Rescued kitty's life hangs in the balance

2015-06-08 17:40
(Zahnie Harris)

(Zahnie Harris)

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Johannesburg - A family is praying hard for a black and white kitten they rescued in Heidelberg, Gauteng, a few months ago, after finding out she has a rare and aggressive cancerous tumour in her mouth.

Suné Harris, 17, and her family are besotted with Cocopops, a shorthair kitten who is loving and playful, but don’t know how long she has to live because her medical team has never dealt with this tumour before.

Her mother Zahnie said radiation may be possible, but because of the high costs, would probably be impossible due to budgetary constraints. 

The family had been in tears since the discovery.

“It breaks our hearts into a million pieces that a cat like Cocopops, whose life was so terrible for the first nine weeks, and who now has the perfect life, had to get such a devastating diagnosis,” she told News24 on Monday.

“She’s a special kitten that deserves to be healthy and that can grow old with us… We do not know what the future holds and are really afraid of what lies ahead for her.”

Ugly kitten

Suné, a pupil at Hoër Volkskool Heidelberg, heard in February that there were kittens on the school grounds. She scoured the area and found them in a room between boxes after following their “meows”.

“Because others thought Cocopops was the ugliest kitten and nobody wanted her, Suné immediately decided she would take her,” her mother said.

“Suné grew up in a house where all the pets were rescue animals. Therefore it was not surprising that she adopted this kitten.”

The same day she found the small and emaciated feline, she walked over a kilometre to the nearest vet to get it vaccinated and dewormed.

Cocopops quickly became a part of the family and loved driving everywhere and sticking her head out the window. When she was scared or wanted a cuddle, she lay on Sune’s shoulders. She sucked on her blanket when she missed her human mom.

The orphan had finally found her “forever home” with Suné and her sister Corlé, but their happiness did not last long as they found a growth on her jaw six weeks ago.

The growth turned out to be a feline inductive odontogenic tumour.

The furball’s vet, Dr Hein Griebenouw, told News24 on Monday that the cancer was in the internal mucous membranes around the jaw, as well as the surrounding tooth and bone.

Interesting case

He had not seen this cancer in the nine years he had been a vet and even the histopathologist, who examines cells or tissue, remarked that it was a very interesting case.

He planned to consult a specialist in the area to find out if radiation was feasible and what the other treatment options were.

“…Because it is a very aggressive tumour, it will possibly react well to radiation because it affects rapidly dividing cells,” the vet said.

In the meantime, he is checking the kitten on a weekly basis and providing palliative treatment, such as an antibiotic regimen to keep her mouth as clean as possible.

The family is giving Cocopops the best life possible and feeding her special food and medication hidden in pieces of cheese.

“She is a very nice cat, no doubt about that, wanting to play and looking very much like a mischievous young kitten,” Griebenouw said.

“It’s not like this thing is holding her back. I think she has got tenacity and a good fighting spirit so she is not going to go down without a fight.”

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  animals
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