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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 22616
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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there, my mum's cat Jess is about 8 years old and they have

Customer Question

hi there, my mum's cat Jess is about 8 years old and they have been told she has an aggressive cancer tumour on her back leg and it is attached to the bone.
they have given my mum 3 options
to have the leg amputated
to have chemotherapy
or to just leave her as is and give her painkillers
My mum is wondering if it would be better for Jess to be put down. My dad is worried that even if they amputated the leg, if the cancer is aggressive, won't it have spread.
the vet did say that they could scan Jess if they take her in to have her leg amputated to see if it has spread.
My question is, do you think cats can adapt to having a leg amputated and in this incidence (for an aggressive tumour) do you think she could have a good quality of life. She also has some sores on her, that my mum says are aggravating her. Mum and dad are just very shocked and don't really know what to do. Any advice would be gratefully received.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 3 years ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.

Situations like this will always be difficult with our pets, especially as we cannot ask Jess what she would choose. In regards ***** ***** best treatment option, often we will amputate and then follow up with chemotherapy. That said, unless a cat is very docile and amenable to being poked and prodded, we do find that most are not keen on chemo treatment. Therefore, if she is a cat that does not want to be messed about, chemo may not be an ideal choice for her.

Now in regards ***** ***** question, as long as they xrayed her to ensure the tumor has not already spread to her lungs (the most common site for cancer spread), then the amputation is a reasonable treatment option. While you and I would certainly struggle with the loss of a limb (50% of our means of walking), cats tend to cope really well despite the loss of a leg. This is because unlike us, they are only losing 25% of their walking limbs and many cats recover from amputations as if that lost leg was just a spare (we even see these cats jump fences and go about daily cat life without issue). Furthermore, many cats feel much better after amputation because the surgery removes not just the tumor itself but all the pain it has been causing. So, at her age (which isn't particularly old), as long as Jess has good mobility in her other legs this would be worth discussing and considering for her.

Otherwise, if your family just doesn't want to take any invasive treatment steps (which is fair when most aggressive bone tumors only carry ~9-18 months survival time even with amputation depending on what type of tumor it is), then palliation with pain relief is an acceptable option as well. And if you were to find at any stage the pain relief didn't keep her comfortable enough for her to live a normal life, then that would be a cue to euthanize.

Overall, these are all viable options for Jess. In regards ***** ***** question, cats tend to do very well with limb amputations as long as they don't have any issues with their other legs. And this can allow them to continue to have a good quality of life even without that leg. So, if she is otherwise mobile, her chest xray (pre-op) is clean, then amputation would be worthwhile to consider to get this cancer away before it can spread, to stop it causing her pain, and give her some more time with your family.

Please take care,
Dr. B.