Pet Cancer Treatment Fund Helps Jubal Jump Back

Cats Jubal and Gary Leffel rest in cat perches

Jennie and Steve Leffel love cats like no other. So, when their friend had a cat expecting kittens, the pair jumped to take care of one. They named the kitten Jubal and welcomed him to their family.

“He’s been with us from when he was a baby,” they recount. “He was just a little guy.”

Twelve years later, Jubal isn’t as little anymore, but he’s just as sweet. However, when Jubal started acting unlike himself, behaving erratically and vomiting, they knew something was wrong.

Cats Jubal and Gary Leffel rest in cat perches
Jubal, left, rests with the Leffels’ second cat, Gary. The Petco Love and Blue Buffalo Pet Cancer Treatment Fund supported Jubal’s surgery at UW Veterinary Care.

“He’d go hot and cold. He’d be ornery and then be all nice,” Jennie reflects. “He’d have this sassiness to him and then he’d be very sweet.”

Jennie brought Jubal to their local veterinarian in De Pere, Wisconsin in May 2022. The veterinarian found a large mass in Jubal’s chest cavity at that appointment, suspecting it was thymoma, a type of cancer found in the thymus gland.

“The mass was taking up a quarter of his chest cavity,” Steve says.

Jubal was given a steroid, which shrunk the tumor a bit and helped him keep down food.

The Leffels weren’t sure of the next steps. Jubal was already 12 years old, but they wanted to see how much time they had left with him or if more could be done to help.

“I had to find out. If they gave me six months, then we’d do palliative (care) and make him comfortable,” Jennie says. “I just had to know.”

So, the Leffels brought Jubal to UW Veterinary Care, the teaching hospital of the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Veterinary Medicine, to better understand Jubal’s tumor.

The UW Veterinary Care team performed a CT scan and needle aspirate to investigate what cells were growing in the mass, and the results were consistent with thymoma. Left untreated, veterinarians determined the thymoma in Jubal’s chest would have continued to enlarge and impact heart and lung function, and it would ultimately have been fatal for him.

Fortunately, the tumor was operable. This was joyous news to the Leffels, finding out their cat could be helped. However, the surgery was costly.

“They told us it would be expensive surgery,” Jennie said. “So, the oncologist got us in line with the Petco/Blue Buffalo Cancer Treatment Fund.”

Gary and Jubal Leffel sleep together
Gary and Jubal, right, enjoy a cat nap together.

The Petco Love and Blue Buffalo Pet Cancer Treatment Fund subsidizes the cost of cancer care for dogs and cats of families who otherwise could not afford the treatment.

The UW School of Veterinary Medicine is one of 12 veterinary oncology universities each awarded $75,000 to help provide life-saving cancer care to pets and their families. The funds are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis of up to $4,000 per client.

2022 is the second year UW has received the grant. Last year, UW Veterinary Care distributed the funds to 19 clients to support their pets’ cancer treatment.

“Since the surgery, he’s been the sweetest thing. He’s back to normal. We are so thankful. The hospital did such a good job.”

After the surgery, Jubal was back to his healthy, active self. He was excited to reunite with his family and the Leffels’ other cat, Gary, and eager to return to his favorite activities even while he was healing.

“He tested the limits with his sutures. We had him in a kennel and he got out of there. He wiggled his way out,” Jennie recounts. “I got out of bed one morning and he was at my feet.”

The Leffels are so grateful that Jubal is back to his antics and his old, happy personality.

“Since the surgery, he’s been the sweetest thing. He’s back to normal,” Jennie reflects. “We are so thankful. The hospital did such a good job.”

Britta Wellenstein


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