Vaccine Associated Sarcoma (VAS) in cats is supposed to be a rare cancer. But here in the Tripawds Nation, it’s not unheard of. Also called “Feline Injection-site Sarcoma” (FISS), we’ve seen our share of members who have lost a leg to this tumor. Today we’re sharing some VAS cat stories, then read on because you’ll also find more helpful information about VAS.
Meet Tripawds VAS TriKitty Bloggers
Little Man has a great blog called “Little Man: Loving Life on Three Legs.” It’s one of the first Tripawd kitty blogs that discussed Vaccine Associated Sarcoma and how he coped.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Tripawd Kitty Little Man recovers from amputation.[/caption]
Back in May of 2012, my mom found a lump on my left hind leg. She took me to my vet and he did a wedge biopsy. The tumor was a vaccine-associated fibrosarcoma (VAS). He went over all the research with my mom and told her that amputation was my best chance at beating this thing. — Introducing Little Man
After Little Man came TriKitty Mona, whose mom Kerren has taught us so much about this stubborn cancer in cats. As an active member of this community, Kerren is always lending a helping paw to cats and dogs alike and offering helpful tips, no matter the diagnosis.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Mona is back and enjoying life.[/caption]
In her blog post, One Year Later – What I’ve Learned, she writes:
Vaccine Associated Fibrosarcomas in cats is not curable. Hopefully tumour removal through surgery stops it from spreading. Radiation, chemo, and Interleukin 2 only delay re-occurrence. If possible immediate amputation is the best hope to rid the body of VAS if the vaccines are injected low in the leg. My vet and pathologist are confident the cancer left with the leg. All I have is hope. I don’t dwell on it but am thankful for every day she is with me.
Another Tripawd cat with VAS was Jerry. This sweetie’s blog “Three Cats, Eleven Paws” is also filled with helpful insight about coping with a probable VAS tumor. The cancer appeared not once, but multiple times. Eventually it took his life, but his spirit lives on and stays strong.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="499"] This post is dedicated to Angel Jerry, always in our hearts.[/caption]
where the cancer erupted on Jerry, we figured it was not brought on by a vaccination. My vets have a protocol as to where on the animal they will give the vaccination. The cancer erupted on the area of the foot that is equivalent to an ankle in a human. The oncologist I worked with with the radiation therapy when the cancer first showed up said he’d be extremely impressed if any vet could get a vaccination in at the site. The oncologist told me this cancer can also just erupt without a vaccination. — Dealing with a Diagnosis of Cancer
Within the vet community there still seems to be a lot of guesswork when it comes to Vaccine Associated Sarcoma in cats. Here’s what science knows for sure:
Basic Facts About VAS or FISS
According to this helpful information from the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital:
- VAS sarcomas are tumors formed within a cat’s connective tissues. These tumors are usually “fibrosarcomas,” named after the cells found within the tumor.
- VAS tumors occur at vaccination sites; shoulder blades, hips and back legs.
- Certain vaccines, including rabies and feline leukemia are linked to this cancer.
- Genetic predisposition could play a role, but scientists don’t know exactly how.
- Surgical excision is the best way to remove the tumor, but these tumors have many “tentacles” that are difficult to remove.
- Cats with VAS leg tumors have the best odds for beating the cancer.
- Chemotherapy and radiation increase longveity odds of up to 24 month survival time.
- Regardless of treatment, metastasis happens about 10-25 percent of the time.
Information about Vaccine Associated Sarcomas in cats is growing but there’s still much work to be done to find a cure for this type of cat cancer. Like many pet cancers, researchers aren’t quite sure how to prevent it other than advising to “vaccinate discriminately.” When cats do get vaccinated, University of Florida experts advise:
Vaccination on the lower limbs and tail has been advocated, such that amputation of the affected leg or tail can be performed if a tumor should occur.
If you came here for reputable information about VAS / FISS, we hope this helps. Join the Tripawds Discussion Forums for support, and check out these helpful, science-based articles about VAS that we’ve located for you.
Veterinary Cancer Group: Vaccine Associated Sarcomas in Cats (PDF Download)
Got other good articles about VAS in cats that you’d like to share? Comment below and let us know where to locate them. We’ll be sure to add them to this list.
Dao recently introduced us to kitty hydrotherapy. Who knew?!
Hydrotherapy, is suggested by the vet. Without other options, we took it. . And it seems like miracle happens.. it worked! Yes, you throw a cat in a water treadmill, and 5 sessions later.. he can walk again!!
And finally, Doa Doa following his therapy today… Looking good ! His confidence has improved so much and his balance and co-ordination is really coming along… We are all so pleased with his progress…
(this kitty is not Dao, but an example of cat hydrotherapy. To see Dao in his hydro session, click here).
We especially love how Dao’s people are very honest about his adaptation to life on three legs. Their blog entries show what the “new normal” is like for many, and how important it is to be grateful for every accomplishment we might have once dismissed as a little thing.[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="482"] Dao’s new normal is OK by him.[/caption]
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="456"] Dao enjoying sunbeams in the garden.[/caption]
He cannot play with ribbons anymore because he cannot run. He will slowly walk, but no longer running. He is very careful with walking, and you know it might fall at some point. He is not too stress about it, but he still has difficulties with balancing if he get up from a lying position. He will cry and ask for help.
The hydrotherapy helps us, from him needing help with walking every steps, to giving him independence. We are absolutely grateful; but we are still adapting to the new life.
It seems not long ago we thought we will lose him to cancer, but when you see him sunbathing in the garden, it’s worth everything.
Follow along with Dao’s three-legged adventures: Dao the Chinese Cat.
Share Your Story on Tripawd Tuesday
Each Tuesday, Tripawds from around the world can enter for a chance to be “Tripawd of the Week.” Just share your Tripawd’s story and you’re entered to win! On every Tuesday of the week, tell us about your three-legged hero here in the Tripawds Discussion Forums or on the Tripawds Facebook page. Just follow these easy steps:
- In a few short sentences, describe your three-legged hero’s story.
- Include a photo or video.
- Include a link to your Tripawds Facebook page, Forum topic and/or Tripawds blog (if applicable)
All entries must be received by Saturday at 11:59 pm. One Tripawd story will be selected at random to be featured the following Tuesday.