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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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Cat skittish post-amputation
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Forum Posts: 58
Member Since:
26 July 2020
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27 August 2020 - 8:27 pm
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I’m back for another round!

Happy to report that Ziggy has officially had all of his remaining stitches and staples removed (right rear amputee, 1/3 of his femur left to help his balance) and the vet is thrilled with how well it healed up in the end!

He’s also off the gabapentin and did have a brief instance of what I assume was phantom leg pain last evening, I think when he tried to wash his amputated leg, but it only lasted about 10 seconds and he was back to normal. 

What I was wondering about was if anyone’s animal (cat or dog) was much more fearful after an amputation? Ziggy wasn’t exactly the bravest cat before, but since all of this happened the smallest things will send him fleeing. We have one of those dual-recliner sofas with a center console, and he can shimmy under the back and hide in there. It’s clear of the mechanisms of the chair and he can get out whether we’re reclined or not so he’s not in any danger of getting stuck or crushed.

I’m not sure if it’s the outside he’s afraid of since he had to have so many vet trips. Any noise outside, people talking loudly, car engines, anyone banging into our stair railing, all of those will send him running for his hiding spot. Now even an unexpectedly louder voice in a movie will make him bolt out of my lap to hide. He never scratches me and I’m not worried that he’s in any danger of hurting himself as he isn’t running in a blind panic. Mostly I just feel bad that he rarely seems fully relaxed and I’d like him to be able to hear things without going into red alert. Does anyone have any advice or tips? I’ve heard mixed reviews about Feliway so I was hesitant to try that since it’s also a little pricey.

The Rainbow Bridge

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27 August 2020 - 8:56 pm
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Yay Ziggy! You made it through recovery!

About that stump/leg licking: if he did it obsessively, like every day, for a long time each episode, I would think it was pain. But one time, without any vocalizations, might not be phantom pain . See if he does it again.

Now about that skittishness of his: does it happen when he is being touched? Is he laying on you and then suddenly jumps up when he hears a noise? What is he doing when it happens?

We’ve heard a lot of good things about pheromones here, but the effectiveness can certainly depend on the animal. Pheromones don’t do much for our Wyatt but other people report good results. See:


I’m sure our kitty families will give you some feedback so stay tuned!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 1494
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27 August 2020 - 9:44 pm
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I’m happy to hear that Ziggy is healed up. He had many more vet visits than the average feline amputee. 

Mona had her amputation done 6 years ago so I can’t really remember what she was like before except she now hides when she hears a car come up the driveway (except for mine and the cat sitter’s vehicle). If a visitor stays for a few hours she’ll come out of hiding. When the company stays overnight she gets friendlier and will even join them in bed (if allowed). She always hides when there are home repairs and loud noises created by strangers.

Mona no longer minds car rides or going to vet clinics where she seems very relaxed or, perhaps she goes limp out of fear. Mona even stayed for a week at a cat kennel and she got to hang out with them in their office whereas my other cat hid in a box the whole time in his kitty condo.

I realized Mona enjoyed vet visits when I took her for a chiropractic treatment after her amputation and she fell asleep during her session. The time she spent in a vet clinic getting mean things done to her has been minimal so she doesn’t seem to have any fear from past experiences.

Ziggy will become more confident in time. Perhaps have some quiet visitors so Ziggy becomes used to strangers again. My cats always like it when strangers feed them.

I think it’s good when cats can have their special hiding places where they can feel safe. Is your other cat being kind to Ziggy?

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

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10 September 2020 - 2:49 pm
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Just posted an update on my other thread, but forgot to track this one so missed the replies. Ziggy’s just generally skittish now, it’s not really related to people (we’re really a solitarity couple, so hardly anyone is ever in our apartment!)

It’s mostly just noises. Sometimes random stuff on the TV, a bird or regular apartment complex noise. Kids playing outside, a louder than usual car engine, thunder, his brother clattering a toy… a lot of stuff that never bothered him before his surgery now sends him running belly-to-the-floor to hide under the bed. I wonder now if it was related to an infection that’s apparently been lurking this whole time. Skittish isn’t the worst thing ever, I just feel so bad for him when he’s comfy and resting and then suddenly goes running like the hounds of hell are chasing him.

The Rainbow Bridge

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11 September 2020 - 12:06 pm
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Hmmm. Yeah that doesn’t sound like phantom pain to me, more like some kind of background behavioral issue that maybe became exacerbated after the emotional trauma he experienced during the amputation diagnostic/surgical/recovery process? I’m just guessing, as you can see I’m no expert especially when it comes to felines. 

Oh wait, i just thought of something!!! A couple of years ago a dog study came out, which found that dogs who act skittish after a sudden noise, are generally in pain. Here is the study info:

Dogs with noise sensitivity should be routinely assessed for pain by vets

March 20, 2018
Source: University of Lincoln
Dogs which show fear or anxiety when faced with loud or sudden noises should be routinely assessed for pain by veterinarians, according to new research. Researchers believe that pain, which could be undiagnosed, could be exacerbated when a noise makes the dogs tense up or ‘start’, putting extra stress on muscles or joints which are already inflamed leading to and associated with a loud or startling noise.

Soooo, even though the study is about dogs, it would make sense that the same theory could be applied to felines. Maybe you want to have a deeper pain assessment done on Ziggy? Remember that the Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first rehab visit , so I would take advantage of the program to see if there is some undiagnosed pain happening.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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