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cat "phantom leg", litterbox issue
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Forum Posts: 1
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11 November 2016
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11 November 2016 - 7:23 pm
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Our cat, Kimba, is 6 months post amputation of her front leg. Only two months ago, she stopped pooping in her litter box. She will go in the vicinity of the box, but not in the box. We’ve tried changing the litter, changing her food, and thoroughly cleaning the area. Not sure what to try next. Any suggestions?

Livermore, CA

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11 November 2016 - 8:07 pm
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Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

I can’t offer any advice for you as I never had a cat that used a litter box.  Here is a great link on Tripawd Kitties, there is at least one post there about litter box use.

Why did Kimba lose her leg? How old is she?

Stay tuned for input from some of our kitty members.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010


              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

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11 November 2016 - 9:26 pm
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Hmm….is she having a hard time getting into it, maybe? Try something with a lower lip?

I haven’t had this issue with my cat, Harry, who is also a front limb amputee, yet…although he stopped covering his poop consistently shortly before his amputation (I assume because it was painful to use his right paw that way) and never really got back in the habit. He will cover his pee, if it’s in there long enough that he needs to do something else. I think it’s just harder (although he’s maybe also gotten used to my coming along immediately and scooping)………. maybe Kimba is just fed up that it’s harder, now??

Was she using it normally up until 2 months ago? Any other problems?

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12 November 2016 - 4:56 am
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Sherman is sooooo adorable!!!

Our Jimmi is a hind leg amputee, so I’m not very useful giving advice regarding the litter box when it comes to front legs. I can imagine that represents a bigger problem for those felines who are missing a front leg as they use them for covering.

All I can say is that I removed the lid from one of our litter boxes the day Jimmi returned from his surgery and decided to leave it open from now on as hets in so much easier and he seems to sit up a bit more upright now.

He never buried his business before, either, tough.


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12 November 2016 - 5:02 am
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Seems odd that Kimba would stop using the box 2 months ago.  Have you ruled out a medical cause like a UTI?  Is consistency and frequency normal? Are you scooping as much as usual.  Any changes in her life about that time?  New people, new routine, etc?   I have a male cat who tends to get in the box, and then pee outside it – I use XL dog pee pads under the box.  Doesn’t solve the problem, but at least it is easier to clean up.  

Otis - 106 pound lab/Dane mix, lost his right front leg to osteosarcoma on Febuary 9, 2016.  Four rounds of carboplatin completed in April, 2016.  Lung mets August 25, 2016.  Said goodbye too soon on September 4, 2016.   Lost his adopted sister, Tess, suddenly on October 9, 2016. likely due to hemangiosarcoma.  

Wherever they are, they are together.


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12 November 2016 - 12:54 pm
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Hi and welcome , Is Kimba peeing in her box? Do you have more then on litter box? I ask so you can see what works by putting two beside each other. First she might not like the litter you switched to go back to what what you had, when she was pooping in the box .

Others suggestions ,You could try cutting out the front of the box we did that for our cat Purrkins he is also front limb amp.

We used dremel tool with a small cutting wheel on it. Then filed it to make sure there was no jagged edges. I dont know what you would use without dremel tool ? Im sure there are other ways I just dont know what other would work .

Image Enlarger

This might be a mobility issue if she just started doing it after amp. Is the box big enough ? if there is a lid on it try taking that off. We use a enzyme cleaner to wipe the boxes out so you really get no residue left in there after cleaning. 

We have two cats 3 boxes, two of our boxes we cut out that way and one is not cut . Purrkins now uses them both cut and uncut we are into our 3rd month.  

Is the poop look normal outside of the box? 

Its detective work but you will figure it out. Just try one thing at a time . 

Keep us posted.

Holly and Purrkins

12 February 2017 - 10:44 pm
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I adopted Shadow in March of 2016. My petsitter found him (he had R front leg apparently caught in a groundhog trap). His leg had bone ends exposed for some time when he was found in late February. His leg was removed in two surgeries, first to the elbow then to the shoulder. I brought him home mid-March. He is my first tripawd. After my last cat Maggie died unexpectedly of an aggressive cancer I swore I’d never have another cat and so threw out the litter box etc. When Shadow came here I bought a regular litter tray, and some disposable trays. We have had months of adjustment. Like Sherman, he tries using his missing limb to cover his pee. First time I saw him do it I bawled for 15 minutes. Now I just say “other leg buddy” when I see him do it.

Anyway, the issue I am having is he is exiting the litter box with pee and litter on one of his back feet, not every time but anywhere from 1-4 times a week. He usually hops up on to my bed then (via a small bench placed at the foot of my bed, he refused several sets of pet stairs I bought) and he will traipse across the bed then try to cover like he is still in the litter box. I will then have to get up, get a wet washrag to clean his feet, usually strip the bedding and wash everything. I am frustrated. I am on box #7. Have tried disposable ones (can’t scoop them), no lid, lidded ones (which I cut a larger opening in), high sided ones, an under-bed tote (sides much too low). He flings litter EVERYWHERE! I have tried pellet litter (he wouldn’t even go near the box) so back to scoopable litter. I would love suggestions. I do not enjoy chasing him around to clean his feet and he hates it too. It is even harder now since I fractured my ankle and my foot in late November. I hate myself for getting mad at him as I know he can’t help it. As he was a stray when my petsitter found him I have no clue what his previous litter box behavior was (pretty sure he was in a house at some point before he ended up outside). I was unsure we would ever bond but my fall and subsequent couch time turned him into a snuggle bunny which warms my heart. I have come to really love him and just wish I could find an answer to this litter box issue. Right now I have a high sided extra large box upstairs in my bedroom and a high sided regular size box downstairs in my powder room.  He is a big boy, working on trying to get his weight down but this pee foot issue has been since the beginning of his time here. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for this site…I did get some good tips on core strengthening from reading the comments.

The Rainbow Bridge

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13 February 2017 - 10:12 am
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Hi Shadow and family, welcome. I’m so glad you posted here, because our wonderful Tripawds Kitty members will have super insight for you. Since I don’t have TriKitty experience, I’ll let them answer your questions OK? So hang tight.

For now, I want to say that you are a wonderful human for helping him find the loving home he deserves and wanting to help him have a better quality of life. The answer is here, I know our members can give you some help OK? So stay strong and know that you CAN overcome this. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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13 February 2017 - 12:55 pm
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Hi and welcome ,
First Im sorry for the loss of your Maggie.
Poor Shadow being caught in a ground hog trap, he is lucky to have you! We can help figure this out;)

Purrkins is a front left leg tri- kitty he still tries using his missing arm to cover his litter , Its not nearly as often but he still does. We are 7 months post amp.

I dont know if in time that will ever change? It does not bother him ,he realizes this is not working and then changes to the other arm.

This is what our litter box is set up like , this is a huge box!
19.8 x 34.7 x 10 in


We cut the front out for Purrkins to get in and out easier. We used a dremel tool with a cutting wheel on it, then filed it smooth so there was no jagged areas!

We use litter mats to help with the litter scattering there are numerous choices.

The one we have is a cat litter trapper. It is by far the best one we have found it catches most of the litter.

When one of the cats scratches litter out this will catch it and we just pick it up and slide the litter back in.
Its a 2 part layer system the first part are little rubber holes and the second part is solid rubber.


They make 3 different sizes the one in our picture is the biggest mat.

The price varies depending on size and they are not cheap.
They are absolutely worth the cost if you can swing it. You will be cleaning a lot less litter scatter. We got ours on Amazon Smile. 

There are numerous opitons for litter mats out there, of all sizes and price ranges .One important factor in choosing a litter mat is that it is comfortable to walk on & that you can clean it easily.

You never want to make the litter mat uncomfortable for them to walk out on. That will lead to problems.

What he used prior to this mat was a shag bathroom mat. It caught a lot of the litter and we could vacuum it and wash it.

Nothing will catch every piece of litter. Kitties track litter. Some litters are better then others on tracking.

Here is another DIY idea , Im not sure if you have tried this already? 


Rubbermaid totes are more flexible and not so tough to cut. 

This is a tall example and great for kitties that pee high or scatter litter everywhere . (size of any litterbox is important! you want your kitty to be able to turn around in it comfortably )

You can cut this with a box cutter or utility knife, xacto knife.
BE CAREFUL ! File jagged edges down.

I believe this will help with your scattering problem with a litter mat outside of it .

Never just switch litter over entirely, if you want to try a new litter gradually add new on top of the old type. Better yet add the same size litter box beside the old one and see which litter is preferred. That will ensure you wont have a protesting kitty. 

Hope any of these ideas help you and Shadow and let us know one way or another. If not please post again, we will try further to help.


Holly & Purrkinsheart


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13 February 2017 - 1:10 pm
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I’m sorry to hear about your struggle with the litter box. My kitty Mona is also a front leg amputee and we’ve had some litter box issues. She does prefer to go outside. When she “covers” up the hole the soil or the litter, everything flies out between her hind legs. I had cut down the litter box which is in the garage and the litter goes flying out about 3 feet. She really works hard at it but usually misses what she is trying to cover up.

She does not get a wet foot when she pees. I use wheat litter which clumps a bit. She does get some litter in her fur, along with other things she may find outside. That’s because she fur is longer and very fine so everything sticks to it. Mona also like to sleep on my bed so I cover it with a white sheet that I wash often to protect the rest of my bedding.

I’m sorry I can’t help with any suggestions because I have my own challenges with Mona. Once in a while she’ll get out of bed and go pee beside the toilet then go back to bed. Why? Maybe because she’s too tired to walk downstairs and out to the garage.

One idea to make the cleaning a bit easier is to use the cat approved wipes if the washcloths are not convenient.

I hope you find the answer. Perhaps things will improve when he loses weight.

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona 


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13 February 2017 - 1:17 pm
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I just have to comment on Holly’s litter box set up for Purrkins. WOWexclamationexclamation That is the best I’ve ever seen. It even has a reading lampexclamation

The litter trap is a great idea and I think Holly is right that size matters, at least when it comes to a litter box…



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13 February 2017 - 1:32 pm
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Thanks Kerren laughing

The reading lamp has a purpose😉  We have a old phone set up to record who poops and pees;) Purrkins brother Saxton has IBS/constipation. We have to know who is doing what and how often. This keeps us out of the ER.  The lamp we turn on so the camera will record at night;) 

If you wanted to put a box in your bathroom Mona would most likely use it and not have a accident.

You are right on , that is what Mona is telling you:) Her box is not convenient to her. She likes the human idea. Nice and close.


23 February 2017 - 5:58 pm
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Thanks for the tips. I have finally found this big litter box online and ordered it (I am still not driving due to fractured ankle). For now found one slightly bigger than what I had. And I should have been a bit more specific…his tracking the litter isn’t a real problem, it is that he is standing in his pee I think. Anyway, will see if this bigger box helps when I get it. Will have to buy more litter too. I am hoping that I can get my brother-in-law to cut an opening in the side for me. Given my klutzy status lately I do NOT want to be wielding a knife.

We went to the vet this week and got the lecture about his weight. It is a work in progress. Now he has diet dry food which he is not in love with. He checked out fairly healthy in all other respects and all the gals declared him “sweet”. They weren’t riding in the car with him while he was wailing…lol. 

So thanks again for the suggestions. I am so glad I found this site.

Shadow’s mom


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24 February 2017 - 8:27 am
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If you can watch Shadow go pee that would be helpful, to see what exactly is happening .😉

I’m hoping the bigger litter box will be your answer. Also how much litter do you usually use in the box?  3-4 inches is usually a good depth. Maybe the pee was splashing back on him? Watching to see will be helpful in problem solving.

The weight loss will help Shadow in many ways. I will not lecture you😉 We are on diets here also.

It is a work in progress! Be patient its a slow process in cats. Just do not give up.  If Shadow does not like his new food, add it slowly to his old food until he gets used to eating it. You do not want Shadow not eating or not eating enough that is dangerous too. 

Keep us posted please, take care of your self and ankle too. 


Holly & Purrkins

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