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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Need advice about vet for amputation.
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Member Since:
3 December 2023
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3 December 2023 - 3:46 pm
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Hi. My name is Michelle and I am new here.  I have a few questions that I would love an opinion about from someone who knows what I am going through. I picked up a cat from a gas station last weekend. She was part of a feral colony, but really sweet and "volunteered" to jump in the car, lol. She had a dangling foot that I suspected wasn't salvageable. I could not just leave her there without care.

She saw my vet the next day.  He took one xray and said she needed an amputation.  I am almost certain he is correct.  Her tib/fib is severed midshaft and the ends are far apart.  Her leg is free floating below the fracture and spins/flops when she walk.  But she was able to guard it at the time and seemed to be in little pain.  He thinks she was hit by a car several weeks ago (also has skin abrasions, broken teeth, etc.).  She is 4.5 pounds and they guess 5 months old.

She stayed with my son for 3 days due to a Vegas trip we had planned for months.  When I picked her up last night, she seems to be in a LOT more pain.  She is biting and licking the leg often, has periods of activity followed by 6-12 hours of hiding and immobility, and her limp has increased by 100%.  The leg also flops more when she walks.  Seems to be attached by only skin.  The severed bone hasn't popped the skin, but looks close.

So.... I need to do something tomorrow!  My vet has a traveling vet covering his practice.  I met him once and did not feel confident in his abilities.  Of course that was only one meeting.  I can take him to the vet hospital at Texas A&M.  I have had mixed experiences there.  They have the best imaging and vets in the state.  But if it is not severe enough to interest the experienced vets, you get a student and a brush off.  No idea where this fits on the spectrum.  I can take her to Houston for a feline only vet consult.  But likely would have to get on their schedule, which may not result in sx before Dec. 11 anyway.

I am not sure how much experience a general vet has in amputation.  I really don't question that it needs to be done, but I want it to be done right to reduce residual limb pain and other complications.  I also want to be sure her pelvis and other bones are ok.  I see a few feline prostheses, but assume they are not for most cats?  She has good hip muscle function.  I would like her to retain as much stump as functional for scratching and balance.  Can a general vet be proficient in ensuring all of these goals?

Sorry to be so long winded.  I just feel like I am out of my league, but she is in pain and I do not have the luxury of time. But, she is 5 months old.  I do not want to make a mistake that haunts her for her entire life.  Any thoughts or advice would be really appreciated.

Thank you.


Member Since:
3 December 2023
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3 December 2023 - 3:48 pm
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I feel like I should add that I like and respect my vet.  But he is on vacation another week and I feel does few amputations per year

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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3 December 2023 - 10:50 pm
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Hi Michelle, welcome. Your future posts won't need approval so post away.

Sorry I missed you on the Helpline. I texted you but didn't hear back.

Im sorry to be so brief but I'll be back tomorrow. I do recommend getting this taken care of asap. All vets are trained in amputation and as you know some do more than others. Since she is in a lot of pain there's a danger of her chewing her leg off or trying to (happens all the time). I wouldn't wait much longer, even an ER clinic would be better than waiting. 

Texas A&M is a pretty awesome school (our Wyatt Ray was treated there) and I have tons of confidence in them. If you can get in quickly that would be a good choice. If not a clinic with overnight care (actual staff who will be there checking throughout the night) is your best bet for safety and comfort as well as pain management .

Back tomorrow with more tips. Stay tuned for feedback from others too.

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