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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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11 year old cat 2 weeks post surgery questions
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Member Since:
12 August 2022
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12 August 2022 - 1:15 pm
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Hello everyone-

I've been lurking the last 2 weeks and decided to finally post today.  My 11 year old cat Whedon had his right hind leg amputated 2 weeks ago due to osteosarcoma.  He has been recovering very well, every day getting stronger and acting more like himself.  However, the last few days he has experienced weakness in his left hind leg.  He'll yelp and plop down - it is apparent that he's in pain and scared when it happens.  Episodes typically last about 20 min-half hour.  Logically, I feel like this is just muscle pain as he uses the left leg more and in different ways. But when we called the surgeon, he said he hadn't heard of these symptoms before.  We have a follow up with the surgeon on Tues, just to rule anything else out.  I'm just wondering if anyone here has experienced anything similar?

Further, today he's vomited several times (mostly bile).  I saw an older post that this may be a result of stress --which totally makes sense.  I also think that he's been grooming himself more over the last day and a half now that we've been given the ok to remove the e-collar.  We haven't decided on next steps (ie if we are going to move forward with chemo or not) so it is not that. 

Again, I can logically explain both of these issues, but as I'm sure you all can guess anxiety is running high these days so I just wanted to check in to see if anyone has experienced similar issues.

Thanks!

The Rainbow Bridge


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12 August 2022 - 2:39 pm
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Hi Whedon and mom, welcome! Your future posts won't need to wait for approval so post away. I'm sorry about the osteosarcoma diagnosis. If you haven't seen this forum topic about cats with osteosarcoma check it out.

So when you say the episodes last 20 minutes to an hour, do you mean of him screaming or just not wanting to get around? Does he scream repeatedly? Or just doesn't want to move?

Cats can get phantom leg pain . This is where the severed nerves get angry while trying to communicate to the brain, as if a leg is still there. This usually presents as a sudden, sharp yelp followed by some anxiety, maybe a cat looking at the missing leg area. They even might start walking backwards. Has Whedon done anything like that?

It's also not uncommon for a Tripawd to have a mobility setback or two during recovery. They start to do things like they used to and in a few days or even weeks the body catches up to their brain, and yes, they possibly pull some muscles too. Have you tried massaging Whedon to see if he responds to any sensitive areas? Usually the shoulders, neck, and low back get sore in Tripawds.

What was his pain management like when he came home? What meds, how often, and how much? And how long did he take them? If he is still on, the meds could be causing him to be nauseated. But I'd definitely let your vet know if it continues.

One more unrelated thing: if your vet hasn't discussed follow up chemotherapy with you, please have that conversation. Here's a post that explains the newest findings about cats with osteosarcoma.

Member Since:
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12 August 2022 - 5:03 pm
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Hi Jerry, 

Thanks for the reply.  

He'll try to get up and move, will cry, and then his leg will give out.  He'll then sit in the same spot for about 20 min and will try to move again.  Sometimes it is just the once and sometimes it happens a couple times in a row.  He does walk backwards sometimes, so that makes sense. 

We tried to give him little massages or add an ice pack for a few minutes but he was not too happy about it. LOL so we've been just giving him some head scratches and trying to give him his space while he figures it out. 

When he came home he was on omeprazole for 7 days, robenacoxib for 3 days and he's been on gabapentin since before the surgery for pain.  He was getting it every 8 hours up until 3 days ago when we switched to every 12 hours.  We're scheduled to see the surgeon on Tues to follow up on the leg weakness, we did email him today about the vomiting and he said he didn't believe it was related to the surgery so we followed up with our regular vet. They said if it continues overnight and into tomorrow we should bring him in. I agree that all the meds in his system may have messed up his belly. 

In terms of the chemo, yes--our surgeon did bring it up.  He said that the tumor was in an odd position and that likely he wouldn't be able to get it all.  We're meeting with the medical oncologist in 3 weeks (that's the earliest we could get in) to talk next steps.  As I mentioned earlier, I've been lurking for a while, so I've read through a lot of posts and still we have no idea what we want to do.  Whedon HATES the vet.  Getting him into the carrier is traumatic for him & us.  He's also really, really good at hiding his pain/discomfort. My number one concern is his quality of life, so we keep going back & forth. 

Michigan


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13 August 2022 - 5:34 am
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Hi and Welcome,

Did the walking backward and crying happen after you went to the every 12-hour dosing? I would go back to every 8 hours on the gabapentin. What is the dosage of gaba?

Does Whedon aggressively lick the site of the amputation during these episodes? The vomiting could be because he excessively grooms and goes after that area. They do not want to be messed with during one of these episodes. And try to soothe themselves.

Gabapentin can help the phantom limb with the correct dosage and frequency. If you can video one of the episodes you are describing for your vet, it would be helpful for them to see what's happening at home. It won't occur in the vet's office on cue.

Why was he on the omeprazole? Thats 2 changes I see. 

I would let your family vet know what's going on. Tell them how often he is puking the contents i.e., color, bile, food if there is hair in it, and the behavior as the surgeon suggested. If you can feed him small frequent meals, that may help his belly. Also, if you are not already, give the Gaba dosage on a full belly, not empty; that can help. The family vet can or may prescribe cerenia; for the vomiting, depending on how often it happens and their findings. It is given for three days. It sounds like his meds need tweaking to feel better. I'm sorry Whedon is going thru this! 

Hugs & a chin scratch to Whedon 
Holly & Purrkins💝💝💝

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13 August 2022 - 1:06 pm
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Hi Holly,

Thanks, you are confirming everything we're thinking.  Thankfully, Whedon has been able to eat today and hasn't gotten sick since last night.

The crying and leg issues happened less frequently when he was taking the gaba (100mg) every 8 hours -- basically, the episodes started and have increased as he's gotten more mobile and as we've decreased the gaba.  He was supposed to be completely off of it by now, but we agree that since these episodes are increasing, he should stay on and stay on the 8hour regimen. So we did that a few hours ago and he's resting comfortably now. 

We did video a few of his episodes, so we'll share them with the vet on Tuesday.   

I'm not sure why he was on the omeprazole. They sent him home with it so we gave it to him.  We figured maybe it would help prevent GI issues with all the other meds.  

Thanks again for all the suggestions--it really has eased our minds to be able to come here & chat with folks who have been through something similar.  

Michigan


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11 July 2016
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13 August 2022 - 2:42 pm
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So happy to hear Whedon is feeling better today all around. Good job bumping up to 8 hours and videoing the episodes.

"supposed" to be off the meds. Yes supposed to be too general;) All our animals, just like humans, are individuals. We all have our paces. Nothing wrong with staying on meds for longer, some stay on the gabapentin.

Please talk with your vets, ensure you have enough meds, and see what they recommend after seeing the episodes and improvement on every 8-hour dosing.

It is always helpful to visualize us humans having an amputation after two weeks. We would not do as well as our furmily does nor be expected too;)

Happy to help when we can thats what tripawds is for;)

Keep us updated, please!

Hugs and scratches to Whedon, please!

💝💝💝

The Rainbow Bridge


Member Since:
25 April 2007
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13 August 2022 - 7:15 pm
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Whedon's mom and Holly, I love the way you two are bouncing ideas around! Not having the privilege of caring for a cat at this time in my life, I really appreciate all of the feline knowledge here, I learn so much! 

Yeah I agree, going back to the original medication schedule should help him feel better as far as the phantom pain goes. If you have time and you feel like it, upload the videos to YouTube and paste the URLs here so we can see them. We have this post about cats backwards walking after amputation surgery and I can add Whedon to the post so that others can learn from this situation.

It does sound like you have done so much research and put so much thought into his care and whether or not there will be further treatment. Even if you opt out (which is fine, there are no right or wrong choices), at least you can feel confident knowing you did your homework and made an educated decision based on his temperament and needs. 

I'm so glad he's doing better and hope this continues!  Keep us posted.

Virginia




Member Since:
22 February 2013
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13 August 2022 - 8:16 pm
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Sich good jnput from Holly (Mom to Purrkins) and Jerry.

Holly is so well informed  about kitty issues, meds etc,

In dogs anyway, generally phantom limb pain comes on quickly, is very paingul, qnd the dog or cat will try and "run away" from thr pain, but only lasts  maybe a minute, more or less.  The shock of the pain can stress them out for a bit longer, but that's more physiological.

Anyway, what stood out to me was that the leg actually gave way when he would try and stand.

He'll try to get up and move, will cry, and then his leg will give out.

Jerry and Holly can confirm whether that's  a "normal" reaction related  to phantom pain .  I just didn't  remember  legs actually giving  way and collapsing and not veing able to stand back up for quite awhile.

You're  doing such a great job of monitoring  Whedon!  Glad his tummy is settling  down .  Let us know how the Vet appt goes.

Hugd

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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13 August 2022 - 10:55 pm
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Oh woah I totally missed that point Sally thanks for bringing it up. I'm wondering if it gives out because he feels the pain acutely in that leg? Hmmmm

Michigan


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14 August 2022 - 7:35 am
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I was going to address how long Whedon episodes last but did not.  Without seeing what was happening I did not address it.

I was hoping the video would show the details. I have no first-hand experience in phantom limb in rear leggers, only what we have seen here on the site. It is different than a front legger as the rear leg kitties do the crying, howling, and backward walking. I have always wondered and thought it had to do with cutting that sciatic nerve in rear leggers. No one seems to know why it is different in cats!?!?

With Purrkins, he will appear to be jolted out of nowhere and bolt i.e., in bed, he will fly out of as if zapped by something, then he aggressively licks that area. It lasts a min or a few minutes. Purrkins goes every six weeks for acupuncture and will sometimes have one breakthru spell in between our appts. I always grab his farabloc blanket and hold it against his no-arm area. It never lasts long! It is distressing regardless and unpleasant, to say the least!

And again, no first-hand experience with rear leg spells, but I'm not surprised about the leg giving out during one of these episodes as they try to soothe themselves. But I cannot say with certainty and hope the videos will show what is happening!

I also wanted to add our surgeon six plus years ago did not believe phantom limb episodes happened in our animals....We had to advocate for the gabapentin. We were fortunate that the vet student assigned to Purrkins was going into pain management , and he agreed gabapentin was NEEDED and would be sent home. We only knew to advocate for it because of tripawds.com:) It was being sent home regardless, as far as I was concerned;)!!!

Remember that our surgeons do NOT follow our amputees after the stitches/staples are out. However, it does exist and happens to a lot of amputees.

I hope Whedon had a good night and no puking, no spells. 
Hugs
Holly & Purrkins
💝💝💝

Member Since:
12 August 2022
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15 August 2022 - 5:53 am
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Hello all-

Whedon hasn't gottten sick since Friday night (knock on wood). And his episodes have decreased significantly since we put him back on the gaba every 8 hours.  

After reading your posts, I'm not sure it is phantom pain .  My hypothesis is that it is either 1. nerve pain (I didn't even think of sciatica - that's a great point) or 2. His left leg has had to work much harder and in different ways over the last 2 weeks and he's having pain as a result.  I uploaded the video and tried to add the link here.  Please let me know if it doesn't work --it is my first time posting on youtube. 🙂

I also appreciate and agree with the comment about having to advocate.  I wonder how often people follow up with the surgeon rather than their normal vet.  Luckily our vet has been kept in the loop every step of the way & I think she'll prescribe gaba long term if needed.

Again, just wanted to say how much I appreciate all the comments.  

Virginia




Member Since:
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15 August 2022 - 7:27 am
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Glad he us doing better! !

Not a techie ar all, but go back to YouTube and change settings from private to public. Want to see the video then it. Right now we can't see it because it says private

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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15 August 2022 - 7:43 am
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Thanks for the update. Again super happy to hear Whedon is doing better!

Great job loading to youtube. Yes, i was the same way Purrkins was my first youtube experience 🙂

Ok, as our yes techie Sally posted the video is listed as private, you will have to go to your youtube account and make it unlisted or public. Unlisted means anyone with a link can view it, and the public is everyone; anyone can view it. Your choice.

here are some screenshots on how
go to details pencil

Screen-Shot-2022-08-15-at-9.35.41-AM.pngImage Enlarger

Screen-Shot-2022-08-15-at-9.35.52-AM.pngImage Enlarger


Go to Visibility & change to unlisted or public hit save, which should show up for us.

Let me know if you need further help

Sally, you don't give yourself enough credit!😘

💝💝💝

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15 August 2022 - 8:01 am
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Ok, I think I got it. 🙂

Michigan


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15 August 2022 - 8:20 am
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Yes, you did! Great job!

My non-professional opinion is it is nerve pain (phantom limb), and he falls over a bit trying to fix it. Poor guy, please give him a smooch and chin scratch from us please!

The surgeon can hopefully confirm tomorrow. Make sure and show your family vet this too, please. Is this video taken while Whedon is on the every 8 hours Gaba or 12 hours? I hope it was before going back to 8-hour dosing. If you can, make notes on the time of day it's happening, how often, and how long these last for the vets. The more information the better. (a log)

(((HUGS)))

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