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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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Spindle cell sarcoma
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Member Since:
30 August 2021
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13 September 2021 - 11:05 am
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My 14/15 year old cat just had her tumor removed around 3 weeks ago. I ended up going through a vet that she normally doesn’t go to because they could get her in the soonest. After it was sent to the lab came back as spindle cell sarcoma, That vet said they could do amputation as it was likely to return however I do not trust that vet because they seem to be all about money. I even found out that they charged me around $1k more than I would have paid elsewhere.
I called the vet she went to since she was little for his advice and took her for one other second opinion and both of them said that they did not recommend amputation on a cat her age, that it is very hard surgery with difficult recovery. After that I felt like I had no choice but to just wait and see what happens and hope that the cancer wouldn’t return. But at just 3 weeks out she already has formed a new tumor. I can’t believe it has returned so quickly and I don’t feel ready to let her go. I don’t know what the best decision is for her especially with 2 vets telling me they would not recommend it. She seems so healthy and full of life otherwise.


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22 February 2013
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13 September 2021 - 2:56 pm
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So sorry you and your sweet kitty are facing  these challenges.   But you're  come to the right place for support,  understanding and information. 

It sou ds like she is spunky and happy.  What's her name?

While I can't  address her specific  type of thos crap disease (others will chime in), I can tell you that age is definitely  a number arpund here!  Vets who are up to date on amputation  surgery will tell you that it's all about their fitness level, their attitude,  etc, moreso  than furever.  If all their work ups, blood tests, etc are good, that's  a plus.  .

To your knowledge  is she healthy  otherwise?  No kidney, heart issues, etc.  Although,  even of there are some "issues" it doesn't  necessarily  eliminate them from sugery.

To give you some inspawration,  we've had cats far older than yours.   One tripawd  RockStar was 22 yrs young when she had her amputation.

I"ll be back on a bit and give you some links of 'older" cats who've  managed  life on three jist fine.  Not saying recovery is easy, it is MAJOR surgery.  But it doesn't last furevee..

Hang in there!  You are not alone, okay?


Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

PS....Here's the link I wanted to find.  It's a post abput Harriet,  22 yrs old and also includes  I fo from Rite, 18 yrs old


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!

Member Since:
30 August 2021
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13 September 2021 - 4:17 pm
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Her name is Chloe. She’s a bit of a shy girl and let’s her brother steal the show. But she is definitely healthy and happy. Even one of the vets who told me they would not recommend amputation at her age commented over and over about how healthy she looked and how good her labs looked and that she’s a healthy weight. I’m so afraid that if I went through with it that the last portion of her life would be miserable which I don’t want to happen. I worry about how she’ll mentally handle it and if she’ll ever be herself again and just be depressed after. 

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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13 September 2021 - 8:37 pm
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I'm so glad you posted about Chloe. It was nice chatting with you today! 

So to recap, one of the vets who said they would never amputate her leg, hasn't even seen her. And the second one can't get past her age but thinks she looks great otherwise. No wonder you're feeling so conflicted!

As I mentioned, an opinion from one of those Feline Friendly practices might help you decide. And also remember if you do get estimates from different clinics, make sure you're comparing apples to apples.

Here's what I mentioned in my email, in case you didn't get it:

These are the links I wanted to send

Top 10 Questions to Ask Vet Before Amputation Surgery for Dogs and Cats (Part 1)

Top 10 Questions to Ask Vet Before Amputation Surgery for Dogs and Cats (Part 2)

Best (and Worst) Pet Amputation Pain Drugs

Pittens' blog (18 years at amputation

Amputee Cats Quality of Life Survey Results

Tripawds 3-Legged Cats Discussion Forum Topic

Cool Tips for Tripawd Cats

It's such a tough situation and there are no right or wrong answers. It does sound like you are the kind of person who wants to do a lot of research, so I really feel like getting an opinion from a feline vet might give you some more clarity.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
15 July 2016
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26 September 2021 - 9:54 am
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There is an alternative to amputation that can successfully treat a soft (non-mast cell tumor) called IsoPet.  Its a gel infused with Yi-90 (a radioactive isotope) they inject straight into the tumor.  It has successfully been used to treat several dogs and saved them from having a leg amputated and given them years of extra life.  Typically pet owners only find out about it when an inoperable tumor has gotten very large (base ball sized and larger). In those cases the treatment extends their life and removes tumor burden without the several quality of life hit from recovering from amputation.  I have posted about it on this board once or twice before but its been a year or two.  It obviously can't be used for bone cancers because you can't inject a needle into bone.

The company that offers it is subsidizing treatment of small tumors to get more data on typical sized tumors.  It has been hard for them to get the opportunity to treat small tumors because when those are found a vet either removes the small tumor if it can or amputates.  I think using it instead of surgery is a no-brainer (if you can get subsidized or have pet insurance...otherwise its is very expensive), especially if a tumor is in a location that cannot be removed surgically.  The video below describes it.  While the video refers to 'Radiogel' Isopet is the same product but for animals. How it works is you take your pet into a facility that does it (one is in Eastern Wa another in Missouri) they sedate your pet. Inject the tumor with Isopet using a syringe (i.e. no knives involved), they keep the pet overnight for observation, and you take your pet home the next day.  Then in about 3 or 4 weeks a lesion/ulcer can appear over the tumor that may need to be managed with warm compresses/etc.  If the gel hits cancerous tissue the cancer is dead. They inject outside the tumor boundaries to ensure they get as much of it as possible.

The latest dog treated has a large tumor.


Below are links to updates on the last dog I posted about here.  It was treated July 2020.  Its tumor was larger than the one above.  The dog still has a lump but the lump likely cancer tumor rather dead cells/scarring from such a large amount of cancer cells being killed.  Because the cancer is killed in place quickly n a 2 or 3 days it takes a while for the body to clear all that dead tissue.  With a very large tumor there can be a residual lump of scar tissue forever. A horse recently was treated and they removed the lump three months later and found it was all dead cells. 

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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26 September 2021 - 11:34 am
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otter said
There is an alternative to amputation that can successfully treat a soft (non-mast cell tumor) called IsoPet. 

It's nice to see you here! Thank you for sharing. For the right dog or cat with the right disease match, it's a very promising treatment for sure. We are keeping an eye on it. 

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

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