The diagnosis, the shock, the first steps into recovery

Crumble and her litter twin Apple, are our two tuxedo moggies. They are 7 years old and rulers of our household. We adopted the pair very young, 5-weeks old from their mother Dolly, who has about to move house and was not blessed with the warmest of maternal instincts.  By the time we came to retrieve them she was already hissing and chasing them off, so small as they were, it was decided it was time to move them on.


Being as they live almost entirely indoors (we live on a main road), we’ve been fairly blessed with almost no causes to visit a vet in the past few years bar the annual check-ups, one cystitis event and a very scary 48 hours with Apple and a stray ribbon she coaxed out of a sewing box.  When Crumble’s foot became noticeably a bit stinky, we were fairly quickly alerted to the fact that something was up, but we never for a moment imagined it would lead to a cancer diagnosis.


On first phoning the vet we were told that ripped claws were commonplace and if she was still bothering it in a few more days then we should bring her in.  We hadn’t popped her claw out so when a week later the vet did just that, revealing a nasty looking abscess, we were pretty shocked.  Crumble endured a week of antibiotics and the ‘lampshade of shame’ and the infection began to clear. What was left was a small half-pea sized lump between her toes.


“It could be a granuloma”, the vet explained “caused by her licking the wound.  Keep her on the antibiotics for 5 more days and bathe the toe in salt water and let’s see if it starts to go down.” 5 more days, no more foot-stink, but no disappearing lump either.  This was the point where we consented to the general anaesthetic and an excision of what at this point, was starting to look sinister, but maybe was just a large polyp, attached as it was on a stalk beside her claw.

“We’ll have the lab results in a week and will give you a call”.


Less than 48 hours later and the call came.  Osteosarcoma.  My heart stopped. The vet Benedette (Bebe), carefully and calmly explained what this means for cats – not the terminal sentence it is for a human, not as aggressive as in a dog, but nasty, and in need of rapid action if there was to be hope of a cure.

“How soon can I bring her in?”

“Can you make tomorrow at 9:45?  We would like to x-ray her to look for metastatic spread to her lungs, and if the x-rays are clear, we would advise you to consider amputation.  Radical surgery gives her the best chance of a cure. Go home and discuss it with your husband…” But I consented there and then, no more permissions needed; please don’t ask me to consent more than once to do this.  I drove home to my husband and we cried and held her and fussed her and cuddled that soon to be no more right limb, and probably freaked the poor independent mini-lion out with all the weird extra attention.


Thursday 29th October. Risk day.

The general anaesthetic. The x-ray. Praying that the phone would not ring before late afternoon.  If the x-ray is clear, we said, please go straight to surgery, don’t phone us, don’t keep her under any longer than she needs to be, just do what you can.

At 12 the phone rang, startling us – my father asking how she was and if there was news.

At 3pm the word came through, she was awake, alert, and tripping on methadone.  More importantly the x-rays showed no mets, not even locally to the toe. Visitors were permitted. We went to see the films and the puss for ourselves.  More tears, relief, and now the long wait for the histology report on the missing forelimb. She may have been very lucky indeed. It might be that the tumour started in her nail bed and grew out rather than inwards.  We are keeping everything crossed.


So what we now have is a grumpy, tripawd pussycat living in a dog crate for safety until the stitches come out.  She is already balancing well, but I am a little disconcerted when I see the ghost foot being waved in a litter-burying manoeuvre that she does not yet quite realise isn’t achieving much.


She will be fine, of that I have no doubt, she will just need a little adjustment time. Her sister Apple though, is not fine with this at all.  Crumble smells of vet and drugs and the great unwashed (I’ve tried dealing with this last part but she gets *really* annoyed).  There has been hissing and growling and short, fast, low crouch sprints from the cage.  Bedding is being swapped about, Dreamies are being handed out like the sweets they are. More than rehabilitating Crumble walking, we have a sisterly relationship to support repair of.


So where are we now? 5 more days and hopefully the stitches can come out, and then Crumble herself, and maybe we will also know the lab verdict by then too.

Paws crossed.


9 thoughts on “The diagnosis, the shock, the first steps into recovery”

  1. Welcome to the club that no one wants to join. I had a dog with Osteoscaroma. Jill the Tripawd kitty was Sassy’s chemo buddy. I recommend reading her blog. Erica did a great job of talking about Jill’s recovery & treatment. Jill did get chemo because her Osteoscaroma did come back after being in her toe (they only amputated the toe first).

    If you have any questions you can pm Jill’s mom or come into chat

    Sounds like Crumble is doing well

    Michelle & Angel Sassy

    1. Thank you very much for the warm welcome. Its lovely to find a community of people who won’t become bored senseless with my tales of kitten woe!

  2. WELL this is odd! another tripawd kitty with OSA that started in a toe! and a tuxie! My Jilly was also 7 when her paw got a HUGE sore on it and I brought her to the vet. She was treated with antibiotics and a soak for 5 days. Nothing helped and her toe was then amputated. The toe was then sent to the lab and it came back as OSA. It’s a very long story from there – but long story short, we “got good margins” and didn’t do anything. 6 months later it spread and we amputated her leg.
    It’s now been THREE YEARS (on 12/12) and here we are! She is a happy, healthy 11 year old!! I hope you have a chance to check out her blog and she also has a facebook page: jill the tripawd cancer fighting kitty
    Please let me know if you have ANY QUESTIONS at all
    When Jill got diagnosed her oncologist had never seen a case like hers at all, so I know how rare this can be!
    Hang in there Crumble!!!
    Erica & Tripawd Kitty Jill

    1. Wow! This is precisely the sort of post that I had hoped to stumble across. So many coincidences there for such a very rare set of circumstances. That is great news about Jilly and certainly fills us with hope for Crumb. Thank you 🙂

  3. I love their names. You’ll notice a big difference in Crumble when the stitches come out. It’s like freedom! After her stitches were out, I sat with my kitty Mona outside in the sun as she rolled around in the gravel. She was so happy and things just got better and better. I can’t even remember what she was like with 4 legs.

    There is no change in her relationship with my male cat – she still bonks him on the head when it’s time to eat! I can tell he loves that because it becomes swatty paws with her sitting up like a meerkat. It’s amazing how they adapt!

    Happy healing Crumble.

    Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

    1. We are really looking forward to getting her out and on her feet. I am hoping that once she is moving around again Apple will recognise her better and calm down.

      poor Apple, we’ve also now got a garden cat, an old feral boy that comes knocking on the back door twice a day (yes, literally knocking) for food and fusses and Apple can’t stand the smell of him at all. She I the princessy bossy one of the pair so I guess she doesn’t like it if the world isn’t how she has chosen to arrange it!

  4. I’m glad Crumble is doing well.

    I was really worried about the relationship with my two cats as well, after Leila being on cage rest for over 5 months! Milo was definitely not happy with any of it. I decided that as soon as Leila was allowed out of her cage, and then off the medication for a separate illness (she’s had a a bit of a tough year) just to go back to all the things I did before. Feeding them together again made a huge difference I think. Also Leila getting back to her old self and being able to play with him again. Apple and Crumble will get back to normal, I’m sure of that.

    I will look forward to hearing about them some more.

    Emily, Leila and Milo
    (Leila and me)

  5. Woooaaaah. Wow Crumble & family, I’m sorry you got the osteo diagnosis but can’t thank you enough for coming here to share your story. As you already know, osa in cats is rare and osa in a cat’s toe is relatively unheard of — except here. You’re about the 4th or 5th member who’s dealt with osa, but only the 2nd (or maybe 3rd) in the toe.

    I’m glad you got to meet Jill and Erica here. I had the pleasure and honor of meeting those two just a few days ago and I can tell you with 110% confidence that Jill is ROCKIN and just as happy as can be, and I know that Crumble will also in no time at all.

    Whatever we can do to help, don’t hesitate to ask. Post in our forums too if you need anything at all OK?

    The more information we can share here and in the community, the easier it will be when someone else needs hope and insprawration in the face of a difficult diagnosis. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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