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.
My 16 year old kitty had her back leg amputated a week ago. I kept her restricted in a 3x3 play pen while she recovered. A few times I would let her try to walk a little while I had my hands on her, but I could tell that she was still in a lot of pain, so I wanted her to keep recovering.
Today I re-arranged my bedroom so she can have some room to work her strength, but I’m seeing that she doesn’t want to try. So now I’m nervous that maybe I wanted too long to let her roam in a room. I’m afraid that she’s lost a lot of muscle in her back leg.
I am hoping there are people out there that had cats who truly took a while to get back walking on their (3) legs. I know a lot of cats respond differently and some are roaming around within 24 hrs (seems like the younger and smaller cats?), which makes me worry that my cat doesn’t want to try. Could she be tired? Sure. But I’m also not making her work so much. I just hope I didn’t restrict her **too much.**
I know this is a major surgery and healing needs to happen. I just keep thinking what one of the vet doctors said, “Make sure you are having her walk around a little cause you don’t want her to lose muscle in her one back leg.” But I know she needed these days to rest cause she was in pain.
22 February 2013
What's your sweet kitty's name? She's very lucky to have you as her hooman looking out after her. Ypu ate doing everything right!!! The first two weeks is generally about rest, short potty breaks and more rest.. No, you didn't "wait too long". No worries.
Yes, it IS MAJOR surgery and seven days is still very early in recovery. And being a vit of a senior kitty, she most likely will need more time to recover at her own pace and in her own way, It's good that you are setting up your bedroom so she can start roaming a little bit. Maybe you could set out a really good treat she would like to motivate her to hop towards it.
Is she eating, drinking, pottying okay??
What pain medication is she on and what dose and frequency? How much does she weigh? Sounds like, based on what you said, she may not have proper pain management .
You might also want to check out any Certified Re Specialists you may have in uour are. They are brilliant in helping build strength and developing a solid gait. The Tripawfs Fpundation will pay for the first visit.
Keep us posted and stay connected Recovery doesn't last furever!
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!
Thank you for the response! Petunia isn’t in pain as much as she was the first 4 days (as expected). I think pain management has been good. 50mg Gabapentin every 8 hours (10 days worth) and she just finished her six day anti-inflammatory meds (she took a pill once a day).
She eating like a CHAMP! She never eats all her wet food in one sitting, but she has been the last 4 days! She is using the litterbox but has occasional pee sessions on the pee pad. She didn’t poop for 6 days before I took her into the vet yesterday to get an enema. Let’s just say her response to it was QUICK and MESSY, but needed as she had very hard pellets of poop from sitting in her colon probably since surgery … I’m pretty sure at that point it was hard to pass. She is drinking water also.
Everything seems on track, the vet yesterday said her incision still looks good and her bruising is minimal compared to what she has seen (probably cause I have been restricting her 24x7 on a blanket filled 3x3 playpen).
As I mentioned before, I just keep thinking about the comment I got about her losing muscle mass in her back leg if she doesn’t use it. Of course it’s so easy to get into a negative mind space and freak out about things that may not happen. I’m just so concerned that she won’t be able to walk again.
She is 9.6lbs.
It's hard not to worry but all signs point to her doing pretty darn great, especially for an older kitty. As I mentioned in your other post, adding traction around your house will be really beneficial to help her get around more. Don't push her too hard, just let her do her thing and she will regain strength over time. Not immediately, but she will get there!
It takes a lot of inactivity for a muscle to completely lose function. It really doesn't sound like she is even close to that point. If you are concerned, consider booking an appointment with a rehab therapist to have them evaluate her. Tripawds Foundation can even pay for your first rehab visit !
Ditto all the excellent advice and insight.
We had restricted activity for 14 days and stayed in a spare room. We gutted the room. I had the mattress on the floor. Exercise floor mats on the floor so Purrkins would not get hurt learning.
I would allow her out of her pen in a room that she is safe in when you can supervise.
Allow her to work on learning her new body and gait. When you can't supervise, sure put her where you know she is safe.
Hugs & scratches to Petunia
Holly & Purrkins & our Saxton in the sky.
Update on Petunia.
She was moved to my bedroom on Friday. Removed anything that she can try to jump on or climb.
Unfortunately she must have picked up something when at the vet last Wednesday when she got an enema cause since Thursday, she has been fighting a bad URI. Congestion, sneezing, eye discharge/redness. Friday night I picked up a prescription. This weekend was mentally exhausting cause her symptoms were so bad. Today we went to the vet to get her stitches out, so we got some eye ointment. She slept all weekend. Luckily she still was eating. My heart was so sad for her. But she seems to be doing better and the antibiotics seemed to start working.
Early this AM, she FINALLY pooped on her own (it’s been 5 days since her enema) since the day before her surgery. She isn’t walking around at all, but I’m not stressing about it cause I want her to get better. I’m keeping my other cat out of the bedroom so she doesn’t catch Petunia’s cold.
The other day I found her laying on her incision side for 5 minutes which made me feel like her pain is minimizing, which made me happy. About 30 mins after, she took a few steps and I noticed her leg seemed straighter and her walking seemed easier. Made me wonder if giving her leg rest from laying on it did wonders! Vet said as long as I am on a bed, I can turn her on her incision side and let her be until she turns herself over. I can tell how she lays sometimes that she’s stretching the opposite of her body. I’m not surprised.
Great job moving to the bedroom and making it safe for Petunia. I'm sorry to hear she is under the weather. I'm glad the meds are helping and delighted to read she is eating for you. Having a URI, being congested, and smelling food is challenging.
Not pooping after an enema is common, although it stresses us hoomans. They cleaned her out, and nothing was left in the colon. Pain meds can constipate. You can give her 1/8 to 1/4 tsp Miralax to keep her going. You can go higher in dosage, but that's where I would start. Give it 2 X a day, a.m. and p.m. It is over the counter and approved by our vets.
Early this AM, she FINALLY pooped on her own (it's been 5 days since her enema) since the day before her surgery. She isn't walking around at all, but I'm not stressing about it cause I want her to get better. I'm keeping my other cat out of the bedroom so she doesn't catch Petunia's cold.
YAAAY for pooping!!! & stitch removal!!
How is she going potty? Going where she is lying?
I would encourage her to move, as Sally mentioned above. Yes, she is a senior trikitty, but I'd like to see her attempting, standing, hopping, stumbling, trying!!! What did the vet say?
Thanks for the update!
Hugs and scratches to Petunia, please.
I want to have her practice to move, but also nervous cause she’s fighting off this bad URI, and being 16.5 years old, I don’t want to work her too much. She’s still congested, so it’s harder to breathe through her nose. I did just try treats and she wasn’t motivated this time around. I suppose a little walking won’t hurt her.
The vet told me to stop her pain pills and see how she feels. And if it seems like she is in pain, then give it to her again. They actually only gave me 10 days worth (every 8 hrs) and that ran out, but have some left over from her dental surgery back in May. The last 24 hours, I gave it to her every 12 hours, and I’m curious if that helped her poop this morning.
Oh great, she is going to the litter box and yes, do help her. I had to help Purrkins, and he was a lot younger. I understand she is not feeling well. She has been through a lot and adding on the uri. 🫂 to you both getting through!!
I was not sure by your post when you said, " she isn't walking around at all".
Yes, it could have helped her get up and poop as she is less sedated on less Gaba. Are any other signs in the 12 hours dosing good or bad? Im glad you had some leftover and did the 12 hours instead of cold turkey.
I would not push Petunia to do anything but continue encouraging her with high-value treats for a few hops.
Oh my gosh she's dealing with an extra wallop but from what you are describing she's still marking baby step improvements. For a senior girl that is huge!
Your instincts are spot on. Don't ask her to do too much and if she needs a little help that's ok but also let her keep trying stuff on her own too. Over time the progress happens, just like the 💩!
I hope the elimination of pain meds works out well. Keep us posted.
So this morning she pooped twice. But she didn’t eat a lot last night and nothing so far this morning. And now she’s hiding under the bed. I take her out and then she finds her way back there.
I did put her in the bathroom while the shower was running to hopefully help out with the congestion. I plan to do this a few times today
I am so mentally exhausted. Cried a lot this morning cause this has become so much. It’s like, “you have to work with her to walk.” But everytime I pick her up, her breathing through her nose gets worse and it pains me to se ever like that. “But if you don’t do it, she will lose her back muscles. I honestly don’t know what to do. I’m seriously trying my best and am so scared for her health right now. She’s been on this URI antibiotic since Friday night. Shouldn’t she be showing signs of improvement by now, even a little? Her eye is more red and I’m hoping that this is normal because of the medicated ointment they gave me yesterday.
I am hoping that she’s hiding cause she’s just trying to get through this sickness. You hear about pets hiding cause they are about to pass and I am so scared for that.
Oh, im so sorry to read this!
I would do my best to get her out from under the bed. This is why we put the mattress on the floor or block underneath the bed in recovery so they can't hide under there, and we can get to them as needed for meds. I made a little nook in the closet for Purrkins to recover where I could access him, and he felt snug and secure in there.
Im glad she ate something last night. Keep trying today, the stinkier, the better to get past the congestion. Put a little dab of food on her nose. Her instinct will be to lick her nose and then taste the food. Sometimes, that little trick will get them eating. Do you have any strong-smelling foods to try?
I forgot to suggest yesterday if you have a vaporizer run in the bedroom room she is recovering in, (just water) The shower works the same way, so it's great you did that.
Yes, I agree you should see improvement on the antibiotics, and you said you did see some yesterday. The important difference to note is that the pain meds are now at 12 hours instead of 8.
The hiding is new since she has fewer pain meds, correct? I would return every 8 hours and call the vet with your concerns. She is likely hiding from not feeling well and is now having pain.
Call the vet and let them know what's going on, please.
I did just give her a pain pill. I haven’t given one to her since yesterday morning (vet told me to stop to see how she reacts), so maybe that was the key. She just never meowed anytime I picked her up the last 24 hours so she didn’t seem to be in pain anymore. I am glad you mentioned it cause it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot and see if there is a difference.
I remember you saying that you put the mattress on the floor. I was thinking about that this morning and might do that. Luckily the times that she did go under there, I was able to scoot her out easily.
I like the idea of the closet. I might clear out the floor and put a comfy blanket on the ground as an option for her. Right now I covered her up with a blanket cause my room doesn’t heat up well (I have slab under my house and the only vent is on the wall with my window). She’s been staying put. I was kinda hoping that maybe she was just cold and that is why she went under the bed.
i do have a humidifier, but stopped it last night cause I was worried it wasn’t working. I’ll turn it back on.
Thanks for the replies … you have no idea how much it means to me. I needed them. I haven’t gotten a good nights sleep since her surgery 12 days ago. A lot of waking up in the middle of the night and then having trouble falling back asleep. I only had two nights where I got 4-5 continuous hours of sleep, the rest were an hour or two throughout the night. Sleepless nights definitely has a part of me being mentally exhausted.
I'm so glad Holly is here to give you her insight, she always thinks of things that I don't. One thing I did think of is that antibiotics can be so strong they make a stomach queasy. Go with Holly's suggestion to get stinky, slightly warmed foods, to entice her into eating something, even Churu treats will help.
Hopefully adding the pain control will help. Cutting off pain meds abruptly can throw the body for a loop and she may be feeling achy and sore. Animals hide when they are feeling crappy, not just at end of life. So try not to panic about that.
A little bit of helping her walk, not a lot, just a few steps for even a minute or two a few times a day makes a difference.
Do a little each day, you will eventually see progress through that sleepy haze! Yes, sleep deprivation makes us think all sorts of unhelpful thoughts, it's human.
Can you record her on video for us? Maybe of you helping her move around a bit?