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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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Cat amputation recovery question - muscle spasms?
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Forum Posts: 13
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6 September 2019
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6 September 2019 - 5:25 pm
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Hello, and thanks in advance for reading this. Our beautiful 12-year old cat Olive had her right rear leg amputated 3 1/2 weeks ago (bone cancer.) She is healing well, has had her stitches removed, had an internal “dissolving” stitch poke out somehow, which our vet trimmed back, and is eating well and in generally good spirits. She is, however, having some kind of spasm where, if she is laying down and tries to stand up, her stump arches up and she staggers around, either sideways or backwards, and is usually meowing or howling, sometimes hissing, when it happens. It can last a few seconds or a few minutes, and if I touch her stump when it’s happening I can feel it trembling, which makes me think it’s some kind of muscle spasm. It seems to be happening more frequently and for longer stretches in the last few days. I saw some older posts regarding cats with similar behavior and am hoping that someone can help me understand what’s happening and how long this will last. The vet said it could just be her adjusting to the balance issues, or phantom limb pain, but I would love to hear from someone who has been through this. My heart is aching for her, and I’m so frustrated because we went through with the amputation to make her more comfortable, and now she seems so upset and possibly in pain.

Thank you so much for any help and hope you can give us.

The Rainbow Bridge



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6 September 2019 - 6:27 pm
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Hi Olive and family, welcome. I’m sorry you had to join our club but we hope to make life on three legs easier for you both. As you can see, you are not alone.

So we have had many members with cats deal with the backwards walk, and sudden, sharp post-amputation pain. Their experiences demonstrate that it usually will not resolve on its own without the help of good pain management intervention. Yes, what you are describing does sound like phantom pain and it needs a multi-modal approach to resolve it. Dry needling acupuncture, massage, Gabapentin, are just three approaches that vets often take. 

My question to you is: What exactly did your vet recommend or prescribe to help her? 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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6 September 2019 - 8:30 pm
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My cat Mona had her front leg amputated 5 years ago and I can’t remember the timing of unusual things I noticed but after her stitches were out a few times she’d be relaxing and would suddenly cry out and leap up. There seemed to be no apparent reason and it only happened a few times that I saw. I assume it was still the healing of the nerves that were cut or phantom limb pain. Jerry gave some suggestions on how to manage it.

A month after Mona’s amputation I took her in for chiropractic treatments and learned how to massage her. I think it really helped. At least she enjoyed it at the vets and would end up snoring!

The other thing I noticed early on was that she would spin in circles when quickly get up from the ground. I was told it was probably proprioception which is the sense of the position and movement of limbs. Mona did not yet have the sense that her leg was gone. She didn’t spin for long. 

I also noticed that a muscle wave would go down her body on the amputated side. I didn’t seem to bother her and I assume it was part of the healing process.

It’s worth checking in with the vet with some of Jerry’s suggestions. You might want to start with massages.

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

Virginia




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6 September 2019 - 10:57 pm
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Love  Olive’s avatar picture.  Very pretty kitty.

Great input from Jerry and Kerren.  Can only say ditto.  Definitely  check out the link to phantom pain .  The Gabapentim should help fairly quickly.

Update when you can.   Hopefully some  of the suggestions  above will help Olive over this hurdle.

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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7 September 2019 - 4:57 am
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Hi and welcome,

We went through that with Huckleberry for a while after surgery and when he started to become more mobile. I kept him on the gabapentin for about 3 weeks post surgery and that did help tremendously. I guess it was probably 3-4 weeks post op that it seemed to fade away and not come back.

All of the suggestions given to you here are spot on from some awesome peoplesmiley2 

The only question I have is ‘where’ that dissolvable suture is. Does that seem to be causing any discomfort? Does it ever seem to be involved in these episodes? Dissolvable sutures can actually take quite a while to finally dissolve, and if it is poking at a sensitive area it might be part of the issue. When she is not having an episode, see how she reacts to you touching that area and if she jumps. It does not happen often, but once in a while that suture inside there can cause a bit of a reaction. There have been instances, again not often, that they go back in and take that suture material out. If you check it out and see that it appears painful, please let your vet know about it so that they can stay on top of things.

Another last thing, Huckleberry’s little stump does almost vibrate when he is trying to scratch a place that he cannot reach. I will give him a good rub/scratch behind his right ear (he is also right rear amp) or wherever else he is trying to get to, and he almost melts when I hit that spot that he cannot get to. He is not in any pain, it is just his little stump trying to do what it would do if his leg was still there. Totally different from phantom pain and totally normal. I say this because you may see it down the road.

Good luck to you and I am glad you found us.

Jackie and Huckleberry sp_hearticon2

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Mitchell, Bo, Andy, Oscar,and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

https://paws120.....pawds.com/

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7 September 2019 - 1:23 pm
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Wow, you folks are incredible. Our internet went out last night, so how amazing to get back online and have all of your wonderful comments and suggestions! I’ll answer all questions here:

Jerry – Olive was on cephalexin post-op, and her oncologist had her on buprenorphine pre-op for pain management . The concern about pain medication is that Olive is an “older” lady (though you’d never know it from interacting with her) and our vet says her kidneys are starting to show signs of her age, so she is reluctant to tax her kidneys with pain meds. She recommended we try a mini-dose of the buprenorphine to try and determine if the behavior is pain or panic. We will put her back on it today and see if that helps.

Kerren – I think the chiropractic and massage sounds like a great idea, and the proprioception makes total sense. I will see if we have a chiropractor in our area.

Sally – Thank you so much, I will check out the phantom pain info and ask about the Gabapentin.

Jackie – We were hopefully that the dissolvable suture was part of the problem, that maybe it was pulling on her inside, but she is ok with us touching the area when she is not having an episode, so that’s probably not it. And thank you, I hadn’t even thought if her not being able to reach an itchy spot, so I’m going to give her extra ears scratches today. One of the saddest parts of these spasms is that sometimes she’ll be walking and come up to me to rub up against my leg for some love, but that very action of her arching her back sometimes sends her stump into a spasm. icon_cry

Thank you all SO much for taking the time to give us some of your wisdom. Olive is the sweetest creature on this planet (it’s literally written into her medical notes from two different vets: “so sweet!”) so we just want to help her get comfortable again and give back a fraction of the love she’s given us. I’ll follow your advice and keep you posted!

Much appreciationsp_hearticon2 from Suzi and Olive

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10 September 2019 - 12:41 pm
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How is your girl doing? Were you able to get some Gabapentin for her? If so, did it ease the spasms? 

Hope all is going well, give your beautiful girl extra ear scratches please sp_hearticon2

Jackie and Huckleberrysp_hearticon2

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Mitchell, Bo, Andy, Oscar,and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

https://paws120.....pawds.com/

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10 September 2019 - 2:06 pm
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Thank you SO much for checking in! I literally just got back from the orthopedic specialist with Olive, and he had never seen anything like this behavior! He attributed it to phantom pain and recommended therapy and that’s it. So then I said, “I don’t believe everything I read on the internet, but…” and I told him about this forum (which he and his tech were familiar with) and that Gabapentin had been recommended and they both went, “Oh, yeah! That would probably work!” smiley3 But he said they didn’t have a liquid form of it there, so I have a message into our regular vet (who performed the amputation) to see if they have some that I can pick up, so hopefully Olive will be on the road to feeling better soon. She’s been even more uncomfortable the last few days, so I am eager to get her started.

Thanks again for keeping Olive in your thoughts…We appreciate it! sp_hearticon2

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10 September 2019 - 3:11 pm
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That makes me smile, knowing that your doctor has heard of us smiley_clapsmiley_clap

They can compound the Gabapentin into a flavored liquid, or you can pill her. All of ours were in capsule form, and I rubbed a little butter on mine and pilled Huck. They also have a pill “gun” that I used before I was comfortable getting close to his mouth, lol… you never know what to expect when you are trying to domesticate a feral cat, hah!

I had managed to mix it in with tuna juice in the beginning, but he only let me do that so many times and then he said.. yeah.. nope. I don’t think it tastes very good. 

Please let us know how you make out, and if you need help medicating her. There are tricks that can help, but if you are already comfortable with it then no need to go there smiley2

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Mitchell, Bo, Andy, Oscar,and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

https://paws120.....pawds.com/

Virginia




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10 September 2019 - 4:13 pm
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Is this site invaluable or whwt???  The firsthand knowledge shared here is so jnformative… even to Vets!!  I’m  sure Jerry will ask for the Name/address of your Vet so our Tripawds brochure  can be sent to them.

Good input from Jackie on pilling Gaba.  Maybe you can get started in pill form with her suggestions until uou can get it in liquid form.

Continue to  massage gently all arpund rhe incision.

We’ll watch for an update

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



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10 September 2019 - 5:06 pm
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Wow did Olive actually have a painful attack when she was at the clinic? Like on cue? Poor baby. At least she’s on the way to some relief though.

As for your vets knowing about us…you totally made our day, it’s such an honor when vets remember the community. Thanks for sharing. And yep, which clinic are you working with, if you don’t mind saying? I would love to make sure they are on our Outreach Brochures mailing list. 

Just want to mention that the human form of Gabapentin has Xylitol in it, which is toxic to pets, so you want to make sure you give her the pet-friendly liquid version. And yep we’d love to hear how you give her medication. We always learn from others here. Thanks!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Forum Posts: 13
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11 September 2019 - 9:22 am
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Thank you all again for your caring concern. Our vet doesn’t have the liquid Gabapentin, so I’m picking up the pills and will sprinkle it in her food and see if that works. We’ve been pretty successful shooting syringe meds in her mouth, so if she won’t eat the food we’ll probably put it in water and shoot it in.

Yes, Jerry, Olive had several attacks while at the vet. Unfortunately, it seems like she is in a spasm more often than not these days, so I am eager to get her started on the Gaba.

As for our vets, I cannot rave enough about our primary care vet, Dr. Cynthia Eldredge at the Croton-on-Hudson Veterinary Clinic. She and her whole staff have been wonderful throughout this whole ordeal. One of her techs even went to the clinic at 5am the day after her surgery to check on Olive, and Dr. Eldredge made time for us on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend when we had post-op concerns. We have also seen specialists at the Katonah Bedford Veterinary Clinic, who have all been wonderful and accommodating.

Thank you again for being here!

Here and Now


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11 September 2019 - 11:01 am
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momofolive said
I cannot rave enough about our primary care vet, Dr. Cynthia Eldredge at the Croton-on-Hudson Veterinary Clinic..

Please consider requesting free pet amputation brochures for the clinic, and posting a recommendation in the Veterinary Specialist Referrals forum.

Livermore, CA




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11 September 2019 - 3:42 pm
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Hi,

I had a quad-Pug who had terrible arthritis and one of the meds we put her on was gabapentin.  She was pretty little (15 ish pounds) and I think we couldn’t get pills small enough for her.  We used a compounding pharmacy to make the gaba into a liquid which I could then squirt into her mouth instead of trying to get another pill into her. 

If gaba turns out to be a long term need for Olive and the pills don’t work you could discuss with your vet.  We used RoadRunner Pharmacy which is an accredited pharmacy that only does animal drugs.  Once they had the prescription on file I think I just ordered online and got the meds in a couple days.  And they always sent a toy too!

I really hope Olive gets some relief soon!

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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11 September 2019 - 5:30 pm
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So, unless they have finally formulated a Gabapentin that doesn’t taste like poopiconpoopicon You might not get the reaction you are looking for… serious. It can make them drool like nobody’s business, and enough to possibly make them vomit. 

If you can shoot liquid from a syringe into her mouth, the “pill gun” (over sized syringe with a rubber end that holds a pill) is probably going to be your way to go. I found an ok video, actually pretty good in a perfect world with a perfect cat, lol… my tips would be:

Lean over Olive in the burrito, like a hug with your inner arm.

Hold her head up, use the pill gun all the way to the side of her mouth .. make them open theirs.

Rub a little butter on the capsule. Have you ever had a capsule stick in your throat… yeah. If it doesn’t glide down like a kid on a slide, she will bite it and then you get the above statement smiley5

Chuck the pill gun down as soon as the action is performed, DO NOT use water (really?) Make sure you close her mouth with the gun free hand and stroke her neck. When you see the tongue stick out (in dogs or cats ) you are usually golden. If you can do this without her biting the capsule, just love on her and talk to her, tell her how awesome she is and slowly start massaging down and just pet, hug, love on her and tell her how awesome she is. She can drink after that.

Unfortunately, like with everything else that was good gone bad, Gabapentin has ( I have no idea why ) become a controlled substance due to human abuse. It is also a life saving medication for people like my mom that had back surgery with severe nerve damage. I say this just because sometimes people get a negative reaction. Don’t let it hinder you if you really need the meds.

If you want to pill her manually, it is very similar to above, with a few changes to it. Wrap her up and make sure she is facing the same way you are, not facing you. Take your right hand (if you are right handed) and hold her head up. With your thumb and middle finger on either side of the outer part of her jaw (almost to the cheek) apply a soft pressure to encourage her to open her mouth. Take the opposite hand and make sure that capsule is on the end of the index or middle finger, whichever is more natural for you. Quickly and smoothly as you are talking to her and reassuring her the whole time slide that finger into her mouth and almost to her throat. The opposite hand and some body pressure should be holding her mouth open and your body hugging her. Try to get it over the hump of her tongue and to her throat. All in one smooth movement. 

The same hand holding her mouth needs to close it now, quickly and gently. However you are comfortable, hold her mouth closed (this is the trick) and rub her throat.. gently. Talk to her and tell her how much you love her, serious. Try to keep it closed and keep stroking her throat until you see her tongue. If you don’t have a blanket or a towel around her, this would be the time that claws come out and try to kick you. That is why we wrap them…so that we don’t need a blood transfusion, lol.  

Pilling cats can be like nailing jello to a tree icon_lol But success is where you need to keep your mind frame. Breathe, keep your body relaxed and focus on the end result. Be alpha but gentle. 

Gabapentin can make them sleepy to totally out of it the first couple of doses, expect that and don’t panic, please. Sleep is better than sharp pain out of nowhere. After a few doses she will chill but not be sleepy. After a few more I noticed no difference in Huck.

She may need this for a brief time (most do) like a couple of weeks. I weaned Huck off slowly to make sure he was ok. Of all the cats in here, very few need it long term, but it does happen and I hope this gives you the ammunition you need to be confident and make this part of your routine if you need it. Lord knows this does not need to be a poopicon fight every time. If I did this with a totally feral cat, you can rock this 🙂 

If you want to laugh, shake your head, roll your eyes… https://tripawd…..tee-to-be/ 

That is our story… the good, the bad, and the ugly, lol  Our blog link should be on my signature. 

Hugs, 

Jackie and Huckleberry sp_hearticon2

 

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Mitchell, Bo, Andy, Oscar,and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

https://paws120.....pawds.com/

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