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It’s very likely that during this time, your pawrent(s) are going to be very concerned for you. They might cry. They might doubt that this is the best option for you. They might annoy you and refuse to leave you alone. You might be scared, but I assure you: everything will be just fine.

I’ve only been a tripawd for two and a half weeks. I’m probably not the most credible source, but it’s all fresh in my mind at least. I wrote these for my feline friends in mind, but tip #10 is just for dogs.

So here we go without any particular order.

Tip #1: Enjoy the disgusting stuff they give you

When you come home from the hospital, your humans are probably going to give you stuff that isn’t going to taste very well, but it’s going to make life more fun to look at. Seriously, I saw like five birds flying around the house all the time. I’d swat at the air and BAM, they were dead. It was AWESOME.

It’ll also make that strange pain and itch at your side go away. I know, it tastes nasty, but take it. You’ll thank me later. It’ll be about the only source of entertainment you’ll get during recovery. Humans don’t think we should move much.

Tip #2: Humor your Human

Humans take the post-op process in a couple different ways. Some, like my human, are just super excited about everything you do like it’s the first time you’ve done it. I played with a mouse, and I swear my human thought I had solved a calculus problem.

smore staring at camera

Smore reading comments on the blog

Humor your human. Keep doing all those “amazing” things. There’s bound to be extra petting, food, treats, and toys from your human for doing them. Yes, even if you’ve done this for ten years. Milk it for all it’s worth.

You’ll get bonus points for striking pretty poses that they can share with others later.

Tip #3: Comfort your Human

Other humans take the post-op process another way and cry a lot. You see to humans losing a leg is a Big Deal. They only have two, so they don’t really get that we can lose one and still go on to live normal lives. Humans aren’t always logical, but it’s okay. We’re here to enlighten and comfort them.

When your pawrent cries, comfort them. They need to know you still love them and aren’t mad at them. Humans are weird like that. It’s like they think we are going to believe that they wished for this to happen. Yes, I know, it really is strange, but that’s what they think. You and I both know that no human is going to willfully wish their feline friend gets cancer or gets hurt so that they’ll lose a leg. Even the more heartless ones wouldn’t because they know that it’ll cost a lot.

So comfort them and let them know you’re not mad at them. It’ll make them feel better.

Tip #4: Don’t Climb Boxes While Enjoying “the Good Stuff” from Tip #1

Do not climb up on cardboard boxes. When you go to get down, you’ll turn it over on yourself. It’s not fun being stuck under a box. ‘Nuff said.

Tip #5Be Patient with Your Human

Your human is under a lot of stress and feeling emotional. They’re going to wonder if they made the right decision. They’re going to wonder if you can do X, Y, and Z. They’re going to follow you around to make sure you don’t get into mischief. They’re going to try cleaning your butt too. Or at least, mine did.

Just remember, when they’re really annoying you, to be patient. They really do mean well.

Tip #6: Choose one: Cone of Shame versus Clothes

For some reason, humans don’t think we should lick at our wounds despite this being a normal aspect of being a cat. I blame it on the fact that they have lost all their fur and no longer use their tongues to groom themselves. Such pitiful creatures.

When I came home from the hospital, I had a stupid cone on my head. It made it impossible to see. I ran into things, and I’m sure they all thought it was because I was “disabled”.

Then, just after I managed to get the darned thing off, my human presented me with a t-shirt made for dogs. DOGS! What was she thinking? It was a dent in my pride, but I quickly decided to accept the t-shirt because at least I could walk normally.

So choose which one you’d rather live with for the next couple days to two weeks.

Or quickly learn to resist the urge to lick at your wounds. Your human might have sympathy and refrain from using either. Once you get through the first two weeks, you’ll get your stitches or whatever they put in you out. Then, you can lick away.

Tip #7: Accept Change

Obviously there is a bit of change required after losing a limb. Front amputees like me will learn that getting down isn’t nearly as easy anymore. My tip? Slide down with your body against the object as long as possible to make landing easier or find an alternative method of getting down that does not require jumping very far.

Rear amputees will learn that getting up may be troublesome. Look for alternative routes to get to higher locations or meow pitifully to your humans while staring at your preferred destination. I’m sure they’ll catch on and help you. Eventually, they’ll give you an alternate route too if one doesn’t exist.

Tip #8: Be Patient with Yourself

It’ll take a while to get back into the swing of things, but I assure you: you will learn to do the things you used to do. You might not do them the same way, but you’ll adapt and find a way. We are cats after all.

Tip #9: Enjoy Life
That’s really all I can think of as far as tips go. After your stitches are removed, life is pretty much what you make it. Take breaks as needed when you play or run. You lost  your spare leg, so be careful not to hurt the others.

And remember that humans need love too. They helped give you a second chance instead of putting you to sleep or giving you away. They deserve the extra attention, so crawl into their lap and purr away.

Tip #10: Dogs Only
Well, sadly you were born a dog, but I hear dogs do well on three legs too. So go back to tip #1 and read them all, just make sure you scratch out cat and put in dog.

 

 


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Goodbye Stitches!

Posted by: | August 5, 2014 | 6 Comments |

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Friday, August 1st I brought Smore to the vet for her post-op check-up. The vet tech that had seen her at every appointment was happy to see I was keeping her and that I had finally picked a name (up until then she was known as “Kitten”). Before Smore even got out of the carrier, our vet tech said she had grown.

stitches

Surgery site after 2 weeks – no stitches! For reference the grey is her chest and the other grey up top is her good leg. Her head is bottom right corner.

“Really?” I said. I guess you really don’t notice changes when you see them every day, haha.

When she had her surgery, she was 4 pounds. Now, 2 weeks after surgery and minus a leg, she weighed 4 pounds, 8 ounces. The doctor was pleased with how nicely her stitches looked, and he took them out right there with me scratching behind her ears. I didn’t expect that to be anything like it was. He took a pair of clamps, held the string, and cut the string with scissors. Then, he pulled the stitches out. It still boggles my mind.

Smore didn’t seem to mind at all.

Actually, the only thing she did mind was her temperature being taken, but I don’t blame her. That does kind of suck.

He then gave her the first set of kitten shots, told me she was filling out nicely, and that he thinks she’ll remain a very active cat who will surprise me continuously at her abilities as the years go by.

Honestly, she already has! Granted, I don’t know what I expected from a cat who climbed up my leg and onto our window screen with only three legs to begin with. That other leg was just dead weight that got in the way.

I’ve noticed a steady increase in her activity. She’s way more active than I remember her being before surgery. I guess that leg really did get in the way. I think she feels better now too.

I brought her home, and she hasn’t put her clothes back on since. Or rather, I haven’t put them back on. Her fur is already starting to grow back too. It’s so soft!

Smore in crazy cat pose sleeping

Smore sleeping strangely

She continues to enjoy her snuggles. She also apparently likes to lie in strange positions as evidenced by the photo of her in my lap. And actually, she liked to do that before getting her stitches out too. See? Notice her back foot is by her head and her front foot is near her butt. She’s actually completely asleep in this one too. She started dreaming shortly after.

Smore lying in a strange position; she was more curled up until she heard my camera turn on

Smore lying in a strange position

So then the night after getting her stitches out, she struck this pose. She was actually curled up so that you couldn’t even see her face, but my phone made a click sound when I unlocked the screen, which resulted in the “hey, what do you think you’re doing?” face. Seriously, you’d think she was trying to groom herself or something! But no, she’s just being goofy and trying to teach me cat yoga poses. Why bother doing downward and upward dog when you can do crazy cat curl?

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Adjusting to Daily Life

Posted by: | August 4, 2014 | 4 Comments |

Grooming and the Litter Box

Smore looking inside door at husky

Smore (pre-amputation) introducing herself to my dog, Pebbles

I made sure Smore could not climb up on much because I was worried she’d have trouble getting back down. Aside from that, I made very little changes to anything in her life. I also did not remove the lid thing to her litter box. She has one of those guard rails as it were to help keep the litter in, but it is not covered completely. Hopefully that makes sense?

While she was recuperating, it was obvious that she needed some help in, uh, certain areas.

Covering her poop was not something that came right away. She would sometimes try, but I think stoned kitty was pretty stoned from her meds. I think after 3 days she was able to do that again.

Grooming herself though was no easy task. I would see her lick her shirt, and I would see her lick her front paw. However, I never saw her groom the rest of her body. After pooping, her butt was sometimes covered in poop.

I invested in some between bath cat wipes to help out with that. She surprisingly tolerated it quite well, but I highly doubt she enjoyed it.

I fed her wet food because she wasn’t pooping every day; a combination of meds and worms made it sometimes rather, uh, slick. To the point that she once scratched her ear with a back leg and pooped in the process. Yeah, so not supposed to happen…

Anyway, I cannot tell you how excited I was when she finally resumed cleaning her own butt. It was a joy. I’d say she figured it out by the end of the first week. So don’t be alarmed if your cat has problems with this.

cat on curved scratching post

Smore in the middle of playing on her curved scratching post

Scratching

I had heard that cats amputations have trouble using a normal scratching post. I ended up buying the curved one thinking that Smore would enjoy it. She enjoys lying on it and using it to hide from her “prey”, but I hardly ever see her scratching on it unless she’s going for a toy I’m dangling above.

She took it upon herself to scratch at a piece of wood we had lying about. She also scratched at my jeans. While I was standing. I took that as a sign that a normal scratching post would be just fine.

I bought one that had a feather attached to the top, and Smore immediately fell in love with the feather. She kept licking at it and just stood there with it for like five minutes. She still enjoys it, and while I usually never see her go after the post just for the sake of scratching, her nails do get some work done while she plays. And boy, does she love to play!

Smore scratching on scratching post

Smore and her one true love

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At only 3-4 months old, Smore obviously has energy to spare, so I did my best to let her burn off her energy without doing anything to tear out her stitches. I was shocked by how soon she began playing as if she had never even had four legs to begin with.

On Sunday I actually recorded a video of her playing with a toy mouse to send to my mother, who was very anti-amputation because she didn’t think it was a good quality of life. Remember, the surgery happened on Thursday. You wouldn’t have known that if you watched the video however. She acted completely normal. She continued to act like an ordinary kitten as well, and it was obvious that she was becoming used to the medicines’ effects or something because she didn’t act stoned for much longer. She never acted as though she was in any pain either. When I figure out how to upload it/get more internet data, I will post a video of it.

I read that some cats pretty much hide for the duration of their healing. Smore did not read that. I was fully prepared to let her hide in several locations. There were at least 3 boxes for her to hide away in and her carrier (but what cat would want to go back in there after this experience?).

So where was her favorite place to hang out?

My lap. To be honest, it’s still actually her favorite place to go. This kitten will actually prefer to cuddle over eating. I usually have to pet her for a while and then set her in front of her bowl or she’ll just come back to me. Didn’t I say this kitten was sweet? 🙂

 

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Surgery and Immediate Post-Op

Posted by: | August 2, 2014 | 3 Comments |
x-ray of Smore's broken leg

The Broken Leg

Surgery and Picking Her Up

I left Smore with the vet on a Wednesday because the orthopedic surgeon who was trying to save her leg was 2 hours away. The surgery was scheduled for the following day. They called me about 3:30 to tell me the amputation was a success and that she was already playing.

She stayed at the vet until Friday afternoon. I received a call each morning and each night as well as one during the surgery due to the complication and one afterward to let me know how she did.

Before I picked her up, I did lots of research, most of which came from Tripawds. I looked at pictures of cats with amputations, which I think helped prepare me for what to expect.

When I picked her up, they put her in the carrier in the backroom and brought her out to me. She had a bandage on her and an e-collar (aka the cone of shame). She meowed when she saw me and put her nose against the carrier door as if to say, hey where have you been? I was grateful for that because part of my worry was that she would blame me for what had happened or something. The vet staff and vet techs assured me it wouldn’t be the case since they did the surgery and she was willing to cuddle post-op with them.

Medication

She was given amoxicillin (anti-biotic she was actually on before surgery due to her wound), metacam (nonsteroid anti-inflamatory), and burprenorphine (pain). Metcam was once every 24 hours, and the other two were every 12 hours. Her pupils were pretty large, and I’m pretty sure the pain meds made her pretty stoned. I imagine she saw lots of fun things. Unlike most tripawd blogs I’ve read, she did not have the pain patch.

Smore resting post-op

Smore resting post-op

Post-Op at Home

I brought her home, and it was obvious that she was a little disoriented. I blame this on the cone, however. It had white lines and the name of a veterinarian practice on it, which I’m sure made it hard to maneuver. Like all coned pets, she began running into things.

I had heard about using onesies for post-op, but I hadn’t purchased one before bringing her home (bad pawrent!). She stayed in her bandage and cone overnight. I kept her in a large dog kennel I had actually used when my husky was a puppy. It contained her box to sleep in, her blankets, her water, and her litterbox. As soon as I left the room, Smore decided she’d rather sleep on top of her box rather than inside it. Typical cat, no?

She later managed to jump down as well with no trouble. I fully believed I had to let her figure things out and tried not to baby her too much, so I actually didn’t do anything special for her. The only change I made was to move a box away from a table she liked to climb onto so that she wouldn’t climb up there, which surprisingly worked. She used her litterbox with no problem, but covering her poop did not happen. I did help her with that.

She slept in her kennel at night and remained there unless I was there to supervise her. Well, the second morning I woke up to find that she had tipped the box over on top of herself. Later that day she also managed to undo her e-collar (it was only tied on with gauze instead of an actual collar). She let me slip it back on and I went to the store in search of he onesies since her bandages were coming off. Plus, the instant she got free of the cone she began licking her stitches.

Cat in stars and stripes shirt

Smore rockin’ her shirt

Keeping Her Stitches Protected

When I found her she was 3 pounds and pretty much just fur and bones. Before surgery, she was only 4 pounds.

Onesies are not easily found for a kitten that size. The store didn’t have newborn or premies, so what’s a girl to do? I got creative and bought her an XXS dog shirt designed for yorkies, Shi tzus, and other tiny puppies. It fit perfectly, though it definitely made her butt look big, haha. We sewed up the one arm and Smore was able to spend the rest of her post-op cone-free, much to everyone’s delight. She also did not mind the shirt. In fact, I’ve come to discover this girl will basically let you do anything, including giving her nasty amoxicillan (which I despise the taste and smell of. ICK!).

 

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Introducing Smore

Posted by: | August 1, 2014 | 10 Comments |

image A few weeks ago as I took my husky outside to go to the bathroom before bed, I was welcomed by a hiss. I looked down on the porch and there it was: a small and unhappy cat. I was taken by surprise as well and had let out my own terrified litle shriek. My nieces wanted to know what was going on. I took a picture and showed them.

Cue the aws.

They have always loved cats. Well, actually anything with fur. They’re like me in that aspect.

As my husky and the cat stared each other down, I was starting to worry that it wouldn’t leave; however, the cat finally slinked off and life continued as normal.

The following morning though, as I gathered leash and collar for my dog, I heard the distinct sound of a kitten mewing. I opened the door and there it was again. It reached up and pawed at the door. I opened the door and managed to shoo her off to the otherside of the porch so that my dog could go out. I found her sitting outside on the welcome mat an hour or so later as I left for work.

Her paw was obviously causing her trouble; she didn’t put any weight on it at all, and there was a visible wound. I thought of her the whole time I was at work, and when I came home, I found her curled up near the air conditioner with her back against the house. It was obvious that the two structures and the shade of the area offered her some comfort. After calling animal control, who advised me that she may be dangerous and to leave her alone unless I had a trap, and the vet, I decided to trap her. We happened to have a trap, and she went into it easily with some tuna.

imageThe vet tech let her walk out of the cage and we discovered she was really friendly and enjoyed purring. Doc decided she was likely shot, which I’ve heard happens in some places here as a method of population control of females. She was treated for fleas, worms, and ear mites too.

After trying to find an owner and coming up empty handed, I decided to keep her. My uncle thinks she was one of the two kittens that was born under his trailer earlier this year, but he hasn’t been here to see her yet to confirm it.

Amputation was deemed the most likely surgery; however, I went to an orthopedic surgeon to attempt to fix it. During surgery though, the vet discovered her nerve was completely severed. She also decided it was more likely that she was bit by something due to the lack of gunshot residue in her wound.

I was heartbroken; I had a hard time believing she’d be okay on three legs despite the fact that she pretty much hobbled on only three the whole time she was with me.

I had a hard time believing she was playing with a toy mouse a mere three hours after surgery too, but they assured me it happened. And so, we welcomed a little kitten into our family. She’s only three or four months old and I swear she’s the sweetest and by far the best cat in the world.

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