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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Is Your New Tripawd Cat Not Pooping After Surgery?
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The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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18 October 2023 - 3:33 am
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Constipation is a normal amputation surgery side-effect in cats and dogs. But there's always a chance your Tripawd cat is not pooping because of other reasons. Usually the cause is nothing to panic about. So before you do, ask yourself a few important questions.

PurrkinsImage Enlarger
Purrkins' Recovery Litterbox (Image @purrkins)

Questions to Ask If Your Tripawd Cat is Not Pooping After Surgery

It's not uncommon for a new member to post because their cat is not using the litterbox after coming home from amputation surgery. But it's important to rule out any medical issues took so you want to always talk to your vet about your concerns.

While you wait for your vet discussion, here are some pawesome questions to ask about your cat's litterbox habits after amputation, all of them courtesy of Purrkins' mom, Holly.

Think About Your Cat's Pooping Habits

Why is your cat not using the litterbox?

Did this just start happening, or has it happened before?

Is your cat straining to poop, vomiting when pooping?

Do you notice if your cat's poop is hard and dry?

Are there poop balls outside of the litterbox box?

If so that is most likely a constipated kitty.

Now Consider Your Cat's Litterbox Situation

What is the literbox setup?

Where is your cat pooping? In the vicinity of the box? Somewhere else?

How many litter boxes do you have in your household? If you have multiple cats, do you have at least one litter box per cat?

What type of litter are you using? Has the litter type or brand been changed recently? 

Is the litter box covered? If so, take the lid off. 

Is the box big enough to comfortably turn around in for your new Tripawd cat? Is there easy access Can your cat hop in and out easily with no issues? 

What about the box location? Is the litterbox located in a high-traffic area in the home? 

Is the box in a place where he would feel trapped when pooping? If you have other cats, your new Tripawd cat might be thinking they can ambush him in the box.

When cats feel the most vulnerable, it takes longer to poop. 

Is your cat's litterbox kept clean? This is critical! No one wants to hop into a dirty box. 

Once you know the answers to these questions you can have a productive chat with your veterinarian. They may prescribe an over the counter cat laxative to move things along. If your cat is still constipated, they may want to do some tests and possible a different motility drug to get his poop moving.

Keep your vet in the loop, and you can always ask the community for support in the Tripawds Three-Legged Cat Forum.

A big thank you to @purrkins Holly for her terrific insight on three-legged (and four-legged) cats!

More Tripawd Cat Litter Box Help

LItter Box Tips for Tripawds Forum Discussion

Find Tripawd's Best Cat Amputation Guide at Your Fingertips!


Member Since:
11 July 2016
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18 October 2023 - 5:09 am
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Dr R called us poop experts;🤦‍♀️ 🤭no expert, but we do have experience in this matter. 🥺 Our dearest Saxton taught us well.💫💔
I'm not fond of lactulose. It is a sticky wicket mess and very hard to give cats. Miralax is the same class (osmotic laxative) OTC, is easy to administer, odorless, tasteless, and works like a charm.

Here is an excellent website all about POOP & constipation;) Feline Constipation
Thanks for the post. It's a needed reminder and will help many!


Member Since:
11 September 2023
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18 October 2023 - 7:03 am
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I thought I’d share my recent experience with my kitty with both peeing and pooping:

First concern was she hadn’t peed the first 24 hours since her surgery. I’ve read “how important they need to do this shortly after their surgery,” so it got in my head and I started to freak out. My vet was so nice, and at no charge, did an ultrasound of her bladder to see how big it was (this was at the 24 hr mark since her surgery). They said it was big and that if she doesn’t by morning, to give them a call. Well, she peed that evening!

I wasn’t too concerned about the pooping at first, as I was told and read that because of the meds given, it’s quite possible your kitty won’t poop the first 4 days. When that 4 day mark hit, and no poop, I called the vet and asked when it should start to be a concern. She told me to give her 1/2 tsp of Miralax, and if that doesn’t help, call in 2 days if still no poop (which would be 6 days after surgery).


Well, that day came, no poop. So I brought her in and they gave her an enema. Cleared her RIGHT OUT instantly. 😂


She finally did poop for the first time on her own 5 days after the enema. I asked the vet how long with no poop when no longer on meds should you be concerned, and she said “2-3 days, but because her colon was completely cleared out, I’m not concerned it taking 5 days.”


I share this story because I want others who are experiencing this that you’re not alone. Best bet is for you to call your vet to get their advice on what to do. Don’t necessary take my vets advice, as every kitty has their own unique medical history. I just know that if I read a story like this from day 1, I may not have gotten too much in my head and freaked out.

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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18 October 2023 - 9:44 am
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You bet, Holly! Your experience (I think it's safe to say expertise!) in this department is super helpful! THANK YOU!

Member Since:
2 October 2023
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18 October 2023 - 10:09 am
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For us the issue was 100% she didn't want to use anything other than her regular clay litter. My girl was not supposed to have access to clay litter until her stitches came out, but after days of nothing I supervised her in the clay litter making sure she didn't lay down in it and she immediately peed. Same the next day and she pooped. It was such a huge relief when the stitches came out that she would be able to have free access to her regular litter box.

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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18 October 2023 - 11:34 pm
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Thanks for sharing Jennifer, it's so helpful for folks to see they aren't alone in this situation.

Was it your vet who said no clay litter? 

Member Since:
2 October 2023
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19 October 2023 - 9:37 am
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jerry said
Was it your vet who said no clay litter? 


Yes, Vet said no clay litter until stitches came out. She was afraid of it getting stuck to the incision and had us use paper pellet litter instead (Fresh News brand). Discovery wanted nothing to do with the paper pellets and would hold it until I let her have access to clay litter. I just hovered over her and supported her when she seemed like she wanted to lay down then made sure she got out before the incision had the opportunity to touch the litter. Now that the stitches are out she's using the litterbox just fine on her own 🙂

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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19 October 2023 - 10:31 am
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Oh interesting. We rarely hear vets even mention cat litter issues. It's great they cared enough to do that, but as you can see, cats can be sooooo picky about the litter type. How nice she is using the box again!

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