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amputation decision -- room for hope?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
My kitten Luke was found dumped on the side of the road almost a month ago today. He was only about four or five weeks old at the time, so now he's about eight weeks or so. He's still a young guy, anyway. After a speedy run to the vet right away, we found that he has radial nerve damage in his left front paw from the wrist down. He was given a shot to try to stimulate the nerves, but the only progress he's made is that he can flex his wrist, though it seems to be locked up pretty bad. Still, progress is progress. I can't straighten it out, and he doesn't seem to have any feeling whatsoever in his paw. He uses it alright, which I'm sure is just due to the fact that he's such a genious that he understands he can use it to do certain things.

Of course, the little spot where he puts his weight down to walk is a little torn up. It's calloused and every so often will bleed a bit, but no worse. I've talked to my vet's wife who said that I should wait as long as six months for the feeling to return, because that's the experience she's had with one of her own cats. But I'm worried that if I don't go ahead and get the surgery over with soon, his musculature and bone structure will suffer. His shoulder is constantly dropped down to make up for the lost length, and even though I massage it while he sleeps, I'm afraid of the damage in the long run.

So do you think I should be hopeful with the progress of his wrist, or go ahead and have it amputated? I go to a very very small hometown vet clinic and they'd only charge about $80 for the surgery (an amazing steal, I know), whereas it would cost me over $500 where I actually live. I'm still trying to understand that one. I know that cats and dogs alike seem to get along just fine with three legs, so that doesn't really bother me. It's just the hope that the feeling MAY come back.
post #2 of 12
I would personally wait since he is a young guy so the feeling might come back. The brain is very mysterious, I have never had a pet who had any problems like this, but I had a very serious foot surgery at 23, they cut muscles out, attached the remains to other muscles, then reattached the other remains to the bone, I lost most of the feeling in my foot then, and it took about 8 months for all the feeling to come back. Now it's fine.
I would wait a bit longer and see what happens, he is very young. I am as well interested to hear what others have to say , those who have more experience with this.
post #3 of 12
I too would wait. As long as the kitty is not in pain and can function well and his vitals are good, waiting sems the best option. The brain is one organ we do not yet understand well - no matter how much neurological research has been accomplished thus far. Give him some time and see what happens!!
post #4 of 12
Personally, I wouldn't wait. My one cat had the same problem or so they thought but months later when she wasn't getting better, they discovered a very fine hairline crack and ended up amputating the leg. She never missed the leg- and she did fine. However, because of the nature of the injury (she had been hit by a car) she suffered brain damage and over time we decided to euthanize her as her life wasn't hers any longer. But had it not been for that, she would still be with us today enjoying life and acting like a kitten again.
post #5 of 12
It is a difficult decision and we can't make a diagnosis through the internet, but if the facts are really as presented...

I would tend to go ahead with the amputation. Three weeks have passed without meaningful improvement and it is time to let the little guy get on with his life. That way he can focus on growing into a happy and well-adjusted adult...even if he does so as a tripod. Regardless, it is not an easy situation so good luck with Luke!
post #6 of 12
I'd go with the recommendation of your vet, only he/she and you can determine if little Luke is suffering and/or if there is hope!

Crossing my fingers for the little guy!
post #7 of 12
You are getting a mixed bag of responses here. I would personally wait if it were my cat, to see if it does heal. Nerves can take time for the swelling to go down, and regain feeling.

The down-side of waiting is if he doesn't have feeling, it is easier for him to injure the foot and not be aware of it due to lack of pain reflex.

You have the vets wife's opinion, what does he advise?

Good luck and bless you for taking him in!
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone, for your advice. While my vet's wife suggests I wait, her husband, his assistant, and my vet back home are all telling me that technically I can wait as long as I want, but they would recommend that I have the surgery done now. But they all say it as if it's no big deal... like I'd be trimming his claws or docking a puppy's tail or something. He's a strictly inside cat and I'm home the majority of the time, so I'm not too afraid of an injury.

I've been PM'd by someone who's given me the name of an over-the-counter medication that my help aid in the healing of his nerves. She really seemed to believe that it would work -- she gave me specific instructions and everything -- so I think I'm gonna try that first.
post #9 of 12
Please be careful in using over the counter medications. It doesn't matter who tells you about it, clear it with your vet FIRST. If you do not know this person in real life and she is selling you a miracle in a can- please don't forge ahead until you know for sure it will not hurt this cat. Anytime I depart from conventional meds with my animals, I discuss it with my vet. I get his opinion, I do more research and then I decide what to do. Don't grab this as a miracle cure please- it may cause you more problems in the long run
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
I just came back from the vet with Luke. The vet's wife wasn't there, so I coudln't really ask EXACTLY what she did for her injured cat, but the vet kept persisting that it would be better to have the surgery done, especially since his wrist has locked up a bit and won't straighten out. I'm still not sure what to do, though, because he USES his wrist. He didn't have that ability a few weeks ago. It's already been eight weeks since he's had the shot, though, and the first vet only gave him two weeks to show improvement. My current vet said that even if he regains feeling in his paw, he wouldn't be able to walk on it unless they cut a tendon or something to allow it to straighten out. That pretty much pushes me over to the amputation side of the line. I was going to try the over-the-counter stuff, but I can't even find it anywhere, so it's not much of an option any more. I didn't even ask my vet about it because I knew he'd say it was a bad idea.
post #11 of 12
I would personally wait because of his age. A friend had a cat with a leg injury a few months back, she had to give him cage rest to see if the feeling came back and when it didnt in a couple of months, she went through with the amputation. He is doing really well, runs and plays like he has 4 legs.
post #12 of 12
I have a cat who when about 2-1/2 months old had severe radial nerve damage in her right leg and shoulder---I use to sell the Nikken magnets for people --and for arthritis and so forth--they work wonderful....My vet also wanted to amputate immediately---I said no--and would give it a few weeks--- I put the magnet inside a plastic bag and put it under the blanket she slept on---she continually stayed on that as it increases the oxygen and circulation to the area--she walks wonderfully now--has a slight limp...but I was unwilling to do the surgery due to her being an outside farm cat (who is totally spoiled!!) and without being able to raise her in the house --I knew my decision had to be the best for the cat --I let the magnets work--by the way they work on all of my family also...I know you can get similar magnets in the health section....but I know throughout there are lots of dealers everywhere...they are spendy--but I used the credit card size--and it really worked!!
Good luck with your decision but I would give it time most of all!
SDBlondie --with Suki, Patches, Puddy Kat & Sylvester!! (Puddy Kat says keep the faith-- she is walking and catching mice like crazy--even with that paw and arm that way!)
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