Today I took my cats in to the vet. Mona, who had her leg amputated in June due to VAS, went just for a weigh in. Eli, for his yearly health checkup and to discuss vaccines.
I got a copy of Mona’s histology report that stated the amputation obviously captured all of the main tumor mass, which was very invasive and it was difficult to determined exactly where the tumor began and ended. The diagnosis was a high grade fibrosarcoma with complete excision, virtually certain to be postvaccinal sarcoma. To see this in writing I now know we did the right thing for Mona. The pathologist stated the margins were huge and that there’s little metastatic risk, at least within the usual postoperative follow-up intervals found in published literature. There is no study with 5 or 10 year postoperative data. Hey after this scare, I’ll take any amount of time.
I know this isn’t the same for all of your kitties and doggies. I feel very sad for those who continue to deal with the cancer on an on-going basis. Although I can breathe a bit easier I’ll still massage Mona daily feeling for lumps.
Although, Mona now cries in the car going to the vet (she didn’t do that before the amputation), my big strong boy Eli yowls in fear. Mona went in a box, Eli in a cage. This is how they went home with Eli (on the left) being “comforted” by Mona:
I sure love these two!
Kerren and Mona the Comforter, who won’t let Eli near her at home.
Did you know that black cats are the least adoptable over all other fur colours? Black cats in the US are put to sleep at a rate of nearly five times over all other coloured cats.
When I volunteered at our local SPCA I noticed potential adopters were bypassing black cats. So I adopted two of the ones that chose me – Eli and Mona.
Here’s Eli, my short hair male, now 10 years old:
And here’s Mona, my longer haired female, now 8 years old:
I heard it’s due to myths and superstitions that black cats have a hard time getting adopted, yet in many other cultures black cats are a sign of good luck. Today, some people refuse to adopt black cats or surrender them to shelters because they think they don’t photograph well in “selfies”!!
Black dogs suffer the same fate as black cats, not due to superstition, but due to other misconceptions. Please help to spread the word that black cats and dogs are just as loving, smart and wonderful as any other cat or dog.
Mona went for a chiropractic treatment today by a vet who integrates Traditional Chinese Medicine with Western veterinary medicine and chiropractic. Not that Mona cares what type of medicine the vet practises. For the first time ever, she meowed constantly in the car while driving to the vet. Perhaps she was afraid she was going to lose something else…
The vet, Marlene, was upset and angry that Mona lost her leg due to a vaccine. Why don’t they fix the vaccines? She also believes no vaccinations after the kitten vaccines. At her clinic they do titer testing. I know there is a lot of debate about vaccines – which ones, how often, live, adjuvanted …. Bottom line, a vaccine injection gave Mona cancer and I HAD HER LEG AMPUTATED TO SAVE HER LIFE. Yup, I still get a bit angry. I had her vaccinated to protect her and it could have killed her.
Moving on. Here’s Marlene’s prescription for Mona:
1. Because Mona’s cancer was so aggressive I need to brush her and feel her whole body for lumps every day.
2. Gentle playing with strings and feathers so Mona moves slow to get her balance. Going fast is easy, she needs to go slow to strengthen.
3. Massage her back and pelvis to keep the spine moving. I hope I remember her technique.
4. “Power Mushrooms” to enhance immune functions and it contains herbs that may have an anti-tumour effect (according to Chinese research).
After just minutes of massage Mona was flaked out on the couch. Not a peep from her on the way home in the car. I’d say she likes these kind of vet visits. When we got home her happy tail was up and she was prancing more than thumping. I hope you all can find rehab or after-care for your tripawd kitty or dog in your community.
Highs and lows from amputation day to staple/suture removal day
High #1: Mona cleaned the left side of her face with her left rear foot within 24 hours of surgery. I think she was really stoned because I haven’t seen her do it since.
High #2: I slept in the “nursery” with Mona and she came in to the bed to sleep with me after night #2.
High #3: Mona can run really fast. It must be some momentum propelling her forward. I think it’s like riding a biking, when going slow you wobble, when going fast you have your balance.
Low #1: Mona escaped the nursery, ran really fast up the stairs and peed on the carpet.
Low #2: Mona escaped the nursery, ran really fast up the stairs. The other cat and I ran after her. She ran really fast down the stairs, opened the door to the closet where she normally eats and peed.
Low #3: I was working at my desk in the nursery at my oak pedestal desk. One of the filing drawers was open. Mona jumped into the drawer and into the void behind the drawer. She peed.
High #4: I opened the nursery door, moved the litter box next to the garage door, threw out the new litter, poured in the old used litter. She used the litter box.
Low #4: June 17 – Mona took her last dose of buprophenal the night before. When it was time for the next dose of Medicam I tried to get her out of the closet where she was sleeping with the shoes. She jumped over me and ran really fast down the hall, turned the corner and body slammed the wood-screen door and escaped outside. I did not find her for 26 hours.
High #5: I met a lot of wonderful concerned people when looking for Mona. Also petfinders.ca was putting together a search party when I found Mona in a cupboard under a landing in my garage. What did I learn? Just because you look one place once, check again, she might be there! Mona was fine. She ate and I had my biggest cried through this whole ordeal.
High #6: Mona wants to go outside but I won’t let her until her staples and sutures come out. After 2 weeks they were removed. I let Mona out the patio door and she sat on the deck in the wind and warm rain for 1.5 hours, just loving the smell of freedom. She scratched at the patio door (yay!) to come in to sleep on her rocking chair. Ahhh, life is good.
High #7: Mona has lost weight. But my sister pointed out that she lost a leg – that was probably the weight. Once she’s stabilized I need to focus on her weight as she has a cute little buddha belly.
High #8: The lump was a fibrosarcoma and Mona’s lymph nodes are clear.
High #9: I moved back to my bed upstairs and Mona joined me under the covers for a snuggle the next morning. This has been part of her morning ritual. My girl is back.
Mona’s Sitting Posture
With her left front leg gone she now sits with the right front leg directly in the centre but sometimes her paw is turned in (like pidgeon-toed) and then she places her back left leg further forward than her right.
Food and Supplements
I’m concerned about Mona’s joints. She won’t eat food with a glucosamine supplement added so I’ve been trying other foods that have joint supplements in the food. No luck so far. Somehow my cats both like or dislike the same foods. They communicate in some way: “What do ya think? Should we eat this one or not?” “Nah, it has something smelly in it, I’m not eating it” “Ok then, I won’t eat it either”
I’ve seen lots of progress in Mona’s recovery since the staples came out. It’s been very hot and she seems lethargic but is good finding the cool places to sleep. One is under a bush next to my pondless stream. She still seems to have a fantasy that she’ll pounce out on to a bird drinking in the stream. I don’t believe she’s caught a bird yet but she can still dream.
There have been more highs than lows and I don’t regret the decision to amputate. Mona is 8 years old and I expect her to be with me for many more years. I can hear Mona walking – she now has a rhythmic thump – I’ve come to love that sound.
Any and all questions or helpful tips are welcome. I’m here to support anyone going through the amputation surgery and recovery and to learn from you. Thanks for this fabulous website!
On Friday June 6 a small tuft of fur came off Mona’s leg. Within a day it grew to a golf ball size lump and didn’t seem to bother her but she started bunny-hopping going down the stairs. She saw the vet on June 9. He did surgery hoping it was an abscess, took an x-ray and ruled out bone cancer and hoped it was a strange infection that he could blast out with antibiotics. I took Mona home, over the next few days it continued to grow. Mona was still happy and active and bunny-hopping down the stairs.
The vet checked in on Mona and wanted to see her. Because the lump was bigger he was quite certain she had a vaccine related fibrosarcoma (rare they say) and wanted to amputate the next day. Needless to say I was stunned. They x-rayed her to determine if the cancer was in her lungs, it wasn’t.
Amputation Day – June 13, 2014
Mona is very relaxed at the vets. They think she is very sweet – that’s because she turns the cute on. The clinic calls her their #1 pet because she’s so relaxed and it makes the tests and surgery easy for them.
So she was relaxed and I was still numb about what was happening. While waiting for her to go in for surgery they gave her a shot to “relax” her. Mona fell asleep in my arms and started snoring. The vet discussed more details of the surgery. He told me he thought I was doing well, I wasn’t and started to cry. He also teared up, kissed Mona on the top of her head and told her she was loved. I gave her to him and she snuggled in to his arms. I knew she was in good hands.
In the afternoon I received the call from the vet that Mona was awake and I could go in to see her but the vet wanted to take her home for the weekend. I suddenly felt jealous. I thought he was becoming too attached to her…
At the clinic they had Mona all bundled up I blankets. She seemed quite stoned and as I held her I realized that it made sense for her to be monitored at the vet’s house. He would call me the next morning and she would go home with me if she was doing fine, otherwise he would take her to the clinic so I could visit with her.
The next morning Mona got to come home. As soon as I laid her down on her bed on the floor she ran to the window, which was partly open and has a screen. She jumped on to the window ledge and started climbing up between the screen and window. A cat with a missing scapula and leg can really flatten out.
I saw a forum here where people posted the amputation costs for dogs. Should we start a forum for amputation costs for cats? Because my cat’s tumour is associated to a vaccine, the pharmaceutical company that produced the vaccine will reimburse me for 50% of the amputation costs. I think this is important information for those in a similar situation if costs are a barrier to having the surgery done.
Buprenorphine and Medicam – she would go wacky when it was time for her meds. I suspect the pain was starting.
The vet sent her home with canned kitten food. She loved it!
I cut down her litter box, moved it from the garage to her nursery and bought new litter, “Yesterday’s News”.
Staples, Sutures and Drain
Mona did not come home with a cone and didn’t bother with the staples but did scratch at the drain. I made sure I “snapped” it often, got the crust off and wiped her with a baby facecloth to clean off any drainage fluid. The vet took the drain out early since Mona wanted to scratch at it anyway.