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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is the place to learn how to care for a three legged dog or cat, with answers about dog leg amputation, and cat amputation recovery from many years of member experiences.
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Castiel’s fibrosarcoma diagnosis
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Member Since:
10 October 2021
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10 October 2021 - 4:41 pm
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Hello, First time visiting this site. My parlor panther Castiel was diagnosed with fibrosarcoma grade II in the area of his left humerus. The tumor showed up out of thin air and grew very rapidly.  The vet removed the tumor but unfortunately the histopathology showed the cancer extended to the margins. He sees an oncologist and will have a CT scan Tuesday. His thoracic X-rays and blood work were normal. If it’s determined that the likelihood is that the cancer has not metastasized, then removal of his leg may be an option. I’m devastated but have found some courage here reading the stories here of tripod cats who are doing well. Castiel is 9 and he is a big, long black cat (18.3 lbs). He was a former feral cat whom we adopted through a rescue at 6 mos of age. He has two adopted tiger siblings. He is stubborn and lovey-dovey, and very food motivated. Aside from the cancer and being overweight, he is otherwise in good health. I don’t yet know what will happen or if he’s even a candidate for a front leg removal. If anyone has dealt with fibrosarcoma or has a large tripod cat, I’d love to hear from you. I’m feeling lost. Thank you, Michelle

On The Road


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10 October 2021 - 6:06 pm
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Hi Michelle and Castiel, welcome to the club nopawdy wants to join! We are sorry you had to, but glad you found us so that we can help you if you decide to proceed with amputation.

It sounds like you're doing your homework and getting great care for your parlor panther (I love that phrase!). You might want to check out our Questions to Ask Your Veterinary Oncologist before your visit on Tuesday. 

Many pets who have extra fluff on them still do well after amputation. It might take him longer to get his sea legs, and recovery might have some ups and downs when it comes to litterbox issues, but he sounds like has the purrsonality and good health to make a full recovery.

Be sure to check out this topic for other stories of cats with firbrosarcoma. 

Vaccine Associated Sarcoma - Fibrosarcoma, Osteosarcoma, Chondrosarcoma

As for very large cats, here are Forums search results about overweight cats

And for more stories about three-legged cats, check out our Trikitty bloggers!

If you decide to proceed with amputation, if it's necessary, be sure to check out Cool Tips for Tripawd Cats , it's filled with tons of tips about life on 3. And our What to Expect articles also have lots of info that will prepare you.

Holler with any questions and let us know how we can help!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Virginia




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22 February 2013
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10 October 2021 - 7:24 pm
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As you can tell from Jerry's post, you are no longer "lost"  Your "found" the Tripawds community and you are no longer alone on this journey.   Jerry has certainly  given you tons of information and, as usual, lots of sage advice.

Your "fluffy" kitty is very lucky to have your as an advocate for him.  While I don't  have any insight into his specific  issue, but we can tell you that cats handle life on three like RockStars.  Not saying recovery is easy.  There are challenges and every cat recovers at their own pace and in their own way.  We'll help you navigate  thru recovery  and beyond if amputation  is the route you take.

((((((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!

Member Since:
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10 October 2021 - 10:54 pm
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Thank you both for the warm welcome, kind words, and information. My husband (Brian645) and I have been doing a lot of reading to try and understand the options. We received a copy of the pathology report today. The report states that there is “no overt histologic evidence to suggest that this may be an injection site sarcoma.” Rather it appears to be a spontaneous fibrosarcoma for all the difference that makes. Castiel didn’t receive any vaccines in that location according to his veterinary records. While it’s always possible a technician mixed up right & left, it is likely just bad luck. We’re trying to keep him comfortable from the tumor removal surgery, which unfortunately was incompletely excised (hard to see all of cancer’s tentacles). He vehemently hates the cones (we tried different types & he thinks they all stink). We’re so nervous for the CT & oncology appointment Tuesday but we know that will give us more information. Still the decision making tree is between awful and awful. So scared for our little panther. He & his siblings are the sun and the moon to us - our everything, and right now it feels like everything has come to a screeching halt as we try to make sense of his diagnosis. That said, we are grateful to this community and all who have shared their family member’s journey and recovery.

Virginia




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12 October 2021 - 3:14 pm
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Just checking in to see how the appointment went. Hopefully you have enough I information  now to plot a path forward.  Sometimes  just knowing  what the next step is beings reloef.

Update when you can.

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!

On The Road


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12 October 2021 - 4:14 pm
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Oh man I lost a big long response to your post today, when we had our technical issues. Shoot! 

How did it go today?

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Member Since:
10 October 2021
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15 October 2021 - 1:50 am
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We received the results from the ultrasound, CT, and some bloodwork. The ultrasound of his lungs was clear. The CT looked good too with one concern, it noted a thyroid cyst. This is likely benign according to the vets and medical oncologist but they can’t say for certain. Castiel will have a thyroid hormone test done Tuesday when he gets his stitches removed from his first surgery (removal of tumor attempt). If the thyroid is normal, we probably won’t worry. If it’s abnormal, we may do a fine needle aspiration biopsy to confirm it’s not cancer. We have a meeting with a surgeon to discuss the leg removal Wednesday. COVID has made this process so much harder as per guardians are not permitted in the veterinary office and all discussions are via phone call. It’s hard to discuss and judge what someone is saying when you can’t meet face to face. It makes it that much harder & frustrating. Also, getting appointments in a timely manner is difficult & time is really important when dealing with a cancer that could spread quickly. Everyone we consulted said we would need to remove the leg or begin palliative care. We’re trying to come to terms with this, but we feel like monsters. I wish Castiel could tell us what he wants. Making it harder, is that family & friends believe we shouldn’t remove the leg. Balancing emotions, science, and costs is daunting. I have no idea if we’re making the right decision. I’m afraid of being haunted by it, yet, I’m hopeful when I read the few success stories. I want to believe in the best outcome but I’m old enough to know that  life doesn’t always work that way. In the interim, Castiel remains Castiel - silly, goofy black cat lying with his belly in the air, sitting in boxes, following sun beams through the house, and plotting to steal his sibling’s food. And now, he is curled up with his baby adopted sister (1-year-old Clover). The two are devoted to each other - and that too is is in my thoughts.

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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15 October 2021 - 8:08 am
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It's a lot to process and then, on top of that, to have to deal with all the frustrations of getting appointments,  being restricted on face to face visits, etc.  All this just adds stress to an already stressful  situation. 

One thing I learned fairly quickly when tryi g to decide  about amputation, was not to discuss with anyone!   You have to keep in mind you've done the research, you've talked  with the experts and the medical  professionals  and you know Castiel best.  It's a shock to jear the word "amputation ", but especially  without the understanding  of why it would be deemed necessary  and why the experts see it as a positive  "treatment" for the situation.   

When you do have the phone consult  with the Surgeon, you will probably  feel more confident  in your path forward....whatever that may be.  IF amputation  is that path, always remember  you are doing this FOR Castiel!  Giv9 your kitty the vest chance possible  at a quality  painfree life is not what "monsters" do.  It's what loving  and caring  hoomans do for their pets.♥️

Whatever path you take, we are here for you to support you in anyway we can.  

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

PS...... Have your list of questions  together.  Things like what pain management   would be given....would they provide  overnight fully staffed care, etc.  IF you do the amputation,  we can help you navigate thru the recovery.  Surgeons do their job and send you home.  They don't  witness  the roller coaster  ride of recovery once home.  Goodness k ows thos community  has experience  with what to expect  during recovery!  

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!

On The Road


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15 October 2021 - 9:44 am
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(((hugs))) sp_hearticon2

I can hear the angst in your voice and we totally get it. Deciding is tough, we all want to know what the future holds and this is one of the hardest reminders that nobody really knows for sure, ever. The current ways vet care is being handled, over the phone and with long wait times, makes it extra tough too. It's like that everywhere unfortunately. So, try to look at this as a time to hone in on your instincts, your gut feelings as a parent to Castiel. You and Brian know him better than anyone else. You know his purrsonality, and what kind of spunk is living in his heart. He's still a pretty young cat, and size shouldn't exclude him from being an amputation candidate (that is what the world's best surgeons have told us). 

Recovery may have rough spots, as it does with cats of all ages and sizes. But it's a short term situation with good long term benefits. We see it all the time. If you proceed, you will probably beat yourselves up for a few days as you watch Castiel find his sea legs. But then, over the next week or two, you'll see that sparkle come back and understand instinctually how the surgery brings quality of life to an animal that would otherwise be lost to cancer.

And Sally is right, just stop discussing it with others who have never had to make that decision. They don't get it and they never will unless they go through it with a fur baby they love with their heart and soul like you guys do.

When you talk to the vets, have your questions written down so you can feel more composed. That really helps! 

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Member Since:
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15 October 2021 - 12:54 pm
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Hello and welcome!

I am sorry you had to find this group, but based on personal experience the people here are wonderful and very supportive.  I realize my contributions in assisting you will be small as my personal experience was considerably different than yours, but maybe it will help in some fashion to hear directly from a tripawd cat owner.

Tuxedo, my fur baby, was mauled by a dog about 4 1/2 years ago.  He was almost 10 and weighed 16 lbs.  Following the incident, I was faced with the decision to amputate his rear leg and partial pelvis and hope that there was no permanent spinal cord injury or put him to sleep.  Since I am here, I think my decision is pretty obvious.  His recovery process was more involved than most have reported here, but he did recover fully.

So yes, not cancer, not front limb, but I can easily say that an older chunky cat can adapt and thrive while missing a limb and partial pelvis.  Despite my best efforts, Tuxedo has not managed to lose much weight.  He still is in the 14-15 pound range.  Yet he still runs around, jumps on pretty much everything he pleases, climbs up on the roof (I have no clue how he does it) and is his old lovable spoiled bratty self.  I do not regret making that decision.

Because of how well things in our house are going, I am not on here often.  But if you should ever wish to talk, please feel free to drop me a private message through the site.  I wish you all the best, no matter which decision you may make.  Any decision made out of love will always be the right one.  Please remember that as you go forward no matter what anyone else might tell you.

Best wishes,

-Dawna, Tuxedo, Lilly, and Angel Dazzle

Michigan


Member Since:
11 July 2016
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15 October 2021 - 2:52 pm
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Hello and Welcome, 

Sorry, you had to find us and are dealing with fibrosarcoma; we all understand how terrifying & gut-wrenching this decision is! Interesting spontaneous fibrosarcoma. I will have to look that up further.

If you decide on amputation cats, do excellent on three legs. Purrkins lost his front left leg from a soft tissue sarcoma on his carpus(wrist) at age six, now 11. Purrkins has been on 3 for five years, four months! He has surpassed anything we could have hoped for! He does all the kitty things he did on 4! The only difference is he does not last as long but has shorter bursts of energy!  

We modified the house with steps to Purrkins favorite lookout spots and bed to protect his remaining front leg. In addition, we modified his litter box to make getting in and out easier and placed rugs and rug runners through the house for traction : raised food and water bowls.

As for the extra weight, you can work on that. It is best to work with your vet! They get around so much easier with less weight! Diets are no fun but necessary and doable. Down a leg, they need even fewer calories. 

The first step in diets is knowing how many calories you are feeding and start to reduce slowly. If you are free-feeding a dry diet, you can switch to wet, and Castile will lose weight. Here is an excellent link on feline obesity and how to get the weight off. 

Feline Obesity: An Epidemic of Fat Cats

Invest in a digital baby scale and weigh often. (every 3 days) The key is to go slowly with a goal of no more than 1-2% weight loss per week  Implementing a Safe Weight Loss Program.

Look for a diet high in protein and low in carbs, under 2 % carbs. Carbs = fat in cats; call or email the company if this is not listed on your can or bag.

As for the hellish cone, we got permission from our surgeon to use a baby onesie or baby T-shirt for Purrkins. https://purrkin.....ternative/ Purrkins did not mind the onesie, and it made all the difference for us. 

We documented Purrkins journey if you wish to read further here - https://purrkin.....s-home/. 

As for the family and friends' opinion, I'm sorry it would make this decision even harder. Disregard them or send them to look around on the website! This is your furmily, your decision to make. They are not in this situation of life or death for their furmily member.  They likely have never seen a three-legged animal thrive. They likely do not see the animal as furmily. 

We cannot make this decision for you, and all our animals are unique; there are zero guarantees with C or in life in general. So follow your gut instincts on this decision, whatever that is! I hated my gut instinct said to take the leg, but here we are five-plus years later, we have zero regrets. We do this for our furmily NOT to them. 

Recovery is no picnic & it does not the last furever having the proper Pain medication & duration of meds is the KEY to a smooth recovery. We know covid makes all this threefold. Ditto have all your questions ready for phone calls and follow-up calls. Ask if they email. With an email, you can get all your questions out and not get side railed but if not, do the same on the phone.

If we can help answer any questions, let us know.

Hugs 

Holly & Purrkins 💝💝💝

On The Road


Member Since:
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15 October 2021 - 6:28 pm
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Wow pawesome info Holly, THANK YOU!!! We learn so much from one another!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

Member Since:
10 October 2021
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16 October 2021 - 11:52 am
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Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences and tips with us. We have decided that amputation is the best course of treatment. We’re working on making adaptations to our house to help him - ramps, carpet runners, raised dishes. We’ve got a baby scale to help us with weight reduction and we’re learning more about the calorie content of various foods, and trying to thwart his attempts at stealing his adopted sibling’s food.  We’ve got a large soft crate so he can rest during the initial recovery. With a blanket thrown over it, he thinks it’s a tent and is much amused. Thankfully, my husband’s company is still requiring employees to work from home for several more months so that will allow him to be there all day to help Castiel in his recovery, and I will try to work from home as much as possible. We’ll be checking in and will be looking to this group for advice as we muddle through the surgery and his recovery. We’re hoping & praying all will go well. Thank you again!

Virginia




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22 February 2013
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16 October 2021 - 12:15 pm
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Onward and upward.  You've  done your research,  gotten excellent  input and can now move forward 

Good job of prepping  your house.  Great that your husband can work from home during recovery.

Stay connected  and update when you can.  When is the surgery?

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!

On The Road


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24 September 2009
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16 October 2021 - 12:45 pm
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Aww, we are right there with you guys. Please let us know how we can help. Yeah, when is surgery day? Sounds like you're doing everything possible to prepare. Don't forget to prepare you mind too, and breathe. Know that Castiel is stronger and more resilient than you can imagine. Just wait, he will amaze you!

I love the baby scale idea. 

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene
tripawds.com | tripawds.org | bemoredog.net | triday.pet

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