008 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracie and her daughter, Petunia.

I hoped that the answer was the antibiotics had done a number on her gut and that feeling queasy would cause her to stop eating. I tried Pepcid, which is a common antacid remedy and it seemed to help her get some appetite back, but that did not last. I tried an appetite stimulant but it did nothing—though Gracie was difficult to “pill” and there is a chance it got stuck in her fur and we missed it.


This morning I returned to the Vet. It was our third visit in a week, but this time I knew it wasn’t the dental that caused Gracie’s problem. She’d gone almost two weeks with barely eating a thing. The dental was a red herring. Something else had caused the inappetence. We just found the dental because it was the obvious problem. Dr. Larry felt Gracie’s abdomen and she let out a small cry when he palpated it. I’ve known Dr. Larry for about 18 years and the slightest change in his expression told me everything.


Oh Misery sm
©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. One of many baths we tried in hopes it would cure her bad skin. It never worked.

He felt “something” in her belly. He didn’t like it. He had Gracie taken in the back room to be x-rayed. I stayed behind and started to cry. There aren’t many things that can cause this sort of problem and as far as I know all of them are cancer.

The x-rays which I did not get to see, showed some sort of inflammation near/in the liver. They weren’t sure if it was a mass. The better way to know is through an ultrasound. They had x-rays from 9 months ago and those were different, clear of this inflammation. Something was changing and it was changing quickly. I know from having cats with cancer that 9 months can be the life expectancy of a cat with lymphomas..maybe it was already too late.

Gracie instagram
©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. InstaGracie.

What makes matters even worse is that my finances are in the toilet—worse than ever due to being sick for all of July and not working much at all and having to already spend a good deal of money for Gracie’s dental and Spencer’s big vet visit-and he has a dental that’s happening next week. I told Dr. Larry how broke I was when he told me what he wanted to do for Gracie next. It wasn’t his fault, but it really felt like being kicked when I’m already down, when I’ve already just had a pretty serious life crisis of my own and now I have to figure out a way to help my poor cat. I’m not complaining. Other people have it way worse than I do and I have to say that two of you guys, without me asking, have sent in some help to be used for Gracie and for that I am extremely grateful. I’ll get the tests done, whatever it takes. It’s just tough. You know how it is. I’m sure all of you have been there, too.

IMG 8258
©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. My poor, sweet girl.


If I hadn’t pushed about something being wrong, Gracie would have even less of a chance to survive. Maybe her time is already up. I can’t believe that is the case. I don’t want to believe it, but at least I knew I had to keep fighting for her because something was WRONG. I knew it back then and I know it now.


If you have a gut “feeling” about something, I hope you’ll pay heed and follow your gut. Trust it. Save a life with it. Make a better choice for YOUR LIFE with it...

Just don’t ignore it.


You are SO right, Robin. If I've learned nothing else in my 50 years, it's TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. In everything: work, relationships, situations of all kinds, everything. There's nothing to loose and everything to gain.

Whatever Gracie's next steps are, you know her journey will be filled with love. She's in your life for a reason; she's helping to bring you to the point you are at now. She's helping to make you the wonderful advocate you are for all cats.

I am so, so sorry you're going through this. The day I lost Truffles to a saddle thrombus last month, all day long I had a gut feeling that something was wrong. She wasn't breathing right, but it was hot, she had a hairball, she's 4 years old so she can't be that sick, right? We can try to explain things away in so many different ways.

Gracie has a chance because of you, and she knows how much you love her and that you will do everything possibly to help her. I pray that you have a lot more time together.

I had a similar experience over 10 years ago.  I took Drew to the vet for the exact reason of his obvious weight loss.  Unfortunately, at the time I was free feeding my 5 cats so I didn't really notice any inappetance.  Now he was a cat that a good weight for him would have been around 12 lbs.  Well he weighed about 10 when they weighed him and the vet actually told me that he was over weight.  I sure wasn't happy about having to pay and being told that!  About a month later, I notice he had broken or lost one of his canines, so I took him to see a different vet.  As soon as this vet saw him, he told me he was concerned about his weight.  They did a dental and pulled a bunch of teeth including the rest of his canines and when he didn't seem to eat better after he healed, the vet wanted to do exploratory.  It ended up being intestinal lymphoma, but the slow growing kind.  He lived another 28 months with treatment and lots and lots of coaxing at food dish.

I hope you have lots more quality time with Gracie.


Good advice to never ignore the spidey senses, whether for your pets or yourself. I wish I were there to give you a big hug. 

How I wish I could do something more than just say my Prayers are with Gracie and her family, and that I am thinking good thoughts for her and for you all.  What a beautiful little queen she is! and so is her daughter, Petunia.  Yes, our intuition, along with our dreams, can be invaluable and we must listen to/be aware of them.  Cherish the time with Gracie! as I know you do.  May she know how loved she is and may she be comfortable and surrounded with caring.

Really a very sad story it is. I am feeling very sorry for it. Going through such tough situation is a not a small thing. I salute to your patience and dedication towards Gracie. I think nobody would even bother about the matter if you are in the crisis of financial condition. Today I feel happy that still humanity exists. Really some bold steps you have taken and for that I want to say thank you for all of this. She is very cute and looking so innocent. Eyes are mesmerizing. What else I want to say about Gracie. I have experience of these sad feelings when my cute cat's health deteriorated due to some unknown diseases in the last winter and I took him to the most trusted animal hospital in Thousand Oaks. The doctors treated my dog like their own. How caring they are really!!

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