Behold, The Woober. Formal name: Cleo. Cleo is momma’s kitteh, and a splendid one at that.

Three years ago, she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma fibrosarcoma and, at 13 years old, underwent an awful surgery to remove a giant tumor along her spine. Recovery was dreadful, and the prognosis was not super: most cats experience a recurrent tumor within two years. So when Woober made it three years, she was already ahead of the curve. Which just made it extra devastating when, shortly before Thanksgiving, she got her freaking recurrence.

But she was in good shape, and the vets recommended a second surgery after a CT scan, to make sure there was no organ involvement.

There was organ involvement. The tumor, which grows in greedy, finger-like protuberances, already had a hold of her lungs, which changed everything. Putting her through another surgery, when the inoperable tendrils in her lungs would be the limiting factor in her ongoing existence, suddenly became the least humane option. So mum chose to make her comfortable for as long as possible, and I frantically searched for a photographer to memorialize her as the bright-eyed, sassy kitty she’d always been.

That is how I found Jenny Karlsson. Who is AWESOME.

Jenny worked with me to set up a guerrilla photo shoot while my mum was at brunch, and produced so many amazingly Woober-ish photos of the Woob–some of which we framed, many of which she arranged into a fabulous photo book. I gave the framed prints and book to my mum for Christmas, and have nailed down the title of Greatest Daughter in the History of Ever. Seriously. It’s mine.


Shortly after the failed attempt at a second surgery, Woob was thrown into crisis. She could not keep food in or down, wasn’t drinking, and was fading quickly. She spent a night at the vet’s, getting IV fluid. The following morning we were told that there was nothing they could do for her, and they sent her home with her central IV line still in, well-taped, because it had been hard to get it in and the assumption was that she would need it, for euthanization, within the next 48 hours. So why put her through the pain of insertion all over again. The vet did say that, on the off chance she spontaneously recovered, it would need to be taken out by the third day.

Three days later, my mum was at the vet again, having the line removed because ain’t nobody kicking Cleo off this mortal coil before she is good and damn well ready. And ready she most certainly was not. She started nibbling at baby food, and then snarfling, and before long had reclaimed her title, Queen of Boiled Chicken, and was back to yowling at mum at 5am when her food bowl was rudely discovered to be empty.

Since then, Woob has been good. Last week her tumor ruptured, which is what happens when they aren’t removed, but she is keeping it clean, and doesn’t seem to be any worse for the slight ickiness–no pain, and nothing better get between her and breakfast.

I am insufferably optimistic about her condition. “No, I’m sure she’s fine!” is my standard response every time mum mentions a behavior change or quirk. Of course she’s fine–she has to be. Because Woob started out as my cat and I cannot really cotton to the thought of her not being around. Which is to say, I am a giant ball of internalized goo and panic because I know what’s coming and I hate it and, seriously, fuck you, pet death. And also fuck you cancer.


If you would like to read the story of Woob, and how she came to be, Jenny has an awesome blog post about her into which many amazing pictures are sprinkled HERE.

It is a whole story about a closely-related critter and it does not involve a single poop anecdote.


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