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Older indoor shy cat, amputation likely, overwhelmed and need advice...
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shycat
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8 January 2017 - 8:54 am
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I have a 12 yr old male cat who has been eating less for about 3 weeks and losing weight.  He always loses weight during the winter as he doesn't eat much, likes to sleep all day on my bed, my lap or by the heater.   He's never been a fan of normal cat-like activities except maybe napping in a sunny spot.  He is an exclusively indoor cat who is shy, mellow, super attached to me and otherwise.. boring.  He doesn't see a vet regularly per se as the experience is traumatizing for both of us, I take him only when there seems to be a problem.

I've been monitoring his weight and his bathroom habits as I always do in winters.  During one of these exams, I felt half a golf-ball sized mass by his right hind leg at the knee.  I took him to the ER vet and the xray revealed some sort of a soft tissue tumor with few porous spots seen on the tibia.  Vet removed 30 ccs of fluids from the mass which was sent for analysis.  Blood drawn.  Vet said it is most likely cancer and amputation of the limb will be likely.  All this happened between 12-3 am on Saturday - I'm waiting for pathology results and lab work at this point, but I'm not hopeful after seeing the xray myself.

So after being all cried out, I'm trying to gather all information I can.  I will probably go forward with the amputation since my kitty is otherwise healthy (I assume).  How fast did you go from diagnosis to amputation?  I'm realizing that only the xray of the affected leg was performed.  Did your cat need a full body imaging to see if the cancer has spread anywhere?  What is the definitive imaging test to determine metastasis?  Is there a way to know whether my cat's leg is primary or secondary cancer?  If your cat had the cancer metastasized, what did you do?  If you had chemo, was it successful?  If there was no sign of metastasis at the time of amputation, did you have chemo anyway or did the cancer come back or was life good after amputation?  What discussions should I have with the vet before the amputation?  How painful is living with bone cancer for cats? If you had to put your cat to sleep, I would be interested to hear about it as well.

If anyone can give me any other pointers I would appreciate it.  I'm sure I have more questions but my mind is still so disorganized at the moment.  I guess my main thing is that I don't want to have my cat suffer by putting him through this amputation if it means that its just prolonging death just by a bit..  

The Rainbow Bridge

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8 January 2017 - 9:33 am
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Hi Shycat! I apologize but I have to run out and will offer ideas and tips later today. I wanted to make sure your post got approved so others can see it right away, and offer their helpful insight though, so hang in there! 

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8 January 2017 - 9:56 am
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Welcome to our community!  My Tripawd was a dog, but we have several active kitty bloggers, and several cat related threads going right now, so I am sure one of them will jump on soon to answer your questions.  A lot of cats seem to do really well on three, and it seems that amputation can be curative more often than for dogs (not a vet, just my impression after reading some of our kitty threads).   This is a really stressful time, but you have come to the right place for answers and support.

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.

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8 January 2017 - 11:26 am
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I'm sorry to hear you found a lump. My cat Mona had her front leg amputated 2.75 years ago and she's doing great. She's not an athlete and is doing very well.

I understand this is stressful. Please try not to get ahead of yourself. We'll be here every step of the way as you receive more information and have decisions to make. My experience with Mona is that I found a small hairless patch on her leg on a Friday night, by Sunday it was a golfball size lump. I took her to the vet on Monday and he was confused thinking it was an absess but it didn't hurt. He tried to drain it but it continued to grow. Thinking it may be a vaccine associated fibrosarcoma he amputated her front leg on the Friday. First he did blood work and an xray of her lungs and organs.

So there was no biopsy done first. The amputation was based on suspicion and concern about the aggressive growth. The pathology report showed the vet was correct and the lymph nodes were clear so likely the cancer didn't spread.

Bone cancer is extremely painful. My dentist told me that bone pain is the worst pain.

It's likely that the tumour is the primary cancer. Please do not worry about metastasis. Focus on the leg and the vet will guide you in any required testing and treatments.

Cats do not suffer from leg amputation. Most do very well on 3 legs. You can ask your vet if he thinks your cat is healthy enough for surgery and to recover from an amputation. You could also raise the issue of weight loss.

Please keep in touch with us. There are people to support you in the decisions you'll have to make.

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

shycat
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8 January 2017 - 12:07 pm
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Thank you for your kind words.  Yes, one of my concerns is whether he'll have a decent recovery as he's never been very active cat after kittenhood.  He gets spooked easily and takes a long time to recover.  I'm sure he and I will both adjust eventually though if we were forced to.

I guess if the pathology report after amputation reveals lymph node involvement, that is the indication that the cancer may have spread to elsewhere?  

This lump on my kitty seems to be aggressive as well.  At first I was beating myself up thinking how I didn't notice the lump with all the fat/bladder/bowel checks I've been doing.  Now I realize that there is no way it hell I could have missed a lump that big if it was there. He also didn't seem to be in any discomfort when I discovered it but now he sits a bit odd with affected leg jutting out.  The area has swollen up a little more, although I'm not sure whether it is just from the fluid aspiration.  

Question:  If I'm the only caretaker, how many days should I arrange to take off of work for my kitty postop?  

Livermore, CA
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8 January 2017 - 2:09 pm
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Hi Shycat,

Please consider registering as a member, after your first member post your subsequent posts will not have to wait for approval.

Please don't beat yourself up over missing the tumor- until you have dealt with cancer in one of your pets it's not something we usually think about.  My pug Maggie had a mast cell tumor in her knee that I only found when we were playing one day.  She never limped or favored the leg at all- and Mag was quite a drama queen so she would have let me know if it was painful.  After I knew the tumor was there I did notice that the leg was just a bit stiff, mostly when she squatted.   You took action as soon as you found it and now you have to be strong for your boy...what's his name?

Here is a blog post with lots of Kitty Member information.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

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8 January 2017 - 4:25 pm
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I know it seems a shock and that you don't know if you have covered everything but reading through your posts, you are incredibly insightful and are asking exactly the types of questions that you should! There are many, many TriCats here who will be much more helpful than I ever could but I would like to say that sometimes being a ShyCat has its advantages in circumstances such as this. Cats who are self-contained seem to often do very well ( hate to say it TriPawd Nation but some dogs really could learn from our TriCats as they recover...) during the trying times. 

As far as taking time off, I would think as long as there are no complications and the pain meds are helpful and the Cone of Shame/ InflataCone do not seem to bother ShyCat, maybe a day or two? DogPawrents tend to take off more time as dogs need help getting up and getting out to use the lawn. But again, I have no idea...

You are doing exceptionally well thinking of everything, doing the exams you do which caught the lump sooner rather than later, and going to the vet even though it is not the favorite place to be. Deep breath, take it one ShyCat day at a time, and focus on the leg first. Everyone is here to support you and ShyCat!!! (Is that his name?)

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8 January 2017 - 4:33 pm
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My kitty's name is Dusty.  I try to be strong for him but I can't stop crying every time I look at him.  I'm not even sure if I can even hold a sane conversation with the vet which is one of the reasons why I'm asking so many questions here I think.  Tomorrow/day after, if I can bring it up without crying that is, I need to let my employer know about possible absence.  How much time minimum would you guys suggest that I be there for an older, unmotivated, skittish kitty to be left on his own?

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8 January 2017 - 4:38 pm
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charliebear said
I know it seems a shock and that you don't know if you have covered everything but reading through your posts, you are incredibly insightful and are asking exactly the types of questions that you should! There are many, many TriCats here who will be much more helpful than I ever could but I would like to say that sometimes being a ShyCat has its advantages in circumstances such as this. Cats who are self-contained seem to often do very well ( hate to say it TriPawd Nation but some dogs really could learn from our TriCats as they recover...) during the trying times. 

As far as taking time off, I would think as long as there are no complications and the pain meds are helpful and the Cone of Shame/ InflataCone do not seem to bother ShyCat, maybe a day or two? DogPawrents tend to take off more time as dogs need help getting up and getting out to use the lawn. But again, I have no idea...

You are doing exceptionally well thinking of everything, doing the exams you do which caught the lump sooner rather than later, and going to the vet even though it is not the favorite place to be. Deep breath, take it one ShyCat day at a time, and focus on the leg first. Everyone is here to support you and ShyCat!!! (Is that his name?)  

Dusty is his name.  Thank you so much for your support.  I'm a worried wreck about how he'll recover, he's always been so mellow, not-curious-about-anything, only loves his momma, boring kind of a cat.

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8 January 2017 - 5:11 pm
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You've been asking great questions. Write these down and bring them into the vet so he/she can answer them and you can write down the answers so you don't forget. It's also okay to cry at the vet clinic, they are sad too.

If amputation is recommended based on the biopsy results then ask the vet about recovery time, pain medications, how long the cat would be at the vet clinic, what to do in an emergency.

Now is the time for positive thinking and connection with Dusty. Tell Dusty why you are sad and that you are going to do everything you can to make him better. Tell him about your fears. Although Dusty may not understand then at least you are getting the words out so they can dissipate. My holistic vet told me to do this with Mona. Yup, it seems a little flaky. The look in Mona's eyes said "No big deal, I've got this, can you brush me now?" Ask Dusty to show the vet that he's a real superstar, he may be shy, but many times the big, strong boys are. When I take my male cat to the vet I bring Mona along to comfort him. She crawls on top of him and he stops whining and the vet does the check up that way.

Some cat parents have used Feliway, synthetic cat pheromones, to calm their cat. You might want to check that out.

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

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8 January 2017 - 5:24 pm
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Well I think a shy, mellow, sun basking, love his momma bestest kind of Dusty is one very special cat indeed! Smart that he chose you! And lucky!!! 

I know it is hard to talk out loud about this so is there any way you would be more comfortable writing a note/ emailing about taking a few days off? (When I have had to take time off, I know I have tried to keep it brief by saying I had a family member undergoing surgery/ medical procedure...) 

Also, there is a HelpLine here and a chat room. Although there are not as many TriCats, the emotions and worries ( AND celebrations) are very similar and folks here are INCREDIBLY kind, thoughtful, supportive, and insightful. You NEVER have to do this on your own with TriPawd Nation behind you!!!

it is okay to cry but remember Dusty is full of love for you so give him lots of snotless kisses when you can as well. TriCats do seem to do much better than others and DUSTY is already a very special cat with super powers: he knew enough to store up all his energy for the next few days. 

Let us know what we can do to help and keep us updated! Hugs and loving PurrPaws all around!

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8 January 2017 - 5:47 pm
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I forgot to respond to the number of days you need off work. Mona had her surgery on a Friday, she went home with the vet that night and I picked her up Saturday. I was able to work from home on Monday and Tuesday, except that I had to go in for a meeting so a friend came in to be with Mona (Mona misbehaved) and then I worked from home again on Wednesday. On Thursday I went to work and back home at lunch to give her medication.

If you are doing this on your own then you might want to ask for 5 days just in case you need them and go back to work early if you don't need the time off.

Kerren

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8 January 2017 - 5:49 pm
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Hi and Welcome,

Im sorry you find yourself and Dusty here. We can all help with our experiences and what we have gone thru.

Hopefully with hearing some of our experiences this will help you in your own. It is a very upsetting and horrifing time when you get this kind of news. Your are doing great already doing your research!! 

Our cat Purrkins had a Soft tissue Sarcoma grade 1 on his front left carpus wrist to us. Purrkins is 6 months post amp of his front left leg. We started with a needle aspirate which came back as inconclusive and the vet thought it would be best to do a wait and see approach. We had a X-ray of the leg to rule out bone involvement, and bloodwork.

Long story short we ended up having to go back and get a tissue biopsy which confirmed soft tissue sarcoma. Low grade 1

From there we went to our Veterinary college to see the oncologist . We had more bloodwork , ultrasound ,chest X-rays and urinalysis done. We did all of those to check if the cancer had spread . Our results came back no spread. Although noted it still could of spread and the cells are microscopic and not showing up. 

We had a choice of amputation or surgery which would NOT remove the tumor entirely, followed with Radiation. 16-20 treatments. 

After doing all of our research and found this site in our case we chose to amputate that was Purrkins best shot of beating his cancer. 

Purrkins leg was removed and they got clean Margins meaning ,Likely curative by taking the leg.

We just went back last week for his 6 months recheck and had the same tests done, ultrasound, blood work, urinalysis and chest x-rays.

Purrkins is still cancer free! They would like to do another recheck in another 6 months and then if still good we will go to every year exams. 

If it were me I would want to know what I was dealing with first, then go from there. Ok , this is not easy by any means just try to wait until the results come back . Then if it were me I would want to know if it has spread and again go from there. What are you choices and etc. You will want to make sure Dusty is in good health otherwise before considering more. Dusty quality of life is what matters most to you and Dusty!

Dusty can have a quality of life on 3 legs, there is a relearning process after surgery and once you get thru that. Life will return to a new normal ! We will help you with whatever your decisions are form here. You are the only one who can make the best decision for Dusty . 

Keep asking questions and gather all of your information and make the decision your gut tells you is right! I will tell you. I did not want to amputate Purrkins arm ! With all of the research done, My gut told me it was the best route to go for Purrkins, I hated what my gut said! 

Please hear me ,We will never regret what we have done with Purrkins and I believe Purrkins would tell you the same thing! No matter what our future holds this was our best route! I would do it again ,I never want to do it again lets be clear,  but if I was in the same corner again, It would be alot easier knowing now that yes, It is doable ,Purrkins is just as happy on 3 as he was on 4 ! 

Your defiantly are not alone! Hang in there and give Dusty and yourself a big hug form us ok!

Holly & Purrkinsheart

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8 January 2017 - 7:13 pm
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Connection not working well tonight, so just one wuick suggest and apologies for such short response. .....for now!!

Record the session with your tavlet if you have ine...or a recorder...or o e of those "fancy phones"

BTW, crying, panicking, nausea, anxiety, no sleep, being uncertain and fearful, znd crying some .ore...NORMAL!!

STAY CONNECTED!! As you can see, you are NOT ALONE!

Hugs!

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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8 January 2017 - 7:19 pm
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Thank you for everyone's response and support.  Having heard your experiences eased my anxiety a great deal.  I guess there's not much for me to do now than wait for the lab/fluid analysis results.  I am going to stop wasting my energy on guilt and feeling sorry for my kitty.  I shall focus on fattening him up a bit in time for surgery.  I'll keep you guys posted.  Thank you!

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