Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat
Tripawds is the place to learn how to care for a three legged dog or cat, with answers about dog leg amputation, and cat amputation recovery from many years of member experiences.
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Hi all, this is my first time posting but I’ve been lurking since I acquired my (injured at the time) tripod cat in March.
Background first: My cat, Benedictine Cucumberpatch (BC or Beni for short; she’s 1.25 years old as of 6/14/19), was semi-feral and living in the woods behind my house around February of this year. We trapped her with a cage from our local animal shelter and a whole lot of tuna, and we looked for weeks for an owner before realizing she was probably living on her own. We noticed she sat kind of weird, with one leg stretched out straight, so we took her to the vet expecting hip dysplasia or something similar. Nope, she had a SUPER broken left femur that healed very, very poorly. We tried surgery to repair the break, and she was healing really well from that until my giant jerk of a dog knocked her down and completely shattered her healing leg. Despite several surgical attempts to repair the damage, she ended up with an infection in the bone and we came to the decision to amputate her back left leg up to the hip.
Cut forward a month: Beni had been healing very well from her amputation surgery. She’s been quite mobile and although she’s still too scared to leave the garage where we keep the litter and food for our other cats, she’s still much more friendly than she was pre-surgery. However, I was petting her today and noticed she has a shallow gash or raw spot on her non-existent stub. Looking at the kitty cam we have set up in the garage to keep an eye on her, I just saw she’s been grooming/chewing on the site much more frequently. I’m worried this is somehow connected to her infections during the whole amputation process. I called my vet to make an appointment, but unfortunately since it’s 9pm here I won’t be able to schedule an appointment until tomorrow.
My question: Could this be phantom limb pain? What can I do to make her more comfortable? How can I prevent her from making her raw spot worse? And, unrelated to this but related to tripod cats, has anyone had any success with prosthetics for this kind of amputation? I worry that the way she moves right now, sort of a hopping thing, is going to be hard on her back and hip.
Thanks for taking the time to read all this, I really appreciate any thoughts!
Regarding prosthetics : I’m a biomathematician and I have the resources to design and 3D print anything for Beni’s new leg. The main issue I’m running into is a lack of literature on this kind of amputation, and on cat prosthetics in general. My main goal is to give her something to help her move around during her active times.
This cat is the absolute light of my life and giving her the life she deserves has become my main motivation for finishing up my PhD quickly, so I’m willing to do literally anything to improve her quality of life.
Edit: sorry if this is in the wrong place!
25 April 2007
Beni is sooooo fortunate to have found her way to you. She will have a great life for sure!
How long is her stump? There has to be a lot of residual limb (below the elbow) left in order for any kind of prosthetic to work. If you click on the link you’ll run into all of our posts about prosthetics for dogs and cats. One of the articles you will find is one that discusses the downside of DIY prosthetics.
Yes, her behavior may be one of some pain signals cats give us, and indicative of unaddressed pain. I would let your vet know tomorrow and if possible schedule an appointment with a pain management specialist who really understands feline pain. That can be hard to find but they are out there. Let us know if you’d like help finding one or check out the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management website.
P.S. What’s a biomathematician? Sounds fascinating!