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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Pepita's Story
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Member Since:
5 November 2023
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5 November 2023 - 8:03 pm
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Hi everyone! My name is Julia (25 years old, she/her), and my cat is about to join the Tripawd community in...four days. It's really crazy to say that out loud.

Pepita has been with me for seven years, since I found him as a stray. He is about eight years old. When I moved out of my family's place, I brought him with me to college as my emotional support animal. He's been with me through thick and thin, and his health problems were relatively manageable until two years ago.

He started walking with a limp one of his hind legs, and I wasn't sure what was wrong, so I brought him to the vet. After a quick ex-ray, they told me it was arthritis. That alone was intimidating to me, as a broke college graduate fresh out of school, but I was at least thankful it wasn't my worst fears: cancer.

(Me at my past self: Honey, you gotta big storm comin'...)

So, I've done my best these past few years to treat his arthritis. I kept giving him his pain meds, and even switched briefly to hemp seed oil for cats in hopes it would be a good long-term solution for his pain. As I'm sure many of us know, cats are notorious for hiding their pain. Even on a bad leg, for the past two years that I've been in and out of various small apartments, Pepita has been able to walk relatively well. Despite his limp, he's always been able to get in and out of his litterbox okay, sit down to eat food, and he can even jump onto the couch when he wants too. With his impressive mobility, it never occurred to me or my previous vet that Pepita would have anything more than some joint pain.

Fast forward to last month, I've moved to a new town and wanted to establish myself with the local vet. It was just a checkup, but my new vet quickly realized something was very wrong, far worse than arthritis. Long story short, after x-rays from my local vet and a visit from a pet radiologist, we've confirmed that he has had a type of rare joint cancer all this time. Even if I were to treat it as opposed to amputate, it is likely he would never be able to bend his knee again. The good news is, apparently, join cancers spread a lot slower than bone cancers, which is why the tumor really hasn't spread farther than his leg.

My mind has been full-steam ahead about the whole process - get the x-ray, see the radiologist, save the money, schedule the surgery. The closer I get, the more anxious I feel about the whole thing. I'm planning to call my vet tomorrow to talk more in depth about a game plan. I'm planning to rearrange my to the best of my ability tomorrow, so he has plenty of space to get around. I'm thankful I've caught this relatively early on in his life, so he'll likely have a healthy ten years ahead of him. But in the short term, I'm scared. I wanna do a good job of helping him recover, but I'm scared I'll mess up and make the transition harder for him. I have so much guilt about not knowing it was cancer all this time, how long he's been suffering. I just don't want him to suffer anymore, and I really hope this surgery can give him the life he deserves.

Thank you for reading. I'll update this thread after his surgery, ask questions for further along in his journey.

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
25 April 2007
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5 November 2023 - 11:36 pm
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Hi Julia, welcome. I'm sorry you are facing this situation but rest assured we are here to lean on.

I will have more thoughts tomorrow morning but first what kind of cancer are they suspecting? I can probably find you some examples of others here who have dealt with the same diagnosis.

Michigan


Member Since:
11 July 2016
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6 November 2023 - 5:27 am
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Hi Julia & Pepita

Welcome, and sorry you had to find us!

Yes, cats are beyond masters of disguise with pain and illness. 

Is Pepita still on pain meds with the hemp? If not please get the vet to prescribe something to help before surgery - limping is a pain signal.

Do we know what type of cancer? You said a rare joint cancer did they say the type? Purrkins had an STS in his front carpus (wrist) 

Please do your best to let any guilt go; this is not your fault you took Pepita in, and it was not diagnosed. This happens to many here, and or they say to watch and wait and see. You are already doing a great job preparing, and joining here says it all! 

Make sure the clinic where Pepita is having surgery is staffed 24/7, and if not, bring her home or find a 24/7 clinic that can watch her after the surgery. 

Here are some articles you can read to better prepare for your convo.

What to expect 

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

And we have the How to Help Your Three Legged Cat handbook  with all the info in one place. All the info is on the site the handbook makes finding info easier and everyone here can also direct you and help answer questions.

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of pain control and coming home with adequate meds. A good recovery all hinges on pain control. Have this discussion beforehand and ask what they are sending you home with & how many days, 3 days is not enough pain medication; Purrkins was on pain meds for 14 days; not all cats are, and we see too many come home with not enough meds, not the owner's fault. We must advocate for our furmily members. 

When you have more questions, post, and we will all do our best to help.

Hugs and scratches to Pepita, please

Holly, Purrkins & Saxton in the sky💫

💝💝💝

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
25 April 2007
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6 November 2023 - 10:30 am
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Oh my gosh Purrkins mom beat me to all that information I was going to share with you today. I just want to reiterate: let go of the guilt. I'd say the majority of us here did not know our pets had cancer until a lot of time had gone by, myself included. Try your best to move on and deal with what's in front of you today. You will be so surprised at how well Pepita will do after surgery! 

And you can TOTALLY do this recovery thing, we don't doubt that for a second. 

Michigan


Member Since:
11 July 2016
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6 November 2023 - 12:56 pm
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Julia,

My apologies I was calling Pepita a her!!

(((Hugs)))

Member Since:
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6 November 2023 - 5:25 pm
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Thank you both for the kind comments!

Just for some extra info - I believe they said it was likely Synovial Sarcoma? I could be wrong though. We didn't do an official biopsy because my vet insisted I focus my recourses toward an amputation as soon as possible. We were able to rule out osteosarcoma or any sort of infection.

I have switches to stronger pain medicine than the hemp seed oil, for sure. He's now on gabapentin, which I have some at the moment but I will totally ask for extra after his surgery and maintain his pain the best I can, thank you for that advice.

The clinic we're going through is my local clinic, and their not 24 hours unfortunately, but the procedure should be done by the time I get out of work on Thursday.

I called my vet with extra questions today, and I'm feeling less anxious and overwhelmed. I'm planning on keeping him in my room for 3 - 4 weeks after the surgery, with his litterbox, bed and food in close proximity. I just bought him a cone today so he won't lick at his stitches. My vet was really encouraging, said most cat's bounce back from this surgery pretty quickly, which has put my heart at ease.

(Also - no worries on calling him a girl haha! My mom named him before we realized he was a boy, and it stuck haha!)

Thanks again, everyone.

Michigan


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7 November 2023 - 12:22 pm
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Great, you could rule out osteosarcoma, and yes, the leg needs to go regardless of the type of C.

Yes, make sure you get more than Gabapentin after the surgery unless they are administering a long-lasting opioid. It varies by vet and where you are in the world on what is prescribed. Purrkins came home with Buprenohine and Gabapentin both. Some come home with Onsior and Gaba, and some all three. Some far less.

Coming home the first day will be rough on you both, but many have done so. Please get an emergency contact number you can call & know where you would go IF you were in need! Of course, we hope it is unnecessary, but it is insurance for you; god forbid there is a need.

Im glad your vet could put your mind at ease. Recovery is not fun or easy with great pain meds; dosage, timing, and duration make all the difference. It lasts about two weeks. We had restrictions for 14 days, and we stayed in a spare room. We gutted the furniture and put the mattress on the floor. Purrkins chose the closet in that spare room as his little protective nook. I put his bed in there for him. If Pepita is recovering in a bedroom, please ensure he cannot get under the bed. It's 99% given they head under if given a chance after the amputation, and you need to be able to get to him for his meds.

You are doing an excellent job preparing. If you have any further questions, just ask.
When is surgery scheduled for?
Hugs and scratches to Pepita, please
💝💝💝

Member Since:
5 November 2023
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9 November 2023 - 4:03 pm
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Pepita is home. He has some gnarly stitches, they got him right to the hip, but he’s alright! Calming down a bit which is fantastic.

I already have so many questions lol! Is it normal for him to wanna walk around right away? The vet told me he’d go to sleep right away, but he’s really active, I’m trying to make sure he doesn’t pop his stitches or anything.

Would you guys recommend I stay home with him tomorrow, his first day healing? I didnt take off work because I didn’t think he’d be very alert, but the poor guy is already trying to walk around! I don’t want to bust his stitches, should I let my work know I have to stay home?

I saw some advice on here about putting him in diapers while he’s healing, have you guys tried that? I’m hoping it might offer some protection for his stitches too, if he does try walking around tomorrow.

I think that’s all for now, thanks!

Michigan


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10 November 2023 - 3:15 am
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I did not realize surgery was yesterday. Yes, If you can take today off, I would!!! This is a major surgery with no overnight care- the first night and a few days can be challenging regardless. If you cannot take the day off, can someone come over to watch Pepita? He will need his Medication given on time, and HOPEFULLY, today, he will be less wired. Anesthetic and watching them come out of it is not easy.

What meds did they send you home with? 

I have not heard of the diaper idea. It sounds like it might work. Did you try? We have seen a baby onesie used here in Gideons blog for a rear-leg kitty. A video link is also on the blog. I have heard of dogs using boxer shorts. I'm not sure how small you can get those for cats. Purrkins is a front-leg amputee, and I used a baby onesie.

Are you using the cone you purchased? You will want to ensure Pepita does not get to his incision. 

Yes, hoping/walking the first day happens for some cats. 

I will check back later today and see if you posted. I hope last night was unevetful

hugs

💝💝💝

Michigan


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10 November 2023 - 7:04 am
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The clinic we're going through is my local clinic, and their not 24 hours unfortunately, but the procedure should be done by the time I get out of work on Thursday.

I missed surgery was Thursday after work in your post🙄 as you see, I asked after that. I hope Pepita and You did ok last night.
Hugs and scratches to Pepita, please

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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10 November 2023 - 9:08 am
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Just catching up in tieto sayWELCOME HOME PEPITA👏
You’ve gotten excellent input from Holly, as always.  ❤️
Update us when you can and try and get some rest, okay?

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



Member Since:
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10 November 2023 - 11:14 am
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Yay Pepita! You made it! How's it going today?

I've never heard of the diaper idea either. Maybe they meant a baby onesie or cat recovery suit?

Try to keep him confined to a small area of your home, one room if possible. You really want him to rest so his pain levels stay in check. When pain spirals out of control it's tough to bring down.

I hope you were able to take today off. Keep us posted!

Oh don't forget, our Tripawds How to Help Your Three Legged Cat book has tons of info that makes good reading when you spend this weekend snuggling on the couch together!

Member Since:
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10 November 2023 - 4:42 pm
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Day 2: I took the day off from work to keep an eye on Pepita. I ended up sleeping on the floor last night, got a sleeping bag and everything lol! He's so used to sleeping in my bed with me, I couldn't risk him trying to climb up to me, poor baby. sp_hearticon2

He's a lot more chill now, and moving around seems to come a big more easily to him. He's all fitted in his cone, and he's been doing a lot of resting today. When he does walk around or readjust himself, it causes him less pain than last night, unless he stumbles and his stitches brush the ground. He even when to the bathroom by himself today, which is great!

My vet set me home with Onsior in addition to Gabapentin, so we're fully stocked at the moment. My biggest issue is he doesn't want to consume ANYTHING right now, water, food, or pain meds. He's still really nauseous from the surgery. Onsior has to be taken with food anyway, so I'm really struggling to maintain his pain at the moment. I know this is a temporary problem though, and once his appetite comes back (likely by tomorrow) he will have all the pain meds at his disposal. Any advice until then would be appreciated though!

That's all for now, I'll updated again tomorrow.

Michigan


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10 November 2023 - 6:00 pm
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Im glad you were able to take time off. Great job sleeping on the floor. Yes, I did the same, and halfway in a closet;)

Exellent Pepita has his cone on and is resting today. Brilliant, going potty  too👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 

My biggest issue is he doesn't want to consume ANYTHING right now, water, food, or pain meds. He's still really nauseous from the surgery. Onsior has to be taken with food anyway, so I'm really struggling to maintain his pain at the moment. I know this is a temporary problem though, and once his appetite comes back (likely by tomorrow) he will have all the pain meds at his disposal. Any advice until then would be appreciated though!

Yes, have you warmed foods to try? Do you feed a wet diet? Dry food?

I wish they would have sent you home with an antinausea med like Cerenia. Are they available during the weekend to call or get the script? 

Onsior can be given with or without food. Answering Onsior questions

Screenshot-2023-11-10-at-7.50.36-PM.pngImage Enlarger

Please do not wait for Pepita to eat to give him his meds!!! You will have a miserable kitty. This is major surgery, and we need the pain meds on board. Please think of this surgery as our arm or leg being amputated it is no different. We need pain meds in us or our furmily to manage the pain.

I would try warming foods, try stinky fishy foods, stage 2 baby foods, chicken and gravy, turkey and gravy., Churu tubes, and any treat tubes. Fresh chicken, the list is endless. Im just not sure what you have on hand to try. Or where you are in the world? Are you in the US? 

If Pepita doesn't eat and you have syringes, I would blend a wet food (a food processor works great for this ) to syringe the food to him if you don't have a blender or food processor. I would syringe baby food or churu tubes in him—either way, the meds are in and he is not suffering.

Do you have syringes?

I hope you find any of the above helpful & one of the above tips helps. I have to get offline but ill check back  

Hugs

Michigan


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10 November 2023 - 6:58 pm
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I'm off for the night. Other members will be in and out as well. I'll check back tomorrow.

I wish you the best of luck, and please get those meds in food or not. Ill have more ideas with your feedback.
HUGS

💝💝💝

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