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Amputate or Say Goodbye? - 11-12 year old feline
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Forum Posts: 3
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29 August 2017 - 12:30 pm
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Hi Everyone,

This is the first time posting and I'm looking for advice (sorry for the length) as there are a few circumstances that are making me question what to do.  I have an 11-12 year old indoor cat (Widget-pictured in my profile pic) recently diagnosed with a fibrous tumor near her front right elbow. The vet said that amputation would be needed.  I also have another mostly outdoor cat and two dogs (all are 10+ yrs old). Widget had been fine until about a month ago when I noticed she was limping. The tumor came on strong and after a couple weeks of her limping (thinking maybe it was a temporary injury that would heal) I took her to the vet and was dumbfounded that a tumor was discovered via x-ray (reviewed by a radiologist) and that amputation would be the end result.  I have a few concerns.

  • The cat's food has always been kept on top of the kitchen 'island/counter' since the dogs will eat the food if they have access.  Therefore, the cat jumps onto a chair to get to the food.  I have since put a shorter chair for her to jump onto and a low bench at the end of my bed so she doesn't have to jump as high.  I do have a room that I can put a baby gate up with an opening for her to access food on the ground so that is an option. However, I am planning to move in with my boyfriend and three kids (9, 11, 15) in the next couple months. At his house, there are steep stairs going to the 3rd floor and basement that one of my dogs can't even use (he was hit by a car before I adopted him from a friend so has some back leg issues). So Widget will most likely be secluded to the main level (which is fairly small).
  • Widget is a fairly big/plump cat and weight management would definitely be needed. 
  • I currently live with a roommate who has a Yorkie that tries to attack either of my cats whenever possible. We keep them separated but there are times where the cat(s) roam the house and the Yorkie goes after them (one of the reasons why I am looking forward to my move). - just so it's noted, I didn't know this before the roommate moved in and due to other circumstances, I needed the help with rent. My concern is the recovery time, even after the biopsy trying to allow Widget to heal under the current household conditions. I don't want to put her through stress during recovery.
  • I'm concerned about her quality of life. I have researched and read so many stories of how cats are resilient and adapt fairly quickly. But I've also read other cases where the surgery didn't go as expected, other health conditions arose, etc.
  • I hate to say it, but I can't afford the surgery. I could go deeper into debt but I'm already in pretty significant debt already due to a divorce that left me with a large 'mess' to clean up (to the tune of about 45k). This is another reason for my move so that I can pay down my debt.  If money wasn't an object or concern, I am still unsure as to what I would do to be honest.
  • I work full-time and travel every other weekend. I'm concerned how I will be able to support the healing/aftercare required. My boyfriend and I live 41 miles apart and I don't have any friends or family members close enough to help.
  • I feel guilty for questioning what to do. I know this is a personal decision but I feel guilty for putting her through the surgery and recovery. On the other hand, I feel guilty about even considering not doing whatever I can to help Widget. I feel like I'm giving up on her if I don't go through with amputation but I also don't want her to suffer or struggle, especially with a move that is bound to cause confusion and readjustment.
  • My family has always had animals that they cared deeply for but they have strong opinions against amputation. I've read the post about how to deal with family and friends regarding amputation but part of me looks to my parents as the wise, realistic I voice.

I love all of my animals and have always done everything I could do to make sure they are loved and cared for at all times. Reading through the forums/blogs, there are so many loving people and I appreciate your advice. Please understand that I am struggling to make the right decision for Widget, near tears whenever I think about this and have given her extra love so she knows I'm trying to do what's best.

Thank you,

Brandi (and Widget)

Livermore, CA
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29 August 2017 - 1:05 pm
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Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

You do have a lot on your plate!  I think you are very smart for laying out everything you have to deal with, a good tool to help with making this difficult decision.

As far as financial resources- we don't allow fundraising because everyone here if facing big vet bills, but we do have a reimbursement program that you may qualify for.  The Tripawds Foundation gives grants once a month, here is the information.  Please read the requirements carefully.

I have to run right now but wanted to get your post approved and the ASAP fund information to you. 

Hang on for some great input from our members.

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

Virginia
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29 August 2017 - 2:09 pm
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Hey Brandi...and your adoravle Widget!  Love his name!

Two important things from the get-go:  

  • WE UNDERSTAND EVERY SINGLE EMOTION YOU ARE FEELING. 
  • NO ONE HERE JUDGES ANYONE FOR ANY DECISION THEY MAKE....EVVVVER!
  • YOU ARE NOT ALONE!   We are here for you and to help you navigate through all your concerns.

As Karen said,  you have a lot on your plate!  For now, just try and chunk thinge down into a couple of smaller bites, okay?

  • Talk with the Surgeon and try and find out what kind of costs you are dealing with.  Think check out things like Care Credit, or any groups that offer financial support.  Would the Surgeon be willing to work with you on monthly payents?
  • Clarify that the Vet has determined Widget is a good candidate for surgery and has no otber issues.  What was the actual "diagnosis" anyway?  Osteosarcoma?
  • Once you get an idea of financial options (if any), then you can give your focus on the amputation (if you go that route) and adress all the recovery challenges you are facing.   Without going into too  much detail at this point, just know that most of your recovery challenges CAN BE WORKED OUT!!!   We've seen some of these similar issues before.

Just trying to help you focus on a couple of first steps for now,  rather than focusing  on  the entire OVERWHELMING bigger picture!!  GEEZ!!!  You saidnyou were "nesr tears".....trust me....most of us woukd be screaming hysterically with all the challenges you have faced and continue to face!!!

We have some EXTRAORDINARY kitty members here who can coach you in how to handle some of the potential recovery challenges you face.  Be sure and check out our TRIPAWD KITTY threads.

Please know this:  Widget KNOWS you love him!    Widget would NOT want to see financial stress overtake you!  That's not a "quality" of life for you or any of your pets. Finances are DEFINITELY a valid part of the equation when making "forced choices" for our pets

In the meantme, has your Vet suggested some good pain meds for Widget? If amputation is not an options, there are still some things you can do to give him extended pain free time with proper  meds. 

Update when you can!  A d we'd love to see more pictures of your cute Widget!

Sending extra hugs, learce and clarity,

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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29 August 2017 - 2:11 pm
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Hi Karen,

Thank you for the approval and your prompt response. And thank you for providing the additional information. I didn't intend on asking for any kind of fundraising or financial support, I'm sorry I should have made that clear. I just wanted to add that as one of the difficulties I'm faced with in making the best decision. I look forward to feedback/advice among this community as I learn more about other's experience whether it be positive or not. 🙂

Brandi

Here and Now

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29 August 2017 - 2:17 pm
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bkiehl said
I didn't intend on asking for any kind of fundraising...I just wanted to add that as one of the difficulties... 

No worries, and thank you for the input! Please consider adding your feedback to the forum topic about amputation costs.

Virginia
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29 August 2017 - 2:20 pm
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BRANDI!!     Karen was just ketting you know we do, indeed, have a source for "so pme" fiancial support if you fit the criteria.  No o e was thinking you were trying to fundraise here silly gal!   Not thst there would be anything wrong with asking....ahe was just explaining the policy here and pointing you to a possible solution!!

A d also, that reminds me some people have started a GO FIND ME PAGE.....not sure of all the xetails, but it's a way to raise fu ds kn the internet.

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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29 August 2017 - 7:56 pm
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Hi Brandi, I'm sorry to hear that Widget has a tumour and is in pain. I know that it's sometimes a difficult decision to have surgery done because we don't know the ultimate outcome.

My cat Mona had her front leg amputated over 3 years ago and she’d doing great. I agree with Sally that it might help to break your situation down into pieces so it’s not so over-whelming. I’d like to focus on what might be the priorities because the other things, such as location of the cat’s food, can easily be solved later.

Decision to amputate – Is the tumour benign? Could it be caused by a vaccine injection? If so, the vaccine company may pay for part of the costs. What is the cost, including everything (diagnostics, xray, amputation, pathology report, medications)? Will other treatments such as chemo or radiation be required?

Widget’s overall health – Please ask the vet if Widget is healthy enough to recover from the amputation. What are the risks?

Widget’s recovery – Her recovery is most important and the Yorkie needs to be controlled. Perhaps you can set your bedroom up as Widget’s nursery while he heals. My cat liked a little den in the closet. You need easy access to Widget’s den to give medications, food and cuddles. Can you take time off work until the stitches come out or can Widget move in with someone who can help out if you are travelling?

Quality of life – talk to the vet about this. I think it depends so much on the overall health and temperament of the cat. Quite honestly, I didn't realize that Mona would have so much gumption in the way she handled the surgery. She even enjoys going to the vet clinic now. She acts like a celebrity.

By the way, cats can still jump and use stairs after leg amputations.

Keep in touch. Hugs to you and that beautiful Widget.

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

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30 August 2017 - 11:56 am
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Thank you for your responses Sally and Kerren.  I've only received estimates for the biopsy and amputation.  I've been communicating with my vet via email regarding the after-care, recovery, etc.  I'm waiting on her response.  

The estimate for the biopsy was anywhere from $900-$1200.  The estimate for the amputation was anywhere from $1800-$2300.  This does not include after care, follow up visits, medications or the like.  The vet said that the surgeon may do a panel to confirm there are no other issues prior to anesthesia (which I would prefer).  The biopsy will determine whether its a spindle cell tumor and if it is fibrosarcoma, the vet said that they would need to take some of her connective muscles, more than they commonly do, to ensure they have removed all of the abnormal cells which would extend the surgery time (which would cost more on the higher end of their estimate).  There has been no mention of chemo but that probably depends on their findings from the biopsy.

Widget has been overall healthy (as far as I've seen over the last 9 years I've had her) with the exception of typical skin issues that were easily treatable. She's scared of most things and stays in my room sleeping on my bed. However, since she's been limping, she follows me everywhere no matter what. Wherever I go, even to the front/back door, she follows. When I'm eating, she's at my feet. On the couch, she's right beside me. She's become much more clingy (and I mean that in a good way) since this has all happened.

The den in the closet is a great idea, I didn't think about that.  The Yorkie is out of control and I've tried training her (since my roommate just kind of accepts her behavior as it is) but she also attacks me if I try to give any corrections - have I said I can't wait to move?!  There isn't really anyone that I know who could take her in during her recovery but I may be able to work from home for some of the time. The only concern I see could be an issue is that my dogs (not the Yorkie) roam free during the day in my one story house. They sleep in the bedroom as well but I can't shut the door because Widget will scratch and scratch to get out regardless if she's just going to come back in two seconds later. Because cats. whatever

Sally - I do have care credit but the limit is only $1500 and I just spend about $800 on a recent vet visit. I do have some available credit on other credit cards but I've tried really hard to chip away and I'm still left with 45k debt. :/  But GoFundMe could be an option if the surgery is the best option for Widget. (and I can't figure out how to add more pictures of Widget - the insert/edit image isn't allowing me to select the 'source').  I'll try again later. 

Livermore, CA
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30 August 2017 - 3:25 pm
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Hi again Brandi,

Thanks for being understanding about my 'fundraising' caution. 99% of the people who post here get it (like you big-grin) but I have found that it is better to write a cautious post right off the bat.  I also wanted to let you know about the ASAP fund, that is relatively new.

I don't really have anything to add to the great help you have already received from Kerren except that please don't feel bad for factoring in finances into your decision making process.  We all wish that we had all the money in the world to take care of our pets but for most of us that just isn't true.  All you can do is your best- and I have no doubt that you are doing that! 

I haven't had a cat for many years so I can't help with specifics.  From all the kitties I've seen here they all seem to adapt really well.

Here is how to add photos to the forums. They have to be hosted on line somewhere (don't use photobucket and Facebook isn't consistent).  You can start a blog here for free and upload pics there then post them in the forums.

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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30 August 2017 - 3:39 pm
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Hi Brandi,

I may be confused but why would the vet do a biopsy if an amputation is the only option to get rid of the tumour? The pathologist would determine the type of tumour from the leg. It may also be useful to have a lymph node taken at the same time as the amputation.

Perhaps you can find out if a biopsy is really necessary. Would the results make a difference in the type of surgery?

By the way Widget will be quite happy to be in the den/bedroom during the initial recovery period. Then you can take her out for visits while the Monster (Yorkie) is locked in your roommates room or a bathroom. That dog is annoying me... mad 

Hugs to you and your sweet pets.

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

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