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Three Legged Cat Litterbox Tips for New Tripawd Cats

What is the best three legged cat litterbox? We learn so much from our Tripawd Kitty members! Every new Forums Discussion about three legged cats helps us expand our knowledge so that we can help future felines who join our community. A recent discussion about Tripawd Cat Litterbox Issues was super enlightening!

Litterbox tips for tripawd cats

In this discussion, Sherman’s Mom writes:

He is doing GREAT, he runs and plays and is thriving. . . The only issue is when he is in the litterbox, he seems to have phantom leg issues and tries to cover up his “business”  using his amputated leg. He seems to get frustrated and gets his shoulder closer and closer to the litter trying to move it and cover it up.  He sometimes ends up getting litter on his face and his belly, and he seems really frustrated.  Then eventually he seems to realizes that leg won’t work, and uses his other front leg. It makes me sad to see him struggle, is there some sort of therapy or training I can do with him to help him?

Litterbox tips for tripawd cats

It wasn’t long before our helpful Tripawds kitty members chimed in with suggestions, including:

Litterbox tips for tripawd cats

If your new Tripawd cat is having a hard time with the litterbox, don’t despair. Tripawd kitties are smart and know how to overcome temporary challenges like litterbox woes. Be patient and you’ll soon be amazed by your Tripawd cat’s resiliency. These member blog posts will also give you hope:

Bathrooming Battles (and Litterbox Hacks for Tripawds)

My Cliff’s Notes version, based on what I’ve tried so far:

  • Pellet litter may be slippery. Clay or something like wheat or corn litter may be a better choice (though note: if there are any wounds or incisions still open, litter may stick to them, so something organic and non-clumping is likely to be your best bet).
  • Cats, especially limited-mobility cats, really like to have an entrance and a SEPARATE exit path from the litterbox. To help your tripawd feel extra comfortable, provide them with more than one way to get in/out of the box.
  • Low sides are essential, but are likely to contribute to mess.
  • Use floor protectors, cheap rugs, old towels, heavy-duty rubber litter mats, etc. to help contain the mess and save your floors/sanity.

“Surgery and Immediate Post-Op”

. She used her litterbox with no problem, but covering her poop did not happen. I did help her with that.

“Smore and I are Back”

She plays with her toys and honestly, the fact that she only has three legs doesn’t get in the way or slow her down. We’ve made a few adjustments for it – namely in pillows and boxes for step downs and a larger litter box. . . . What seemed like a death sentence then was really a chance at life.


“No More Cabinet Climbing”

“mom took the time to set up pet stairs and make a litter box with lower sides just for me.  Did I ever use them?  Nope.  (Sorry, mom.)  I guess I am a little bit stubborn.  Call me a creature of habit, but I thought enough had changed with the missing leg.  I needed everything else to stay the same!  Sure, I made a mess with the litter box a time or two, but that’s all good now. “

We Can Officially Do the Dance!

“So excited that it looks like she’s back on the road to normalcy!!!!!! It was like a lead weight released itself off my shoulders and landed in the litter box!”

“Onwards and Upwards”

“Crumble was right paw dominant.  Using the litter tray, batting a toy, testing the water in her bowl, climbing – all of these were approached with the right paw first.  We watched as the ghost leg would reach out the stump wave back and forth, before confused, she would switch legs to use her left struggling to hold her balance and visibly aggravated by the lack of expected outcome from the missing leg.  The first steps were for us to take; we needed to learn how to read her better and not panic when she fell or run toward her when she growled to find out what was happening.”

“Day 3”

“so we haven’t been terribly bent out of shape about him not going #2 since he’s been home..  but remember his displeasure with his tiny litter boxes… today he got into the laundry room and before we found him, he’d hopped into his old box, spun around a few times, squatted and did his biz!  My husband and I literally high-fived, and then took a moment to wonder how this was our life.. HAHA.”

“Here’s what I did to help her poop.”

“After a long night, B did pee and poop Sunday morning! Here’s what I did for anyone interested. . . Crossing my fingers for another “movement” soon. Wow, the things I didn’t think I would have to be doing today lol”

Do you have Tripawd kitty tips to share? Hop over to the Tripawds Discussion Forums and let us know, we always want to learn from our feline friends!

21 thoughts on “Three Legged Cat Litterbox Tips for New Tripawd Cats”

  1. My cat recently had his hind leg amputated. He’s used the litter box a couple times but he’s struggling not to get it on himself, which is concerning with his healing incision. I’ve had to clean him cautiously a couple times which he had not enjoyed at all. He hates me trying to help him during and gets frustrated. I’m not sure if there is any way I can help or support him to keep him clean and help him learn how to potty without messing himself but any advice would really help.

    • Sarah, please come post in our Three Legged Cats Discussion Forum topic so we can help you better. My best advice is to use a low-sided litter box with an entrance ramp if necessary. A damp cloth for gently and quickly cleaning around the incision site is usually all that’s necessary to keep the area clean. Come to our forums though where our feline amputee experts can best help OK? See you there.

  2. I am asking for my daughter, she has a three legged cat. Its back leg was amputated due to an accident with previous owners. She has owned her for about a year, and her cat continues to pee on furniture. They have pee pads in the litter as opposed to litter as they found she preferred that. My daughter is very loyal and committed, yet today is frustrated and at her wits end. They have a 9 mth old baby which from videos seems like the cat loves. The problem was evident before the baby arrived. They have taken her to the vet to rule out any medical issues and there are none, but they suggested a special food.
    I appreciate any suggestions, thank you

  3. Hi my cat got his leg amputated last Wednesday we found out he has bone cancer. He is peeing in the litter box but he pooped for the first time yesterday but he wouldn’t go in the litter box I had to help him because he seemed to get frustrated, this is nothing new to me because I bottle raised him and his bothers and sister. So I stimulate him a little like you do when they are baby’s and he went only he did it laying down kinda made a mess I cleaned him up and the floor but is there anything I can do to help him stay up when he goes. I mean he’s a big cat don’t get me wrong he needs to lose some weight which I’m working on but in the meantime is he just going to figure it out? He also does this thing where he gets vocal and pushes back wears is that pain? I got more meds from the vet I just didn’t know if anyone else has had that with their baby. He’s up and hopping around fine the crying and the pooping is really the only concern I have right now and I know he’s still new to it and I’m so happy he’s doing as well as he is… if it’s his weight do they just not amputate mancoons because they are bigger than him lol

    • Hi Karah, welcome. Sorry about your kitty needing the amputation but you’ve come to the best community for support. It sounds like he is in some amount of pain and probably needs his pain medication adjusted. Let your vet know what is doing on. Once his pain is under control, the pottying issues will decrease. Please consider posting in our Three Legged Cats Forum for help from other cat parents. See you there!

      • Thank you so much for the reply I got more Gabapentin for him after telling the doctor I hope it helps. he actually used the litter box last night too poop so exciting! I am registering an account right now thanks

  4. Hi, my cat is due to have his left front leg amputated in a week – he is 12 yrs old. I’d like to know how many owners let their cats go back outside once they have 3 legs? He doesn’t venture far, only the back garden & occasionally the neighbours … very pleased to have joined this site, it doesn’t feel so scary now.

    • Hi Luci, sorry to hear about your kitty. We are glad you found us though! Regarding being an outdoor cat, this is what I told Sephy’s human: we highly recommend building a catio to keep her safe from predators. As a three-legged animal she will be extra vulnerable so this sounds like an opportunity to train her to be an indoor cat? I know that’s hard but worth the effort.

  5. My kitty got his front leg amputated a few years back. He’s always been quite athletic and that has not changed. He’s still quite capable but he does fall occasionally and can’t quite do everything the same as he used to. I’m having to move into a small studio apartment and I’m considering getting one of those top opening litter boxes but I’m just not sure if that’s a horrible idea for him? I know this isn’t a new amputee question but I would love some advice! Thanks.

  6. Hi everyone! My tripawed cat is doing great ( aptutation in December) but he can NOT aim in the litter box. There is pee everywhere! Any advice? We have a covered box and an uncovered box.

  7. I have recently adopted a 3 legged cat. Peeing on the rug. Sometimes litter box. Have another inside cat. Does he need his own? Missing RF leg.

  8. My kitten had a rear leg amputated at 4 months. He has been home with us for about 2. He is doing amazing except for the pooping issue. He almost always falls into it. He has gotten over the baths and is starting to like them, but poop all over the house is a different story. Any tips would be appreciated

  9. Those are great tips for new kitty tripawds, especially “Be Patient”. I’m sure it’ll be appreciated.

    Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona


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