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Amputation on a Very Old Cat

Many people join us wondering if amputation on their very old cat is a possibility. While every senior feline’s story is different, this quick Discussion Forums search for “older cats” shares many examples of older three-legged cats who have done very well as Trikitties (three-legged cats). Here are just a few. If apologize if we missed your Trikitty’s story; if so, let us know in the Comments below and we will add your hero to this list.

senior amputee cats
Fang lived to 17 as a Tripawd cat!

When is a Cat Elderly or “Old”?

According to International Cat Care:

cats are considered to be elderly once they reach 11 years with senior cats defined as those aged between 11-14 years and super-senior cats 15 years and upwards.

Please see: Elderly cats – special considerations

The above-referenced article is an excellent look at what to consider if you are lucky enough to be owned by a senior cat. However if you’re unlucky enough to find yourself wondering if your elderly cat will do well as a Tripawd, we can share some examples of Tripawds community members who went through that experience. 

What About Amputation on a Very Old Cat? 

What do you do if your geriatric cat is in a situation where a leg needs to be amputated? And is it cruel to even think about amputating on a very old cat? Those feelings are normal for any Tripawd but they are especially troubling when you love a senior pet.

For now, step back and try to be kind to yourself. No, you are not being selfish by considering amputation. As we like to say around here, amputation is not doing something to a pet, it’s doing something for them. Once that bad leg is gone, the vast majority of animals continue living life as before. It’s the humans that have a hard time with it! 

amputation on a very old cat
Pittens the very old cat ended up doing really well on three legs!

We hope to put your mind at ease with these examples of elderly cat amputees and their humans. Care to add yours? Please post in our Three Legged Cats Discussion Forum topic today!

Senior Cat Pittens: 18 years and going strong on three!

she has gotten her spark back today. she went outside but then ran and fell. she is moving about quicker now…quicker than she has been in such a long time with that terrible sarcoma! . this was the best decision to make.

(for a GREAT update: see Pittens Trikitty blog!)

17 Year Old Three Legged Jack the Tripawd Cat still loves exploring!

The initial month was a rollercoaster, but now, 10 months post surgery, Jack is a thriving and resilient cat.

Jack’s mom Joan, “Tripawd Tuesday: Jack the Three-Legged Senior Cat
Senior Amputee Cat Jack on leash
Jack still loves going outside and enjoying the scenery on leash.

18 Year Old Tripawd Cat Fluffy: His vet team didn’t give up!

still working out how to maneuver with one less leg, but he’s alive and the tumor is GONE!!! Even as he gets frustrated trying to stand up or hop in a straight line, he’s still purring and attentive and happy to be back with his family and watching his birds. 

18 year old amputee cat
Fluffy recovers from amputation surgery.

Harriet, “the Grand Dame” was 22-years old when she lost her leg.

We know we made the best decisions we could for her, ever since we noticed a little growth on her paw back in February. Our decision to have that leg amputated was palliative, and gave her the summer.

Max is thriving at age 15

The healing process has been mostly easy and without issue. Almost zero oozing from his scar. I know he’s old and healing… but he wasn’t really himself until a few days ago. I wondered if Max as I knew him was gone. Then, like a switch flipped . . .I’m so glad we did the amputation

Mom! This ugly quilt makes the best bed!
Max is 15 and thriving on 3!

Jerry Lived Two Years as a Senior Amputee Cat

We opted for the amputation and were SO happy we did. It was the right choice for our cat and our family. Jerry lived over two years after the surgery. He could run, jump, and play just as he had before. We were gifted with two more years of his companionship because of the amputation.

Freya is Sixteen and Loving Life

So, it is nearly 7 and a half years since the amputation, and Freya is now 16 years old. And still going strong. .

senior amputee cat
Amputation on a very old cat like Freya has given her many more years.

Tuxedo the Dragon Slayer is 13 and Counting!

As many know, Tuxedo had a very rough start with his tripawd life. But around 2 months everything pretty much smoothed out. He is back to his stubborn annoying and totally adorable self. 

Jimmi: Lived two years on three, to age 16

The vet said after the diagnosis he got two years ago his quality of life and time of survival was 150%, we were very lucky to have him for 2 years longer. Two years so active and full of joy. He really lived life to its fullest in this time!

Progo: Lived one year on three, to age 14

I’m glad we chose amputation. I’m glad we had a year with him, even if I cleaned up more pee than I wanted to. He was worth the time and expense and I do think he had a pretty good year.

Fang Didn’t Slow Down

He ran, jumped, hunted and played. He slowed down, cuddled, grew old, and eventually died at nearly 17 years old. For a cat, that’s about the best we can hope for, isn’t it?

older three-legged cat
Lynx continues to inspire us.

Lynx: Lived one year on three, to age 16

Having the additional 8 months with Lynx was priceless and I would do the amputation again. The first week after the amputation was hard but after that, he really didn’t care that his leg was absent and he was happy.

Nounouche: 20 years young and did great as a Tripawd

Nounouche is doing fine and starting to slowly find her old routines. Yesterday she tried to jump up on my bed but lacked the strength so I had to put some small steps for her. Her gait has improved a bit and balance is getting better. But more time and practice will improve it, I’m sure.

Did you say yes to amputation on a very old cat? If so, share your story below and we will add it to this list!

Also see our Forum post:
Amputation on Senior Kitties 11 Years Old and Up

Sharing is Caring!

26 thoughts on “Amputation on a Very Old Cat”

  1. I have a similar problem. My 14/15-year-old cat has a sarcoma on his back right leg. It burst before I noticed he had it. (He is a long hair and I brush and groom him, so it is a “new” tumor. I’m going to go ahead with amputation and hope he is cured at least for a while. I do rescue, presently have two small dogs with amputations and one cat. They all do very well, and I hope he will as well.

  2. My cat had broken her foot, she is 16 going on 17 and there is a lot of nerve damage they said as it was ran over. She is generally ok but just searching for any advice that can be offered?

    the vet did say, if they operate, she may not be able to recover from it, they can amputate but not sure what the quality of life is, or the survival rate of a senior cat with an amputated leg. or they offered to put her down, which is NOT an option currently as the vet did say she has calmed down.

    Any advice would be fab, thanks guys!

    • Zarah I’m so sorry about your cat, and hope she is on some good pain control right now. As you see in this article, there are many senior cats who do well on three legs. It really depends on the cat’s overall health before the traumatic event / amputation. You can also see our Tripawds Quality of Life Survey to get an idea, and share this information with your vet if you’d like. Please join us in the Three Legged Cats Discussion Forum so we can help you better.

      • Thank you for your well wishes. i have joined the forum and posted in it.
        They tried to do the op this morning but her blood pressure fell unfortuantely and was very erratic so they had to stop. She now has fluid on her lungs, which could be a cause of an underlying health issues.

        Hope fully she pulls through.

  3. Our sweet Colonel Klink (kerny for short ❤️) is 11. She has had a mass removed 3x in the last 3 years from her front paw. It’s back, and she’s not feeling well at all (lethargic and lame with the effected leg) It has grown from small gum ball size to golf ball size in just a few days 🙁 I’m calling the vet in the morning. The vet and my plan was to amputate, if it reoccurred. I was sitting here so anxious for the surgery, because of her age. This thread has made me feel better 🙂

  4. My 11 year male cat Dusty is 12 days post op front keg amputation. He is doing great. He might get his wrap and or stitches remove on Sunday. Any advice on care at this point. Dusty is a excessive licker and I’m worried once the wrap is off he will go to town

  5. I am taking my 20 year old itty Blue in tues to discull the amputation if left rear leg due to recurring fibrosarcoma that has not seemmed to have metastasied. He is sweet and pretty healthy of an od man..and sleeps a lot anyway so not much will change.
    I had a siamese cat that had lost a f4ron leg when he was young and lived well past 20 also. I am scared of course but as I am home and retired i an dote on him all day and night. keep fingers crossed for Blue please

  6. My girl Bella got her leg amputated at age 13 last year. She’s slowing down a lot and is finding it harder to stand up after lying down. I just hope she lives a lot longer than 15.

  7. Hi there.

    My cat Tizer is 17yrs old. He has a massive tumour on his front right paw. It was removed over 10yrs ago but has grown 3 times as big.

    He has a lump behind his shoulder too.

    Should I suggest Amputation? What if it is Cancer in his Lymph glands now.

  8. My cat is about 13-14 years old and have just been diagnosed with cancer and he has a large tumour that has now burst on his rear left limb. We had refused the vet’s recommendation at first but are now going ahead with it, a month after his diagnosis. Hoping for the best as I love him so much and only want the best for him.

  9. Our cat Diego is 17 and hurt his right back leg. The vet has recommended amputation. While he is very healthy and active for his age, I am very worried about the anaesthesia risks.

  10. My cat fall of the balcony and need his back left leg amputation. Surgery schedule tomorrow am very worry how he will do as tripod cat at 15 years old


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