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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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Recovering after 2 fractures and amputation
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30 November 2021 - 1:22 pm
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Hi all, first time poster!

Quick background: I have a 1.5 year old male tuxedo that unfortunately got hit by a car a little over 2 months ago (hard lesson learnt, no more free roaming). He broke both his hind legs and received surgery on both. He had to be crated for at least 6 weeks. After the 6 weeks went by, his left leg took a turn for the worse. It got infected and at that point my cat had already stopped using his leg for a week, except for stability purposes if he was about to fall over. Few days prior the vet bandaged his leg up too tight which caused his foot to swell and I assumed his leg was just sore from the swelling. My vet recommended amputation, because his right leg had fully healed at that point and looked good. In the end it would speed up the recovery process. He had to be crated for another 2 weeks after the amputation.

We're now 1 week after my big boy was released from kitty prison. He's doing pretty okay, although his remaining leg is understandably very weak. He still sleeps a lot, but doesn't seem to be in discomfort or pain. He and my 6 month old kitten absolutely LOVE each other and they like to wrestle with each other. They've only seen each other for about 1.5 weeks before the accident. First few days were very rough (and very stressful for me). Both cats are getting to know each other's boundaries and the kitten has started to respect his older brother. 

In the past week I've seen some progression. My boy still can't really jump, but he hops a little easier on the footrest and then the bed. Walking around is still a bit of a struggle. His remaining hind leg can't quite catch his weight properly yet when hopping around. He's not falling over fortunately. He also has to take a rest every few feet. He's progressed a lot in the past week however. At first he had to take a rest after 3 hops or so, whereas he can now hop from the bedroom to my living room (about 10 hops?). I was extremely surprised how easily he jumps off the bed. Jumping off doesn't look any different than before, so that's a good sign I guess. I'm also happy to see that he can actually hop around very quickly when playing with the kitten.

I'm wondering is if I should just let him do his thing at his own pace, or encourage him to move around more? He's very treat motivated and I can easily get him to hop around the room after me, as long as he gets a treat. Right now I let him do his thing. He hops into the living room 3 or 4 times a day and then we play a bit. 15 - 20 minutes is enough to tire him out, after which he hops back to the bedroom to chill on the bed. Should I continue as I currently do or should I try to get him to move around some more?

The Rainbow Bridge



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30 November 2021 - 2:10 pm
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Hi and welcome! Your future posts won't need approval so post away.

We are sorry you had to join our club! What's your cat's name? He's got quite the survivor story! Yikes! Glad he's home and on the mend. 

Recovery is a ton of work, and that can explain why he's tired. Also keep in mind that when an animal loses one rear leg, they lose half of their ability to jump and propel themselves forward. You can do things to make it easier for him, and lessen the impact on his joints by adding as many pet stairs, perches, and landing pads as you can. Watch and see if he uses them. He very well may and if not, since he's treat motivated you can train him to use them that way. Your goal is to lessen the impact and help him avoid future injuries to his joints.

What's his weight like? Keeping him slimmer than average will help his mobility. 

Also, when it comes to physical activity, go slow and easy. You can get a really good idea of his capabilities if you take him for a physio/rehab therapy evaluation. They can gauge his strengths and weaknesses, and show you exercises that will strengthen his core and back muscles (the key to good mobility, stability and balance). Best of all the Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first rehab visit !

So to answer your question, don't get him to move around any more than he wants to right now. It's still early, and it may be at least several weeks or even a couple months before he gets much of his strength back. The therapy team can help with that too. 

Our Tripawds e-book, Cool Tips for Tripawd Cats , has lots of exercise tips

It sounds like he's getting stronger every day, that's terrific! He's been through so much! We are so glad you posted and look forward to following along on your adventures.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Virginia




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30 November 2021 - 3:00 pm
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WOW!  What an ordeal!   You've  made it through the hardest part!

Kudos to you for monitoring  your boy and chronicling  all his movements, attitude, etc.   You are doing an excellent  job now and these past many weeks prior to this part of recovery  from the amputation. 

Jerry has given you excellent  input as always.  Your kitty had to deal with a lot of "recovery " from the accident and now the amputation.   All things considered  he is doing extremely  well.  With a bit more patience  and letting him continue  to set his own pace (as well as some Rehab), your sweet boy will continue  to be able to do more.  Again though,  I'm quite amazed that he's doing this well agter overcoming  so much.

Keep us posted 

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie!

PS.  Name of your tough little Wareior and the kitten??

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!

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1 December 2021 - 12:07 am
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Thanks guys! His name's Hans and his little brother is named Kees (put them in google translate on Dutch language for pronunciation lol). This was the first day after crate rest:

Image Enlarger

Caring for a three legged kitty feels like quite the challenge. Mostly because no one that I know of close to me has had to deal with a situation like this. I'm very happy to receive such positive responses!

I'll admit that Hans is a bit on the chubby side. Not too much, but he can definitely lose some weight. For reference: he's about 11 lbs, that ginormous 6 month old kitten is about 7 (although he's quite the chubster as well), they're pretty much the same size. He actually gained some weight during crate rest I think. I'm now on a strict feeding schedule to have him lose some weight and to keep that weight. Fortunately my vet warned me already about keeping him from getting too heavy, so I'm on it!

It's good to hear I should let him decide the pace. As weird as it may sound, with him sleeping on the bed most of the time and seeing him do pretty good, I can finally stop worrying. I was constantly stressed out during crate rest and I went to bed everyday before 9 pm (and my job isn't so tiring that I'd be sleeping by then), whereas that used to be around 11 pm. I feel so much relieve right now, all the stress is gone. I'll look into the rehab therapy. For now I'm going to give Hans some well deserved rest without weekly vet visits 🙂

Virginia




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1 December 2021 - 8:09 am
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Hans  and Kees are adorable!  Thanks so much for the photo😊

So glad you have found the reassurance  and insight you need to help you "destress".  Weall belong to the 'Worry Wart Club around here and we all become "helicopters" Moms and Dads.  Eventually  we settle in and realize our dog sand cats have everything handle in their own way and at their own pace  like the true three-legged champs they are!

You're  doing a great job!!

Hugs

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



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1 December 2021 - 11:13 am
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Oh my gosh they are adorable!

You are on top of the situation, I know that Hans will do just fine. Give it time and you will look back and be so amazed by his progress!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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7 December 2021 - 4:23 am
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Quick lil update 🙂

Hans is doing great! I didn't see much progression in the first week. But, we're now 2 weeks past crate rest and he's making big steps (I think).

The most obvious is his stamina. He can move around so much longer before needing to take a rest. He's not really interested in playing with toys, which I can understand since he can't run and jump around. He still loooooves wrestling and lazy hide and seek with his little stepbrother. He can now last a full wrestling match before getting tired. He's also getting more stable every day!

I've also noticed he's showing more interest in jumping on stuff. Last weekend he climbed on the bed and jumped off, both without using the footstep (and he didn't fall over!). I think next week or so I'll make an appointment at the vet to have his pins removed from his remaining leg. I'm unsure if it's bothering him, but they advised me to remove them as early as possible.

He's also immediately picked up his annoying habit of digging out the cat grass lol.

The Rainbow Bridge



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7 December 2021 - 8:42 am
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Well that is GREAT news! Hans is really picking up speed and getting back to being a cat. smiley_clap That's terrific!

The jumping off stuff comes naturally to cats and it's super hard to get them to not do it. As a 3-legger, it would really help him a lot if he used the footsteps and any landing perches as much as possible. The impact of landing on the floor puts so much stress on a Tripawd's joints, and over time, it increases the effects of osteoarthritis. See if you can bribe him into using stairs more often. As he ages, he will learn that it's much easier to go that route instead of jumping.

I'm so happy you're seeing him be Hans again! Thanks for the update!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Virginia




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7 December 2021 - 9:06 am
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Makes us all soooo happy to read this update😊   it's been a long haul getti5 to this point, but you and Hams have handled it like Warriors!!

It took so much determination  and grit to be where you and Hams are now and it's only gonna get better and better from here on out!!

It love that he's playing "lazy" hide and seek.  Too cute.  Aqnd youmknow he's feeling better if he's returning to "annoying" habits like digging out the cat grass. 😎

Thanks so much for checkin in.  And hopefully the Bet will give the okay to have the pin removed.

Hugs

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!

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7 December 2021 - 1:06 pm
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Thanks for the kind words!

@jerry

I'm wondering though, if he jumps off (any cat that I know of actually), he basically lands on his front legs. Since he has 2 perfectly fine front legs, wouldn't jumping off stuff be a non issue? Granted it's not too high of course. We're talking about 3' max here.

Also, different question. I have this cool DIY cat wall/tree (was supposed to be a cat tree, but is more of a wall lol), which we built 2 weeks ago to replace the old crappy cat tree. Built this one with a disabled kitty in mind. Once he's mobile enough, he'll be able to hop around on it quite easily I think. 

However......... It's right up against the couch and I was actually thinking about placing a little stool or something against the couch, so Hans can hop on. I'm a bit afraid he might try to climb the tree though, although there's still a 2' foot gap between the first level and the couch. Hopping on would require him to launch himself with his hind leg and I'm pretty sure he can't do that yet. See picture below for the situation (that little hidey hole on the floor is his second favorite place to hang out in!). Is there reason to worry? The couch is at most 3' high at the armrest.

https://i.imgur.com/akPjv9g.jpgImage Enlarger

The Rainbow Bridge



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7 December 2021 - 6:20 pm
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ibecat said
Since he has 2 perfectly fine front legs, wouldn't jumping off stuff be a non issue? Granted it's not too high of course. We're talking about 3' max here.

Also, different question. I have this cool DIY cat wall/tree

Well, you want those front legs to stay in good shape, so the less impact to them over time, the better. Remember that a Tripawd's body is compensating for that missing limb, so all the muscles, joints and bones are always working overtime. While three feet isn't far to us, try to see it from your cat's perspective. Anything you can do to minimize the distance to the ground is always helpful. 

I know it's hard to keep a cat from jumping, and others who have Trikitties can guide you better than I can on that issue. 

That's a pretty awesome cat tree! Nice! The perches look pretty high for a new Tripawd cat, at least as I'm seeing it. You'd be surprised what animals will attempt to do, even when they are physically compromised. I don't know, it's such a tough call. If there is any way to minimize the jumping/climbing distances, it would be more helpful to him especially now.

Hopefully other Trikitty parents will chime in soon!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Michigan


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8 December 2021 - 11:47 am
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Hi and welcome!

So sorry to read about Hans, and thank heavens he is alive and on the mend! We have a tripawd ginger kitty and tuxedo cat too! Your crew is adorable. 😘

We all do things a little differently on this site. I hope a rear leg member will chime in here, but I will add my 2 cents.  

I agree with Jerry 1000%! We have three legs now, and in your case, two and one leg is still healing! Our obligation as a tripawd parent is to help them keep those three legs and body in the best shape possible in any way that we can. 

We do the better safe than sorry approach for good reasons. Meaning if we can prevent an accident, we are going to!

  1.  We had a four-legged senior cat break a leg falling off the kitchen table/ compound fracture. Garfield was not a candidate for amputation, and we had to let him go. A tragic accident that still haunts us to this day! The boys were young and playing, and Garfield tried to get out of the way and slipped off the kitchen table 30 inches under 2 feet! It was a blink of an eye that ended in the worst way possible. He landed on a wood floor!
  2. 3 feet is not a lot for us humans, and really for a 4 legged young cat, BUT and a big BUT the shorter the fall for cats is dangerous and can lead to a bad outcome! They cannot correct the fall in shorter distances., They have more time to adjust to a long fall and hopefully land on their feet! In cases on this site that means landing on 3 legs and always the chance of injury. 
  3. Purrkins is a front leg amp so yes, it is a little different where he has zero issues getting up to places but going down his one front leg would take a beating if he did not have steps to his favorite looks outs. Purrkins and his four-legged brother both use all the steps provided, thankfully! They took right to them. (I showed them one time with treats try this way; that was all it took. ) the placement is also key to use. 

 Our animal's bodies are designed to be on four legs; being on three, regardless of which limb is affected, the rest of the body compensates for the lack of limb. So although they do great on three, I can assure being on 3 takes a toll. 

Purrkins goes for acupuncture chiropractic adjustments since amputation; he has been on three for over five years. He gets adjusted every couple of months because things get out of whack!

Some things to think on

1. Can you take a chance on another limb being injured?

2. What if he misses that 3 feet or the cats are playing and loses his balance. We would hope that he would land on the sofa and be ok if that happened. But we don't know? 

Is that a chance you can take? These are your decisions to make. 

Our most significant point to make is to think long-term on three legs for Han! Although our cats can do everything on three limbs, it doesn't mean that they should! 

We can guide you and give you all the scenarios from our own experiences, but what you decide is best for Han may differ. 

Hugs and a chin scratch to the kittens, please!

Holly & Purrkins💝💝💝

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18 December 2021 - 1:23 am
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Excuse the late response, been a bit busy! I'll be making some cool steps and stairs for him this weekend to help him get up and off the tree and couch easier.

Good news! Next Monday he'll be going to the vet to have his pins removed. He's doing mostly fine, but I do feel like the pins are getting in his way. He still has his funny walk where he seems to have some trouble catching his weight with his remaining leg. Could simply be a lack of strength still (which it probably is as well). He also much prefers to sit sideways, so resting on the sides of his hips, rather than resting on his remaining leg. I'm guessing it's either the pins making it uncomfortable to sit on his leg or perhaps it's just a more stable position for him. I'll be sure to discuss this next Monday.

It's been almost a month since crate release and just now I realized how much he's progressed already. A month ago he couldn't jump even half a foot. Just now I put him on the couch with me - since he hasn't jumped on it yet - and he saw a squirrel outside. Before I could blink my eyes he was on the ground and jumped on the (much taller) chair next to the window with absolute ease. It had me a bit worried that he still hasn't jumped on the couch yet, but I guess he's just sick of the living room and much prefers the bedroom now. Can't really blame him after seeing the exact same scenery for 2 months straight (his crate was wayyyyy too heavy and bulky to move around the apartment).

Good thing is I realize now that I have some more prepping to do with the window sills. Will need to do some rearranging of furniture to give him easier acces. Here's a fresh pic of him in his absolute new favorite position! It's just impossible to not bury your face in that soft tummy, right!? Good thing about the leg amp though: more belly!

https://i.imgur.com/8AMSbec.jpgImage Enlarger

The Rainbow Bridge



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18 December 2021 - 8:49 pm
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Wow he is gorgeous! Yes I totally want to smooch that adorable belly!

He's made such great progress, I think once those pins come out he will be even spunkier. Look out squirrels!

It will be a challenge to keep him from doing nutty things but you can do it. Holly's tips are spot on and so helpful to keep in mind. Being injury free can take extra work with a three legged cat but the payoff of having a happy, healthy Tripawd cat that grows gracefully into the senior years is so worth it!

We would love to see what you come up with for the home mods!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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