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Cat displaying strange behaviour after amputation
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18 June 2015 - 8:54 am
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My lovey 7 year old cat had his rear right leg amputated 4 weeks ago due to a car de-gloving injury.  He seems to have a few behaviour issues and I wonder if anyone has experienced anything similar and whether you can offer any advice?  He manages to hop around fairly well and can run and even jump up onto the sofa and bed and has recently climbed a tree!  He has no problem with his litter tray or eating.  But every now and then his little stump seems to rear up, almost like he is bucking like a horse, and he ends up rolling onto his side and seems unable to get up. Sometimes he will cry out and I'm not sure if that is pain related or panic.  I find that if I talk to him gently and lay my hand on him he stays put and after about 30 seconds he either lies down and relaxes or he can get up and move on. He always use to walk backwards and I wonder if he is trying to do that but obviously he now can't because of the missing rear limb.  I sent my vet a video of him during one of these episodes (which was hard to watch when all I wanted to do was comfort him) and she said she wasn't sure why it was happening but could be behavioural due to trauma of missing limb, or some sort of abnormal electronic activity to the brain, or even the start of epilepsy (which I doubt). She added that this is a 'watch and wait' period and I am due to speak to her later today to update her.  Some days I don't notice any of these 'episodes' but last night I witnessed quite a few and although they seemed shorter I can't help but worry.  Has anyone experienced anything like this and is there a happy ending because it seems a never ending nightmare at the moment.

The Rainbow Bridge

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18 June 2015 - 9:32 am
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Hi Tracie thanks for posting. Your future posts won't need approval so post away OK?

Sorry to hear about your kitty. I'm not as familiar with post-op kitty care as others are here so hang tight and they will chime in. But my gut instinct after reading your post is that he could be overdoing things and might be experiencing muscle spasming. Four weeks out is not a long time so to be doing things like climbing trees already sounds like a lot of work. Bodies need time to adjust after losing a limb and when a dog or cat gets too much activity, usually the result is pain.

Have you tried any kind of gentle massage on a regular basis? Limiting his activity if at all possible by keeping him indoors for longer periods of time may also help his body recuperate. If you are able, a trip to a vet rehab specialist for an assessment would be very helpful.

Here are some links that may help you figure this out.

Learn from Our Tripawds Kitty Bloggers (search their blogs for "massage" and "pain" and you may find lots of tips).

Read what Dr. Kennedy has to say about Tripawd Kitties.

And stay tuned, others will chime in shortly.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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18 June 2015 - 10:19 am
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Jerry has some good ideas on what this might be. Perhaps it's phantom pain? My tripawd kitty Mona would, for no obvious reason cry out. This happened only a few times after her stitches were out.

Within a month of her amputation I would see her stop and readjust her shoulder (she's a front leg amputee) then she'd continue walking. I took her in to for a chiropractic treatment and learned how to massage her and some strengthening and stretching exercises. 

You'll find that your cat will get stronger over time. I think it's well worth checking in with a vet chiropractor and rehab specialist.

Also, to reassure you, cats are very smart and start to learn that it hurts to do certain things. Mona initially was taking flying leaps off the bed onto 3 legs. I put a chair and banker's box beside the bed she now uses those to get down. I have boxes in other areas in my house and she always uses them and knows they are for her (she hits my other cat if he sits or sleeps on them). You might want to place boxes or some type of step under the areas your cat likes to jump. That way he won't have to work the remaining hind leg as hard when jumping up.

Let us know what the vet said.

Kerren and Tripawd Mona

The Rainbow Bridge

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18 June 2015 - 10:28 am
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Kerren you rock! Thanks for being here for your very very valuable insight! Give Mona a scratch from us!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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18 June 2015 - 12:45 pm
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Kerren is right; it could be phantom pain or perhaps a sign of frustration. Is he trying to scratch an ear with that missing limb? I know my Smore, a front leg amputee, still tries to dig and cover in her litter box with her missing leg. Sometimes when she wants to paw at something, you can see her shoulder area spasming and know that if a limb was there it'd be attacking; however, she has to sit up and use her only front leg to do it. She still does this after almost a year post-op too.

Have you tried scratching at his ears or face while he's doing it to see if he just needs some relief from a frustrating itch?

Tina and Smore

(with the spirit of Pebbles watching from the Rainbow Bridge)

 

Smore is my tripawd kitty who adopted me one summer evening. She had an injury to her front left leg and had to have her leg removed July 17th. She was only 3 or 4 months old at the time. Now she moves faster than some four legged cats!

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18 June 2015 - 7:46 pm
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My kitty did the same and it does pass. It was like a panic attack for her and very scary for me. She'd flip and couldn't seem to catch her balance. Be supportive and gentle words. Before you know it she will be back to herself

Virginia
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18 June 2015 - 11:48 pm
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Hang in there, okay? You've gotten a lot of good advice and links.

I also thought possibly phantom pain or trying to scratch an itch. He could cry out from the phantom limb pain adn also cry o u t of frustration if he is unable to scratch an itch...or even clean his face with his laws like he used to.

No firsthand experience though.

Update when you can

Hugs to all!

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle 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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19 June 2015 - 12:11 am
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Thank you all so much for getting in touch.  I must admit a few tears sprung to my eyes when I saw that there was a response ..I have felt very alone with this and desperate for some guidance.  Spoke to the Vet yesterday and she has said she would like to put his pain medication (Metacam) back up to 4ml per day for a week to see if there is any difference in his behaviour. She also mentioned that when they form the new stump they use some of the remaining muscle and it may be this that is going into spasm. If there is no improvement after a week she is looking to put him on some form of anti-depressant to help numb the signals to the brain that register pain.  I am happy to try the Metacam for the week but my feeling is that this is either phantom limb pain or muscle spasm and I agree that he has maybe overdone things and am now trying to get him to calm down a little. Also had to put his e-collar back on a couple of days ago, as he licked an area of the scar which has now formed a small scab and I need that bit to heal over otherwise he will just keep licking it ...and of course he hates the e-collar so seems very sad at the moment, which is heart breaking. Thank you also for the advice about massage and rehabilitation and the various links to sites that can offer advice and help.  I will look into all of this and post updates when I can.  Very grateful to you all.

Virginia
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19 June 2015 - 12:51 am
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No indeedy! You are NOT alone!! We are your new family (whether you want us or not! We put the "fun"in dysfunction!)way-cool

When you speak to your vet again, as kf she thinks it may be PHANTOM LIMB PAIN. It is real and n it does exkst. Just ask any human who has lost a lomb. However, there are some vets who stil l are unaware of it. In dogs, theyngiventhem Gabapentin. Phantom pain is when the nerve endings are still firing off signals to a limb that is no longer there. This Gaba . blocks it

Hang in there, okay? This is major surgery and four weeks is not that long. I know it's hard to be patient, Stay connected to us. We understand like no others can!

Hugs and love!

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle 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!

The Rainbow Bridge

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19 June 2015 - 9:29 am
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Oh I'm so glad we were able to help you feel supported and not alone. You can come back here anytime OK? And please do. We're still learning so much about cats after amputation (we started out as a dog-centric community) and every experience adds to the collective wisdom here. So thank you very, very much. Let us know what helps OK?

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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19 June 2015 - 1:58 pm
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Thank you Jerry, I feel a lot better today and now believe there is hope once more.  I will definitely get back to you on what has helped as I feel it is so important.  My thanks also to Benny55, your advice and kind words are very much appreciated. Nylarose, I wonder if you could tell me how long your kitty experienced this for, in terms of weeks/months? 

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24 June 2015 - 12:57 pm
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Update on Mr Darcey: Took him back to the Vet on Monday as there was a part of the skin just under the scar line which didn't seem to heal properly and anytime he could get at it he would, despite my efforts to watch him like a hawk whenever he had his collar off!  The vet said it was scar tissue which was very thin and she could also feel a stitch knot beneath the skin which would have dissolved in time but that could have taken up to 10 weeks and not sure he would have coped with another 10 weeks with his collar on. Opted to have the knot removed and the slight patch of skin was then be re-stitched.  I was hopeful that this stitch knot may have been the cause of his 'episodes' so he had the operation 2 days ago but sadly I have witnessed two more episodes today, so feeling rather low right now. The Vet increased his pain medication prior to the operation and said we would review in a weeks time but can't help feeling there is more to this than meets the eye, or is it just the muscles etc; settling down?  Would really be grateful to hear from anyone that has had this experience, just so I can get an idea of how long it went on for and whether it will ever go away.

Virginia
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24 June 2015 - 9:29 pm
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Awww, sorry about Mr. Darcey had to have a restitch done. Ugh!

You mentioned before that he liked to walk backwards. Do you think that he is still trying to figure that out? The crying may be more out of frustration rather than pain.

I really like the idea of getting him a chiropractic treatment like Kitty Mona had. Do you have a Rehab. Vet near you? Physical therapy may be in order. Since this amputation was due to a car accident, I suppose it's possible he had a bad head bump, or perhaps some sort of spine issue. I think a Rehab. Vet could really help pinpoint what's going on.

I'm sure it's distressing to watch. But remember, Mr. Darcey just deals with the momentary challenge and moves forward enjoying his life of being loved and spoiled! Your kitty is with you and is recovering very nicely I. Spite of this little hiccup!!

Did the vet entertain that it may be phantom limb pain? I k m ow with dogs Gabapentin is VERY effective...not sure about cats.

Maybe others can chime in with more insight.

Sending you group hugs....and a reminder to eat lots of CHOCOLATE!!! It's a wonder drug and makes you feel better instantly!!way-cool

(((((((((((((((((((((((((((HUGS))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle 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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24 June 2015 - 11:57 pm
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Hi benny55 ...thank you so much for getting back to me.

Yes, there is a part of me that feels he is trying to walk backwards and can't figure it out yet.  Strangely enough if he is having an 'episode' and I can get him to lie down and put my hand on him the episode passes within less than a minute but when my partner was there yesterday and tried to intervene the episode went on longer, which makes me wonder if the comments made in my earlier post about panic attacks is in part true and the crying could very well be frustration or annoyance.

The Vet did mention phantom limb pain and I also asked her how many amputations she had done and whether she had experienced any like this one.  Her answer was that she had done loads and not seen anything like this before.  She did also mention that at one stage when Darcey had a sedation (using ketamine) he had a very bad reaction and she is now not sure whether he may have suffered a stroke (sadly I am losing faith in her a bit now). 

I would like to wait until the wound heals a bit and then consider seeking a neurologist.  I am in the UK and not sure if we have rehab places here but assuming we do.  Good point about the possible head injury ...I mentioned this to the Vet  and she didn't think he had but then again I don't think they scanned him for that at the time of the injury.  Also looking into Gabapentin (or similar) at the moment. 

There are certainly days when it all seems very dark and gloomy but then when he is sleeping on the back of the sofa or lying next to me I think 'it will get better' and if love can heal then he should be better vey soon.

 

I am really grateful to you for being there and giving me hope.  x

The Rainbow Bridge

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25 June 2015 - 8:46 am
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Oh my gosh yes, it could totally be something because of the car accident. Usually when an animal loses a leg this way there are often other injuries. Perhaps a head injury could have been missed by your vet. I think a neurologist is a great idea. Also, there is definitely rehab in the UK, have you checked out this Canine Rehab Institute directory (probably not since Mr. Darcy is a cat) but the practitioners listed here often work on both so please check it out.

When the vet mentioned the possibility of phantom pain did she have any suggestions? One more tip here, this Farabloc EMF shield has helped quite a few people and pets. It doesn't work on all, but there's good anecdotal evidence that it's comforting. I've used it myself for migraines and it helps ease them.

One more tip I mentioned in my PM to you; I think that when two people are trying to deal with a situation like this it can make things worse. I know when my husband and I get in a nervewracking situation with Wyatt, things can escalate because emotions are running high. If Mr. Darcey trusts you the most, then I think that only you should be the one to try to calm him.

Hugs to you, I know this is so tough. Hang in there, things will get better.

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