One Month Later….

Friday marked one month since we had Lexi’s back left leg amputated, and my, my, my how things have changed.

First of all, her stitches came out two weeks after surgery. She screamed throughout their removal but I think the relief (and conelessness) afterward was worth it.

Lexi on her way to the vet

On our way to get her stitches removed. This is the face of someone who had a leg lopped off the last time they went for a car ride.

Secondly, Lexi is a changed kitty – and I’m not just talking about a whole leg gone missing.

Before we found the tumor, before we realized Lexi had cancer, we thought she was showing signs of age. She is, after all, 14 years old.

Over the last year we had gotten used to her late night, long, drawn-out, soulful ‘meeeeooooowwww’s,’ her constant sleeping, her glazed over eyes that never really opened big and wide anymore.

We recognized that she no longer played with toys or sat by the door waiting for an opportunity to escape.

We thought she was aging. And now we know we were wrong.

Having the cancer removed has been reset her life. It’s like we put 5 years back on over the course of the last four weeks.

After she got over the initial challenges presented by being down one leg, we’ve noticed:

  • Her fur is super fluffy and soft.
  • She’s grooming herself so much more.
  • Her eyes are wide and bright.
  • She is alert and awake and active all day.
  • She plays with toys again (and it is hilarious to watch her do a three-legged scurry after a string).
  • Her appetite is still voracious, but now she’s actually putting on weight from all the food.
  • Her attitude is amazing. She’s still a demanding little diva don’t get me wrong, but she’s also extremely happy, affectionate, and loving.

What we thought was a cat entering her twilight years was actually a cat suffering from cancer. Her little immune system must have been taxed for at least the last six to eight months, if not a year.

She’s so happy that we even think she understands what we had to do, and in some way she thanks us for it.

Lexi Outside

We left the back door cracked and she hopped right on out to enjoy some fresh air. All is right with the world again.

Actually,… I take that back. She’s so stinkin’ cute now with that little hip, her little soft belly exposed, and her one little back leg, that we can’t keep our hands off of her. We pretty much give her pets and scratches and kisses non-stop when we’re home. We haven’t even gone out on the weekends anymore – we just stay at home and hang out with our lil fam.  She’s probably getting pretty annoyed by it now. Oh well. :)

So to any other pet-parent who is agonizing over having to amputate their kitty’s leg, I say this: Don’t hesitate. It’s hard, and heartbreaking, and agonizing to put your kid through it without the ability to explain why… but it is so worth it in the end.

Comments

    • says

      I will TOTALLY get video! She hauls ass now! We sing the Easter song for her – hippity hoppity Lexi’s on her way! She’s so stinkin’ cutttttte!!!! 

  1. Erica says

    Hi,
    I came across your blog after googling “preparing for your cats hind leg amputation”. I unfortunately just had to make the difficult decision to amputate my eight year old cats Jill’s right hind leg next week. After she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in her toe. It’s been a difficult process and I’ve been agonizing over the decision as I am like you, 30 years old and my two kitties are my babies. I just wanted to say thank you so much for writin theses posts. It’s helped me reaffirm my decision like you wouldn’t believe. Would you mind sharing any tips of things I should buy to make little Jill’s recovery easier? Again thank you so much you really have no idea how coming across your blog has helped me tonight……erica

    • says

      Hi Erica,

      I’m so sorry your baby has to go through this! I completely understand how difficult this decision is. I also Googled for more information and I read everything I could find before Lexi had her surgery. The pictures on the internet are scary, but hopefully your Jill’s surgery will go as well as our Lexi’s did.

      I’m not sure what will work for Jill, but when we brought Lexi home from surgery we put her in our spare room and stayed by her side for the first two days so we could keep her cone off of her as much as possible. We got a really low-sided litter pan (the kitten pan they sell at the grocery store, actually) so she could easily get in and out, and we kept the litter nice and low.

      At first everything went really smoothly because she was so medicated, but as soon as she was starting to get active we began putting things around the house to help her – a stool at the foot of the bed so she could jump up, the kitten litter pan is a permanent fixture now, and we leave a human hair brush around the house for her. Since she’s missing her back left leg she can’t bend over and scratch behind her left ear, so she will lay down next to the big brush, hug it, and scratch her face against it. Tooooo cute and she loves the thing!

      One thing to look out for after surgery – muscle spasms. Once the muscles begin to heal (pretty much the day after surgery), the area starts to spasm, sometimes badly. We couldn’t tell if it was causing Lexi pain or just freaking her out, but she would howl and scream, even hiss. She would often get up to walk around, and the first week following her amputation was the worst. One night was so bad that I followed her around the house and held an ice pack to her hip to get the swelling down and the spasms to stop. The icepack did seem to help, and I look back and laugh at it now. :)

      Before Lexi’s surgery I found a blogger who videoed her kitteh having a really, really bad muscle spasm: http://tripodbella.blogspot.com/2009/12/backwards-walk-caught-on-video.html <- this kitteh’s entire body seemed to be driven around by her missing back leg muscles. Lexi’s was never that bad, but I’m SO glad I heard about this and saw that video before her surgery because her spasms didn’t scare us as much when they did happen. They started to slow down about two weeks after amputation and she hasn’t had one since about 8 weeks after.

      One of the hardest parts has been the litter box. She never missed, but I will warn you that it’s kinda heartbreaking to watch that one little leg flail around in the soft litter. She did figure it out though – she digs her hole with her front paws while keeping her back leg out of the box, hops in to do her business, hops back out, turns around, and covers her spot while keeping the one little back leg outside of the box. It took her awhile to figure that out, but it definitely works better than trying to maneuver the box and soft litter on that one back leg.

      Sorry for writing a book but I wanted to prepare you as best I could. I’m so glad Lexi’s experience was helpful – it was, without ANY doubt, the best thing we could have done. Hugs to you and Jill, and feel free to message me if you have any other questions!

  2. Erica says

    Thank you so much for writing back!!! Don’t apologize for writing so much it’s so helpful as you can imagine how anxious I am. One question: my Jill hates wearing the cone, did you try putting a onesie on your Lexi? I’ve read that a few people do that (with the leg sewn up).

    I will definitely watch the video so I am prepared. Thank you thank you seriously!

    • says

      You’re so welcome! Anytime!

      I’ve honestly never heard of putting them in a onesie to avoid the cone. We only coned her when we were at work and I came home during my lunch hour to check on her so she got a break around midday. I’m not sure Lexi would have responded well to a onsie, and I would personally fear it constricting her movements while she figured out how to move and balance without her leg. She definitely had a good sense of ‘something is really, really weird’ and I wonder how she would have handled having something on her whole body.

      Definitely give it a try though! I know Lexi hated the cone and would have welcomed an alternative. By about the 5th day she had to wear it even in our company because her stitches itched so badly.

      Don’t let the video scare you, but be prepared for some muscle spasms that cause Jill to react oddly. Like I said, I was glad to know what to expect and it helped me not panic when Lexi started to flip out a bit.

      And no matter what, know this: It will get better. It’s going to seem shocking at first and your heart will break for her, but she will be better (and absurdly cuter) than ever in no time at all.

      Goodluck to your little family and lots of good energy coming your way from me and Lexi!

  3. Annie says

    Hi there, I have a 14 year old kitty named Rusty who has a large tumor on her left back foot. The vet says it’s cancer and she is more than likely going to have her foot if not her whole back leg removed. We are first going to do a full body xray to make sure that the cancer has not spread to some place else. I’m devastated for my kitty. I hope the cancer is only in her foot and nowhere else. I read that these tumors are aggressive and often times come back after excision. I was wondering now after 2 years how Lexi is doing? Hoping that she’s still doing great.

    • luckiestgirlever says

      Hi Annie – I’m so sorry to hear about your little girl Rusty and her cancer. But I have good news: Lexi is doing GREAT two years later – she’s 16 now and still cancer free and in great shape! Nothing slows her down!

      We were repeatedly told that even though the cancer was on her foot, her whole leg needed to come off because she would try to use any remaining portion of her leg. Now that we’ve been through the surgery, it totally makes sense. She doesn’t seem to know that her leg is gone sometimes, so we will catch her bent over to scratch her left ear with a nonexistent left leg, and she jumps/climbs/moves as though she’s on all four.

      Now we heard that this cancer is aggressive, (it pops up and grows quickly) but localized. If it’s fibrasarcoma then it’s likely it won’t appear elsewhere and once her leg is removed it won’t come back. It has a very low percentage of returning – only 10 to 15%. Lexi had to get x-rays as well and once she came back all clear, we had surgery done. It was the best decision we ever made and she has had no complications since.

      (As I typed this she goes hoppin’ by for food and hoppin’ back to her napping spot… she’s a ham. :) )

      Best of luck and LOTS of love to you and your Rusty. Be strong and you will both come out on the other side of this!

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