Casper had his vet appointment yesterday, and unfortunately, we received some bad news. The vet listened to his lungs and thought something was not right. She did an X-ray and we learned that Casper has a large tumor in his lungs. The mass is so large that his intestines have been pushed to one side, and she believes it is starting to spread to other organs.
This is heartbreaking news for us, even though he has only been with us for a few days. He is such a sweet boy that we instantly fell in love with him and none of us want this for him. It is so sad that rats are prone to these kinds of problems. Casper really deserves better than this diagnosis. But there is nothing that anyone could have done.
He probably doesn't have much time, but the good news is that so far, he is not suffering and not in pain. He still is lively and alert and inquisitive and enjoys play time a lot. But it explains his labored breathing and his lack of appetite. He has been taken off the antibiotics since he did not have a respiratory infection after all and the meds won't help with the tumor.
The recommendation for Casper is palliative care:
- Keep him stress free. Unfortunately, this means he will remain a lone rat as introductions would be too stressful and the other rats may sense the cancer and reject him.
- Spoil him rotten and give him yummy soft foods - anything that he will eat. While he has not been eating his block, he will accept yogurt, oatmeal, baby food, and some people food like chicken, mashed potatoes, bananas, pasta, etc. He has also started sampling from the cereal/seed mix I gave him.
- Give him lots of attention and out time, but also plenty of time to rest so that he doesn't over-exert himself. We will be giving him lots of love, attention, and good foods.
This is a good reminder for us all that not all respiratory problems are respiratory infections and that we should be aware of other potential causes for respiratory symptoms. This is our second rat to have a mass in the lungs - Pirate passed away from this same problem last year.