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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Question about how the second cat reacts
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Member Since:
31 January 2023
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1 February 2023 - 8:55 am
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Hi All:  I am in that godawful position of deciding whether to go forward with an amputation or not. 

I adopted two kitties from a shelter in 2016, Toby now 11 and Zoey 9.  Zoey has a fibrosarcoma on her back left forefoot.  The first mass was removed in June, and now there is a new one appearing, confirmed by her regular vet a week ago. We are going to a local vet oncologist tomorrow AM.  They are the best of friends, but frequently Toby gets bored and decides to chase Zoey.  Zoey can outrun him and zips under a bed.  I assume they are playing, but if Zoey is recovering, after stitches are removed, and Toby decides to "play", that will be a concern.  I can't leave Zoey in a contained room, as I want her to try living normally.  But the chasing will be a non-starter.

The reason I am still undecided about going forward is due to the cost. Cost will be an issue, financially and emotionally.  I live in Louisville, CO, where 1000 homes burned down at the end of 2021, including mine.  Rebuilding is a huge financial burden because insurance will leave me a few hundred thousand dollars out of my own pocket.  Of course, I am doing everything I can to find financial resources for my kitty.  But I need to recognize that I have dealt with a major trauma and I know I am feeling especially vulnerable about whether I can cope with any setback that may happen.  This chasing business is something that is becoming what I see as a serious issue.  I can't exile Toby.  I want to include him in Zoey's recovery. 

Any experience with how to manage this situation would be helpful.  Do other cats intuit that the recovering cat can't engage in the usual behavior as before?  I don't want to make Toby suffer through this as well by separating them.

Hope to get input, and grateful for this community.


The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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1 February 2023 - 10:40 am
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Hi Char, Toby and Zoey. Welcome to the club nopawdy wants to join. I'm so sorry you are facing this, especially after the recent fire. That is serious trauma and it's no wonder you are so concerned, you have a lot to think about.

First, I'll say that I don't have cats, or even multiple dogs. But in the many years since I co-founded the community with my partner @Admin, I can tell you that if you browse this forum, you'll see that lots of people have had to deal with multiple pets in the home while one Tripawd is recovering.

Here's a Forum post with excellent tips that we published in Cool Tips for Tripawds Cats, our e-book about cat amputation recovery and care. 

How Did You Prepare Your Other Cats for the New TriKitty?

From Cool Tips for Tripawd Cats:

Preparing Your Other Cats for the New Tripawd

Animals smell things that we don’t, and some of those smells come from the vet’s office. From bandages to surgical drugs, animals can tell when one of their housemates has been to the clinic. When your new Tripawd comes home the vet clinic scent they carry may be overwhelming to other household cats.

A slow, careful introduction with other household cats is helpful for most cats. Your job is to monitor other cats’ reactions to your new Tripawd. Prevent your recovering patient from getting too much activity too soon.

When you put all household members together, supervise until you are certain it’s safe to leave them alone.

So yes, it's best to separate them for a while. But I think that Toby will instinctively know to give Zoey more room to rest and recover. That's usually what we see with members. I'll let the rest of the community chime in. Stay tuned for feedback!

Oh where are you meeting with the oncologist? We are from Fort Collins and pretty familiar with clinics in the area.

Member Since:
31 January 2023
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1 February 2023 - 11:43 am
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We are going to Treeline Vet Cancer Care in Boulder.  Our veterinary referred us.

Thanks for the tips.  I will pour over them.


Where ever my car goes

Member Since:
6 July 2017
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1 February 2023 - 1:34 pm
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Hello Char, Zoey & Toby,

Sorry to meet you under these circumstances, but welcome.  I am not sure any here can offer much more than our personal experiences, because each pet has their own unique personality.  But here is how mine interacted.

Tuxedo had his rear leg and partial pelvis removed due to a dog attack 5+ years ago.  He had an eventful healing (around 8 weeks in total, 6 of every other day vet trips).  Initially, Dazzle his brother and litter mate sniffed him, but in general ignored him.  Dazzle and Tuxedo had always rough housed in the past.   As Tuxedo went through his prolonged healing period his interactions with Dazzle got a bit more aggressive with swats and hissing.  But there was no actual fighting or rough housing.  Once Tuxedo finally got rid of his cone of shame , those swats and hissing ceased.  They never again did rough house like they used to prior to Tuxedo's surgery.

Fast forward a couple years and Dazzle passed away.  I adopted a tiny cat named Lilly.  She constantly attacks Tuxedo and he loves it.  He will sit in the middle of the floor and whine until she comes in to dive bomb him.  They roll around on the floor with him punching and kicking her, eventually throwing her across the room.  Only to sit up and beg for round two. Occasionally he chases her around too. So yes, a tripawd cat can rough house and play on a more physical level once healed.  

If I had to guess on how your cats would interact, I would expect some vocalizing initially, likely due to vet smell and strange looking cone but no serious fighting.  Then Tony and Zoey will establish a new norm.

I am not on here often these days as things are going great in my household.  So if you have any specific questions for me, please private message.

Best wishes

-Dawna, Tuxedo, Lilly, and Angel Dazzle

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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1 February 2023 - 1:37 pm
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oooh I haven't heard of Dr. Oberthaler. She has a fantastic background, you are in great hands! Keep us posted.

Member Since:
31 January 2023
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6 February 2023 - 7:51 am
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Zoey and I met with the oncologist and it was informative if I was going to go other routes and not amputation.  However, she is not a surgeon so that relationship is not going forward.  Zoey has an appointment with her regular vet on Wednesday for chest x-ray and ultrasound.  Those diagnostics will be sent to CASE (Colorado Animal Specialty and Emergency) in Boulder and we will meet with their oncologist to discuss her amputation.  We are inching our way to have the amp done.  Her mass that has recurred is not bothering her in the least.  She is oblivious to what is going on in my life, which is hoping to save her life.  Glad she isn't in on that for now.  Seeing her being her normal kitty self is bittersweet.

In the meantime, I have come up with something to do that may keep her out of the cone.  I am going to crochet a stretchy body sleeve for her to wear over her torso.  I have no idea if this is anything that will work, but my mind is working overtime on how to make this a bit easier for her and me.  I have already blocked all access under beds.   Fortunately, my temporary accommodation is all on one level, and the home I plan to build will also be on one level, with no stairs. I am pouring over many posts on this forum and digesting all of the words of wisdom.   I am trying to use this limbo time learning what will help us navigate the recovery  ordeal ahead of time. At least for now, this is not coming down to an emergency surgery and I have the time to learn from the best, thanks to this forum.

The Rainbow Bridge

Member Since:
25 April 2007
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6 February 2023 - 9:35 am
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Ah OK sorry that the oncologist didn't work out. CASE is good too, I know other members here have gone there. Hope they can give you the information you need to make you feel better about moving forward. 

I love your idea about crocheting a body sleeve! It's something to help you keep your mind off of things, and to help her too. It's a win-win! I would get something as a back-up, just in case, at least so you have it ready for a worst-case scenario.

Let us know what questions you have, we are here to help!

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