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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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Fibrosarcoma diagnosis in cat
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Member Since:
16 November 2021
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16 November 2021 - 1:01 pm
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Looking for ANY insight/help navigating the journey through amputation and possible Torigen immunotherapy.

Our 5 yr old cat was diagnosed this week with a vaccine induced fibrosarcoma on her right elbow area. Biopsy after removal confirmed. Amputation was recommended since they often reoccur at the original site and it's hard to get clear margins with this type of cancer. 

What can I expect? What is the recovery process like for a very active cat? And a million other things I don't even know to ask yet . . .

I know it's rare, but has anyone else dealt with this type of cancer?

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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16 November 2021 - 4:02 pm
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Hi and welcome. We are so sorry you got the bad news about the injection site sarcoma (ISS is the new terminology for VAS). Unfortunately many members here  have dealt with it. The good thing is that you are on your way to doing something about it, and most cats go on to live out their normal lives too. And we have answers, and support for you, so you've come to the right place.

Sounds like your cat is otherwise healthy! That's awesome. If it's any consolation, cats handle amputation really, really well! Even better than dogs. Check out our Trikitties blogs and articles for some examples.

Here are some links that can help answer your questions:

The Tripawds What to Expect articles

What to Ask Your Vet before Surgery

Our Forum topic: Vaccine Associated Sarcoma - Fibrosarcoma, Osteosarcoma, Chondrosarcoma has tons of info such as:

Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery: Injection Site-Associated Sarcoma in the Cat. Treatment Recommendations.

And our book, Cool Tips for Tripawd Cats , is a complete handbook for amputation surgery recovery and beyond.

Do you have other cats in the home? If so, a separate recovery space is recommended at least until stitches are out. Castiel's blog is a good one to check out. So is Purrkins!

Is your cat an indoor cat?

And what's her name?

Sounds like your vet is awesome too if they mentioned Torigen. Check out our Immunotherapy Articles.

Hope this helps! Stay tuned for feedback from others.

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

Member Since:
16 November 2021
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16 November 2021 - 4:35 pm
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Her name is Vera, and thank you for all the links (I know what I'll be doing this evening).

She's our only cat, we have 2 dogs that have a contentious relationship with her, but have made sure she has her space. She does love the outdoors and wore a cropped t-shirt during her removal recovery to keep out the dirt during supervised excursions outside.

It's reassuring to hear that some if not most live out their lives. Everything I've seen seemed to be a management of the cancer to extend time. Our vet had a recent visit from a Torigen rep., but we're not sure about the experimental nature of the treatment.

Looking forward to hearing more feedback and again, much thanks for the reply.

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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16 November 2021 - 7:37 pm
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Just want to add my support and to asure you  how well Vera (love her name) will do on three.  Recovery  is no picnic  st first, but it does last furever.

We have some wonderful  kitty me who are far more knowledgeable than I who will chime in.  Yhe links Jerry gave you, especially Cool Tips for Tripawd Cats (spearheaded by Holly, Purrkkns' Mom and others) will provide a wealth of information.  .

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


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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16 November 2021 - 8:08 pm
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You are so welcome. Be sure to listen to the Torigen podcast we did. This type of therapy has been around a long, long time in people, it's finally made its way into the vet world.

We are here for you. Ask any questions you'd like!

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

Michigan


Member Since:
11 July 2016
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18 November 2021 - 9:40 am
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Hi and welcome, sorry you had to join us, and dealing with an iss/vas! It is not as rare as one would think; unfortunately, the literature states that, but stick around here long enough you will see it is not so rare! It makes us sick anytime we see this diagnosis. I have no experience with immunotherapy to share. I love the idea, but I cringe; it's a vaccine on a cat who had a vaccine reaction!?! I would want them to ensure me further. (just me)

Cats do great on three legs. They can do all kitty things after recovery; you will want to provide steps to any perch's favorite lookouts. Jumping up is never an issue with front leg amps but going down is. We have to protect that front leg. Raise her food, water bowl and provide traction in the home via rugs, rug runners, yoga mats, or foam tiles.

Recovery is no picnic. MOST CRITICAL Ensure you know in advance your pain management protocol that makes or breaks recovery! I still cannot fathom why some are sent home with three days worth of meds after an amputation. Three days is NOT SUFFICIENT pain management !

For example, both our cats have been sent home with three days of pain meds and anti-inflammatory after a dental/ tooth extraction! That is proper pain management .

With the amp, we are cutting bone, nerves, muscles tendons its a significant surgery, and we need adequate pain medications for longer than three days! Have this discussion with your vet, surgeon before the amputation. Know what drugs are being used for surgery and sent home and the duration.

Pain meds can make them fussy, so stock up on favorite foods; wet food is best as you do not have to worry about hydration; they will get it from the food. We got permission from our surgeon to use a baby onesie, t-shirt for Purrkins recovery.

I would not want Vera outside for at least two weeks. I'm sure your surgeon will give instructions. I would highly encourage you to look into a catio for the future for safer outdoor excursions.

Let us know if we can help in any way, ok!
Hugs
Holly & Purrkins💝💝💝

Member Since:
16 November 2021
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18 November 2021 - 7:45 pm
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Thank you for the continued feedback.

We decided to pass on the immunotherapy for multiple reasons. Our very called today to schedule her surgery and brought up the option to wait. Pretty conflicted. From what I understand the rate/grade was 5, but I'm more so worried about margins and even a cell that might have been left behind. The risk of waiting on reoccurrence seems too great.

Any thoughts?

On The Road


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24 September 2009
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18 November 2021 - 10:02 pm
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It's ok that you are skipping the Torigen. There are no right or wrong choices.

What would be the point of waiting on surgery though? Is the tumor big enough that you can feel it, or is it impeding her mobility? If so then try to put yourself in her paws. How would it feel to have that in your body? Cats are masters at hiding pain so if it hurts she's not going to let you know yet.

I know this is so difficult, dont know if this helped or not!

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

Michigan


Member Since:
11 July 2016
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19 November 2021 - 6:30 am
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Is your general vet treating Vera? Have you consulted with an oncologist? Or has your vet? If you have not, I would highly recommend at least one consult with an onco.

Is your vet suggesting you can wait because you are uncertain about what to do? Or because she just had surgery? I would not wait VAS/ISS are aggressive, and when we biopsy or do not get clean margins, it will come back sooner.

Sadly we have few choices at this point. 

The risk of waiting on reoccurrence seems too great.

Exactly follow your gut instincts. 

Hugs
Holly & Purrkins 💝💝💝

Member Since:
16 November 2021
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19 November 2021 - 7:34 pm
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It's our general vet because we live in a rural area, closest oncology specialist is 3+ hours away. I will sure ask him, thank you for for the suggestion. I know he spoke to the oncologist with Torigen, but that was focused on the immunotherapy. He mentioned speaking to some others who brought up waiting; I need to ask who that was. I'm so overwhelmed, and always think of questions after I get off the phone. She's scheduled for surgery Dec 9 and he's given us the weekend to think things over.

Her first surgery went well (15 days ago), but the vet did mention it was hard to tell what was connective tissue or tumor and there's only so much you can take in that area.

My gut says to go ahead. 

Michigan


Member Since:
11 July 2016
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20 November 2021 - 7:46 am
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We understand three + hours is a haul with a cat. But, yes, many times, they can & do consult with onco's like yours has done that's fantastic!

Of course, this is all overwhelming; we understand 100%. I write down all my questions for a vet phone call so I do not get derailed, and even so, questions come up after the call; it is normal!  You can call with your lingering questions. Or if they take emails, shoot off all your questions that way.

Yes, there is little room for clean margins on those joints with tumor removal alone. Purrkins was on his wrist (carpus).

Always listen to your gut instinct. It will never steer you wrong. We may not like what our gut says, but yep, listen to it. There are zero guarantees with C. We hope and pray for the best, and what we all get is different. Taking the leg is the best shot of cutting off the source C!. You should get significant margins being on the elbow. Did they say they were taking the arm and scapula?

Hopefully, you had time to read the links Jerry provided, and if you still have questions, don't hesitate to ask!

Is your clinic staffed 24-7? If not, make sure and bring Vera home; it won't be easy, but many do for the above reason and finances.

We will put Dec 9 down for Vera. Let us know if this changes or if other questions pop up ok.
Hugs
Holly & Purrkins 💝💝💝

Member Since:
16 November 2021
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20 November 2021 - 8:24 am
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The plan is to take the arm and scapula since it extended both directions from the elbow. They are not staffed overnight, but said she needed to stay one night. For the removal she was awake and alert when we picked her up in the afternoon so I'll ask about the option of her coming home.

I've read through many of the blogs and links. I understand now the necessity of spot on pain management and all the things she'll need for recovery. I wouldn't have thought about the raised bowls and many other things so I'm thankful for all the info here.

She's been a trooper thus far and I hope it continues.

Thanks SO much Holly and Purrkins for your shared experiences and encouragement.

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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20 November 2021 - 9:01 am
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I'll also be in on sending pawsitive  energy to your sweet Vera.

And yes, the insight and wisso0m shared by Holly is invaluable.  Ahe offer support on so many levels

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!

Michigan


Member Since:
11 July 2016
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14
20 November 2021 - 9:29 am
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I would not leave Vera overnight if they are not 27/7 staffed; too many things can go wrong, and no one is there. We have had members get that dreaded call the next day that they did not make it thru the night. NO! It's better to bring her home, and you be the 24/7 care! You have a say in this. Get an emergency contact number if needed, but yes, they don't have a good reason a valid point when no one is watching her & You can.

Good, they are taking both & yes, pain management is the key; I can't stress that enough! Good job on your research!

Vera will amaze you; we could have never imagined Purrkins would do as well as he has done; he was 6 when diagnosed & amp. He has surpassed anything we could have hoped! Never underestimate a three-leg cat;)

Remember we do this for our furmily not to them ok! We are giving them life by taking that limb! A mantra you need to repeat!

You are very welcome happy to help in any way we can; this is not a journey any of us wish to take, but we have you & Vera's back; you are not alone.

Give her a chin scratch and smooch from us, please!
Hugs!
Holly & Purrkins💝💝💝

On The Road


Member Since:
24 September 2009
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20 November 2021 - 9:47 am
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Thanks for sharing about your location and situation, it's extra tough when the closest specialty clinic is far away (we were in the same situation with our Jerry so we get it).

I agree with Holly though about not leaving her alone overnight. This is major surgery and she's really better off with you being able to watch her and check on her, even if you are not a vet. If you don't have any kind of 24-hour emergency clinic that can take care of her that first night, I would take her home. You will probably need to take her back into the clinic in the AM for a check-up, but better to be safe. The first 24-hours won't be easy, but it gets better. And as long as she has good pain control, it will make things easier.

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

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