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Nini Love

Nov 21

One month ampuversary

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Last week was Nini’s one month ampuversary! It’s hard to believe it’s been a month since that scary night I came downstairs to a cat who couldn’t stand up and an emergency room visit.

But we are getting through it! There are ups and downs, but mostly ups, and I am just so happy that Nini is still with us. I’ll start with the ups.

Ups: Nini is getting better and better at adjusting to walking (hopping mostly!) on three legs. She has completely adjusted to going up and down her stairs to the bed, and can even jump up on the bed from the floor (which is 3 feet!) when she feels like it. She seems to do better going longer distances. If she’s only walking a few steps, like to the water dish, she really has more of a hopping gait. But if she’s heading to the sunny spot in the garden that she likes, she’s still hopping, but her gait is more even, and she looks more comfortable.

She is also showing more interest in expanding her time outside. We live on a walking trail, and our back yard fence opens right onto the trail. A few days ago, she asked me to open the fence, and we spent some time on the trail, staying very close to home. I think Nini really enjoyed exploring, sniffing, and watching the people and leashed dogs go by. Our other yard fence leads out to a few parking spaces, and an open concrete area. Not as picturesque, but Nini also wanted to go out that gate. So, I think it’s really encouraging that Nini wants to branch out past our back yard. Maybe in another month, she’ll be interested in going out the front door, and into our little courtyard. Oohhh!

Nini starting to explore the big wide world again

I want to say that Nini is always 100% supervised when she’s outside. Even before her surgery, she never went very far. I think since she’s an old gal now, she just wants to stick close to the comforts of home. So I’ve never worried about her roaming very far. But as a new tripawd, I still want to keep an eye on her, even if she’s just in the backyard. At least for a little while longer.

She’s completely adjusted to using her litter box. I actually didn’t even have to modify the box! Even before her stitches were out, she was hopping in there no problem. And her appetite is still really good.

Downs: Nini still has a day or two in a row where all she wants to do is sleep. Of course, she’s been through so much, so I shouldn’t be surprised by that. But I still can’t help but worry a little when she prefers to be under the covers on a beautiful sunny day. That never happened before her surgery. If there was sun, she was out in it.

She hasn’t really been interested in being outside the bedroom in our condo. She came upstairs a couple times, not long after her surgery, but hasn’t shown any interest in being upstairs with us in the last few weeks. One night I even carried her upstairs to watch TV with us. I thought the change of scenery would be good for her. And, let’s be honest, I wanted her company! I set up her heating pad on the rocking chair, but she wasn’t interested. She sat for a minute, then went downstairs and got back on the bed.

I feel like she is still adjusting to having three legs. There are often times when she doesn’t seem to enjoy walking very much. I get the impression it feels laborious to her. She just has this look on her face that she did not have before surgery. And, once she gets to where she’s going, she plops down and just seems so happy to be there and not have to walk anymore.

Yesterday was the first time she tried to scratch her shoulder with her missing leg. I could see her little stump moving underneath her skin. It kind of broke my heart a little. I went right over, and scratched her side and shoulder and up to her ear for her. I think I got the spot she was aiming for. But what happens when she has an itch, and I’m not there to scratch it?

I guess the ‘downs’ are mostly related to my idea of how Nini’s recovery should be, contrasted with how her recovery is actually going. I want Nini to be back to the confident, elegant, social, vocal and active cat she was before she lost her leg. And that is going to happen on her schedule. Not the schedule that I would like it to be.

And overall, her recovery is going great! So I just need to relax and support Nini moving through her recovery at her own pace. If she needs to sleep for two days in row, that’s fine. It doesn’t mean she’s falling into some deep depression. In the next day or so, she’ll be more active. There are little signs she’s coming back to herself almost everyday. In the meantime, I will cherish every day I have with her.

Nini relaxes with a view of the walking trail. Raspy prefers the safety of the back yard.
Nov 14

Oncology Visit

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Nini had her oncology visit a few days ago. The doctor was very sweet and knowledgeable and we had a good chat about Nini. She is not recommending chemo. She stated the statistics (that I already found through this site), that 40% of cats with osteosarcoma will get another tumor, usually within a year or two. But given Nini’s age (16 years), there are more risks with pursuing chemo. For years she’s had slightly elevated kidney values, indicative of very early old age kidney disease. And chemo might create more problems with her kidneys than it might solve with her cancer. She said it’s more likely that Nini will pass on from something else before her cancer comes back.

To anyone reading this who’s gone through an osteosarcoma diagnosis with a senior cat, I’d love to get feedback. What do you think about not doing chemo? Is it ok to not do it? Anyone who did chemo and think it gave their cat more years? Anyone who regrets doing it? Should I get a second opinion? Honestly I’m a little relieved that it’s not for certain that we have to go down the chemo road. Nini’s had a lot of health issues the past few years, and I’m not super eager to put her through chemo.

On a good note – she does not have any indications of diabetes in her blood or urine. Yay! So relieved about that. She had a few very elevated blood glucose levels while she was in the emergency clinic, so they were a little worried about diabetes. But thank goodness we can cross that off the list of more potential health issues that Nini might have.

The doctor actually seemed more concerned about Nini’s irritable bowel disease, which she was diagnosed with a few years ago. I know it’s not tripawd related, so I won’t go into it too much, but there are signs that it might be progressing, and could lead to small cell lymphoma, another type of cancer. Geesh! Cancer from all angles! So that’s my latest point of worry for Nini. We have an appointment with an internist a few weeks from now. And hopefully we can get Nini on a good path to recovery with that.

In more directly related tripawd news – Nini is continuing to adjust well. It’s been 3 weeks since her surgery. She’s up and down her stairs to the bed like a champ. And she can jump up on shorter things, like the chest at the foot of our bed, or her lounge chair outside. She’s less active than before her surgery but I think that might be largely related to the weather. She just wants to snuggle and be cozy under the covers if there isn’t any sun outside. But I also need to remember that she is still recovering from a very major surgery! She’s mostly sleeping well at night, although we had a few nights where she insisted on getting some 2am snuggles with my partner. But at this point we’ll take snuggles with Nini whenever we can get them!

Nini getting some appropriately-timed love
Nov 07

Stitches out!

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I’ll give the headline up front: I’m glad I decided to amputate Nini’s leg.

Nini soaking up the sun in the garden, just like before her surgery

Nini got her stitches out! The tech said the incision looked great and healed really well. Woohoo!

The next day I got a call from the doctor, with the pathology results.  Nini does have cancer – osteosarcoma. It was a malignant tumor that caused her leg fracture. Although I’m sad to know that Nini has cancer, I am a little relieved, because it means I made the right decision to amputate her leg. If I had decided to set her fracture, Nini would now have to go back into surgery and through another recovery. Thank goddess we don’t have to do that!

I’m so grateful for the community on this site. Seeing all the success stories here really helped me to make the decision to amputate, and feel okay that Nini would still have a good quality of life on 3 legs. Thank you to everybody who supports and contributes here!

Nini and Raspy practicing their synchronized sunbathing

We’ll have a visit with the oncologist to go over the results and determine next steps. But the emergency clinic doctor said that it’s unlikely Nini will have to do chemotherapy and the amputation was likely curative. Here’s hoping!

I’m so glad to have her through this part of the recovery. She slept all the way through the night last night. I woke up to her snuggled up next to me. I think the cone collar was really affecting her sleep pattern and behavior. I am so glad I will never have to put that thing on her again!

Nov 03

Days 7 – 10

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Everything is still going really well with Nini. She seems to be alternating between a day of sleeping on the bed under the covers and a day where she’s more active, and wants to be outside or move around the bedroom more. I’m trying to let her take the lead in terms of her level of activity. Even when she has a day where she sleeps the whole time, she is still bright and alert when she is awake, so I haven’t been worried about her getting depressed or too bored being stuck in a smaller space.

I got her some stairs to help her get up onto the bed. She took to them immediately. I used treats to get her to use them the first time, then after that she used them on her own. With one caveat – she only likes going up them. She really doesn’t want to use them to go down. So I do have to entice her with treats going down.

I’ve taken her down to one dose of gabapentin a day – I give one pill only at night. She hasn’t shown any signs of being in pain.

I think the only pain she’s in is my constant presence and watchful eye. I’m trying to give Nini as much independence and as much of her normal life during this early recovery stage. But it does mean that I have to watch her like a hawk when she’s grooming without the cone collar, and stop her before she gets to her stitches. Or if we go outside I can’t let her jump off the lounge chair. Nini does not like to be told ‘No’ and I think she’s getting sick of hearing that word from me. I’m not a parent, but I imagine it’s a tiny bit like having a toddler – can’t take your eyes off them and always telling them no!

Oct 31

Days 5 and 6

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Nini continues to make great progress! She’s eating well and drinking lots of water, and everything in the litter box is going well. She’s off her hardcore opioid painkillers, but I’m keeping her on 200mg of gabapentin for a least the next couple days. She does not seem to be in any kind of major pain, which I was a little worried about.

I’m still haven’t worked out a good sleeping arrangement with her. A couple nights ago I set her up in her x-pen with a heating pad, space heater set to a comfortable temp, and put a fitted sheet over the x-pen so she couldn’t get out. A couple hours after I go to bed, I hear her bumping up against the x-pen. She had pulled down the sheet and was trying to jump out! OMG cat!

So, I’ve just had her up on the bed with us and so far she hasn’t jumped off – she always wakes me up first. This is not ideal for me, since I’m still only getting a couple hours sleep at a time. I’ve resigned to the fact that it’s going to be like this until she gets her stitches out. Which is only another week. I can make it till then.

She’s also been moving into other places in the house. Yesterday she wanted to go upstairs, and I carried her up, and we had some lovely snuggle time on the couch. She actually managed to make it all the way down the stairs by herself before I could catch her. And she has been able to use her scratching post. And she’s still getting some outside time. Although she really prefers to spend most of her time in her fort on the bed, under the covers. I guess that’s where she feels the safest and most comfortable.

Still really encouraged and hopeful about her recovery!

Nini and her sister, Raspy, basking in the sun