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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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Foster Kitten Born without Front Paw
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Forum Posts: 5
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2 November 2018 - 8:12 am
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Hello,

I’m hoping everyone on this site can give me some advice. I am currently fostering a mama cat who gave birth to kittens 3 weeks ago. One of the kittens is missing his right from paw and foreleg. He basically has a leg down to what I guess would be an elbow in humans. The kittens are now at the age where they are learning how to walk, and this little guy, of course, is struggling. I’m guessing he will eventually learn to maneuver on three legs, but right now he will take a few steps and then give up and lay down. He seems so sad 🙁

So a few questions for folks that might have experience with this with a very young kitten:

– I’ve read on some other web sites that it might be better to amputate the entire leg instead of having the animal keep trying to walk on a partial leg. When he is trying to walk, he is trying to use the leg with the non-existent paw, so he ends up essentially crawling on the stump. I asked the foster coordinator if he should see a vet and she said there is nothing that can be done about it, and he will just have to learn to live with it. I’m not sure I like this answer. Should I insist that he see the vet, or take him to one myself? And if they did decide it would be better to amputate the rest of the limb, what age would they do it at? Right away, or wait until he is a little older? I’m not even sure if a kitten at three weeks could handle surgery.

– Any suggestions for a litter pan that he can get in and out of easily? Even a kitten sized litter pan would be way to difficult for him to get in and out of at this stage. I’m wondering if maybe one of those disposable aluminum cake or pie pans might work. 

– For those of you with a cat missing a front leg, are they able to climb, and if so are they able to jump down on something without landing on their head? I’m not sure if I should limit what he can access in his room right now or not. Obviously the rest of his siblings are getting ready to run and climb and play and I always give my foster kittens a scratching post or cat tree to climb and play on, but I don’t want this little guy to get hurt jumping down from something.

Anything I else I need to consider based on your experiences?

Thanks,

Debbie

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2 November 2018 - 10:51 am
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Welcome and best wishes for your little tri-kitty! Does he have a name?

You will find answers to all your questions here in the forums and in Cool Tips for Tripawd Cats . The Tripawds News blog also has a rather comprehensive list of links to more helpful tri-kitty tips. A few members with cats have shared recommendations for tripawd-friendly litter boxes, and step by step instructions for creating your own.

While you wait for comments from others, use the Advanced Search above to refine your forum search results with specific phrases, and you’re sure to find lots of helpful feedback. You can also search all blogs here . Or, consider downloading the Tripawds cat e-book for fast answers to common concerns and feel free to call the toll-free Tripawds Helpline anytime!

Please keep us posted. Your future forum posts will not require moderation.

Michigan


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2 November 2018 - 1:41 pm
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Hello and Welcome,
Thanks for fostering the mama and kitties! His avatar is adorable!!!!

He will learn to maneuver with his 3 legs have no doubt cats do amazingly well on three legs!

Purrkins is a left front leg amputee he was 6 at the time of his amp so I have no experience to share on kittens.

– I’ve read on some other web sites that it might be better to amputate the entire leg instead of having the animal keep trying to walk on a partial leg. When he is trying to walk, he is trying to use the leg with the non-existent paw, so he ends up essentially crawling on the stump. I asked the foster coordinator if he should see a vet and she said there is nothing that can be done about it, and he will just have to learn to live with it. I’m not sure I like this answer. Should I insist that he see the vet, or take him to one myself? And if they did decide it would be better to amputate the rest of the limb, what age would they do it at? Right away, or wait until he is a little older? I’m not even sure if a kitten at three weeks could handle surgery.

Your instinct is correct on not liking that answer! There is something that can be done. Unless someone can provide the care and cost needed for a prosthesis the entire leg should go it will end up causing problems for the kitty he will try to use the stump! It would be easier on him without the stump. Purrkins scapula and entire arm were taken he had cancer on his wrist. That is what most front leg amputees have done.

When? A Vet would have to tell you when is best on the timeframe? 

– Any suggestions for a litter pan that he can get in and out of easily? Even a kitten sized litter pan would be way to difficult for him to get in and out of at this stage. I’m wondering if maybe one of those disposable aluminum cake or pie pans might work. 

We have a forum Litter Box Tips for Tripawds – Member Tips  litter box ideas and what we have all done to help our trikitties.

Sure an aluminum pan would work. If it were me I would cut out one side for him to get into it easier & make sure there are no jagged or sharp edges. A disposable litter pan cut out would also be an option.

As you will see in the litter box forum, we cut our litter box out for Purrkins.

– For those of you with a cat missing a front leg, are they able to climb, and if so are they able to jump down on something without landing on their head? I’m not sure if I should limit what he can access in his room right now or not. Obviously the rest of his siblings are getting ready to run and climb and play and I always give my foster kittens a scratching post or cat tree to climb and play on, but I don’t want this little guy to get hurt jumping down from something.

YES, Purrkins can do all things a kitty on four can do on three! Purrkins had a relearning process since he was six at the time of his amp, your kitty will figure this all out quickly! Treat the kitty the same he will need a scratching post & my advice would be to protect that remaining front leg by providing steps. We have one leg taking all the load instead of 2providing easier access for ups and downs by any means you can. Purrkins took to using his steps right away. You can train the kitty to use the steps too with treats.
Remember, Safety First with DIY Ramps for Cats and Dogs 

Anything I else I need to consider based on your experiences?

Kitties on three legs need fewer calories. I’m not sure on your wee little kitty, but eventually, he will need fewer calories to keep his weight down. There is loads of information on the site take some time and read the forums and blogs.  I know all your concerns will be less seeing what a trikitty can do not what they cannot do;) You can read about Purrkins journey on Purrkins blog.

Let us know if you have other questions and how things go from here.

Hugs 

Holly & Purrkinsheart

Virginia




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2 November 2018 - 10:28 pm
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Hey Debbie!  Just want to add my welcome AND appreciation  for helping this sweet kitty❤

You have gotten great input from our kitty expert extraordinaire andn sone realky I informative links.

Keep us posted, okay?

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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3 November 2018 - 10:40 am
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Hi Debbie,

What an adorable avatar! You are awesome for fostering this family and giving them a chance at a furever home heart  Three weeks is so young, how many kittens in the litter? How is mama doing? Is she accepting this tiny tripawd baby along with the rest of them? Cats are so resilient and strong, I wonder if as he grows a little more if he will start to get around better. Definitely going to be a learning curve, but being born that way I wonder if as he gets a little bigger and stronger if he will learn to lean on the other three more for mobility and balance. He is going to get a lot bigger and stronger in the next few weeks, and if it is continuing to hinder him then you can always get him evaluated to do a complete amp so that the little stump doesn’t get in his way. 

Holly’s kitty and many others in here (including Huckleberry who is a rear amp) do just fine on three. As he gets bigger and more active I totally agree with her on things like steps, especially with him having only one good front leg. I think the front leggers are harder because they land on the front, and like Holly told you, the front takes their whole weight when jumping down. Huckleberry has a harder time jumping up on to things, he comes down just fine. I have some strategically places steps so that he has access to his favorite places. I also have rugs and rug runners to help him with traction for running across the house. 

Good luck on your venture into caring for this feline family, I look forward to following your progress.

Hugs,

Jackie and Huckleberryheart

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Bo, Andy, Oscar, Angel Mitchell, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

Huckleberry's Blog

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3 November 2018 - 11:33 am
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Thanks everyone for the tips and support! He is one of five kittens. There were actually six, but one of them was very small and only survived a few hours. Mama is very accepting of him. In fact, we didn’t even realize anything was wrong with him until they were about two weeks old. They spend the first couple of weeks always curled up with Mom nursing or sleeping, and I guess I didn’t count to make sure everyone had 20 toes!

They’re all a little shaky walking at this age, so I’m hoping as the little guy gets some strength he’ll figure out how to get around better. 

Good tip about rugs and runners. Although the kittens are confined to one room, we do have hardwood floors, and I had already been thinking about what I can put down on the floor to give him better traction . Right now they haven’t ventured off of their blanket out of the closet yet, but I’m sure the braver ones will start to soon. 

Here’s a link to a picture of the whole family. Little tripawd guy (who still needs a name) is definitely Mama’s mini-me!

https://www.dro…..4.jpg?dl=0

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3 November 2018 - 11:38 am
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OMC they are beautiful! Thank you for sharing heartThat is a great sign that mama is accepting all of them. Sooo tiny, amazing. You watch, they are going to grow like weeds and progress in leaps and bounds. Oscar was about 5 weeks old when I snagged him, and within a month or so he was terrorizing the whole house, lol. 

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Bo, Andy, Oscar, Angel Mitchell, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

Huckleberry's Blog

Michigan


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3 November 2018 - 4:22 pm
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Awe so precious ❣️

He will figure it all out I assure you! You will be amazed!

Keep us in the loop, please!

Holly & Purrkins❤️

Virginia




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3 November 2018 - 10:04 pm
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CUTENESS ALERT!!!!!   OMC!!!  AN ADORABLE PILE OF CUTENESS!😀

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

The Rainbow Bridge



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4 November 2018 - 2:03 pm
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Just had a chance to catch up on your situation and I see you’ve gotten some fantastic tips!

Yout instinct about the foster persons answer is spot on. Good job! See this article about full versus partial amputation. It’s mostly about dogs but the same principles apply

https://tripawd…..ts-better/

Meanwhile, when an animal loses a leg so young they do have extra challenges with balance and coordination, since they haven’t developed in those areas yet. My guess is that in time and with careful attention paid to helping her through balance games and playtime, she will get more coordinated. A consult with an animal rehabilitation therapist can educate you about what you can do for her. The best part is the Tripawds Foundation May even pay for your first rehab visit !

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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9 November 2018 - 7:18 am
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Thought I ‘d give an update on my little tripod baby. I have been calling him Linus. I think it’s the perfect name, but so far my kids are vetoing it 🙁

I managed to find the perfect litter pan for him in the small mammal section of the pet store. I think it is for guinea pigs, but it is the perfect size for a small kitten and has a very low lip on one side. Linus is able to get in and out of it. Not sure he has actually used it yet, but he and his littermates are still at the learning stage on that one. 

He is playing with his siblings and hobbling around quite well. He has also figured out how to climb into my lap. I tried to get a video of him the other day. He is so cute, he reminds me of a little t-rex!

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9 November 2018 - 8:34 am
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Omc he is precious!!! He looks wonderful, your are doing a pawsome job 💕💖💕

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Bo, Andy, Oscar, Angel Mitchell, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

Huckleberry's Blog

The Rainbow Bridge



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9 November 2018 - 9:22 am
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Oh my GOSH you just made my day! He’s climbing “legs mountain”!

Now that I see his stump I can see why he tries to use it. I’m not a prosthetician but it does look too small for an artificial limb to attach to. A full amputation may be something to consider if becomes a problem.

I love the name Linus! Do your kids know about the Peanuts character? 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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9 November 2018 - 9:39 am
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My kids do know who Linus is, but they are grumpy teenagers and don’t like anything that I like 🙂 I named his Mom Lucy since she looks like Snoopy, but Snoopy is of course a boys name. So I think Linus is perfect. 

Input from the vet was to wait and see on the stump, and that he is way too small at this point to do surgery anyway. What is really cute is that he swats his siblings with it!

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9 November 2018 - 10:23 am
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Haha that’s a teenager for ya!

Totally agree with the vet’s input. Have fun with this kitty, he’s a sweetheart!

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