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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Hello, my daughter’s cat Princess requires amputation of right front leg because of advanced fibralsarcoma (cancer). We can not afford the $2000+ of local vet estimates. We urgently are requesting referrals for vets in British Columbia Canada, or alternatively the State of Washington whom would do the operation for $1000 or less.
Our family financial circumstances can barely afford the $1000, but we will find a way. I am a single dad of 69, still raising and putting my kids of 17 & 18 through school on a fixed income (my pension/old age benefits).
I have read veterinary rates for amputation vary dramatically depending on area. I hope someone can refer myself to an affordable yet reputable vet.
The importance to my children, and myself, of Princess is profound. In 2003 I found myself a single father. My daughter 5 years old. my son 7. One night walking home after grocery shopping, we noticed a young black cat in a cage being sold in a local vet’s window. My daughter Venus pulled me in so she could pet her. She was a generic American Shorthair, all black with some waves in her fur. Rather sway back and skinny in my eyes at the time. We were told she was 10 to 11 months old and already had had a litter of kittens.
To my son and daughter they wanted to bring her home. I was myself more circumspect because I was more a dog person and had had little affinity for cats generally.
Yet there was something truly calming and sweet about her nature, and I could not ignore how my 2 kids seemed captivated by her disposition. We brought her home and she has been my ‘third child’ since.
Currently my daughter has been devastated that what was previously a small bump above her paw has grown to the size of an egg, and diagnosed as fibralsarcoma.
We have had 2 vets’ prognosises in past 10 days. The first vet telling us better to let nature take it’s course. The second opinion wanting to do a complete analysis, and if cancer, amputate.
For a 14 – 15 year old cat, Princess eats well, is affectionate, and healthy, except for the growing tumor which is now hobbling her (and likely paining her).
My lay opinion is that all the pre-operation analysis plus amputation cost is simply unaffordable at this time. It’s deciding whether to forego paying our rent and buy groceries vs the full vet costs of an amputation.
Even an amputation is no guarantee of survival.
What I would request a vet to do is just go ahead and amputate, and take our chances she will survive.
I feel the full analysis of x-rays of lungs, urine analysis, etc etc, etc are redundant as there is only one alternative no matter other health conditions. She will not survive either way without amputation of that leg. So might as well cut to the chase to amputate.
Therefore avoiding any redundant unnecessary cost. So it is affordable. Yet, allow Princess a chance for survival.
Do you all agree with me ? Have you other suggestions or advice ?
Would someone know a vet that would cut-out the unnecessary stuff to keep the cost affordable to save Princess ?
Would respectfully appreciate any feedback.
Hi Christopher, Princess & Family,
Thank you for joining us. I’m sorry you are in a bad spot, we will do our best to help you find affordable care and get Princess the care she needs.
We currently have a few active members who live in BC so I’m hoping they can chime in with a referral. Something to consider: you can ask about bringing Princess home the same day of surgery in order to keep costs down. It’s not ideal, but it will help. Also be sure to ask which tests are necessary if you know the leg has to come off anyways. Make your situation as clear to the vets as you did here so they understand why you are trying to save money. Vets understand completely. However do keep in mind that some tests are precautionary to rule out things that could be hazardous during surgery. This article explains:
Don’t let vets tell you Princess isn’t a candidate because of her age. I just talked to a woman today whose cat is 13 and she has had a successful amputation recovery for the exact same reason, fibrosarcoma.
Stay tuned, this great community will chime in soon.
Sorry to hear about your cat and the diagnosis. We all understand the financial concerns. I live on Vancouver Island and my cat’s amputation was about $2000 plus some additional costs for diagnostic xrays.
Is the fibrosarcoma caused by a vaccine? If so, then the pharmaceutical company will likely pay 1/2 the costs. The vet would need to have the paperwork and contact the company.
Another suggestion is that I think the BCSPCA in Vancouver has a vet clinic. It’s called the Vancouver Animal Hospital and their number is 604-879-3571.
I need to say that some of the reasons for blood work, urinalysis, lung xrays etc. is to ensure your cat is healthy enough to go through this major operation and that there are no other problems.
I’d be willing to discuss this with you some more and I may have some other ideas. Also there are some sources for financial supports and I’ll try to find the info for you.
By the way, I also went ahead with the amputation without a biopsy so we weren’t certain if it was cancer but it was growing so quickly on her leg that it had to go immediately. It was a vaccine-associated-sarcoma. These type of fibrosarcomas can spread by sending out tendrils. Some folks have them removed only to have another one appear. The outcome is generally the best for cats with the tumour located lower down in the leg because the vet can get very good margins.
You obviously love Princess very much. Please know it is just as loving to keep her comfortable and spoiled while “nature takes its course”. We all do the best we can do with the resources we have at hand. I hope you find the best help you can for Princess, you, and your family.
Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona
Here is a page that has some links for financial help:
Thank you for responding. I e-mailed both the vets tonight who have made initial examinations of Princess, explaining my circumstances and requesting if they can just initiate the amputation, keeping costs to maximum of $1000.
Somehow, based on cost estimates I received earlier from them (almost $1400 for amputation, preceded by almost $1000 for preparatory biopsy, radiograms, etc, etc.) I am not optimistic. Yet, I have yet to receive their response. I should hear soon.
But, Princess’ abscess has broken open to the size of a quarter, oozing a white foul-smelling puss. Which of course she licks. The paw and 3″ up her lower leg has swollen to at least an inch & 1/2 thick.
I myself was diagnosed with throat cancer early last year, so I have left-over sterile pads, tape and an anti-bacterial/anti-inflamation ointment called ‘Flamazine’. I cleaned the white ooze off as best I could with warm water and soap, them applied liberally Flamazine, covered by a sterile pad, covered by one of my daughter’s socks, which I taped as tight as I could without causing pain or trauma. Very temporary, as cats are adept at ridding themselves of such.
So time is ticking, and not sure if the vet’s here can work something out with me. Feeling tense.
Amazing the tumor in Princess is growing so quickly. My throat tumor grew at a more gradual rate thank God.
A significant difference is her tumor is now externally exposed and bacteria is infecting the tumor and complicating things.
Tomorrow I will use Google and phone around some rural vets to evaluate whether they are more flexible. As well, I will hope one of my local vets will respond in agreement.
Thank you again, very much. Your site is greatly appreciated to at least vent, as well receive very needed moral support and advice.
Wish us luck 🙂
Thank you so much Kerren for your response, it looks very helpful.
My reading on this type of sarcoma says it is rare a cat of Princess’ age is diagnosed. Usually it appears in younger cats, because older cats have developed a resistance.
Feline cancers are not well-understood by vets because people put more investment for research in canine cancers than feline.
Sarcomas resulting from vaccination points are increasingly being understood. Though the 2 vets I consulted seem reluctant to consider or discuss the possibility.
I don’t understand where Princess would have originated such a tumor as she is totally an indoor cat. Her only outdoor activity would be our patio balcony on the second level of our condo apartment, and the roof terrace. There are one or two other neighbor cats she may have had a hissy fit with, I am not sure, but I hear it is unusual a scratch would lead to cancer.
If it was originated from a vaccination, how would I prove it ? Do you know ? How did you determine Mona’s was derived from a vaccination ? Did the vet suggest it ?
I will phone the BCSPCA tomorrow.
After writing this I will read the links you provided for me.
As I responded to Jim & Rene above I battled throat cancer (successfully) last year, and have left-over medical supplies and bandages. They came in useful tonight as the red abscess broke open oozing a foul-smelling white ooze, at least a quarter in circumference. So the tumor is now complicated with a serious infection, which I washed, placed with Flamazine ointment, sterile bandage and taped around my daughter’s sock.
I thought it would be bitten and clawed off by now, but 2 hours later she’s curled up next to me on the couch, sleeping, and the sock still intact. 🙂
So not much time to lose. I will be busy on the phone tomorrow trying to determine the best veterinary option.
Wish us luck 🙂
Would be very glad and privileged speaking with you further if you are available.
My apology Jim and Rene for calling you Jerry. I belatedly read your story, and the inspiration for creating Tripawds. He sounds very much like a beloved dog that ‘owned me’ back when I was a boy 🙂
In case you would ever want to e-mail me personally, my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
God bless, and kind regards,
Christopher van Dyke
Vancouver, British Columbia
2 April 2013
Are you able to get Care Credit where you are? It’s a line of credit for pet care and many vets in the US take it. Maybe that would be helpful to you.
Donna, Glenn & Murphy
Murphy had his right front leg amputated due to histiocytic sarcoma at 7 years old. He survived 4 years, 2 months & 1 week, only to be taken by hemangiosarcoma at 11 1/2 years 6/12/17
Read about Murphy's Life on Three Legs
Good morning Christopher,
Please tell Princess that she’s a sweetie for keeping her sock on. You are doing a great job at keeping it clean.
There is a page where the vet recommends putting the cat on anti-inflammatories when this type of tumour appears: http://felineas…..arcoma.htm
Metacam may be helpful and is used for pain relief and inflammation. It’s affordable and may give some relief.
Do you know where you got the last vaccine for Princess? They should have the details of the vaccine in their records. My vet initiated the process. I think he assumed it was from a vaccine because he didn’t know what else it could be. He initially tried to treat it like an abscess but it wasn’t making sense. He xrayed and it wasn’t bone cancer. The pathologist confirmed it was likely a vaccine related fibrosarcoma after examining the amputated leg. I find it interesting that those vets were not interested in the possibility of VAS.
I will email you to set up a time for a phone conversation after you have made your phone calls. In the meantime spoil Princess, focus on your time with her now and Happy Canada Day.
Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona
22 August 2008
Is the tumor just above her wrist? If so that would be an unlikely place for a vaccine tumor. Cancer in older cats tend to be less aggressive so amputation may buy her a lot of time. At our clinic a presurgical mini-panel is $74 and a one view xray is $100. Not ideal but a good way to see if the cat could handle anesthesia. I would say that a cat amputation is much less expensive than a dog amputation due to faster surgery time. I’m sure that the above tests plus amputation would be around $1000 or a little less. I am in Puyallup, WA and it takes me about 3 hours to drive to Vancouver (longer if I cross the border at the Peace Arch). Send me a private message if you have more questions or want to make the trip down this way.
Pam. could you provide your phone number, I would like to talk to you about Princess and possibly bring her to Puyallup.
By the way, I confused your city with another with similar sounding name of a town on the I-5 midway to Seattle. Thank goodness for Google Maps. Puyallup is just south of Seattle, but still no problem to drive there.
You can Private Message Pam using the messaging feature available to members. We don’t publicly post tel #s, emails, etc. Not a good idea in an age of spammers. The Messaging System is available by clicking on the little envelope icon to the right of Pam’s post.
No need to apologize for calling us Jerry, we consider it an honor. Thanks for the kind words about this community.
We’re all hoping for the best for you and Princess. Keep us posted.
22 February 2013
Christopher, wishing you the best as you figure out how to help kitty. With all the positive energy kf this community surrounding you, something will work out!
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!
This is an update on where I am at with Princess. First, thank you everyone that responded. you do not know how it helped having insight on your experiences and advice. It is helping me greatly.
Second, the BC SPCA provide those on fixed income, seniors, etc. a 33% discount on vet fees, not including required medications. I decided the proximity of the drive to the downtown BC SPCA Hospital the most realistic way to go as it has required several follow-up trips so far to deal with severe infections not only of her exposed tumor on her leg above her paw, but as well severe intestinal infection. Urine and blood analysis it turned-out was absolutely unavoidable.
It has cost me $800+ so far. The operation, if we decide she is able to handle it, will be another $700+. Don’t know how I will pay this down over time. Thank God for credit cards. But it is a stress. I understand those completely who decide against the cost, but after 14 years I (and my kids) ultimately could not walk away from her.
Princess, only 5 days ago was as close to expiring as it gets. She would not eat or drink water for several days, and looked like she will pass overnight.
Before my first BC SPCA Hospital appointment, the only thing my untrained eye could recognize was the bleeding of her broken tumor, a white pungent pus that to me was an infection on top of the tumor. I began daily giving her a gentle bath cleaning the wound. As I fought throat cancer myself last year, I had leftover medical supplies, including FLAMAZINE (anti-bacterial), sterile gauze, etc. I bandaged her strategically enough she was not able to remove. This controlled the pus, and the bad smell.
My first visit to the BC SPCA was Tuesday of last week I believe. There I met with vet Dr Peter Lekkas. He gave us time and patience, carefully explaining our options, which contrasted significantly with the 2 previous private vets we had visited for preliminary evaluations, whom had made us feel we were on the clock.
Initial blood and urine analysis indicated extreme infections existed in her intestines as well. He was not optimistic of her ability to pursue amputation. But 2 medications were prescribed to see how she would respond. CLAVAMAX 2 x/day, and for pain BUPRENORPHINE 3x/day.
The Buprenorphine caused a reaction of difficulty to breathe. In her weak state she already was breathing heavy, so we were scared to continue using. So we stopped after only one application. Since using the Flamazine to control the leg infection, pain seemed not to be a great issue anyway.
Apparently what has made quite the difference has been the Clavamax. It did not take more than 2 days for her to respond. Quite a tiurn-around surprisingly because she was in a very weak state. She is eating increasingly now, drinking, walking about, more clear-eyed. Not 100%, but giving me optimism for her to deal with amputation.
Tomorrow, Thursday @ 3 PM, she is scheduled for the operation. Today we are meeting with another BC SPCA vet for a pre-op evaluation.
We will decide this afternoon whether we operate tomorrow or not.
Will let you all know soon how things turn-out.
23 April 2016
I am so glad you determined the BC SPCA provides a discount and it sounds like it has been such a good experience. CLAVAMAX is often a very effective antibiotic and I am so glad it has been for Princess.
Whether you decide to pursue the operation or not, you will have the comfort of knowing you diligently pursued options for your kitty daughter and made the best decision you could for her.
On October 27, 2016, nearly 6 months after amputation, and 18 months since his cancer likely started, we lost Pofi to a recurrence of Soft Tissue Sarcoma in his spine quite suddenly. His canine sister also succumbed to cancer on March 1, 2019 - we lavished her with our love in the interim, but life was never quite the same without her only real canine friend. Cliff kitty had to leave us, too, suddenly, in August 2019. Lucia kitty grieved all these losses, but helped us welcome two new Lurchers into our home and our lives, Shae and Barley.