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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is your home 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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Member Since:
14 June 2022
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14 June 2022 - 3:36 pm
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Hello! My cat, Tampa Boo, just turned a year old (I have had her for about eight months now) and her front right leg was amputated about seven months ago. Since the amputation, she has gone through a lot to become healthy, and it seemed as though things were finally going well for her. Please bear with me as I explain recent events that may seem as though I have deviated from the topic at hand.

About two weeks ago, she lost her eyesight and had a fever. She has conquered the fever but is still blind. Since then, she has stopped eating on her own and will only eat when coaxed (even then she does not eat much, and she is even on appetite stimulant medication). She did stop using the litterbox (she would use it when I put her in it) and, since being on gabapentin, she has used the litterbox on her own for about two days now (she had her first "accident" today 6/14). Lastly, all she wants to do is sleep and her cleaning habits have decreased (she looks disheveled not dirty). However, I have done bloodwork, and everything is coming back healthy. According to the doctors she is a healthy cat. After a recent conversation with the vet, he suspects she may be suffering from phantom limb pain. He prescribed gabapentin, but I only give it to her during the evenings because it knocks her out and I need her to eat because she has lost nearly a pound (and she was only 6.4 pounds to begin with). The first day I gave her the dose (in the afternoon) it took me a several minutes to rouse her. I am going to call the vet about the medication and my concerns regarding it.

Having a cat with an amputated leg is a new experience for me and I want to help her as much as I can, but I'm not sure how to best help her.

For those who have experience with cats who have had phantom limb pain, could this be what she is struggling with? 

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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15 June 2022 - 10:18 am
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Hi Tampa Boo and furmily, welcome! I apologize for the delay getting your post approved, somehow I missed it yesterday. Now that it's approved your posts won't have to wait any more.

It was good chatting with you yesterday. Were you able to get in touch with your vet? What did they say?

So a couple of questions now that I see TB's story all in one place... why did she lose her leg to begin with? And what caused the eyesight and fever? 

While it's certainly possible that she can be having phantom limb pain, are there signs showing that she is having it? Typically we see phantom leg pain symptoms in cats like sudden yelping, jumping, and walking backwards. The signs tend to come from out of nowhere, and resolve almost as quickly.

I'm wondering if this has more to do with the infection than the amputation? 

In the meantime, you might recall I mentioned that Gabapenin can make some animals realllly sleepy. Staggered doses, and dosing up starting at nighttime and reducing in the day is also helpful. Just some things to talk to your vet about. 

It's good you are teaming up with your vet to figure out the cause. And as I mentioned in the Tripawds Chat , don't forget that a rehab therapist may be helpful now too. 

I look forward to finding out your vet's next steps.

Member Since:
14 June 2022
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15 June 2022 - 8:42 pm
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Hello and thank you for the kind welcome.

I was able to get ahold of him today and I told him about her experience on gabapentin. He decreased her dosage, and we will go from there (increase slowly if need be). She does seem to be a bit better on the medication because prior to it she entirely refused to use the litterbox, but since using it she has made the effort several times.

Tampa Boo was a stray my mother actually spotted at my father’s place of work. They saw this kitten running around while holding one leg up. The vet I currently go to is the one that performed her surgery, and he tried his best to save the leg, but the break was in her elbow and there was nothing he could do.

The vet does not know what caused her blindness (or rather, the retinal detachment) or the fever. I would not be surprised if some of the issues she still experiencing are related to her history (which remains a mystery). When I caught her, she was severely underweight and only about four months old. Right now, at a year, she hasn’t weighed more than 6.4 pounds. She is a very small cat.

She is not a vocal cat, not once did she make a murmur before, during, or after surgery. No jumping or walking backwards. She no longer has a fever and hasn’t for about a week now, but I am not ruling that out as a cause either. It doesn’t seem as though she is in pain, but I know cats hide it well and she is a pro because we don’t entirely know how long she suffered with her leg injury before her capture.

Thank you for those additional resources and I will definitely keep them in mind moving forward.

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