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Front leg amputation - post surgery questions

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi all

This is my first post. I hope it's okay to jump in and ask for some advice. Sorry in advance for the length of the post.

We rescued a stray cat a couple of weeks ago (we've named her Sofie). According to our vet she could be between 12-14 years old. She had a very large (and infected) cancerous tumor on her front left paw. She definitely seemed to still have a zest for life, so we opted to adopt her, and make sure that she had the medical assistance she needed. Despite the cancer/infection, the vet thought she was a pretty good candidate for surgery, and so her front leg was amputated last Thursday.

We took her home from the vet's surgery on Friday. She seemed to be in very high spirits -- moving around like a pro on three legs, eating well, using the litter box, seeking out affection/attention.

However, since the weekend, she has been a lot more subdued. She has also been a bit grumpy when we administer her medication (she had pain meds through Sunday, and is taking an antibiotic twice a day). She's taken to hiding underneath my desk, or the bookshelf in my office. She's still eating and drinking, and using her litter tray, but she really seems almost depressed.

Whew, well I tried to make that history brief. Here are my questions:

1. If you've had a cat who had a limb amputated, how long was s/he on pain medication for? I suspect the reason Sofie felt so good on Friday was a result of the narcotic pain medication the vet administered at the surgery. We gave her three doses of Metacam (an anti-inflammatory) at home, but I am wondering if she needs a few more days of pain meds?

2. Does Sofie's recovery after the surgery sound 'normal' in your view? I have done some reading on the topic, and it sounds like most cats do tend to 'lay low' for a while after a major surgery? Is the overall depression/grumpiness (including hissing, and occasionally biting when trying to administer medicine) 'normal'? Prior to the surgery, she seemed like she was a pretty affectionate kitty.

Many thanks for any advice!
post #2 of 8
I've not had to deal with an amputation, but have had other big surgeries with my cats. My cat who just had a half mouth teeth extraction, is being kept on pain meds for 5 full days along with anti-inflamatories. It sounds like they took Sophie off pain meds too early.

If she is in pain, she will hide, hiss and try to bite you. Call your vet and see if you can get something else for her pain to tide her over. Sorry, but can't help you with the duration of recovery.
post #3 of 8
Hi - It's wonderful that you have taken care of this poor little baby. I've never been thru this type of surgery with a cat. Like you said, I think maybe the fact that the pain medication has worn off. It it definitely worth a call to the vet. Maybe there is something they can give her to at least keep her comfortable for the next few weeks. Generally it's not a good sign when they are hiding and not acting like themselves, but she is eating and drinking which is good. When in doubt, call the vet :-)

Welcome to the Board! There is a wealth of knowledge here!
post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by hyacinthbucket View Post
Hi all ... This is my first post. I hope it's okay to jump in and ask for some advice. Sorry in advance for the length of the post.
Welcome to TCS! Of course it is OK to jump in! There are some great people here in the membership and hopefully, someone will have good advice and suggestions for you.

Quote:
We rescued a stray cat a couple of weeks ago (we've named her Sofie). According to our vet she could be between 12-14 years old. She had a very large (and infected) cancerous tumor on her front left paw. She definitely seemed to still have a zest for life, so we opted to adopt her, and make sure that she had the medical assistance she needed. Despite the cancer/infection, the vet thought she was a pretty good candidate for surgery, and so her front leg was amputated last Thursday.
Bless your heart. You are a good person to have taken in such a needy little lamb.

Quote:
We took her home from the vet's surgery on Friday. She seemed to be in very high spirits -- moving around like a pro on three legs, eating well, using the litter box, seeking out affection/attention. However, since the weekend, she has been a lot more subdued. She has also been a bit grumpy when we administer her medication (she had pain meds through Sunday, and is taking an antibiotic twice a day). She's taken to hiding underneath my desk, or the bookshelf in my office. She's still eating and drinking, and using her litter tray, but she really seems almost depressed.
Poor little baby.

Quote:
Whew, well I tried to make that history brief. Here are my questions:

1. If you've had a cat who had a limb amputated, how long was s/he on pain medication for? I suspect the reason Sofie felt so good on Friday was a result of the narcotic pain medication the vet administered at the surgery. We gave her three doses of Metacam (an anti-inflammatory) at home, but I am wondering if she needs a few more days of pain meds?

2. Does Sofie's recovery after the surgery sound 'normal' in your view? I have done some reading on the topic, and it sounds like most cats do tend to 'lay low' for a while after a major surgery? Is the overall depression/grumpiness (including hissing, and occasionally biting when trying to administer medicine) 'normal'? Prior to the surgery, she seemed like she was a pretty affectionate kitty.

Many thanks for any advice!
1. I have never had a cat who has undergone an amputation, but I have had plenty of cats who required pain meds for one reason or another. My suggestion to you (if you haven't already done so) is to call your vet, describe her behavior and ask him/her if he/she thinks an additional couple of days of pain meds is indicated. Amputation is such a major surgery and as such, I would think it would be extremely painful. As cats are famous for hiding pain and illness, we can only imagine what the real level of pain must be for them.

2. Most cats do tend to "lay low" for several days after surgery. The combination of the medications, anesthesia and discomfort would all be fine reasons for them to behave in such a way as you describe. The hissing/biting is certainly her way of telling you, "Hey! Back off, I don't feel good!" but I think that it is also prompted by the fact that you just took this little one into your home and maybe the new environment, people, routines in addition to the surgery all have her quite overwhelmed.

So long as she is eating, drinking, potty'ing normally, I would say give her time and plenty of space right now. Be observant but let her come to you when she is ready. She has had so much to process in the past couple of weeks and maybe just needs a little time to get used to it all.

Again, thank you for being such a wonderful heart to take this little one into your home. We look forward to hearing updates!
post #5 of 8
Welcome to TCS and bless you for taking in this girl and giving her hte treatment she needed. I think you are right in that her behaviour is normal - she has had a huge amount to contend with and it is not surprising if she wants to lie low, see what is going on and deal with any pain, discomfort etc in her own way. I have never had one, but I know cats with three legs soon learn to compensate as if nothing were wrong, and I am sure she will be up and about quite quickly. She will have other adjustments to make in a new home, and you will need a lot of patience. Good luck.
post #6 of 8
hello and a warm welcome - what a wonderful thing you have done by taking in an older kitty and then having to deal with such a serious surgery

I havent dealt with this type of operation, but just wanted to offer my very best wishes for a speedy recovery and I echo what all the other posters have said.

Give your special kitty some chin scritches from all of us

Do keep us posted !
post #7 of 8
I have no advice to offer, but I wanted to tell you how wonderful you are for taking in Sofie and giving her the best possible care. She certainly has a guardian angel . Welcome to TCS!
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thank you Momofmany, 2furbabies, gayef, jennyranson, mooficat, and ugaimes for the warm welcomes, and excellent advice!

My hubby did speak with the vet this morning, and he does not yet recommend additional pain meds (she has already had two days of narcotic pain medication, then three of anti-inflammatory medication = 5 days).

I forgot to mention in my OP that Sofie is wearing one of those soft elizabethan collars -- the vet thinks this may be causing some of her 'depression', so he wants us to take it off for a couple of hours when we can observe her, and see if it makes a difference.

If she doesn't make a noticeable improvement within the next 24 hours, we'll definitely be in touch with the vet again. We certainly don't want Sofie to be in serious pain (neither does our vet) -- I think our vet's concern at the moment is that if she feels too 'good' with the pain medication, she may overdo things and take longer to heal...

Also, gayef you made a great point that I had not thought about too much. In addition to recovering from the surgery, Sofie also has the additional stress of adjusting to a new environment! That must be a lot for her to deal with! We've not yet introduced her to our other pets (we have one other kitty, and two dogs). I think we'll probably put that introduction off for the foreseeable future.
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