One Year!

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my lumpy leg

For such a long year, it sure did go by fast!  This was my leg before we even knew what that big lumpy spot was.  Turns out, it was a very aggressive type of cancer from a vaccine reaction… VAS… vaccine associated sarcoma.  The best chance to beat this thing was by undergoing a radical amputation… mine took part of the pelvis and abdominal wall.  The pathology report came back with clean margins, but our vet remained “cautiously optimistic”.  All the statistics said I probably wouldn’t live 9 months.

Little Man

I’m here to say that you can’t go by statistics.  June 25th was my one year ampuversary and I celebrated with a clean bill of health by my vet.  We had more great news at my vet’s office.  We found out that my vet has done research and has changed the way vaccinations are approached in that practice.  GONE are the posters advertising the canine and feline “annual” special… that included several vaccines at a discounted price (which could lead to over-vaccination in some animals).  He vaccinates on a case by case basis AND he has replaced many of the vaccines with adjuvant (preservative) FREE vaccines… especially the rabies vaccine that is a yearly state requirement here.   We are so proud of our small town vet!  Hopefully, because of what I had to go through, maybe these changes will help others avoid this cancer. 

LM curled in lap

You may be curious to know how I spent my big day.   Well… I lounged around the house, but I had to share the couch with the kittens.  You remember?  The poor little orphan balls of fluff that Mom brought home?  Yeah, these guys…

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Ok, so they’re not THAT bad.  Actually, they’re pretty fun to watch.  Especially when they get woke up by Mom’s flash.  lol  Evil eye on the left here is Puff… she’s the runt of the litter, but she poofs up every time we turn around.  The orange tabby is Little Dude, named after me… he’s my shadow.  The cold shoulder on the right is Sweet Kitty… that’s Dad’s baby girl.  Don’t let her name fool you… she gets into the most trouble.  (She ended up splashing in the toilet twice in one day AND she keeps running up Mom’s leg!)  Poor Nova.  She’s still coming to terms with not being the baby anymore.   

Guess I’ll be spending the next year showing the kittens who’s boss and helping my vet spread the word about VAS to other vets in the area.  We’re still trying to place the kittens, but if they don’t find another home… they’ll be here to stay. 

Have a safe 4th of July everyone!  And remember to keep your pets inside if there’s a chance they may hear loud fireworks that could scare them and make them run and hide.


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I don’t know what my mom is thinking… kittens!

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What am I supposed to do with these?

These are 4 little orphan kittens that my mom brought home.  Our boy keeps talking about keeping the little orange one.  Hmm.  Not sure how I feel about that.  I keep glaring at mom hoping she’ll get the picture, but it looks like they are here until they are a little bigger and  find new homes.   I don’t think Nova even realizes they’re here.  She’s been sleeping since mom brought them home.  She’ll have a surprise when she wakes up!  lol  They are being kept in a room to themselves, so I haven’t seen them… but, I know they’re gonna be trouble.  They better not cut into my belly rub time!

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Just a quick “hi”…

I hope this post finds you all doing well.  I am hopping up on my 11 month ampuversary on May 25th and doing great.  We’re looking forward to a nice Mother’s Day weekend.  My boy has a Tae Kwon Do tournament on Saturday.  He is totally coming to me for pointers on balance, agility, and perseverance!

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Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!  Enjoy the weekend, try to relax,  and take care.  

Been a while!

sleeping kitty 2Can you guess what my picture and the household computer have in common? 

This is a picture of me CRASHING after a long morning of waking up my mom, eating breakfast, stalking a squirrel from window to window in our house, and chasing Nova around for a while.  Speaking of CRASHING… that’s what the computer did, too.  lol 

Now that everything is back up and running, I just wanted to let everyone know that I missed you!  Mom and I look forward to catching up with everyone again soon.  =) 

 

A Purrsonality Transplant???

HPIM0316So, I’m a little more social than before… what’s the big deal?

Dad has this crazy idea that the vet performed a purrsonality transplant along with the amputation.  He says I like getting attention now.  (I used to run and hide when we had company.)  I’m more “needy” (whatever THAT means).  Ok, I admit… I need a little help scratching my left ear and I let mom and dad know it.  I’m more vocal.  I enjoy getting more belly rubs and snuggling next to someone any chance I get (ok, I stalk mom and dad and meow until they sit down).  Whatever works.  =) 

Maybe, just maybe, I “get” that my family saved my life and I’m grateful.  Maybe I missed my family when I was at the vet getting all that scary stuff done to me… not knowing if I was going to see them again.  Maybe I saw that people aren’t so bad… they were really nice at the vet and tried to help me feel better.   Or, maybe mom and dad spoiled me rotten when I came home with all those extra cuddles.   Does it really matter?  I love my life and my family and I want all their attention!  They seem to enjoy giving it to me, too. 

Mom and dad were worried that I’d come home after surgery and act depressed or withdrawn.  I hear some animals react that way at first.  Afterall, we don’t like change and not being able to do what we used to right away is frustrating.  Just like people, we all react to things differently.  If your pet is taking this change hard, try to give it time and be there.  It gets better.  Let your vet know what’s going on.  It may just be a reaction to pain or to the meds.  Like I said, give it time… it gets better!  I think this was much harder on my people than it was on me… they “think” too much! 

One Hop Forward, Two Hops Back: The Backwards Walk

2012-08-04 14.40.29How embarrassing!  I can barely stand to think about it… the backwards walk.

I had done so well in the weeks following my amputation.  I had started running and jumping with no problems.  Then, almost 2 months post-op, I had my first episode with the backwards walk.  It really upset me and scared my mom because she didn’t know what was happening.  I had been laying on my mom’s bed and when I got up to hop down, it was like I lost control of my back leg.  I hobbled backwards and bellowed really loud.  It scared me so I plopped down on the floor and refused to move.  When I did try to walk, I would start going forward and then hop backwards again.  After I laid there a while, I was able to get up and go about my business like nothing happened.  Mom didn’t know if my other leg simply fell asleep, if something was wrong with my nerves, another tumor, or if I was having phantom sensations where my other leg would have been.  It often looked as if I was trying to use that missing leg, and since it wasn’t there, I’d wobble and get taken off guard.  I had a few more episodes over the next few weeks, especially if I tried changing directions quickly.  It would last a few minutes, sometimes longer,  before I could walk normally again.  Mom did a lot of research and asked other tripod cat owners about this.  The cause is still unclear, but apparently it is a common occurance.  It often happens in the first days or weeks after amputation, but it can happen months later.  Many people believe it is part of the healing process, perhaps involving some type of phantom sensations that occurs as the nerves and tissues are healing… making me think that other leg was still there when it wasn’t.  Whatever it was, I’m just glad it’s gone.  It seems like as suddenly as it started, it went away.  I haven’t had an episode since.  Of course, if you notice your pet doing anything that worries you, don’t hesitate to run it by your vet.  =) 

It’s laundry day! Do you know what THAT means???

laundry daySoft.  Cuddly.  WARM towels fresh out of the dryer! 

I always loved laundry day, but since the surgery I love it even more.  Many of our doctors may have mentioned that trying heat, cold, or alternating between the two can help with the discomfort after surgery. Mom had some cooling pads that she kept in the fridge, but I didn’t care for those.  She tried a heating pad and heated blanket on low heat, but I thought the pad looked funny and it wasn’t very soft… forget that.  And the blanket just smelled funny!    Finally, it dawned on her how much I like warm towels.  She saved a few towels aside just for me and she’d warm them up and toss them in my favorite napping spots… ahhh.   I always lay with my amp site down on the warm towels and my head burried.  Even now, almost 8 months later, I don’t have that discomfort anymore, but I still jump at the chance to cuddle up in the towels.  What can I say?  I’m spoiled rotten and I know it. 

No more cabinet climbing…

HPIM0071Ahh… those were the days!  I used to spend hours up on top of the kitchen cabinets.  Not anymore… 

But, ya know what?  That’s just about the ONLY place I can’t get to on my own.  Ha!  (Now if Nova would stop showing off and taking my old spot, I’d be happy… but, no.  She has to do what sisters do best… rub it in!)

Yep, mom took the time to set up pet stairs and make a litter box with lower sides just for me.  Did I ever use them?  Nope.  (Sorry, mom.)  I guess I am a little bit stubborn.  Call me a creature of habit, but I thought enough had changed with the missing leg.  I needed everything else to stay the same!  Sure, I made a mess with the litter box a time or two, but that’s all good now. 

From the first week after my amputation, as soon as mom realized that I was going to do things my way… she arranged our furniture to make it easier for me to get to my favorite napping spots.  Now, I just jump!  That back leg of mine is getting stronger and stronger.  Really, who needs that 4th leg anyway? 

Family Time

I love when my family is home.  Today is one of those great days.  Mom and dad are off from work and my brother (“D”) is home from school for Mardi Gras.  It’s a rainy day… perfect day to be LAZY!

sleepy kittiesNapping with me is my sister, Nova.  Mom was worried about how we’d get along after bringing me home from the vet with a missing leg.  Mom kept us separated for a day while she wiped us down with some cleaning cloths.  She did that to get the vet smell off me and so we’d smell a lot alike.  Mom watched to see how I did staying in her bedroom and bathroom.  Once she saw that I was ok, she let Nova in to visit.  She sniffed me over, spending a lot of time over the stitches.  Next thing I know, she butted my head and started trying to give me a bath.  Gee… thanks, Sis.

In the weeks that followed, Nova let me have some space.  She stood back as I learned how to get around again.  She was never far away.  Mom was relieved that she didn’t have to keep us separated.  Sometimes when animals come back home, they don’t get along with siblings.  Sometimes, they even get aggressive with one another or act like they want nothing to do with each other.  Mom has heard from other families that this usually doesn’t last long, but it can be stressful.

basket nova looking at meHere is another pic of Nova when she’s not drooling on mom’s leg.  lol  Yep, now the 2 of us play just like before.  We chase each other, wrestle each other, and nap together like nothing ever happened. 

Since the tumor I had was caused by an adverse reaction to a vaccine, mom is very picky about the vaccinations my sister gets now.  The vet said that since my reaction, I won’t have to get any more vaccinations.  My mom plans on working with our vet to come up with a plan for my sister.

Mom brought Nova home from the shelter after I lost my older sister from diabetes.  I was used to having another cat around, and I was lonely.  Nova is 3 yrs old, so her energy keeps me acting young, too.  

Next time, I’d like to start talking about some of the stumbling blocks I had to hop my way around.  Mom says I’m one stubborn Little Man!   

 

 

Introducing…

Little Man

Hi… I’m Little Man and, as you can see,  I’m a cat.  I’m a little nervous being surrounded by so many dogs here, but I’m sure we’ll be friends in no time!  Especially since we have something in common… 3 legs.  =)

 

I’m here to share my story and show others that life on 3 legs is definitely worth living.

     

Back in my feral kitten days, I was found living in an old barn.  Dad put on some old work gloves and got me out from under a storage locker.  He brought me inside to mom, who held me close and petted me for hours until I decided to give this housecat thing a chance.  They already had another cat who helped me adjust.  That’s been 9 years ago.   My older sister is no longer with us, but I now have another sister, Nova… more about her later. 

 

my lumpy leg

Back in May of 2012, my mom found a lump on my left hind leg.  She took me to my vet and he did a wedge biopsy.  The tumor was a vaccine-associated fibrosarcoma (VAS).  He went over all the research with my mom and told her that amputation was my best chance at beating this thing.  We live in a rural area of Alabama, so the nearest specialists were over 2 hours away.  I don’t travel well, so mom decided that whatever treatment I needed, our local vet would have to take care of me.   We went home to talk with dad and make the biggest decision of my life.  Now, dad was worried that I wouldn’t be happy with 3 legs.  He thought I wouldn’t be able to live like a normal cat and that I’d be miserable.   “What kind of life would that be?”, he asked my mom.  His first suggestion was to just take care of me as long as they could and keep me comfortable.  Mom did some research and showed dad videos of other animals living with 3 legs.  He was still very uncertain.  He told my mom that it was up to her.  She called the vet and scheduled my surgery.  She set it up for June 25th.  Dad agreed to take me.  The plan was for my vet to do more lab work and take some x-rays.  If the cancer had already spread, I’d go back home.  If everything looked good, he’d proceed with the amputation… which he did.  I ended up losing my left hind leg, part of my pelvis, and some abdominal tissue since the tumor was pretty high on my leg.  I stayed at the vet through the week because mom had to work and she wanted to be able to take good care of me when I came home.  I came home that Friday.  Mom had it worked out so I wouldn’t be by myself until the stitches came out.     

 

back home

Mom says I did great while I was recovering.  I took my antibiotics and pain meds like a good boy and didn’t have to wear the “cone of shame”.  I surprised everybody by coming out to see some visitors every now and then… I even let a few of them pet me!  (I used to run and hide if I heard a stranger, so mom and dad  were shocked. lol)  Mom had tried getting me to use some little steps to help me get up to my favorite spots, but I refused.  I just used our regular furniture and made my own steps up to mom’s bed.  Within 2 weeks, I was back to playing with my favorite toys, chasing Nova, and getting up on the couch and bed all by myself. 

 

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Two weeks after surgery, we got the call from the vet with the biopsy results.  We had clean margins!  The vet said that with those results and the fact that I didn’t like to travel, I didn’t need chemo or radiation.  I just celebrated my 7 month ampuversary with no signs of any new lumps. 

 

In my future posts, I’d like to introduce you to my family, reflect on some of the things I had to overcome, and share the reasons why I love my life with 3 legs.   Thanks for having me here!