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Feline VAS Support - Guide for Amputee Caretakers

First thing is, Don't Panic!

Your kitty will very likely adjust to being a tripod really quickly and will be able to do just about everything he or she does now. Animals don't have the same emotional attachment to their limbs as humans do and seem to just get on with figuring out how to do things without a problem

As with all VAS cats, it is best to have any treatments done by a specialist/surgeon and if possible, consult with an oncologist.


Before the surgery:

There really isn't too much you need to do to prepare. Follow your vet's advice about feeding your cat before the surgery, as they may want you to fast him/her.

Of course, love him to bits!


In the hospital:

The surgery may take a few hours, so don't be surprised if you don't hear from the vet for a while.

Your vet's office should welcome your call about how your cat is doing - they'll understand that you're worried.

If your vet allows you to visit your cat while in the hospital, try to do that. The first time seeing your cat after amputation can be difficult, but chances are your cat will be happy to see you!

Hospital stays vary for amputation from hospital to hospital and from cat to cat. Don't worry if they want to keep him/her for a few days. It probably would be better for your cat to stay at the hospital rather than to come home right away.

The incision may be quite large, so don't be surprised if it looks like it covers half of your cat!  It will heal, really it will.

Chances are your cat will have a drain inserted during the surgery. This allows fluids to keep from building up under the skin. Don't worry, it's temporary - it may even come out before he/she comes home.


Coming Home:

Bringing home any cat after major surgery can be scary and amputation is no exception. You may be thinking you won't be able to care for her. That's normal. And you will be able to care for her and your vet and the VAS Support Group will be there for any questions you have.

You might want to ask your vet about pain management. Some cats will come home wearing a pain patch.

You may want to keep your cat quiet for a few days after the surgery to keep him from jumping and pulling stitches or staples. A small room or a large dog crate can be useful for this. Just set up food, water and litter box for him.
Click to see photos.

Speaking of litter boxes, consider getting a small one or using a cardboard box or something similar with low sides to make it easier for your cat to get in and out. Another option is to cut one side off, to allow free access.

If you have other cats, it's best to keep them separated or at least supervised when they are together at first. Your recovering cat smells like the hospital and other cats may get aggressive. Until you know your recovering kitty can take of herself, make sure she's safe.


Recovery:

It may take your kitty a few days to figure out how to get around on three legs. Some cats have trouble at first, but they will figure it out. Be sure to watch the video "Kes vs the Monster" Part 2. This video will give you an idea of how Kes, a rear leg amputee adapted to her surgery.

There isn't a whole lot you can do to help them adjust at this point. For front leg amputees, you can try cradling their hind end in your hands, to force them to balance on the remaining front leg. This can help him get the idea of centering himself on the one leg.

It's normal for cats to not eat for a few days after major surgery - talk to your vet about how long to wait before intervening. Now's the time to pull out all those favorite treats - don't worry about spoiling them. Life will get back to normal soon enough!

It's also normal for recovering cats to hide for a while - under the bed is pretty common. Just bring food and water to them and leave a litter box close by.

If your front leg tripod is bothering/licking/scratching at their stitches or staples you may want to try putting a baby t-shirt on them. The t-shirt will cover the incision and prevent them from making direct contact with area. This works well for some cats. The t-shirt most likely will not cover the incision for rear leg amputees so this probably will not be an option for them.

 Click on the link for more info on:

front leg amputees                rear leg amputees

Here are some of our VAS "Tripods"
Click on their photo to read about their experiences with VAS.

 
Nyssa

 
Kobi

 
Gidget

 

Mythos

Bud

 

Jesse



Corkie

Kirby

Misha

Scooby


Buzz


Sollie


Moe
Although Moe did not have VAS she is part of our "Tripod Family".  Moe lost her front leg to bone cancer.

Birdie

Duncan

Kelly

Kelly

subie

Subie

Ryan's bio

Ryan

V i d e o s !

When Kim's kitty, Kes, was diagnosed with VAS, Kim was looking for visual information to learn about this cancer. Kim decided to make her own videos about Kes's experience with VAS with the hopes of education and calming that panic that arises when the news comes to you about VAS.

Biopsy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gNNPAXOn0g
Amputation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_uz3bXlZRo
Recovery: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jt8hYwKqtX4

Feline VAS Support is an online support group for people who have experienced
Vaccine Associated Sarcoma with their cats and for cat owners who would like to learn more about vaccinations.

We have over 1,800 members worldwide, including members of the veterinary community.

If you would like more information on our group or would like to join us, please visit:
Feline-VAS-Support.org    or    Shorti-Online.org

If you have any questions about the VAS Support group
or our "Guide for Amputee Caregivers", send an email to:
roxinator@verizon.net

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