Two Year Ampuversary!

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On June 25th we celebrated 2 yrs being on 3 legs… and being cancer-free!  

We weren’t sure if we were really going to be able to celebrate or not.  Shortly after I had my 2 yr check up, mom had to rush the smallest of my bunch, Puff, to the vet.  She was a very sick kitty and required a lot of attention.  Mom was hoping to do more to mark my big day, but Puff had to come first.  The week before my ampuversary, Puff needed antibiotics, pain and nausea meds, and fluids.  Poor thing had an infection.  She finally started responding to the medicine.  By ampuversary day, she was home feeling well enough to join in on the fun.  Mom brought home some goodies for my big day.  After all, it’s not a pawty till someone breaks out the catnip toys!

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For any of you just starting this journey, please know that quality of life is not measured by the number of legs you have!  😉  There is no doubt amputation saved my life.  Here I am, 2 yrs later… a healthy 10 yr old tabby still running, jumping, playing, and showing these young ones what it’s all about!


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“The Scoop”… part four!

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Here’s the last question…

(Unless I happen to get another one or two in the near future – hint, hint!)

 

benny55on April 14th, 2014

Just curious…are you on any other supplements, vitamins holistic, etc? Are you on home cooking or special diet?

 

I am on a special diet, but it didn’t really have much to do with my VAS diagnosis, although I really believe it helps.  I don’t know if my condition had anything to do with it, but after my amputation, I developed food sensitivities.  Mom started noticing that I was spitting up food shortly after eating and had little red, itchy bumps popping up all over… especially around my face and ears.  It drove me crazy because I could only scratch one ear!  I begged for ear scratches from anyone close by.  I was shameless.  Mom was more worried about my spitting up.  She was scared that it was the cancer coming back.  So, off to my vet buddy we went.  I was given some steroids to help with the rash and told that it was my food causing all the fuss.  So, after more research and a long period of trial and error, we figured out that I was sensitive to the grains that are in almost ALL commercial pet foods.  I’m also sensitive to fish/seafood and all POULTRY!  Do you know how hard it is to find cat food that does not contain those ingredients?  Poultry is the filler in MOST of the foods on the market… that or grain.  

We tried all sorts of things.  Mom found out quickly that I’m a little picky.  Ok, a LOT picky!  I didn’t like raw meats, which was her first choice.  I don’t care for anything dried.  I was used to canned cat food with minced meats and gravy and that’s what I wanted.  We finally compromised on a grain-free limited ingredient dry cat food made of one protein and one starch.  I prefer the rabbit variety, but they also have duck, venison, lamb, and salmon in addition to the traditional chicken, etc.  They also have canned food with gravy that we found out that I can eat!  Mom prefers the canned food over dry anyway, so we were super excited when we found it.  Of course, the vet has prescription formulas, but Mom was able to find the grain-free limited ingredient diet at local pet stores and on-line (cheaper).  The great thing about this food is that it doesn’t have any of the other common allergens like eggs or milk products either.  They do include vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fatty acids which is great for the immune system, skin, and joints.  

Within a couple weeks, my skin was clear, my coat was shiny, and I wasn’t spitting anything up.  Mom even says I’m more energetic and just look like I feel better.  =)  

Mom knows that cats need meat.  So she looked for foods with real meat as the #1 ingredient, favoring moist food over dried.  Moist foods not only have more meat, but they add much needed hydration to the diet.  If cats are on dry food only, they may not be able to drink enough water through the day to stay properly hydrated, which puts a strain on the kidneys (and cats tend to have more problems with that anyway). It also increases the risk of feline diabetes because it is higher in carbohydrates… we learned that the hard way with my older sister who crossed the bridge after being diagnosed with diabetes.  That’s when Mom added more moist food to our diet.  Now, Mom keeps a small amount of dry food out for grazing (with lots of water), but we have 2 main meals a day with the canned food.  

As far as supplements, Mom did some research on that, too… mainly for joint health since I’m an older cat and having 3 legs already puts added pressure on the rest of my joints.  There’s a lot of information out there about pet joint health and tons of options!  There are tablets, powders, gels, and liquids that contain various ingredients like glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and omega fatty acids.  All of those are great for joints, but guess what?  I won’t touch them.  lol  So, Mom just makes sure the food I eat has good stuff added to it already.  Mom is a stubborn nurse though, so I’m sure she will keep trying.  

If you’re thinking about changing your pet’s diet, talk with your vet first and do some research of your own.  Make sure your pet doesn’t have special needs, such as kidney problems, GI issues, or allergies.  Keep in mind that weight control plays a big part of pet health as well as taking some pressure off those joints.  Also, if your pet is getting chemo treatments, be sure to ask about dietary restrictions… like raw ingredients.  Often, antioxidants and other immune supporting supplements may be recommended based on your pet’s specific needs. 

 

“The Scoop”… part three!

Here we have another pawesome question…

Codie Rae on April 10th, 2014

… We want to know what changes you have ‘inspired in the way local animals are treated.’…

I live in the rural south.  In the days before my diagnosis, I’d go in for my feline annual check-up.  It was a great deal.  I could get all the recommended vaccinations, an exam, routine tests, and a flea & tick treatment all for one low price in one visit… year after year.  Mom only wanted to do what the vet thought was best.  Advertisements were posted everywhere.  The canines had their own annual special, too.  

Then came the bump.  Like many vets, mine wasn’t very familiar with vaccine associated sarcoma (VAS).  He knew it was aggressive and was supposedly “rare”.  He had only seen a few cases first hand.  Of those, they either crossed the bridge or had a recurrence within 9 months… even with surgery.  

In the days surrounding my diagnosis, my vet did some research.  We focused on a radical amputation.   It wasn’t until my one year check-up that my vet told her that I had helped to inspired him to continue to research vaccinations.  In turn, he changed the way the practice vaccinated their patients… especially cats.  In an effort to avoid over-vaccination, they no longer offer all the “recommended” vaccines to every animal that walks through the door.  He makes his recommendations on a case by case basis.   He also changed vaccine formulas.  He now offers vaccines that don’t contain adjuvants, or types of preservatives thought to make the vaccine more effective, but may actually be doing more harm than good.  He also tries to administer these vaccines low on the hind legs, just in case VAS develops and surgery is later needed… it offers the best chance of getting clean margins and recovery.  

So, maybe the next time you’re at the vet, tell them that a little birdie KITTY told you to ask about their vaccination practices.  Take that time to ask questions and educate yourself before you vaccinate.  Who knows?  The vet may even learn something, too.

Some questions Mom now considers:

  • Do we really need this particular vaccine?  (Especially if the pet is confined to a personal yard, inside only, or not around other animals.)
  • Is this vaccine really needed EVERY year?  How long does immunity last?  Can we get a titer instead? (To measure the animal’s immunity… the vaccine may not even be needed.)
  • What’s the local law say about the rabies vaccine?  Is it mandatory?  Are there exemptions?
  • Are we using adjuvant-free vaccines?
  • If multiple vaccinations are needed, can we spread them out over a period of time and not get them all at once?
  • What are the possible side-effects?  What do I need to watch for?  

I won’t ever get another vaccine again since I had such a terrible reaction.  Mom is now very careful about vaccinating my housemates.  

I hope this has been helpful.  =)

Next time, the topic will be my diet.    

 

 

“The Scoop”… part two!

More Q & A:

jerryon April 7th, 2014

What’s your secret to beating cancer?

If you could give advice to kitties about to become Tripawds, what would it be?

Again, great questions!  There’s no doubt that the secret to me beating the VAS monster has been the combination of being one blessed kitty and having a speedy and radical treatment.  From my experience, VAS, vaccine associated sarcoma, is an aggressive type of cancer that forms in the soft and connective tissues surrounding an injection site.  In my case, Mom felt a rough bump on my leg.  My vet did a biopsy to confirm that it was VAS.  Once I had more blood work and x-rays to make sure it had not already spread, I had a radical amputation.  The vet removed my leg, part of my hip and pelvis, and some of my abdominal tissue.  Two weeks later, the pathology report said that I had clean margins… the amputation went past the cancer cells leaving me with healthy tissue.  Since I was once feral and did not travel well, we did not follow up with chemo or radiation.  The nearest specialist was 2 hours away.  We were cautiously optimistic that, with clean margins, I could live 9 months to a year (and possibly even live out the rest of my natural life cancer-free). 

My advice for soon-to-be tripawds… education and preparation, as much as possible!  The more you know, the better… that goes for what the diagnosis is, possible treatments, what to expect at home, future care, prognosis, and where to find support.  If you’re already here, then you are WAY ahead of the game!  Ask tons of questions.  Keep in mind that it is ok to get a second opinion, if possible.  Also, tests and treatments can get expensive.  There are financial options available… you just have to know where to look.  Always ask for discounts.  You might be surprised what your vet will be willing to do to help you out. If you have time, call around for estimates and ask if the other offices may know of any other resources that could help.  In the case of VAS, since it is vaccine associated, contact the vaccine manufacturer regarding financial compensation.  Your vet should have the needed information in your pet’s chart.  The most important advice is DON’T GIVE UP.  If quality of life is a concern, all you have to do is take a look at the PAWESOME animals on this site to know that, as the TRIPAWD saying goes, it really is “better to hop on three legs than to limp on four”.  =)

Here are some old pics from my biopsy and surgery…

my lumpy leg

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Little Man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next time, I will tell you all about how I helped to bring about some pretty big changes at my vet’s office.  In the next few weeks, I will also share some tips Mom learned when she brought me home after surgery and some of the changes that came in the days following.

Giving you “The Scoop”…

No, not the scoop from the litter box!  This is the scoop on VAS or Vaccine Associated Sarcoma.

I’d like to take the opportunity to answer some of your questions in honor of my upcoming 2 YEAR ampuversary.  We are super excited because I was only expected to live 9 months, and here I am!

Our first question is from Jerry:

Has being a Tripawd affected your ability to jump off of high places like countertops? Do you still land as graceful as a four-legged cat, or even better?

Great question!  Jumping and landing ability all depend on whether you have a front or rear amputation.  I have one rear leg to depend on when I jump.  I can’t jump as high and I’m not as graceful (ok, I wobble a lot), but that doesn’t stop me!  You can’t keep a good cat down!  Since I have 2 front paws to land on, that’s not a problem for me.  I can imagine that for my front leg amputee friends… they might be able to jump higher, but getting down might be a little tricky and possibly even hurt sometimes.  Mom has been talking to our vet and reading up on joint supplements.  Since our other legs have to work a little harder to compensate, our joints might give us more problems than our 4-legged friends over time.  

I remember Mom put out pet steps before my surgery.  She was hoping that I’d get used to them and use them when I came home.  Sorry, Mom.  Call me stubborn, but I didn’t need them and I knew it!  She tried to keep me from jumping at least until my incision healed, but when she saw that I was so determined, she just put our household furniture next to the higher places that I was trying to get to.  I used our homemade “steps” until my stitches came out, then I was OFF!

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This is back when I used to go cabinet climbing.  I can’t get that high anymore, but counters, tabletops, windowsills, chairs, beds, piles of freshly washed and dried towels… I’m on it!

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This was today with my “little” sister, Sweet Kitty.  

Keep the questions coming!  I’ll be answering more of Jerry’s questions next time, including my secret to beating VAS and some advice for new tripawd kitties!  It’s about to get deep!

Life on 3 Legs: A Year and 9 Months Later

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As you can see, having 3 legs does not stop me from jumping on the table when Mom brings home sushi!

(And, NO… she didn’t share!  Does that look like the face of a cat that actually got to eat sushi?)  

Anyway…

I’m as well as ever.  I’m 10 yrs old and going strong!  Take that, VAS!!!  

We still have the orphan kitties.  They are almost a yr old.  Thank goodness, they are starting to calm down a little.  I don’t even mind sharing a nap with them.

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I just realized that I didn’t share what the crew and I put together for Mom on Valentine’s Day.  lol  Imagine the effort and coordination something like this required… of course, I was the mastermind.  😉  Mom found this in the litter box on Valentine’s Day.  She was so excited that she screamed for everyone to come look and bring the camera!

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 What can we say?  We love our Mom!  lol

As I get ready to celebrate my 2 yr ampuversary, I’d like to know… what are some things you’d like to see from me or questions you’d like to have answered?  This 2 yr mark is especially PAWESOME because it will make me a LONG TERM CANCER SURVIVOR!   That is BIG! I’ve already made it a year longer than the vet thought I would and even managed to help inspire some changes in the way local animals are being treated.  It’s been an amazing 2 yrs.  

I hope you are all doing well out there.  Wishing you all the best!    

You know, just pondering the meaning of life…

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Ok, so I’m not pondering the meaning of life, but it is almost vacation time!  I cannot wait for everyone to be around the house relaxing… oh, the warm laps to curl up in!  My boy gets out of school Friday and doesn’t go back until Jan 7th.  Dad will be off work till after Christmas, and mom is already planning a few pajama days.  I love the vacations where my family stays home!  I think everyone needs to rest.  My boy cracked his sternum in tae kwon do last week and one of the young cats gave us a scare with a GI obstruction.  With Christmas day being my year and a half mark cancer-free, we are more thankful than ever for our health and just being together.  Hmm… I guess that’s a big part of the meaning of life.  I was pondering after all!

A Kitty Christmas?

 

I’m a little mad at mom this year.  She refuses to put up an actual Christmas tree because she thinks the 3 adolescent cats will destroy it.  Ok, so she’s probably right.  Still!  I was really looking forward to curling up under the tree on the velvet tree skirt with all the pretty lights.  =(  Oh, well.  Maybe next year!  This is what mom came up with on our mantel (so, I guess we DO technically have a tree)…

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Sure hope Santa Claws likes it and leaves some toys and nummies when he comes!  I wonder if I can bribe him with some of my catnip?

 

Did ya miss me?

It’s been too long!  I’ve been wanting to check in for a while now, but our computer has been down again.  Plus, mom started a new job.  My boy started high school.  Oh, yeah… and we still have the fluffy little whipper snappers.  It’s a love/hate relationship.  lol

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The kittens are growing fast, and I have to watch the orange one!  He’s sneaky!  I was hopping by, minding my own business… when all of a sudden Dude knocked my one back leg out from under me making me trip.  Ugh… kids these days.  Here, we have some recent pics of Puff, Sweet Kitty, and Little Dude. 

 

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I am coming up on one year and 5 months cancer free and still as healthy as can be.  Maybe I’ll get to pop in again sooner than later!  Hope everyone is well.  Take care!