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Heather Mills - Amputee Forum
Kaiya

Phantom Sensations in Cats

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Hi everyone,

I'm a veterinary researcher trying to find out ways of improving welfare for cats that have limb or tail amputations. One of the challenges is that I can't ask the cats how they are feeling, what they are feeling, or why they are doing what they are doing. The big question I'm trying to answer is whether cats experience phantom limb pain or sensation following amputation.

A little background information in cats: amputation is carried out differently to humans as animals generally do not use prosthetics. Rather than preserving as much of the limb as possible, hind limbs are amputated through the hip joint or top of the femur, and front legs through the shoulder joint or have the shoulder blade removed. Tails may be amputated at any length, depending on the reason for amputation. The most common reason for amputation of limbs or tail in the cat is a road traffic accident, although there are other traumatic and non-traumatic causes. Anecdotally, it appears cats adapt very well to amputation. However, an occasional cat appears to be in pain without any obvious cause, and some cats try to use their missing limb as if it were still present; for example scratching their ears or batting at toys as if their leg was still there. The cats that use their missing limbs tend to use them for reflex activities i.e. do so unconsciously or automatically, rather than consciously and slowly. This is what I’ve asked the forum admin to let me ask you about, as there is very little information on this subject in our companion animals.

I would be very grateful if any members of this forum would be able to offer any insights into this interesting question, specifically:

• Do people who have had a limb amputated produce reflex actions with their missing limb?

• If so, do only those who suffer with phantom limb phenomena try to produce reflex actions with their missing limb?

By “reflex action”, I mean circumstances where you might attempt to use an absent limb without conscious thought; for example automatically trying to catch a thrown ball or trying to balance.

And finally – the most difficult question - what would you suggest would be the most important thing to look for in a cat that might indicate that it was suffering from phantom limb sensation, or phantom limb pain? All thoughts gratefully received.

Thank you so much for any help you can give. There are plenty of research papers and medical information on amputation but very little that actually deals with personal experience of the amputation.

To reassure anyone worried - any cats involved in my research are genuine patients who have lost a limb as a result of natural disease or injury such as road traffic accident, and none were harmed in any way for this study. In addition names will remain anonymous in any publications or reports and you may contact me privately rather than reply to this post if you wish.

Many thanks,

Lyn Forster BVetMed MRCVS

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Hi Lyn

I've had and observed a pet Guinea Pig who had an amputation, but not a cat, would that help?

Lizzie :smile:

Hi Lizzie2....haven't heard from you in a very long time. :smile:

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Nope no phantom pain at all here :rolleyes:

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Nope no phantom pain at all here :rolleyes:

I remember trying to get out of bed several times forgetting that my leg was gone. That happened during the first months after limb loss.

If an animal with an amputation is exhibiting electric shocks where the residual limb is twitching in pain from time to time that is how it affected me.

Obviously, the animal cannot speak and tell you that it feels its amputated limb(ankle/toes) as I cam.

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Hi everyone,

I'm a veterinary researcher trying to find out ways of improving welfare for cats that have limb or tail amputations. One of the challenges is that I can't ask the cats how they are feeling, what they are feeling, or why they are doing what they are doing. The big question I'm trying to answer is whether cats experience phantom limb pain or sensation following amputation.

Not sure if its relevant, but I saw this report in a copy of 'Popular Science' about a 'Mice Pain Scale' has been discovered some months ago, a brief search online and there's more information on it.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/05/mouse-pain-expression/

An interesting comment here:

Posted by: jackfnburton | 05/10/10 | 2:46 pm |

“No one has every looked for facial expression of pain in anything other than humans,”

Really? I accidentally shut the door on my cat’s paws once. I assure you there was pain on her face.

Read More http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/05/mouse-pain-expression/#ixzz0zAc9eJr0

The article in the magazine here:

mousepainscale.jpg

Uploaded with ImageShack.us

Google searches its worth noting there seems to be a few .pdf files on the issue:

http://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1GGLS_en-GBGB368GB368&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=mouse+pain+scale#sclient=psy&hl=en&rlz=1C1GGLS_en-GBGB368GB368&source=hp&q=Cat%20pain%20scale&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=&pbx=1&fp=6052204b889acdd8

http://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1GGLS_en-GBGB368GB368&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=mouse+pain+scale#sclient=psy&hl=en&rlz=1C1GGLS_en-GBGB368GB368&q=feline+pain+scale&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=&pbx=1&fp=6052204b889acdd8

Probably nothing you've not come across already, but just incase you've not it maybe worth bringing it to your attention, though maybe a little later than the OP originally had hoped.

HTH.

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