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Cat - Do I amputate or put to sleep?
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Sacramento Area, California
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25 October 2012 - 3:22 pm
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Wookie & Jerry -

I asked my Vet who will be doing the surgery about phantom limb pain, and unfortunately she said "The phantom limb thing I have never seen." Should this worry me? - she seems so nice and experienced and is so happy to answer my questions but, from what you guys say, she maybe is missing some information on this since it does occur. I will ask her about Gabapentin before surgery, like you guys said... but are there things DURING surgery that I should worry about now? Should I... find a different vet? Or is it probably not a big deal...?

"You aren't doing it TO him, you are doing it FOR him. Give him a chance at life."

Check out Fang's blog at http://cldavis......pawds.com/

The Rainbow Bridge

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25 October 2012 - 6:51 pm
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Wookie can address this better than I can and offer suggestions as to how to approach this with your vet...but I'll tell you that from our own experience, phantom limb pain is definitely something that we've seen here. Not to all animals but we see it here quite often. It's something that occurs in human amputees and it makes sense that it definitely occurs in animals too.

I'm guessing (and this is a total guess) the reason why your vet says she hasn't seen it, is because pain management is such a relatively new concept to many vets, and a lot of them aren't up on recent protocols. For example, most vets who were trained before the mid 1980s were taught that animals don't feel pain, and that leaving them in pain is actually better than pain medication! This theory has thankfully been disproven by the Academy of Veterinary Pain Management but many vets still have a lot of catching up to do. 

Something else to keep in mind is that it may not happen to Fang. There is always that chance. So if you're comfortable with this vet, and feel good about putting him in her care, then find time to sit down and address your concerns. We've created some blog posts that might help you come up with questions:

How to Choose a Veterinarian for Amputation Surgery

Dr. Kay's 12 Things to Expect from Your Vet

Tripawds Reads and Recommends Vet Confidential

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Scottsburg, IN
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25 October 2012 - 7:04 pm
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My cat was actually just a kitten, maybe six months, at the time of his amputation. But he grew old and did very well. He stayed with my mom when I moved out. As for preparing the house, I was 16 when the cat had the amputation and we didn't do advanced research or anything and made no adjustments to the house. He did fine with no adjustments. Nothing like my pup. And your stress is very understandable. Even after having the cat I freaked and couldn't hardly cope with the thought of doing an amp with my dog. Even with that experience behind me I struggled greatly. It's normal. 10 yrs is relatively young for a kitty and your gorgeous boy definitely deserves the chance.

Leslie

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26 October 2012 - 9:12 am
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jerry said
Wookie can address this better than I can and offer suggestions as to how to approach this with your vet...but I'll tell you that from our own experience, phantom limb pain is definitely something that we've seen here. Not to all animals but we see it here quite often. It's something that occurs in human amputees and it makes sense that it definitely occurs in animals too.

I'm guessing (and this is a total guess) the reason why your vet says she hasn't seen it, is because pain management is such a relatively new concept to many vets, and a lot of them aren't up on recent protocols. For example, most vets who were trained before the mid 1980s were taught that animals don't feel pain, and that leaving them in pain is actually better than pain medication! This theory has thankfully been disproven by the Academy of Veterinary Pain Management but many vets still have a lot of catching up to do. 

Something else to keep in mind is that it may not happen to Fang. There is always that chance. So if you're comfortable with this vet, and feel good about putting him in her care, then find time to sit down and address your concerns. We've created some blog posts that might help you come up with questions:

How to Choose a Veterinarian for Amputation Surgery

Dr. Kay's 12 Things to Expect from Your Vet

Tripawds Reads and Recommends Vet Confidential

Jerry - thank you for the reading. I feel like this is a good hospital because they do have overnight care, and my vet does seem really interested in relationship-based care since she's given me her email and has been answering my questions. I am still extremely nervous about the phantom limb pain issue. She also said that arthritis is uncommon in cats and not to worry about it, while I has told on here to buy some arthritis supplements (which I have). I'm just worried about how much she's thinking about Fang's pain - or maybe I am overly worried about it - I don't know. I did ask about the Gabapentin... she hasn't gotten back to me yet. She graduated from the school of Veterinary Medicine in 2003, so it's pretty recent - too recent to have missed this rather major change in theory.. right?

I would so appreciate for Wookie to perhaps help me understand how to approach this subject with my vet, and to understand if there are other things during surgery that I should mention to her (and if these are things that she could just DO on the fly, without learning about them or practicing them previously). I feel like I read something about turning nerve-endings upward? I don't understand any of this stuff, and I don't know what is "just talk".

Thanks again for all of your time and support.

"You aren't doing it TO him, you are doing it FOR him. Give him a chance at life."

Check out Fang's blog at http://cldavis......pawds.com/

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26 October 2012 - 9:14 am
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lesliec said
My cat was actually just a kitten, maybe six months, at the time of his amputation. But he grew old and did very well. He stayed with my mom when I moved out. As for preparing the house, I was 16 when the cat had the amputation and we didn't do advanced research or anything and made no adjustments to the house. He did fine with no adjustments. Nothing like my pup. And your stress is very understandable. Even after having the cat I freaked and couldn't hardly cope with the thought of doing an amp with my dog. Even with that experience behind me I struggled greatly. It's normal. 10 yrs is relatively young for a kitty and your gorgeous boy definitely deserves the chance.

Leslie

Yes.. he is fairy young, isn't he. Not a kitten, for sure but... pretty young. I'm glad I'm not alone in the coping issues for this situation. It's so... big. Thank you again for your story Leslie.

"You aren't doing it TO him, you are doing it FOR him. Give him a chance at life."

Check out Fang's blog at http://cldavis......pawds.com/

The Rainbow Bridge

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26 October 2012 - 7:37 pm
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Well, I do think from what you've told me that your vet sounds competent. To be willing to hear what you have to say is a great sign. Maybe she's not too up on pain management but a lot of vets aren't yet. I would definitely keep doing your research and talk to her about your concerns, it sounds like she is really willing to listen. Are you overly worried? Well sure, everyone who has to go through this is. But here's the thing; if you just focus on one step at a time, and deal with these things if and when they happen, this journey will be a lot easier. So for example, wait and see if phantom pain will be an issue. If not, great! If it is, take it from there.

One step at a time, you'll get through this!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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26 October 2012 - 8:30 pm
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jerry said
Well, I do think from what you've told me that your vet sounds competent. To be willing to hear what you have to say is a great sign. Maybe she's not too up on pain management but a lot of vets aren't yet. I would definitely keep doing your research and talk to her about your concerns, it sounds like she is really willing to listen. Are you overly worried? Well sure, everyone who has to go through this is. But here's the thing; if you just focus on one step at a time, and deal with these things if and when they happen, this journey will be a lot easier. So for example, wait and see if phantom pain will be an issue. If not, great! If it is, take it from there.

One step at a time, you'll get through this!

Thanks Jerry - I do think she is a competent vet. I have also taken the advice of those readings and am seeking a second opinion from the UC Davis Veterinary school. One of the doctors there was kind enough to give me his email to ask him questions about the Gabapentin, phantom limb pain etc in cats. I am waiting for a reply.

I feel like once I've really made a final decision, I will be better able to cope and take it one step at a time. The real trouble is figuring out which way I'm stepping! But, the more I read and talk to you guys the more I feel that amputation is the right thing, and the more confident I feel in my actions. I think that if I can feel assured that the surgery will occur with every possible attempt at keeping away residual pain, then I will feel more assured about the choice.

Thanks so much! I hope we can get through this.

"You aren't doing it TO him, you are doing it FOR him. Give him a chance at life."

Check out Fang's blog at http://cldavis......pawds.com/

The Rainbow Bridge

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27 October 2012 - 8:50 am
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That's great you got to talk to a Davis vet. That's where I had my surgery. They're terrific. Let us know what they tell you. 

It's wonderful that you're being so conscientious about pain management, that's something more and more folks are becoming aware of. I think you're being a great advocate for Fang, keep it up!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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27 October 2012 - 10:03 am
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jerry said
That's great you got to talk to a Davis vet. That's where I had my surgery. They're terrific. Let us know what they tell you. 

It's wonderful that you're being so conscientious about pain management, that's something more and more folks are becoming aware of. I think you're being a great advocate for Fang, keep it up!

Thanks, I am so happy that he was willing to talk to me. Unfortunately, he is going to be out of town next week so he would not be able to do the surgery, but he is still willing to consult with me about it (at least briefly), and that really means something. I work (part time) for a Family Law attorney, so I know that "free consults" don't often occur except for out of the goodness of the person's heart. I feel very lucky, in this at least.

I will let you guys know what he says!

Thanks

"You aren't doing it TO him, you are doing it FOR him. Give him a chance at life."

Check out Fang's blog at http://cldavis......pawds.com/

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27 October 2012 - 6:37 pm
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Oh guys! I just realized I have another question, though I don't know if there's a fundamental difference between cats and dogs with the issue:

For front-leg amputees - Did the vet take the scapula along with the leg? Do you feel like having the scapula helps them balance better? I am trying to decide whether I should have the vet take it or not, as she wants to take it.

Thanks!!!

"You aren't doing it TO him, you are doing it FOR him. Give him a chance at life."

Check out Fang's blog at http://cldavis......pawds.com/

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27 October 2012 - 6:40 pm
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They almost always take the scapula. It looks better, but there are fewer chances of injury later to the bulging scapula (I can't explain it exactly but you can probably picture it). Leaving stumps, scapulae (scapulas? scapul-somethings?) etc. make a higher chance of getting bonked, biffed, dinged, smacked or otherwise injured.

Shari

From abandoned puppy to Tripawd Warrior Dude, Dakota became one of the 2011 February Furballs due to STS. Our incredibly sweet friend lived with grace and dignity till he impulsively raced over the Bridge on 12-15-12.

Dakota's thoughtful and erudite blog is at http://shari.tr.....pawds.com/

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27 October 2012 - 6:43 pm
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Dakota Dawg said
They almost always take the scapula. It looks better, but there are fewer chances of injury later to the bulging scapula (I can't explain it exactly but you can probably picture it). Leaving stumps, scapulae (scapulas? scapul-somethings?) etc. make a higher chance of getting bonked, biffed, dinged, smacked or otherwise injured.

Shari

Oh, okay. That makes sense. I guess it especially makes sense for a cat because they are often jumping down from things and I can only imagine what would happen if they fell on their side (which I hear happens a lot)! Ugh!

Well good, I won't worry about that anymore then.

Thanks!

"You aren't doing it TO him, you are doing it FOR him. Give him a chance at life."

Check out Fang's blog at http://cldavis......pawds.com/

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28 October 2012 - 4:12 pm
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I concur. Better to take the whole thing. We've seen a lot of canine front-leg amputees have healing issues when a stump was left behind.

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30 October 2012 - 11:17 pm
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Update: Surgery day is set for this Saturday, 11/3/12.

Status: Freaking the heck out. But at least we've decided. Poor Fang! :(

"You aren't doing it TO him, you are doing it FOR him. Give him a chance at life."

Check out Fang's blog at http://cldavis......pawds.com/

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30 October 2012 - 11:20 pm
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Also - that vet from UC Davis that said he'd consult with me over email never answered my email. -.-

"You aren't doing it TO him, you are doing it FOR him. Give him a chance at life."

Check out Fang's blog at http://cldavis......pawds.com/

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