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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my kitten is 11months old and 2.5 months post hind leg amputation. Her knee joint was damaged from an infection when she was 3 weeks old so always limped before the amputation. After the op she recovered very quickly and was hoping around fine, however about a month ago she started sitting down on every walking step as if her good leg didn’t have the strength to support her. It was fine immediately post surgery though so am I worried that she now seems worse.
Any advice on whether the good leg just needs time to strengthen or is there something I should be doing to help her. When not walking she is leaping around catching flies and still runs around like a mad kitten, it just seems to be a problem when she walks.
Hi and welcome! Your future posts won’t need approval so post away.
Some post-amputation weakness isn’t uncommon, and it’s also not unusual for a brand new Tripawd cat to do spectacularly well immediately following surgery. Over time, their body catches up with their brain though, and some tend to slow down as they experience weakness from trying to do all the usual things a typical cat does. The sitting down is a sign that she is having some weaknesses that need to be addressed.
The good news is you can do LOTS to help her. First, see about taking her for an evaluation by an animal rehabilitation therapist. These folks can explain to you how to help her through specific exercises that will strengthen her faster than when left on her own. The best part is the Tripawds Foundation can even pay for your first rehab visit !
Until she sees an expert, you can also do things to help, like making sure she has plenty of ramps and climbing stairs so she puts less stress on her joints and muscles. Of course plenty of rest is also helpful but I know that’s nearly impossible to do with a spunky young kitty!
There are some fun Tripawd cat exercises you can do as well:
Let me know if you’d like help finding a therapist for her!
P.S. What is your kitty’s name?
Thanks so much for your reply Jerry. Great that the foundation helps with initial rehab appointments – I checked the foundation page and it seems I would quality even though I live in the UK which is amazing – thank you. Our vet has a qualified physio so I am going to see the vet and get a referral to their physio, I’m not sure how it works in the US but here you can only see a physio after a referral from a vet !
My cat is called Athena and she is a beautiful Calico. We have some climbing stairs but she won’t use them. She jumps up to piano stool height otherwise doesn’t bother to try – unless she is chasing a fly which I’m sure isn’t helping as she just jumps as high as she can in the air and then lands on her remaining back leg!
You are so welcome! I’m really hoppy that you are going to get her into physio. Yes, as long as you see a practitioner with a “CCRT” or “CCRP” the consult qualifies. Here in the States, some places require a referral, some do not. That is GREAT your vet works with a physio, sounds like a wonderful practice. Athena scored when she found you!
Yeah I’ll bet that’s tough to get her to use the stairs. The jumping is natural for cats, but since she’s missing half of the power to do that jumping, it can take a toll (especially with the landing…ouch!). I’d love to know what kind of suggestions the physio has to get her to use the stairs. Keep us posted!
Update on Athena. We saw a physio last week. She gently went down her spine and poor Athena flinched when the physio got to her lower back. The muscles all around the missing leg were all a quiver too. The physio said the pain was going from her spine into her missing limb. She isn’t sure if the pain is caused by the odd way she is walking or if is walks oddly because of the pain. She put some electrolysis through her missing limb muscles and you could see Athena relaxing and going all sleepy. I have a few exercises to do to try and get her to stand correctly and not hook or bend her spine and we are to go back next week. It could be nerve pain in the missing limb too and says she may need to be referred to a specialist although I hope not as they are so expensive and I couldn’t insure the leg as it was a previous condition when I adopted her.
She still runs around like a mad thing chasing everything but she used to do that before the amputation when the vets all said she must be in considerable pain as the knee joint was so damaged.
I’d be interested to hear if anyone else had this trouble with their tripawd and what helped. Thanks.
Thank you so much for updating! I can’t believe it’s been almost two months!
The physio visit sounds exactly like what Athena needs. What was the exact diagnosis?
Try to be patient. If you are faithful to the exercises, over time it really does make a difference. That’s what helped for us. Wyatt Ray was a dog, missing his back leg, and he would often sit / buckle when he was tired or painful. But we stayed true to the exercises. Soooo much of the success of any physio protocol lies in the parent’s hands.
We would love to see the exercises if you can get someone to video/photograph you and Athena while you are doing them.
One day at a time. Hopefully this is the ticket to helping her feel 100%. Isn’t she amazing that she is still running wild like she used to?
Update on Athena after her last physio. So the pain which was obvious on her first appointment wasn’t there this time so hopefully the exercises are helping. Her walking has not improved though. The physio consulted the vet and they think she could still have phantom limb pain and that I should consider if I want to try her on some nerve pain meds to see if that makes a difference. The physio can’t prescribe these though (physios in the UK aren’t allowed to prescribe) so I have to go back for a vet appointment for that. In the meantime I’ve found other tripawds who also walk like Athena and their owners don’t seem to think its a problem. So part of me wonders if I am worrying needlessly. However after our last physio session (where the physio used the electrolysis and laser light) Athena played fetch with me and her toy mouse. This is the first time she has done that since having her amputation and it was so lovely to see her doing it again. Could mean that she is in pain and hiding it well! Will let you know how we get on with the meds.
Exercises must be helping! Im sorry, her hop is not improving yet but give it time.
Just an opinion, trial the meds and see how she does. Every cat is different, and I would try not comparing to other kitties. Cats are masters at hiding pain; the med trial can prove that and let you know one way or another. You can always stop the meds if you and physio do not see improvement. You don’t have anything to lose trying & something to gain, Athena’s qol! She is showing you how good the laser feels, which is fantastic! Purrkins goes every couple of months for chiropractic and acupuncture. He loves his sessions and comes home full of energy; it stimulates all those endorphins.
Listen to your gut instincts more than others, ok, you know, and see your Athena every day!
Best of luck!
Holly & Purrkins💝💝💝
Yay! That’s really really cool that things are looking better for her. As much as we want to, we can’t expect total 100% healing first time out, these things can take time. I agree that the nerve pain meds (Gabapentin?) can help. It’s not a big deal, they are benign, and can make a huge difference in mobility. Let us know what your vet says. Keep in mind that sometimes the meds need fine tuning before you see a difference. Many pain specialists recommend starting Gabapentin at night, because it can make pets sleepy. Then titrating up the dosage into the day to get the body used to it. Eventually it balances out.
In the meantime I’ve found other tripawds who also walk like Athena and their owners don’t seem to think its a problem. So part of me wonders if I am worrying needlessly.
You are not worrying. You are being very conscious of her mobility. Unfortunately many people don’t know what good mobility in a Tripawd looks like, they just haven’t had the benefit of physiotherapy and haven’t seen their own animal walk in a pain-free, normal manner for a 3-legged animal. That’s one big reason why we are so gung ho on physio. Not enough folks are aware of it’s benefits.
However after our last physio session (where the physio used the electrolysis and laser light) Athena played fetch with me and her toy mouse. This is the first time she has done that since having her amputation and it was so lovely to see her doing it again. Could mean that she is in pain and hiding it well!
YES! Bingo! Welcome to the world of physiotherapy. What you saw is the difference that it can make for an animal.
Think of it like this: a human would never undergo amputation surgery recovery without a physio helping them adjust. Our animals deserve the same.
Keep at it, you are doing GREAT and so is Athena! Thanks for the update.
Ditto the compounded meds. You can get a flavor Athena likes making life much easier for you both. In the meantime, we used a pill cutter for tiny pills; (the blue one ) which appears not to be available at this time. There are many similar ones on the market. The basic purple one did not help us with the tiny pills.
It worked excellent cutting tiny pills into bits then we got our meds compounded.
I hope Gaba makes all the difference for Athena. I suspect it will.
Holly & Purrkins💝💝💝
Didn’t occur to me you could get pill cutters. Thanks for the recommendation – I have managed to find the blue one on ebay and have ordered that.
Any idea how long it should be before I see a difference if it’s going to work? We did the first 2 days with just 1/2 a pill in the evening as per Jerry’s advice and yesterday was her first day with 2 doses. I think the vet said try for 2 weeks but he has given me a month of pills! Maybe after 2 weeks he will increase the dose if no improvement.
Hmmm…I’m no vet but I would think that by Wednesday you should start to see a difference. Remember all animals are different though and Gabapentin can take some time to build up in the system. Any changes today?
I’m glad you found one; they are extremely helpful in cutting those tiny pills w/o crushing them. I used the old purple one to store the bits;)
I’m not a vet either- I would give it a couple of weeks to see full results for nerve pain. The drug is quick-acting & has a short life span. Your dose is tiny. If you don’t see results, the dosage and or timing will need adjusting.
Keep a little log on what improvements you see or do not see, and keep your vet and physio in the loop.
Chin Scratches to Athena, please!
Holly & Purrkins 💝💝💝