Date of birth: June, 2003
Age when diagnosed: 4 years
Date of diagnosis: 7/17/07, Osteosarcoma
Left front leg including shoulder
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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: One day in April Subie started limping but it was after I heard a thump so I assumed he had injured it falling or jumping. Some days he would limp hardly at all and some a little more. Then one day it was very pronounced so we took him to the vet on May 12th.
The vet noticed the swelling right away (was his "elbow" joint"). She took xrays and I think did an aspiration but I can't remember for sure. She thought it was an injury or maybe an infection so we gave him antibiotics for a couple of weeks.
It did not get any better and he still limped but not that bad. He would still use it and the limping varied. Eventually his limping got worse so we took him back in on July 9th. They did xrays again and did an aspiration. Aspiration did not turn up anything. Radiologist looked at and confirmed mass so biopsy was done on July 13th and his amputation was on July 31st. I truly thought he had injured himself and now regret that he wasn't treated sooner.
2. When was kitty last vaccinated: 2003, 5/12/2007; however vet does not believe it is vaccine related although path report mentions possibility if near vaccination site.
3. How long did you wait to have it removed: Biopsy done on 7/13, diagnosed on 7/17, amputation done on 7/31 after asking lots of questions of VAS support group and vet.
4. Was this your cat's first surgery: Yes, other than biopsy.
5. Did you consult with a specialist or oncologist? No as vet thought it was osteosarcoma not related to VAS and that it had not spread. Looking back I would consult with an oncologist upfront.
6. Who removed the lump (regular vet or surgeon): Regular vet as she had done previous amputations.
7. How long did your cat stay at the vet's after surgery: Overnight. Came home next afternoon.
8. Did you do anything special to prepare for your kitty's homecoming: Besides trying to calm myself since I was terrified I wouldn't know what to do, we kept him in a small bedroom and adjacent bathroom closed off from the rest of the house. We had a blanket he liked and his food, water and litter box nearby. We created a box for him to hide in which he didn't use and a box with a liner along side his regular litter box. He used both. We did put a t-shirt on him to cover the incision and he had to wear an e-collar which he hated but he had licked open his biopsy so he had to have it on. One of us slept and stayed with him pretty much at all times for the first week and were around until he got his stitches removed.
9. Did your cat have any post-operative problems: Subie reacted negatively to pain meds and sedative. He was very agitated and startled/freaked out occasionally. He would only sleep in 30-45 minute increments. After meds got out of system, he did much better and was much more calm. He ate fine from the start but didn't want to drink. I added water to his canned food. He was constipated for a while but that resolved on its own.
10. What was your cat's adjustment period like: He fell on his face a few times at first which was hard to watch. After the pain meds wore off and he was calmer, he started to explore so we allowed him into more parts of the house and supervised his meetings with his siblings. By two months, his personality was back to normal. It took a while longer for his fur to grow back.
He looks awkward when he walks, more graceful when he runs. He does try to use his missing leg. You can see his side move. The only change I see in him, except the walk of course, is he no longer leaps off the top of things. He uses intermediary steps to get down. He seemed to know how to adapt safely. Otherwise, he loves us and plays with his siblings and even keeps up with a new kitten.
11. Any other info that you would like to share: Today 7 months post surgery, he is a happy, playful and loving kitty. I do not regret having his leg amputated at all. The decision was difficult and agonizing to make but it was the correct decision and the only decision that would allow him to live a long and healthy life. The surgery and recovery process is much harder on the human parents than the kitty. They learn to adapt and do what they need to do while we stress and worry about every little thing.