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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Intro - Big Cat, Amp from Failed Ankle Plate
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Member Since:
18 May 2017
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18 May 2017 - 9:28 am
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Hi, I am newly a tripaw mom!  

First the quick question - almost 1 week post-op and he seems very sleepy.  Even when we skip the pain meds (which are about done anyways).  Is this reasonable?

Full story if anyone is interested.

I have 3 human kids (2 grown, 1 still at home, and one 13).  I have a 14 yo dog, 13 yo littermate black cats, and an orange fluffy cat who is maybe 10.  All the cats are indoor/outdoor.  We tried to make the black boys indoors, and even declawed them, but they kept sneaking out when my husband was carrying a sleeping baby, and we gave up.  The orange cat was found as an outdoor stray by a friend and after a few weeks we let him come and go at will as well.

All cats have gone missing at times, and we are fairly sure they've gotten shut in peoples sheds - one cat we actually found in someone's crawlspace and the long-hair showed up dry after he'd been missing over a week, and there'd been torrential rains pretty much for 3 days straight.  

November, the bigger black cat (we actually call them Big - he's the biggest frame and has been as heavy as 18 lb - and Fat, who is a butterball and smaller frame).  Anyways, Big was missing overnight back in November, and missing dinner is always suspect.  He showed up for dinner the next day - but his foot was not particularly attached any more.  We went to the ER vet and ended up having 2 stages of surgery for a total of 4k!  

He was really hard to keep in the house.  He's always sprayed if not let out on demand, and being injured seemed to be no excuse.  So i bought a vest (he was too big to fit any of the cat harnesses at the store!) and we started leash walking him, which stopped the spraying.

So about a month ago, he finally got the clean bill of health.  They had fused his ankle with a plate, but it looked fully healed.

And it started getting hot, and he wanted to be out a lot.  Hubby is the cat person, and he started hanging outside with the cat, sometimes without the leash on.  Well, I did the same thing, got distracted, and the cat ran off - but was back 20 minutes later.  Hubby decided it was OK to give him some more freedom, and started letting him outside.

Only 1 week later . . he went missing.  Sunday evening hubby and kid were out doing yardwork after dinner, cat was there.  He didnt come in for bed.  Hubby was a mess, but basically mourned and decided he was gone.

9 days later . . . here comes the cat!  Bleeding . . . I could see bone.  He'd re-injured that same foot.  Turned out the toe bones had come detached from the plate.  I had posted on line and there were sightings of him 1/4 mile away and 1/8 mile away, 2 days and 1 day before he came home, so I suspect he got on a trailer or something and jumped off about 2 miles from home and walked back!!

Anyways, ER vet said the leg had to go.  And they quoted $3,500!  After the money we'd already spent, hubby couldnt face that and was a wreck all over again - but we called around and found a vet walking distance from our house that was much cheaper - and used to work at the ER vet!

So, cat returned from his walkabout 8 days ago and had surgery 6 days ago.  

Mostly he's getting around pretty well - he barely used that leg the last 6 months anyways.  Surgeon said that actually made it easier to amputate.  Hubby spent monday and tuesday working from home, and we put a large wire dog crate out on the porch so kitty could sit outside with hubby's laptop on the porch table.  

Now hubby is back to work.  Big Cat never comes down stairs as much when hubby isnt here.  I mean, I'm ok, but dh is his true love.  But even when hubby was here last night, the cat cuddle with him a bit, and went to bed.  He just seems sleepy.  Which I assume is reasonable after such a big surgery but it feels like he's sleepier yesterday and today than he was on sunday. 

any feedback welcome 

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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18 May 2017 - 10:03 am
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Welcome and best wishes for Big Cat!

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.

Don't miss all the Tri-kitty Blogs for lots of stories and feedback from members with cats, and here is a post with many helpful three legged cat links. You can also search all blogs here . Or, feel free to call the toll-free Tripawds Helpline anytime!

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

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |


Member Since:
11 July 2016
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18 May 2017 - 2:25 pm
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Hello and Welcome,
Sorry to hear about Big, one week post op is very early in recovery, sleepy is reasonable and Big is doing what he needs to be doing resting!

Did you have instructions for keeping Big confined to a smaller area for a period of time?

Our cat Purrkins was confined for 14 days until the stitches were removed .

What leg was amputated a front or back? Front leg kitties have a harder time getting down from places at first, No problem getting up. Rear leg kitties would be the opposite have a harder time getting up.

Is he eating and drinking using the litter box ok?

This is major surgery, think about it as us humans having the surgery. How would we feel a 6 days after having a arm amputated? Not too great!

Was there a reason you were skipping the pain meds before they were out ?

Holly & Purrkins


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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18 May 2017 - 9:51 pm
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Goodness! What a crew!!! 🙂 Obviously the dogs and cats hit the puppy/kitty lottery by picking you and your hubby as their humans! 🙂

Good advice, and questions, from Holly. Yes, this is still very, very early ib recovery. MAJOR surgery hurts!! Big knows he needs to rest un order for his body to heal.

As long as he doesn't have any fever or jnfection, and he is eating, drinking, peeing and pooping, and the incision looks good, he should start getting his sparkle back in another week or two.

Keep us posted and we would love to see pictures of Big and pack!


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!

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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18 May 2017 - 11:34 pm
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Hi and welcome! What a crazy ordeal Big Cat has been through, and you as well. You are great pet parents! I'm glad he's on the road to recovery. As long as he doesn't go on any more adventures, he should do fine. To answer your question:

First the quick question - almost 1 week post-op and he seems very sleepy.  Even when we skip the pain meds (which are about done anyways).  Is this reasonable?

It's still so early in recovery. He's a spunky guy but a surgery like this can make even the toughest cat slow down. And it should, because rest is medicinal. But what about his pain meds? Is he on any? I can't catch that from your post (It's also late and I'm tired so I apologize if I missed that). Too much or not enough pain meds can cause lethargy. Your goal is to manage the meds so he has the perfect balance.

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
18 May 2017
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19 May 2017 - 9:41 am
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Thanks for all the replies - my subscribe didnt work somehow, so I didnt get notifications!

So, we didnt do the pain meds very strictly after his last surgery because he just doesnt seem to be in pain much.  I encouraged hubby to do them this time to encourage him to not move around much - the meds just seem to make him sleep more.  But hubby does better pilling the cat without me so I've left it up to his discretion.  I think he stopped when there were only 2 doses left.  

The doctor was pretty vague about activity.  When I mentioned we had a crate he was like, oh, thats ok.  He's an older cat so he's not really running around, most just finding a quiet place and sleeping.  After his previous surgeries, we had him in a crate a little bit, but every attempt to block the stairs met with more dangerous attempts to circumvent the blockades and we gave up.  Again, I mostly leave it to hubby's discretion, tho I did try hrad to get hubby to carry him instead of letting him walk - but hubby didnt get it.  He kept saying "he's doing fine" and i was like, yeah, but he's not supposed to because the leg needs to heal!

Anyways, he had his back leg removed.  He's eating/drinking/using the litterbox ok (tho he did have softer stool than usual).  He even purred for me when I picked him up this morning, which may be the first time since surgery he really purred for me.  So i guess he really just needs some time to heal.  

It is comforting just to talk to someone who's been through it!

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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19 May 2017 - 10:26 am
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dbmamaz said subscribe didnt work somehow, so I didnt get notifications!

Interesting, sorry for the trouble. We have confirmed that you are indeed subscribed to this topic with your Verizon email address, and that the recent notifications were sent successfully. Please check your spam folder, and if possible whitelist any email from

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
27 July 2014
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19 May 2017 - 11:28 am
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Yes, the pain meds help them sleep a bit more. I have to say that I saw my tripawd kitty Mona continue to improve in balance and confidence for months following the amputation. She developed a bit of a different personality with more spunk and I think even a sense of humour. She's very happy, is an indoor/outdoor cat. Outdoor meaning that she tends to stay on the porch, deck and in the garden and does not wander. 

A month after her amputation I took her in for a chiropractic treatment and learned some stretches to do with her. She does them well and it's fun interactive time for us.

Are the stitches out yet? I found staple removal gave Mona more freedom and she became more active.

All the best for Big Cat and his healing.

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

Member Since:
18 May 2017
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19 May 2017 - 3:26 pm
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Thanks - i checked my spam folder and found lots of things that were not spam, but not this newsletter.  I'm not sure what's up.

No, the stitches are not out yet, they will come out in a week.

We are unlikely to ever let him run free again, since within a week of running free after 6 mo of confinement he hurt himself again.  Every single person we spoke to about removing his leg emphasized that he shouldnt go out again.  

I'm hoping to eventually put a big fence in the back yard so we can let him go out there safely, without worrying about him getting in to trouble.  

I'll consider the chiropractor - i love mine and I think there is a veterinary chiro at one of the nearby clinics.


Member Since:
11 July 2016
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20 May 2017 - 9:24 am
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You will see a big change in Big when the stitches come out! It sounds like Big's sparkle has already started to shine thru again! 

Yaaay! Eating,drinking and using the litter box are all huge! 

Outdoor kitties do have a higher risk of accidents and I personally would make Big a indoor kitty now.

We all have opinions on inside and outside and both and they are just that opinions, you do what is best in your circumstances. Keep in mind any opinion that is given is given out of concern for Big.

A big fenced in yard sounds good, just because Big is minus a limb doesn't mean he can't go up and over.

They make enclosures Big could go in or try the harness again. Purrkins is in a indoor kitty but we take him outside in a harness and a enclosure both . Or we take him out in our arms. All of which he loves! I think supervision is key if Big goes out at all.

Big will amaze you as time goes on and he heals. As Kerren mentioned with Mona, Purrkins continued to improve in all aspects each day each week each month! So hang in there it was major surgery Big will heal and you guys will have a new normal again!

Keep us posted and if you have any questions or concerns shout.


Holly & Purrkins

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