birthdate: June 5, 1995

    age when diagnosed: 8 yrs old
    date of diagnosis: August 2003

    rear leg tripod

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1. when did you notice the lump, what was the size and where was it located, was it low on the leg or higher - closer to your cat's body    We discovered it about a year ago today. (August, 2003) It was high on his right hip---there were two, actually. The larger one was high and there was one lower down. It wasn't grade I - it was grade 2 or 3. We have the paperwork, and we will look at it later for specifics if you would like. Right now it's too hard for us to dredge up the memories of that scary time.

2. when was kitty last vaccinated    He had received his rabies and FVR/CP shots in Sept of 2002.

3. how long did you wait to have it removed    It was biopsied within the week; we were referred immediately to University of Wisconsin/Madison and they started radiation on Labor Day weekend. He had three weeks of daily treatments.We were given options and chose to have the radiation followed by amputation.

4. was this your cat's first surgery for VAS    
They had to wait for the skin to heal after the treatments. His amputation was done in late September of 2003. At first they thought he would have to have a hemipelvectomy, but they were able to be less radical.

5. Did you consult with a specialist or oncologist?    Both. We had an oncologist and a radiologist as well as our regular vet who did the referral.

6. who removed the lump (regular vet or surgeon)    The surgeon at UW Wisconsin.

7. how long did your cat stay at the vet's after surgery    He had it done on a Thursday and was released on Sunday.

8. did you do anything special to prepare for your kitty's homecoming    We had paper litter ("Yesterday's News") and took the lid off the litter box. We had stepstools so he could jump on the bed.

9. what was your cat's adjustment period like    He was fine at first. Then he was in a lot of pain . I called Colleen and she told me exactly what to get - and we called and got a prescription for him.Again, we'd have to look it up - I think it was something like Torbutol. He managed to open his incision, causing it not to heal properly- and an abcess developed. He had to go back into surgery - it was reopened and a flap was re-stitched over it. Since then, the fur in that area has grown in white.

10. What was your cat's adjustment period like:   It didn't change his personality one bit. He is a healthy, happy cat and still the boss of the house. We took him on vacation to Santa Fe with us about five weeks post-op and he did fine.

Jesse is a purebred Champagne Mink Tonkinese from Almondize Cattery. His real name is Almondize Just for the Journey. His father, Just Us, was a champion, and died of cancer -- and we don't know what kind it was.

Jesse was eight years old when he developed VAS. He turned 9 on June 5, 2004. Jesse is an affectionate, snuggly, muscular, bratty little show-off who is unfazed by his tripod-ness. We have a Burmese named Cassie (Wobegon Cassandra Cecilia Zorger Phillips) who is his soulmate, and their relationship was not affected by the surgery. I will add that after his operation, I moved in with my two cats, Sasha and Amanda. There has been some territorial spraying and fighting, but we are adjusting. Jesse is boss of the house.

For future tripod owners - take heart. HAVE THE SURGERY. Your cat is not maimed. Your cat will still be beautiful and will still be able to jump, play, roll, run, and have a full life. Jesse loves to go for walks - he is harness and leash-trained. It may seem horrifying to think of amputating a leg, but - animals have four legs for a reason. We were told by a compassionate vet that they have 3 legs and a spare.

We have educated ourselves about options re: vaccinating our cats. We read about an oral rabies vaccine for foxes in Europe - vaccines are specific for the species, so one for foxes wouldn't work for cats, but we are watching the waves and hoping that something will be delveloped for our companions. We have not vaccinated Jesse since his surgery.


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