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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Possible cancerous mass in 16 1/2 y.o. hyperthyroid cat- worried about anesthesia for biopsy
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Forum Posts: 6
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24 November 2019 - 10:57 pm
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Hi there! Sorry for the word-vomit post coming your way but my mind’s been a-racing all weekend.

So, it’s been an eventful weekend. My cat, Angel (16 1/2, hyperthyroid), has been on a steroid for the last 2 months for a suspected gut issue. Right around the time she finished the steroid (Nov 13ish) we noticed her limping- and it was more of a pronounced limp than her typical just-got-up-stiffness. We needed to go back to asses the steroid’s effectiveness anyway, so I called the vet and made an appointment for November 23rd.

We went for the vet appointment and I really wish I could’ve retained more of the information, but things just went so fast I’m not really sure what to do. I was expecting the limping to be because of a particularly ungraceful hop down from the couch (this girl really splatters on the ground- not the most graceful cat I’ve ever seen), but the vet found a mass/tumor up high on her front left paw. I’d say it’s a little bigger than a golf ball.

The vet took a sample of the cells and checked them out under a microscope, but didn’t see anything. The mass is firm, not very squishy, so she said that it wasn’t likely to be an abscess or fluid or anything. She told me there were really two paths: 1. Go back on the steroid and hope it slows the growth of the mass, or 2. Undergo a surgical biopsy to test it for cancer, then probably amputate the leg.

So, definitely a different direction than I was expecting.

In the moment, and in a little bit of shock, I opted for the more cost-effective option for now (steroids) and to monitor the tumor, and to think on the biopsy/possible amputation. After nearly 2 whole days of thinking, research, and talking it over with my partner, I feel comfortable moving forward and thing that an amputation wouldn’t drastically affect the quality of life for Angel. She’s 16 1/2, lazy but capable of getting around, and other than her Hyperthyroidism is in very good health- vet techs are often amazed that shes 16 1/2. However, I’m now worried about the sedation for the biopsy.

I feel like my thoughts are all over the place, so I thought reaching out and posting them on this forum would be helpful. I’ve read a few of the stories of other elderly cats here- Moira, Progo, Mia- that have really helped with this news. But I’m still pretty worked up. I’ve had Angel since she was a kitten (and I was 10 years old!)- she’s my oldest friend and my everything.

We don’t know for sure that the tumor is cancer/malignant so this worrying could all be premature, but after 2 days I’m already worried that we don’t know and that waiting and just treating with the steroids could be costing us time to act. I think my peace of mind could benefit from the biopsy, but I’m also worried about her going under at her age. Angel was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism nearly 4 years ago and takes a dose of methamozole every day. Her kidney levels have been slightly elevated before, and I know the vet wants to check her blood before moving forward with a biopsy to make sure everything looks good.

I’m scheduling a blood test with the vet tomorrow. Moving forward, though, I just worry that if something goes wrong in the biopsy I could be giving up whatever time I do concretely have with her. But on the other side, I feel like without the biopsy I’ll just always be worried that the clock is ticking even faster than it already is.

I don’t know. This post wasn’t as organized as I was hoping it would beicon_rolleyesBasically TLDR; My 16 1/2 hyperthyroid cat has a mass causing her to limp. Vet said it could possibly be cancerous and need amputation, but we’d need to put her under for a surgical biopsy to know for sure, and I’m worried about the anesthesia moreso than the possible amputation.

If you’ve stuck around this long, any words of advice would be greatly appreciated. So happy to have found this community!

The Rainbow Bridge



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25 November 2019 - 9:10 am
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Hi Angel and mom, welcome. Your future posts won’t need approval so post away.  Sorry you found yourself here, but you’ve come to the right place for support.

You don’t need to apologize for anything, we understand your fears, totally. With a senior pet, these procedures seem extra scary to us and with good reason. In the old days, anesthesia wasn’t anything like it is today, so worries about going under continue through today. But as long as your vet is practicing the most current anesthesia protocols the procedure should be routine.

Our friend Dr. Nicholas, the Preventive Vet, has this excellent article about Minimizing the Risks of Anesthesia and you can even download a list of anesthesia questions to take to the appointment.

For extra peace of mind, I would also consider getting a second opinion from a Cat Friendly Practice if yours is not.

I hope this helps. Stay tuned for more feedback from our community!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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25 November 2019 - 10:06 am
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Sorry to hear about Angel’s condition.

The lump is similar to my cat’s lump – I first saw a small bald patch on Mona’s front leg and saw it grow to a golfball size in two days. I was able to get her into the vet who did some tests – shaved it, she had no visible infection, it did not hurt to press on it like an abscess would, she had a slight limp. I was to put a hot compress on it to see if there was a change. It continued to grow and the vet assumed it was a vaccine-associated sarcoma and wanted to amputate her leg immediately without doing a biopsy. They did pre-op tests such as blood, urine tests and xray to ensure she was healthy enough for surgery.

Here are a couple of photos of Mona’s lump for you to compare:

Eli-Mona-1-e1574705826980.jpg

My vet did not do a biopsy first because he went from a process of elimination and wanted the tumour removed immediately. The results of the pathology of the leg indicated a high-grade fibrosarcoma virtually certain to be a post-vaccinal sarcoma. The tumour already showed areas of necrosis progressing to liquefaction. Because the cancer was from a vaccine injection the pharmaceutical company paid for part of the surgery.

I understand the risks of anesthesia for Angel. The upcoming tests might help indicate if she could withstand any surgery. The one question I’d ask of the vet is what would the action plans be for differing results from the biopsy (benign, malignant or inconclusive). It’s worth weighing out to determine if a biopsy is useful. 

By the way, the leg could be hurting Angel so that is why Angel did a face plant getting down from the couch. I suggest you put a box or steps at the couch so it’s easier for Angel to get down from the couch.

Let me know if you have any questions. I know this is a hard decision and all the information can be over-whelming.

Hugs,

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

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25 November 2019 - 6:05 pm
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Hello, and thank you both for the warm welcome!

I spoke with my vet today and made a Wednesday morning appointment for blood work. She was very reassuring as far as the anesthesia goes and I was able to ask her several of the questions from the document you provided, Jerry! (Additionally, to minimize the amount of times Angel has to be sedated, I’m also getting some dental extractions done that have been on our radar for awhile).

Karren- that’s an excellent idea, and I will definitely ask the vet what the courses of action are for the different outcomes of the biopsy. And thank you for the pictures! Angel’s isn’t visible right now, but I’m sure it will be once they shave it.

Luckily, I recently switched to a Cat-Friendly practice around Spring/Summer of this year. My previous vet was incredible and affordable in the beginning (diagnosing Angel with hyperthyroidism without costing a fresh-from-college younger me an arm and a leg really earned my loyalty) but they became more and more inattentive and it really started rubbing me the wrong way. Even though this weekend wasn’t exactly filled with great news, I’m incredibly thankful to have switched to our current vet.

We have a set of stairs she’s using in the bedroom, and typically we pick her up on the couch and “guide” her down. She’s never been a graceful thing in all her years, poor thing.

[I’m trying to post a picture of her but wow it’s been a long time since I’ve been on forums and I can’t figure it outicon_lol]

The Rainbow Bridge



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25 November 2019 - 6:38 pm
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Well good job asking your vet, and getting answers that put your mind at ease. They sound like a great practice! It IS hard to switch vets but by going with your gut feeling to move, it’s sure paid off. If I had a cat, I would also opt for Cat-Friendly.

Let us know how Wednesday goes.

OH and here are instructions for adding images to the Forums:

If you’d like help figuring out the process let me know. It’s pretty easy: 

  1. Upload pics to a photo sharing site like imgur.com or your own Tripawds blog
  2. Right click and copy the Image URL
  3. Return to your Tripawds Forum post and paste the image URL (or the image itself if possible) in your post. It should automatically appear.

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

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

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25 November 2019 - 6:56 pm
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Thank you! I will definitely let y’all know how Wednesday goes- I feel like since it’s right before a holiday we may have to wait a few extra days for results, but I’m just trying to remember to take everything one step at a time and not get ahead of myself with the “What if’s”.

(Also I was apparently making this WAY harder than it needed to be- trying to use the little “insert photo” button, lol!)

This is Angel! And this was also taken about 1 hour ago when I was typing my previous post!

Virginia




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25 November 2019 - 7:22 pm
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OMC!!! What a beautiful  kitty!  She is definitely  your sweet .little Angel❤

You’ve  gotten such great jnput4 from Jerry and Kerren.  The more information you gather, the more reassured  you can feel.  And as you can see from Angel’s photo, she is worried about a thing!!  Follow her lead.  And yes, just take one step at a time, keep things chunked down…

…and eat lots of chocolate,  it helps!.

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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25 November 2019 - 9:16 pm
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She is GORGEOUS! And yeah Angel does look like a youngster, I can see it in her eyes.

I’m so hoppy you figured out the image uploading!

P.S. Did you happen to see our Cool Tips for Tripawd Cats book yet?

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

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

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26 November 2019 - 8:22 pm
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Thanks, y’all! Tomorrow’s bloodwork day!

Does anyone have any advice on Care Credit? Unsure if I should apply for the amount of the biopsy up front and then apply for more once we get treatment options, or apply for an estimate of how much things could cost up front. (If that makes sense?)

Thank you for the link to the book, Jerry- I definitely plan on reading!

The Rainbow Bridge



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26 November 2019 - 10:41 pm
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Alright, we’re sending lots of pawsitivity your way! Let us know how the workup goes.

I think that’s a good question for Carecredit reps to answer. I would give them a call to see which application amount is best for your situation.

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

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29 November 2019 - 9:54 am
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Hi all! Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving!

Heard from the vet today- Angel’s kidney levels are still a little elevated, but they haven’t dramatically gone up so they’re going to give her fluids and move forward with the biopsy/teeth extractions. We’re on the schedule for next Friday (so I can work from home and keep an eye on her all weekend).

Feeling good now, but sure I’ll start to worry/feel sad next week as we get closer. My poor girlicon_cry.

On the plus side- I got all the Care Credit logistics squared away. Trying to be as productive as possible this week!

The Rainbow Bridge



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29 November 2019 - 5:21 pm
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Things are coming together so well! It’s hard to practice, but if you can keep yourself from getting sad next week, it makes a the difference in her recovery. Give it a try and keep us posted. We are thinking of you!

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

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

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6 December 2019 - 9:53 am
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Hi! It’s me…

So, dropped Angel off for some extractions and biopsy this morning. Just got a call from the vet that we won’t be moving forward- she did an Xray and it looks like whatever this is isn’t part of the bone but has spread to one of her lungs… They’re going to refer me to a local oncologist.

A little numb right now- not what I expected and honestly not sure what to do from here. I was preparing myself for an amputation, not whatever new next steps are going to be. Any advice/questions to ask would be welcome.

Virginia




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6 December 2019 - 11:48 am
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Okay, deep breaths……B R E A T H E…. take some time to gather your thoughts  and know thst rhings can be done, okay?

Kuddos to your Vet for doing a thorough work up prior to moving forward. Quite frankly, I was concerned  about some of the “red flags” as far as kidney. anesthesia concerns, etc that your Vet was already aware.

You’ll have more information  AND OPTIONS once you speak with the Onco.  I can’t  remember  if A gel was showing  any pain signs.  I just remember  you said she isn’t  exactly graceful!   Of course,  is the leg is painful  because of the lump, they can certainly manage that.

It doesn’t  sound  like she’s  showing any sysmptons from the mets at sll.  That’s  a good sign.  Should symptoms  show up, they are certainly  manageable  too.  

The only other thing I can offer from sort of a “Universe” perspective,  is you have to trust that, for whatever  reason, the risks of major surgery may have just been too much for her.  This way, you do know you have potential  for some really good extended  quality  time.  And that’s  what your Angel would want.  She doesn’t  care about days on a calendar,  but she does care about being spoiled and loved and snuggled  by you.❤

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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6 December 2019 - 1:41 pm
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I understand the numb feeling – you got yourself ready to go one direction only to be diverted by news you were not expecting.

I had a cat, Licri, who got malignant melanoma (skin cancer) where nothing could be done. I was told that the cancer would just spread with new lesions and would eventually spread to his lungs. The vet did not offer palliative care tips and I wish she had. I know that I had to ensure Licri was always comfortable and could continue to do what he enjoyed. I even allowed him to sleep in the middle of the dining table! Over time he got more tumours and developed a cute little cough and slept more.

When you meet with the oncologist you can discuss what to expect and essential therapy to keep Angel comfortable and happy. If the oncologist can’t offer a cure you can learn about how the disease will progress and how to keep Angel pain free. Let the oncologist know Angel’s daily activities and what she enjoys. Look at ways to make your home safe and comfortable for Angel. 

Licri lived comfortably for many more months and especially enjoyed heating pads, sleeping in the sun and on my lap while I put hot compresses on the tumours. 

Although the unknown is difficult, please know you can still have quality time loving Angel. 

Hugs,

Kerren

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