History and the next step

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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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  • rica55 says:

    well…WOW…i NEVER thought I would hear my kitty Jill’s story again since I was told that her cancer was SO RARE…..but here it is. Jill’s cancer started in HER TOE – same leg – back right! Her toe was amputated in June 2012 and came back as Osteosarcoma (bone cancer)….totally thought it was an infection, but was SHOCKED with the diagnosis.
    Six months later I found a nodule in that same leg and the cancer was back. No limp or anything just a little nodule.
    Her leg was amputated in December 2012, followed by four rounds of chemo and she is now 27 months cancer free!
    She does amazing on three legs. Truly amazing.
    Please please visit her blog – go to the very beginning, I have tons and tons of videos and pictures and stories. and PLEASE let me know if you have any questions at all!!!
    Keep us posted!!
    Erica & Tripawd Kitty Jill

    • jraffaelli says:

      Hi! It was actually your blog that I was reading right before I decided to dive in with this blog thing. I think you mentioned some chemo in there too, right?

  • rica55 says:

    oh I’m in chat now if you want to join!

  • rica55 says:

    Yes, Jill had 4 rounds of chemo after her leg was amputated. She did GREAT on it.
    What type of sarcoma does Fredo have?
    I am literally in SHOCK over this! It is like the same exact thing…Jill was also 8!
    I was told by Jill’s oncologist who has a LOT of experience that she has never seen something like Jill’s case before!

    • jraffaelli says:

      That is pretty crazy! I did some research on stats, because my vet told me that this is certainly more common in dogs than cats. I think I read somewhere that 4-5 in 100k cats get this.. Makes me sick to think about. Weird to see so many similarities in our stories.. I certainly hope he recovers like your kiddo has!

      I’m not positive which kind of sarcoma.. I believe the first one was osteosarcoma, which is why the toe had to go. The second little bump was free-floating around his ankle, so he just said “Yep it’s sarcoma again!” And then when I went yesterday, they showed me the mass in his foot (it’s basically between the ankle and toes) and just said I was right, it was cancer, etc etc. Such a bummer.

      Since we both have other cats in the house, did Jill do well? Or I should say, did your other cat do well? Our girl hates when he goes to the vet to have anything done (probably the smell freaks her out), but generally she gets over it. Not sure how she’ll be with a longer recovery time for him.

    • jraffaelli says:

      Oh and I would get on chat, but I’m at work and I think I’m already pushing it with my cat blogging! Haha

  • rica55 says:

    LOL I get it! I’m at work too dont tell my boss 😉
    My other cat did just fine with her recovery, he didnt even seem to notice.
    So the second mass Jill had was a metastasis from the Osteosarcoma on her toe, which was why her oncologist recommended chemo.
    She did wonderful with the chemo, she lost her whiskers, but that was really the only side effect she had.
    Where are you located? Is there an oncologist nearby you can consult with?

    • jraffaelli says:

      Oh gosh, whiskers!? Did they come back? I didn’t even think of that. The doc I talked to yesterday just said it was a possibility at this point and that they would refer me to an oncologist after. I haven’t totally wrapped my head around the first step, so I thought I’d wait on the oncologist. My guess is that his second round of sarcoma was a metastasis of the first bump, sadly. Sneaky cancer.

      His consult is on Monday! With a chance of same-day surgery. I’m a little freaked.

  • rica55 says:

    They did grow back, just a little different, kinda wirey, but she doesnt seem to care!
    I know you’re freaked, I was BESIDES myself. Just keep reading as much as you can and watch the videos I (and others) posted and you’ll reassure yourself that he will do just great on three legs. I honestly can’t even remember Jill on four legs now!

  • Michelle says:

    Wow, Jill and Fredo have a lot in common. Welcome to the club no one wants to join. Erica is a great resource and Jilly is our tripawd hero around here. Besides the fact that Jill & Sassy were chemo buddies (had their treatments on the same day)

    Welcome again.

    Michelle & Angel Sassy

  • jerry says:

    Fredo and family, we’re so sorry you’re dealing with this “rare” condition in cats, but it’s not so rare it seems, we’ve had at least 3 in the last year join us for the same reason.

    We are sorry though, and SO glad you came here to join us and blog about it. There is nothing like reading others’ experiences and finding out what they’ve been through to help us come to our own decisions about dealing with cancer (our Jerry had the same kind as you). And even though we started out as a dog-centric community, ever since Erica and Fang took the first few brave hops to join us, we’ve had more and more kitties joining us every day. with each new feline friend we add more information about cats and life on three legs, and are able to help more kitties, so THANK YOU.

    Now, don’t be shy OK? we are here to help however we can and you’ve already made contact with Jill and Erica, who are GREAT ambassadors for Trikitties. Whatever questions we can answer just meow at us.


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