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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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Possible amputation for 16 year old cat
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Member Since:
17 January 2023
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17 January 2023 - 1:23 pm
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Hi everyone, first time time posting and was hoping for input/advice. My 16 year old, Jelli, broke her right front leg last Thursday and well, things have been rough. She's in a splint right now (they had to use a hind leg splint because of the location of the fracture so it doesn't fit the best) and is on pain medication as we wait to hear from the specialist about our next steps moving forward. The vet said they were "cautiously optimistic" about pins and plate repair but it would ultimately depend if the surgeon thinks that would be viable given her age. The vet also stressed to me that cats adapt fairly well to amputation and that was their last resort.

The problem stems from it being a very long 3-day weekend without hearing back from the specialist. She's struggling so much with the splint that its making me wonder if it's worth it to even try. She takes a couple steps, falls over and eventually gets back up to repeat the process. She looks miserable and while she seems interested in food, she is barely eating. She's getting up to drink regularly but even then that's laying down while she drinks, the hobbling back to her blanket. I'm worried that I'm making her suffer.

My roommate thinks she would adapt well to amputation. That the struggling may just be because the splint is clunky and she's probably still in some degree of pain despite the pain meds. It's been raining, which probably isn't helping with any pain she's been having. My roommate has also had to remind me several times that the lethargy/misery I see is likely because of the buprenorphine Jelli's on. She has seemed pretty alert in the morning before giving her the pain meds. When she saw the vet, the vet didn't even mention euthanasia as something to consider at the time. Just that amputation was the worst case scenario. What gives me some comfort is these last few nights I've woken up to Jelli banging her splint on my bedframe as she attempted to get up on my bed to sleep with me. When she's cuddling, she looks just as she did before her injury- curled up, purring, and pushing me off the bed as she spreads out. She had a senior blood panel before all this and her blood work came back great so at least that's not a concern for surgery.

Is 16 too old to consider amputation? I obviously don't want to let her go but I don't want to see her suffer if her age means she won't adjust. I'm also worried that I'm letting my anxiety get the best of me and I'm letting my thoughts spiral more than they should. Three days ago I was confident she could adjust but now I'm stressed out from the lack of responses and second guessing. I've decided to contact another vet office that lists in-house ortho surgery to see what they think if my regular vet doesn't call back with news from the specialist by the end of today. But I'm worried they're going to immediately dismiss any conversations about surgery (whether it be to repair or to remove) due to her age.

I guess I'm looking for... I don't know. Advice? Thoughts? Somewhere to cry into the void?

I don't know but any input would be appreciated.

Here and Now


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17 January 2023 - 1:45 pm
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Welcome and best wishes for your kitty! We've moved your topic here to the Three Legged Cats forum where it will get the attention it deserves from other tri-kitty members. Search the blogs and forums and you'll find plenty of stories about much older cats who did well after amputation.

Here's one relatively recent round-up: Amputation on a Very Old Cat

While you wait for comments from others, use the Advanced Search above to refine your forum search results with specific phrases, and you're sure to find lots of helpful feedback. You can also search all blogs here . And check out the many Tri-kitty Tips for fast answers to common concerns and feel free to call the toll-free Tripawds Helpline anytime!

Please keep us posted. Your future forum posts will not require moderation.

Virginia




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17 January 2023 - 2:47 pm
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While I'm sorry you fi d yourself here, I'm so glad you did!  This is THE best place for information on amputation,  recovery, AND support and understanding for you!  Of course you are stressed.  Seeingmypur sweet kotty struggle is not eashmt9 watch at all.  Add uncertainty  and the unknown m9n topmof that....yeah, ot can drive ya';nuts!

And kudos to your roommate!  Your roommate  is spot on with the observations  and assesee,ent of what you are seeing and feeling, etc.

Unless there is some underlying crisis  ossue there is no reason  for euthanasia  to ve considered.  You are your Czar's advocate  and can dismiss  that as an option and move onto another Vet.That said, it doesn't  mean that finances   (or lack thereof) can be a huge hurdle.

As you saw from the Admin's link, we've had many "mature" kitties handle life on three very well.  I think we've had several all thecwsy up to 20-plus.  So yes, age is just a number arpund here.  The fact that her recent check up was good is an extra bonus.  Many mature cats may have some kidney issues, etc, but even then it doesn't  put a stop to an amputation  of necessary.

Now, as far as a  surgery to  repair the fracture with plates, cats, etc, we often find, not always that it is not ultimately  successful for many reasons.  After weeks and weeks of crate rest, often there can be infection, or it doesn't  heal and another surgery is needed.  The end result  if amputation  is needed anyway.  Not always, but kinda' often

The amputation  is one and done.  That's  not to say that recovery is easy.  And, with ANY surgery there's always a risk.  However, "usually" within two maybe three weeks mobility  and recovery from the surfe4ynitself should be fairly well advanced.  Good pain management   is key,.

Speaking g of pain management ,  ask your Vet about adding  Gabapentin  into her pain mov while  you are waiting  for yoir path forward.

As far as the in-house surgery Bet, if they are a 24/7 staffed clinic that would be ideal.  If your kitty could stay a night or two at a staffed  clinic that would be a bonus.  

Hope th9s helps give you some reassurances.  And listen to your roommate!!!

(((((((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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17 January 2023 - 7:24 pm
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You always give the best input Sally! Thank you.

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17 January 2023 - 7:59 pm
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Thank you very much for your kind words and input Sally. I was able to finally get ahold of the vet earlier today and we will be moving forward with amputation which was what I expected. The surgeon said he was worried about Jelli's bone's being too brittle to handle any plates or screws which again I figured with her arthritis. I was worried at first because they vet sounded worried during the call but she said it was because she often has to coax owners into considering amp which was definitely not the case for me lol. But the vet did agree that the splint was likely a big factor in Jelli's current discomfort.

As for the gaba, that is what Jelli normally takes for her arthritis pain so it should be an easy transition.

It was certainly extremely helpful to be able to get my word vomit out at least and I do feel better getting it out and hearing from you Sally.

Her surgery is this Thursday and I am cautiously hopeful. I think my current stance is that even if it doesn't end up working, I can at least have the peace to know that we tried. Hope that wasn't too depressing lol.

But wish us hope for Thursday!

The Rainbow Bridge


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17 January 2023 - 10:31 pm
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I'm so sorry you and Jelli are going through this. What a tough situation! Amputation for any animal is tough, but when they're older it makes things 3x tougher. It does sound like overall she's a good candidate. The best vets tell us that neither size nor age should automatically exclude an animal from amputation if they are otherwise healthy.

Yeah, there are many reasons she is not spunky right now and most times when a bad leg comes off, that spunk comes back pretty quickly. Just keep in mind that as an older kitty she may need more time so don't compare her recovery to others, and take things day by day.

Don't forget to check out our What to Expect articles to prepare for the big day.  And ask any questions or just vent if you'd like, we are here to lean on. You could never be depressing here! We totally understand what a hard time this is. Keep us posted.

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18 January 2023 - 1:07 pm
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Hey everyone, hope you guys don't mind me posting when we're still a day away from surgery but I feel like I gotta before the anxiety takes over again!

Last night was a long night but for hopefully good reasons! I put her on my bed with me when I went to lay down, woke up later to her squirming around. Figured she was thirsty, so I put her back on the floor and figured she would go back to her little nest of blankets on the floor since that's closer to her water dish. Nope! Woke up a few minutes later to her attempting to climb her stairs to get back into bed with me! All with the clunky splint on! This happened a few times hence my long night statement lol. Woke up this morning to her attempting to go down the stairs by herself to go to the litter box. Didn't quite make it inside but with the splint I figure the mat outside is good enough!

As my roommate tells me, I should take this movement as a sign that she's got the fight in her to adapt to life on three legs. I'm trying to but man this anxiety is a hard fight.

Virginia




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18 January 2023 - 1:36 pm
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And kudos to your roommate again with her spot on obser about Jelli' strong willed, determined  attitude being a plus in recovery!

And we absolutely  100% understand you feel anxious and scared about the surgery.  Yoj wouldn't  be "normal" if you didn't.   So post here anytime and as many times as uou want.  That's why we are here....to support you, reassure you and help you navigate  through this "journey".

Not sure of your arrangement,   but when you said going up and down stairs, os that to a first floor away from your upstairs  bedroom?  Anyway to block her off so she stays on uour bed at bedtime since she's determined  to sleep with you?

Deep breaths....eat chocolate....and stay connected! And, listen to your roommate! 

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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18 January 2023 - 8:06 pm
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benny55 said
Not sure of your arrangement,   but when you said going up and down stairs, os that to a first floor away from your upstairs  bedroom?  Anyway to block her off so she stays on uour bed at bedtime since she's determined  to sleep with you?

It's a small set of stairs to help her on the bed. Originally got it for her arthritis. I tried taking them away the first night after discovering the fracture but that just resulted in her trying to climb up on the bed by herself. Going to have to talk to the vet tomorrow about how to work with that incase she's just hard determined to get up there. 

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19 January 2023 - 12:29 pm
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Good morning everyone! Just got the call back from the vet who said surgery went well! Jelli was anemic going in but they believe that was because of the clotting due to the fracture and that they expect that to resolve soon. Other than that, blood work was good (I was worried considering how little she's eaten this last week) and the vet said they feel very good about recovery moving forward.

I was a MESS dropping her off this morning. I feel like a load's been taken off now that the surgery is done but I've got the next battle coming up with recovery. I hope that the good updates keep coming but thank you for being a safe place for me.

Virginia




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19 January 2023 - 1:01 pm
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Surfery is done and the road to recovery  has started!  So glad for the good update!

Now it's time upu to get some good rest.  Jelli is in good hands and on asome good pain meds resting comfortably

We'll look forward to her homecoming👍

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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19 January 2023 - 7:52 pm
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Hello everyone! Been home with Jelli for about an hour now and she's finally resting! She spent that first hour trying her darnest to hobble around. She's struggling but she's figuring it out when she should have been resting! Even tried to get up and chase my roommate's cat when she saw him. So far she's eaten half a small can of food which may not be much but it's more than she's eaten at all this past week! She was also extremely enthusiastic about the portion she did eat which made me very happy! Was especially funny to hear how she started growling at the vet staff once she was coming off the pain injections there (we jokingly call her a motorboat whenever she has to go because she sits there and growls to let everyone know how much she hates it there but she hasn't bitten anyone despite her big talk). They all love her there, much to Jelli's dismay. 

Here is a picture of my little old lady! You can't quite see it in the picture, but the vet staff wrote "Jelli Baby" on the back of the onesie they sent her home with.

Jelli post surgeryImage Enlarger

Virginia




Member Since:
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19 January 2023 - 9:24 pm
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Welcome home Jelli!!    You are a very pretty girl....smooching you through the screen🥰  Lpve that you have uour own monogrammed onesie.  

Didnt  realize  she was coming home  today.  Coming home same day of surgery  can be a little rough on the hoomans.   Certainly doable,  

Wonderful that she ate some.  Good sign!  Even growling at the Ve is a good sign.  Ahe' s a little spitfire!

Stay connected and keep us informed on how things are going,  okay?

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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19 January 2023 - 11:52 pm
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Jelli welcome home! You made it! Seeing you all snuggly and relaxed, it's hard to believe you are such a mature kitty. Just shows your young at heart spirit.

Im so glad she made it through and us on the mend. What pain control did she come home with?

If tonight is a challenge keep in mind that taking a cat home the same day as surgery is not easy (but better than leaving her alone without supervision). It's not uncommon to go through a rough first few nights but she will get through it and so will you. Keep us posted!

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20 January 2023 - 10:19 am
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Good morning! First night done and it was a struggle but for reasons I didn't expect. I read a blog post here about what to expect the first few nights and was prepared for her to be crying out in pain but that was not the case at all! Our struggles were:

  1.  She refuses to keep the darn onesie on! I get that it's uncomfortable but I know she's going to be more upset if I put the cone on to keep her from messing with the staples (which will be in for 2 weeks before they check it!) Woke up several times to her onesie-less >:( She's surprisingly good at wiggling out of it despite being a leg down.
  2. She is determined to only use the litterbox despite it being hard for her! I bought puppy pads figuring that would be easier for her than the litterbox and laid them out around the box. She does have a low entry box already but there's still a small step I rather her not do until she's more recovered. But nope! She wants to use the litterbox even if she gets stuck! I was considering taking a cardboard box and cutting to make a makeshift litterbox but am open to other suggestions.

Complaining aside, she does look very good this morning. She finished her 3 oz can of food in the middle of the night and ate some breakfast this morning. She looks all perky except for when I come to be the big bully and readjust the onesie in which case she's the most miserable cat in the world.

jerry said
Im so glad she made it through and us on the mend. What pain control did she come home with?

If tonight is a challenge keep in mind that taking a cat home the same day as surgery is not easy (but better than leaving her alone without supervision). It's not uncommon to go through a rough first few nights but she will get through it and so will you. Keep us posted!

  

They sent her home with more buprenorphine and liquid gabapentin, both given twice a day. 

And yes, that is certainly something that I've had to keep in mind. I caught myself wondering if it was the right choice watching her fall over after trying to get up last night but I have to remember it's only day one of post surgery. Of course it's going to be hard. But she doesn't stay down for long after she falls over. I just wish my anxiety understood that!

I know I've said this already and I'll probably say it a lot more times in the coming days but thank you guys for helping me stay sane and just existing here. I feel bad venting to my roommate all the time about this and this forum is a little more keyed into exactly what Jelli and I are going through. sp_hearticon2

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