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Fredo is home.. and suggestions/recommendations

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Hi all,

I got a surprise call from Fredo’s surgeon this morning, saying the night went well and he could go home.  I asked when, and he said, how about 11?  Surprise!  I had not prepared his little space at home, of course.. I thought I had an extra day.  So, I stopped for some different litter (no clay, but natural plant material or something), a new little bed, and the Kong toys with catnip were buy 2 get 1 free so obviously I got those.. not for now, but after he’s healed of course.  He loves the ones you fill with catnip, so we have about 8 of them already.  Oh well.

We got home, he was REALLY happy (okay disclaimer–I’m not sure if happy is the right word, since he’s on drugs and also doesn’t speak English) to get out of his crate and hobble around.  He was on his feet immediately, going from room to room.  He headed straight for his litter box (which had the clay litter in it still), which has a lid and kind of a high step.  He got in with minimal problems but couldn’t really get comfortable in there and gave up.  He tried again a little later, it was unsuccessful again, but this time he just sort of gave up in general and laid down on the laundry room floor.  Sad!  I took him out to the living room, and he got comfortable.  BUT THEN.. I turned around for a minute, and he was gone.. and up the stairs.  Whaaaaat!  OF COURSE the vet’s instructions said, no stairs or beds or furniture.  So, from a healing standpoint, it freaked me out, but I did feel reassured that he will adjust to stairs without a problem.

The vet suggested a large dog crate with his litter box, food, and a comfy sleep space, so I was in the process of setting that up when he went on his little stair climb.  I finished that up and locked him up in there.. it sounds sad that he’s locked up in his own house, but he actually got comfortable really quickly and has been napping (more or less) for the last few hours.   I covered it with a blanket, so it seems pretty relaxing?  I wouldn’t totally mind a comfy cave bed.  Also, let me mention that we’ve never owned a dog.. ha!  Along with Alfredo, I also inherited a large dog crate from my roommate.  I knew we were holding on to this for a reason.

Ah, we also had a conversation about litter at the vet; the vet tech did suggest the newspaper-y pellets for litter, which I’ve had before.  When I stopped at PetsMart (PetSmart?  Not sure) they only had giant bags of said litter, so I decided to get a smaller bag of the all-natural “plant material” stuff pictured below.  He said this was okay.  Generally, we want to avoid infection, so the clay-based formula is no bueno.  Still, since they are small pieces, I’m going to keep an eye on it.  I bought some disposable trays and had to cut down the sides so it’s easier for him to step into.  It seems like a pretty decent setup.  The vet tech said he was just peeing on himself, poor guy.  Mostly because he was on drugs and didn’t feel like moving, so the tech just cleaned him up with some non-water soap?  I may look into this, since bathing isn’t recommended right now, and he is so dirty.  I might be wiping him down with some towels throughout the next couple of weeks.  He’s so clean normally, which isn’t surprising since he is a cat.  But I think his life’s joy comes from cleaning himself, for real.  But anyway, off topic.. what I meant to say was, while I was out earlier, he peed in his little litter box, and that is very exciting!  Haha.  I don’t want to have to think of him peeing on himself.

Yesterday I bought some calming spray.  I have never tried this… Fredo does historically have some nerves and a puking problem (he gets nervous about eating and sometimes eats too fast, yada yada), so it wouldn’t be the worst idea ever.  Even so, I thought it couldn’t hurt, so I sprayed as much of the downstairs that I could.  Might be working, might not be.  Who knows.

So here is where I open it up for anyone else who has suggestions–particularly for the period of recovery when the pain medications stop, which at this point will be Thursday or Friday.  What should I expect?  Any other tools or tricks to make this process easier?  I’m going to head to the blogs after I post this, but still.. all advice welcome!

Pictures ahead!

Happy to be home

Happy to be home

Daphne checking out the new digs.

Daphne checking out the new digs.

Chill dude

Chill dude

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Amputation Day wrap-up

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Hey all,

PLEASE NOTE – There are two pictures at the end of this post, and one includes his incision.  Proceed with caution if you’re not into that kind of thing.  With that said, although it is a little bloody, even I wasn’t totally horrified, and I have a low tolerance for that kind of thing.  Stitches are gross.

So, I got a call around 1:45 and the kiddo was done, the surgeon said everything went well and he was resting.  He said maaaybe he can come home tomorrow, but likely it will be Wednesday.  I’m cool either way… I have no problems with letting them watch him an extra night, for my own peace of mind.

I stopped to see him after work and grabbed some good ol’ Purina on the way over.   I threw in some Greenies too.  I am not super confident that they’ll give the food or treats to him, since they didn’t put his blanket in his little recovery kennel like we’d hoped they would.  I just roll my eyes at that stuff, because he seemed to be doing well overall.  As soon as he saw I was his friendly owner and not a vet tech coming to bother him, he hopped up to his three feet and came over to me.  It wasn’t graceful, and he didn’t seem to fully understand he was missing that leg, but still.. I’ll take it.  They said it was okay if he sat on my lap, but he was cool with that for about a minute and then thought maybe he’d take off out the door, despite being hooked to an IV with a very fresh incision on his hiney.

So, with that in mind, I put him back in his little crate and said some goodbyes.  I might stop by tomorrow, depending on what the doc says.  If not, I think I’ll stay home Wednesday and make sure he settles in at home.  We miss him!  His ornery little sister misses him!  As soon as she heard someone come in today, we heard her come barreling down the stairs (as much as an 8-pound cat can).  I swear she looked disappointed when she saw it was just a human…

Now, two pictures ahead.  My handsome buddy and that stupid e-collar… he looks mad, I’m pretty sure it’s because of the cone and not the actual leg situation.  Cloud Collar is en route!!  Hopefully here in time for him Wednesday, and hopefully he doesn’t hate it.. haha.

Thanks for the well wishes.. I don’t plan to update three times a day going forward, but it was a big day for the kiddo.  xoxo

Cone hating.. still cute.

Cone hating.. still cute.

Incision.. you were warned.  Ignore his little tummy pooch, he's self-conscious about it.  :)

Incision.. you were warned. Ignore his little tummy pooch, he’s self-conscious about it. 🙂

And we’re off!

Today will be a busy day in Fredo Blog World.  For my own sanity I figured I’d keep a running news feed.  🙂

His appointment was at 9:30, and the vet tech from last week’s CT scan said she spoke with all the surgery techs and let them know that Fredo rules, and he’ll let you do almost anything if you let him hide his face haha.  True story.  But she is so sweet.. IN FACT, we got a card in the mail over the weekend from her (photo attached below).  I don’t care if they do that for every animal.. I’m going to believe that she doesn’t because he’s so awesome.

Our new vet tech brought us back, got some background info (I feel like I could recite this in my sleep now), and then the surgeon came in.  We had a choice of two surgeons, and this one was a diplomate and board-certified, which I think I mentioned already, and I really like fancy titles so I was glad it worked out that he was on the schedule today.  He gave us some reassurances about Fredo’s recovery and told us more nitty gritty details about the actual procedure.  He said he prefers to remove the leg from the hip because it’s a little cleaner, and then he’ll do some work reshaping the muscle down there so Fredo can keep his little kitty booty.  In general, I felt very good about this conversation.

And then the fun part, the estimate!  As I expected, the “hindlimb amputation” was only about $750, and the rest of the care (meds, blood work, etc) drove up our cost QUITE a bit.  But he will be on some good meds for the next 36 hours or so, and he should be able to come home Wednesday morning.  My plan is to pick up some of his normal food and bring it over.  He is the pickiest eater.. only recently has he started eating treats (but only Greenies), he will not eat any wet food.. just Purina chicken and rice.  He also occasionally will chow down on some random dental floss (that’s another story entirely) or the plastic hang-y things from my shirts and dresses.  But in general, it’s the Purina.  So, they recommended dropping off some food for him so that he has a better chance of eating while he’s there, since generally cats don’t like to eat in the hospital anyway.

SO–bottom line.  Fredo is going into surgery today around 1, they expect he’ll be done after an hour or two, and like I said, he’ll be there for a day or two.  The plan is to bring him home Wednesday (4/1) morning, so we have a little bit of time to prep a good recovery space for him.  Unfortunately his sister may have to keep her distance so she doesn’t get him up and running too much.  We always figure she keeps him young.. so there’s a good chance that when the time comes, she’ll be just what he needs to get back on his feet and functioning normal.

One big special shout-out to my husband for loving this guy as much as I do.  If I met any resistance when it came to cost or care for Fredo, this would be infinitely harder.  But we have agreed that we’ll work extra hard to make sure Fredo gets what he needs.  It helps to have a partner through this.

More later….. xoxo.

The awkward moment I'm not sure if I should smile while discussing kiddo's amputation.. but it is what it is.

The awkward moment I’m not sure if I should smile while discussing kiddo’s amputation.. but it is what it is.

He saw a dog.. temporarily distracted him from a lack of food.

He saw a dog.. temporarily distracted him from a lack of food.

A sweet note from our vet tech!  <3

A sweet note from our vet tech! <3

Just real quick

Nothing new, except a pic of Fredo and Daphne last night, and one of the poor guy this morning, standing where his food dish normally is.  He threw up on the downstairs tile, in the walking path… in the dark… so you think he’s hungry?  Poor guy.

We’re packing a blanket for him, on the chance that he does have his surgery today.  I’m going to be pretty bummed if for some reason they schedule it for another day.  We do not enjoy packing him in his carrier.  He turns into 10 pounds of bucking bronco maniac.  It’s insane.

More later!

Little kiddos 3/29/15

Little kiddos 3/29/15

Where's the food!!!

Where’s the food!!!

Next appointment + some thoughts

First, thank you to everyone who has wandered over to this little blog and left words of encouragement.  I’m in a good place right now, but I anticipate that will change quickly BECAAAUSE..

Appointment is on Monday!  So, 3/30 at 9:30am.  The scheduler I spoke with was setting me up for a consultation with the surgeon and asked me if I wanted to keep the day open for the possibility of a same-day surgery.  It felt pretty “on the spot” and fast, but there’s really no point in prolonging this now.  I am so nervous for the day we bring him home and have to watch him struggle without that back leg.  I know it gets better, but it still has to be so hard.  I’m happy that he will be in the care of the hospital for a couple days post-surgery.

I can’t tell if his demeanor has been different the last few days.  He seems pretty lethargic and very needy.  He’s always been more dog than cat in the sense that he LOVES attention and will follow you around and get in your face to get it.  Our girl is the opposite and seems offended when you try to give her attention.. ha.  So, not much has changed for him in that aspect, but he just seems to have a little less energy lately.  And, of course, his walking is inhibited by his foot, which he shakes and chews pretty often.  It’s definitely bothering him.  I keep telling myself that, so I can feel better when it’s not there anymore.  Still hard.

The hospital he’ll be treated at has two surgeons on staff; the one we’re meeting Monday is a “diplomate” and board-certified, so I feel good about that.  Hopefully my confidence doesn’t change once I meet the guy!

My regular vet gave me the name of an oncologist to speak with regarding chemo post-amputation.  The consult alone is $175.  Does this seem normal?  I’m clueless about cost for these kinds of things.  I really never thought I’d be contacting an oncologist for ANY reason, human- or pet-related.

And with that in mind too, does anyone have any general parameters regarding the cost of this amputation?  As I said, we weren’t given the numbers yet.  That comes at the consult, but if he goes immediately to surgery that day, it doesn’t really give us a lot of time to think about it.  We will have to shuffle money around.  2015 was supposed to be the year of our debt payoff.. unfortunately most of the progress we’ve made will go into this little guy’s leg.

This brings me to another thought.  Toe amputation is not worth it.  Last year my vet did mention the possibility of a whole leg amputation, and I was horrified.  Of course we opted to go with a toe removal because why jump the gun?  But as a result, we paid for one expensive toe removal, then another little tumor removal last month, and now this leg.  So for anyone out there researching osteosarcoma… don’t put your confidence in just removing the toe with the hopes that the cancer doesn’t return.  Unless chemo is an option at that point–which it should be.  I talked about not blaming myself, but I do wish we’d had the foresight to skip some steps and give him the best shot a year ago.  And save ourselves a couple grand… expensive guy, especially since he came to us for free.

This was all over the place, whoops!  I will report back on Monday once I know more.  And maybe he will be in surgery!  Yikes.

Some pics of the big guy and his cool new front paw haircuts.  🙂

Little poodle paws where his catheter/IV were inserted for the CT scan.

Little poodle paws where his catheter/IV were inserted for the CT scan.

Basically the cutest thing ever.

Basically the cutest thing ever.

The Blame Game

Wooo two posts one day!

I thought this was worth addressing.  I had a lot of anger toward this situation, and I wonder if anyone can relate.  Alfredo is the best-tempered cat I have ever had.  I’m not sure if this is because I always had female cats, or what.. but even when compared to his (non-biological) sister, who I love dearly, he is so chill.  He is sociable.  Non-cat people love him because he’s just a cool dude.  So when this apparently rare form of cancer came to him, I was really mad.  Why would this happen to a sweet little man whose LIFE MISSION has been to find friends to love?  Not that I’d wish it on an angry cat, but still.  Life didn’t seem fair.

The first time around, I was told the cancer was pretty cleanly removed along with his toe.  It was not, as we know now.  Could I blame that vet?  Our vet is a sweet older guy that my animals really seem to trust.  I can’t blame him, even if I wanted to.  He listened to my concerns and addressed them.

This past year, I could have had him scanned sooner.  We were planning a wedding and there was a lot going on.  Instead of checking him when symptoms came, what if we’d had him scanned at six months?  WHAT IF.  So I could blame myself.

I joke with Fredo to quit getting cancer, but of course I can’t blame him.

The Blame Game is an easy one to play.  But if I’d scanned him and it was present then, there’s no guarantee that it would have been an easy fix.  The bottom line is.. cancer doesn’t care.  There’s a good chance this would have happened even with the most diligent and thorough care.

Fredo isn’t blaming people.  Once this is over he’ll still probably mosey over for some ear scratches and be just fine.

History and the next step

Hi all,

This site so far has been a life-saver for me.  I received the news yesterday that an amputation was in our future, and I don’t like to use the word hysterical.. but I was hysterical.  It seems silly to think about now, since while I was having an emotional meltdown, my cat was staring at me like, “Sup with this?  You okay?”

I am happy to find there is a community for “tripawds” but less of a community for kitty tripawds.  The stories out there, like I said, are so helpful, so I thought if my blog can join the others and bring comfort to anyone down the road, that is great.  And, of course, I do hope that our process with Fredo is a smooth one and it doesn’t turn into some sort of horror story.

So, our little guy Alfredo (Fredo) is a super cute rescue cat who I inherited from a roommate who moved out of the state.  Previously, she got him from a roommate who had a kiddo and through various circumstances weren’t able to keep him (the cat!).  My husband and I came to own him about three years ago, and there are no hard feelings toward those previous owners because he has brought us so much happiness.   I hope I don’t need to justify it when my “cat lady-ness” shows, since we are hopefully all similar here in that aspect.

Fredo had a number of kitty roommates throughout the years, the cats of other roommates.  So, when those roommates moved, they took their cats with them.  We decided to go to the Humane Society and get Fredo a more permanent little sister.  The little calico kitty in any pictures is his sister Daphne.

So, fast forward two years, and my husband and I noticed spots of blood throughout the house.  They were sporadic over a few weeks, and we couldn’t pinpoint the cause.  Finally we checked the feet of our kiddos and found that one of the pads on Fredo’s back right foot was really swollen and had a cut or lesion on it.  Off to the vet we went.. through a series of pokes and prods, the vet told me it was not an infection (unfortunately) and was instead a tumor in his toe, so the best recommendation was to remove the toe.

I don’t know if any other cat owners here went through anything similar, but the IDEA of the loss of a toe was mortifying.  This poor guy!!  It hurt me to think about him going through this horrible procedure.  Hindsight, right?  Recovery was a real drag (we all hate the e-collar!!), but he did recover, and within weeks you wouldn’t have known there was an issue with his foot.

Buuut then this past February (2015), my cat mom sense started sounding alarms.  He wasn’t limping or acting differently, but his foot was significantly bigger than his other healthy foot.  After the toe removal, his foot looked normal.. until this point.  Upon further review, I noticed another little node higher up by his ankle, and again.. off to the vet.   The vet agreed that the ankle node would need to come off, and he confirmed that it was sarcoma again.  He prescribed anti-inflammatory meds for the foot in the hopes that it was just swelling that would go away.

So of course the swelling didn’t go away, and we were referred to a specialty clinic which performed the CT scan yesterday.  By 1:30 I was back in the office, and a new doctor told me that there was cancer up into the lymph node on his back leg, and the best recommendation was amputation.  Which I knew.  I’d been playing this conversation in my head for weeks.  I knew the leg would need to be amputated.  There’s still just always a part of you that wants to believe it could go another way.

I don’t know if this experience is normal either, but the vet office (not our usual office) was so bizarre.  The staff basically just handed me the numbers of two surgeons, said call back to schedule the surgery, and see ya!!!  I did manage to ask how cats adapt to three legs, they said wonderfully.  I said, even older cats? (He’s 8) And they said, yup!  But I was not given very much information at all.  At this point, I’m still in the dark about the cost of this procedure, when it will be, if we need to meet the surgeon first for a consult, etc.  I gave myself a day to make that phone call, and now I’m just waiting for a callback.

In the meantime, I turned to the internet.  I’ve learned so much already about what the incision might look like, how quickly cats recover, how cats care much less than their poor sappy owners, how to aid his recovery, where to keep him post-surgery, what a Cloud Collar is (I want one–again, the e-collar is the bane of our existence), and more.. The biggest lesson for me has been… cats are not humans.  They have feelings, but they don’t have the same emotional attachment to this limb that we have to our own or even to their limb.  It is not like when a human has a limb amputated and has to deal with the psychological ramifications as well as rehabilitation.  As this site has said, it’s better to hop on three than limp on four.  My poor boy never showed discomfort until just two weeks ago, and he’s been limping since then.  I hate to see that.  It will be an adjustment to see him without his back leg.. but at this point I’m hopeful that we can have this procedure done and move on.  There is a possibility of chemo after, which is a whole other bridge.  I don’t know much about that yet.  Hopefully it doesn’t come to that.

That’s the story!  A couple pics for fun.


A very fancy man

A very fancy man

Sooo where ya been all day?  3/24/15

Sooo where ya been all day? 3/24/15

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