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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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Am I making the right decision to amputate limb on overweight older cat
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Forum Posts: 4
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14 October 2021
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14 October 2021 - 7:50 pm
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Hello, 1.5 weeks ago my 11-year-old cat, Sugar, was diagnosed with a cancerous soft tissue sarcoma on her right front leg. I've gone back and forth, talked to the vet over the past week. We are not interested in oncology for more than one reason. Amputation is what the vet felt was best and I've chosen that. I've worked with two vets in the same office. The second vet was emphasizing her being overweight and also her being old. She didn't say she couldn't recover, but that it would be more difficult. Am I making the right decision to amputate? Will she be ok? Per her biopsy report, it's a slow-growing/slow-spreading growth. The second vet though indicated that it could still recur anywhere because it is cancer. I feel that she has a better chance with the amputation. I'm confused and second-guessing. Any thoughts? Experiences?

Thanks!

The Rainbow Bridge



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14 October 2021 - 8:40 pm
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Hi and welcome to the club nopawdy wants to join. I'm sorry Sugar got the diagnosis. But we are here to help! 

It's tough when you get conflicting info from two vets, and in the same practice, too! Yikes. Well, here's what many surgeons have told us before: neither age, nor size, should automatically disqualify an animal from being a Tripawd. You have to look at the whole picture. If Sugar is young at heart, that's what it takes to make it through recovery (and your good cattitude, as well). Extra weight can be lost if you work with your vet to make that happen. Yes, being overweight can make recovery a bit longer and a bit more challenging. But you know what? Recovery is temporary. And it's one of the best times for an animal to lose weight because pain meds cause lack of appetite. 

As far as cancer recurrence, it does sound promising that the amputation would be curative for her ("slow growing" being the key term). Is the second vet (the skeptic) an oncologist? They are really the right vet to let you know the odds of recurrence.

I need to run, but I'll be back so stay tuned for feedback from others. We can't say that amputation is the right or wrong decision (because honestly it's different for everyone, there are no right or wrong answers here). But we do know that about 95% of pet parents we've surveyed say that they would amputate again if they had to, and it was worth the ordeal.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 13
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15 October 2021 - 1:30 am
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Hello, I’m so sorry to hear about Sugar’s diagnosis. My husband and I are in a similar position trying to decide what to do for our cat (Castiel). He is 9 and a big boy (18.3lbs). He has been diagnosed with a fibrosarcoma in his left forelimb. We talked to two vets, an internist, a medical oncologist, and a radiologist, and have a consult with a surgeon next week. All have agreed that there are two main options, remove the leg to get wide enough margins or begin palliative care. The debate seems to be about whether to follow up removal of the leg with radiation or radiation and chemo. We’ve been told though that the radiation would involve small does every day for 3 weeks during which he would have receive anesthesia. Scary in and of itself, especially for a larger cat. However, radiation can help prevent or delay a reoccurance of cancer and chemo because it is systemic can help prevent cancer from developing in other parts of the body. However, if the margins are clean, perhaps that is enough for now. The vets were not in agreement as to whether they would do radiation or chemo if it was their cat. One thing we did do though was an ultrasound & CT to ensure that there was no metastasized cancer visible - if there had been, we would not be considering limb removal. Of course no test is 100% and there could be microscopic cells that have spread but I think you make the best decision with the information you have at the time.

Like you we wonder if Castiel will be a good candidate for this surgery. Will he figure out a way to walk, especially as it’s a front limb. We plan to reduce his weight by feeding his absolute favorites just less of it. The vets, including a retired vet with nothing to benefit from advising us (no financial gain) thinks leg removal is still best in our case - and like Sugar,  Castiel is what I think of as middle aged. We are looking at adaptive furniture & ramps and carpeted items to help with balance. While I don’t know what is best for Sugar, please know that you are not alone in your heartbreak and confusion. The vets we spoke with all thought our cat would adapt; family and friends though had different views. I’m not sure cats have the same psychological issues regarding limb removal that humans have. Cats seem to be survivalists. We’ll be thinking about you & hoping the best for Sugar.

Virginia




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15 October 2021 - 8:32 am
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You've gotten great feedback from Jerry and Castiel's hooman.

Really can't  add anything.  You clearly love Sugar and want to do what's best for a quality  pain free life for her.  While the word "amputation " is scary, it is a chance to help Sugar be jer Happy self without pain.  

We've had kitties far older tha. Sugar thrive once recovery  is over.  One recent member's cat was 22 at time of surgery.  Had another one at 18.

Others can chime in on healthy  ways to help kitties drop some weight.  It has to be done smartly, but they slim down pretty quickly. 

Here's  a link for some good information written by some of our valued kitty members. Cool Tips for Three Legged Cats

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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15 October 2021 - 9:41 am
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Thanks everybody for the comments. They are all helpful. I did want to mention since I didn't say it originally. We've only worked with our general vet. They did mention that if I wanted, they could refer us to an oncologist. The nearest oncologist to where we live is more than an hour one way. I love Sugar dearly, but the expense of an oncologist and all the driving just didn't make oncology an option for us. The drive will be stressful for both her and me. Both vets believe that the full leg amputation will be what's needed for the margins because of where it's located, but one vet more than the other says that it is cancer and it can show up elsewhere later. The little that I understand, I believe we caught it early enough so I'm trusting we'll be ok. This is all happening so quickly. About a month ago was when I noticed her leg swelling and here we are facing amputation. Before all of this, she still had spunk. She wasn't as active as she needed to be, but I think that may have been other issues that I've not figured out. Speaking of which, that is another thing I'm scared about. She seems to have developed anxiety in recent years. She's an over groomer (I'm forgetting the medical word right now). We've gotten different opinions about that as well. Since the biopsy, she's been very droopy, but in the last couple days, old spunk has come back that has made me feel good, but at the same time worry that I'm taking it away from her with the amputation next week.

Regarding her weight, we're down almost three pounds in the last couple of years because she had a problem where it became necessary. I started using microchip food bowls so now she can't steal from her sister's bowl. That was the biggest help. I know I will be cutting her back on servings also. I noticed information on nutrition. I will be reading those articles and posts. She's approximately 13 pounds. She's got a big belly is her biggest problem and a lot of it is from the old weight.

I adopted Sugar and her sister Spice 10 years 3 months ago. They are more than cats to me, they are my girls.

Thanks again.

The Rainbow Bridge



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15 October 2021 - 10:01 am
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The nearest oncologist to where we live is more than an hour one way. I love Sugar dearly, but the expense of an oncologist and all the driving just didn't make oncology an option for us. 

We're right there with you, at least we were when our Jerry was fighting osteosarcoma. You have to do what is best for Sugar, and your sanity. All situations are different and we get that here. There are no right or wrong choices when it comes to cancer.

 I believe we caught it early enough so I'm trusting we'll be ok. 

That's awesome. Yes, trust your gut! Give her the gift of being pain-free and take it from there!

 worry that I'm taking it away from her with the amputation next week.

Ok it might look that way during recovery. But that's the pain meds and the body healing. It WILL get better! 

 I started using microchip food bowls so now she can't steal from her sister's bowl. 

Oooh never heard of those before! I'll have to look them up. That is a great first step! You are on your way to helping her slim down. Yes, check out the Tripawds Nutrition blog info, you'll find good weight loss tips. Our Cool Tips for Tripawds Cats book also has exercises you can do as well.

I love that you named them Sugar and Spice! They are so lucky to be loved so dearly by you. And I have a feeling that we are going to fall in love with them too. Let us know how we can help you feel better about this, and holler with any questions!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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15 October 2021 - 1:04 pm
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Hi Sugar and Mommie,

I made a similar post in the cats forum area, but figured I would repeat some of it here too.  Note, my cat did not have cancer, nor was it a front limb involved.  But I certainly can relate to all of the other uncertainties about will she be "the same" afterwards.  And to a lesser extent, the will I be putting her through major surgery for little reason.

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.  Only you are in your exact situation, and 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


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15 October 2021 - 3:35 pm
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Hello and Welcome,

Sorry you had to find us but great job doing your research!

I do not feel 11 is old in cats; do you feel it is? We have had many members much older. Of course, it all depends on your kitty and attitude and your thoughts. How do you feel she would do?

Of course, we are all terrified they will be depressed and hate us, but they do not have the same human emotions. They are just happy to be home and getting on with life, even minus a limb. YES!

I feel that she has a better chance with the amputation. I'm confused and second-guessing. Any thoughts? Experiences?

Yes, on thoughts and experience! Sugar has a better chance with amputation. 

Purrkins lost his left front leg to low-grade sts at age six; he is now 11; amputation was "likely curative." Oncology did not recommend doing chemo or radiation after the surgery. It depends on cancer & the grade. 

Here is an excellent link on sts

Here are some screenshots that helped us from that paper.

Screen-Shot-2020-07-10-at-1.32.48-PM.pngImage Enlarger

Screen-Shot-2019-03-03-at-6.05.36-PM.pngImage Enlarger

Purrkins had chest rays, ultrasound, urinalysis & labs to check for cancer, and they were clear. They also told us there could be microscopic cells hiding that were not showing up. Five years later, there is still none showing. We were also told it could pop up as different cancer one day. They are zero guarantees with cancer we make the best-informed decision we can for our furmily, 

 We documented Purrkins journey here If you wish to read more. https://purrkin.....is-home/ 

As far as the weight, you can work on that. It is a slow process in cats as you already know;) but we commit and stick to our guns. You can do it! I just posed on Castile's thread on weight loss - I will paste the main points here for you.

 It is the best to work with your vet and the best thing we can do for our furmily & their joints! They do get around so much easier with less weight! Diets are no fun but necessary and doable. Torture for both kitty and hoomans lots of complaining! 

The first step in diets is knowing how many calories you are feeding and start to reduce slowly. You are already a step ahead with the microchip feeder; you'll have to figure out the calories you are feeding now and slowly decrease. If you are feeding a dry diet, you can switch to wet, and they 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.

I cant stress this point enough proper pain management & duration of meds will make or break recovery. Do let them send you home with three days worth of meds. It is not enough! Have this conversation before the surgery and find out what they plan on sending you home with & ensure you can get more meds if needed. 

Also is your clinic 24-7 staffed? If not please bring Sugar home - it wont be easy but it is better that you become a nurse than Sugar be left alone in the hospital. ok 

I adopted Sugar and her sister Spice 10 years 3 months ago. They are more than cats to me. They are my girls.

You are in good company here; we all feel our animals are furmily, not animals or pets. ) WE KNOW this by you posting here 😉 I have the boys here;) 

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

Scratches to Sugar and Spice and ditto love the names!

Hugs

Holly & Purrkins💝💝💝

Forum Posts: 4
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15 October 2021 - 3:51 pm
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Thank you

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15 October 2021 - 3:57 pm
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Thank you to each and every one. I'm grateful I found this site. Although, as each of you would most likely say, wish it didn't have to be 🙂

Michigan


Forum Posts: 2043
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1 November 2021 - 6:35 pm
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Checking in on Sugar, how are you guys doing? Did Sugar have her surgery?

We hope all is well!

Hugs
Holly & Purrkins 💝💝💝

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