Lupe Fiasco, the wonder cat

Lupe Fiasco, 2.5 years old

Meet Lupe Fiasco, the cat. (yes just like the famous rapper)

You wouldn’t think by looking at this photo that just 9 months ago, Lupe was terminally ill.

Let me tell you how she pulled off one of the most miraculous recoveries I have ever witnessed in my 10 year veterinary career.

When Lupe’s owners noticed she was losing weight, had lost her appetite and had a distended tummy (despite being desexed) she was brought to see me at the Karratha Veterinary Hospital. When I examined her I was very shocked to find she had a large growth in her tummy.

This was very unexpected in such a young cat, we needed to take an X-ray.

Lupe had a huge kidney tumour (cancer)
Arrow on the left, a normal kidney. Arrow on the right, Lupe’s cancerous kidney.

The X-ray below shows just how squashed-in the rest of her abdominal organs were, as a result of the large mass (blue arrows)

Red circle, normal kidney. Red Arrow- abnormal kidney.

The cancerous kidney was very unlikely to still have any function. Blood tests revealed Lupe’s second kidney was still doing the work of both.

However the same blood test revealed an emergency scenario was unfolding.

Lupe’s cancerous kidney was haemorrhaging internally. She was dangerously low on blood and clotting factors ( her blood was no longer able to clot to stop the bleeding)

Lupe was admitted and placed on a drip.

As the hours passed she was becoming more anaemic and weak.

Karratha Veterinary Hospital is in regional Western Australia, 1500 kilometres from the nearest veterinary specialists in Perth.

We had to do something and fast.

If Lupe were a dog, blood transfusion and / or a canine plasma transfusion would be readily available from a donor.

But with cats (like humans) they have specific blood types, giving the wrong donor blood could prove fatal.

A donation from another cat without knowing Lupe’s blood type (and that of a donor cat) was just too risky.

Canine plasma is a blood product we had on hand (frozen) as we use it to treat a whole range of conditions in dogs, especially dogs that have low clotting factors and are haemorrhaging (e.g cases of rat bait ingestion.)

In emergency scenarios before I had used a canine blood donation to help a cat. I wondered could we use the canine plasma to help Lupe to start clotting her blood again, so that she could undergo surgery and remove the bleeding kidney?

Surgery on her, in her current state, with a blood clotting problem, would have caused fatal bleeding.

A quick phone call to the manufacturers of the canine plasma and with her owners prepared to do everything with the resources we had at hand, Lupe was given a canine plasma transfusion.

Next day, we could not believe our luck when our in-house laboratory tests confirmed Lupe’s blood was once again able to clot normally. The canine plasma had worked!

Meanwhile, we received some bad news. A needle aspirated sample of Lupe’s mass, sent to a pathologist, confirmed her tumor was malignant.

We needed to get that bleeding, cancerous kidney out. Although the cancer had likely already spread, we were aiming to buy her some more time.

I will spare you the surgical images.

In February 2019 Lupe underwent an emergency nephrectomy, to remove her cancerous kidney.

She stayed at the vet hospital for a further three days before going home to her family.

Everyone held their breath as the cancerous kidney was analysed by the pathologist to complete the diagnosis and give a prognosis.

The results, another blow, Diffuse Immunoblastic Lymphoma: prognosis grave. ( In short, very bad news)

Lupe would only have a few weeks to live ,

Chemotherapy was not possible, again due to our distance from specialists.

But soon as Lupe revisited for check ups, the cat we were looking at was by no means in agreement with that prognosis……

Lupe was rallying, back eating well, her blood count normalizing and she was maintaining great kidney function.

Weekly we checked her over, checked her bloods, checked her tummy, weighed her- everything was going the right direction.

Soon weeks passed……….

Weeks became months, test after test, Lupe continued from strength to strength.

Somehow she left that prognosis behind entirely………..

9 months later, she has NEVER looked back. ALL CLEAR!

Lupe Fiasco getting ready for Christmas 9 months later!!!

Could Lupe’s malignant cancer have been confined to her kidney that was removed? It’s the only explanation I can come up with.

She truly is a miracle. Undoubtedly a career highlight for me.

Thanks to her lovely owners, for the permission to share her story.