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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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Rescue Cat Recovery Problems
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6 April 2020 - 3:24 pm
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Hi my name is Maureen. I fostered a cat from a county humane center last Friday (4/3/20). Her right, hind leg was amputated.

I asked about antibiotics and pain medicine prior to leaving. I was told she was given Onsior 6mg x3 days and no pain medicine was needed/given. When I got home, I read the limited information they gave me. I saw the order for the Onsior, although, there was no documentation that it was given. I also read that her leg was amputated on  3/23/20. The stitches were still in with no directions to remove them. I thought stitches were suppose to be removed around 7-10 days so I called back on Saturday. I informed them; the surgical site and her ears were very warm to touch and she appeared dehydrated.They asked me if I could take the cat to the vet because there was no vet available at the center on Monday.The site was well approximated with no obvious redness or drainage and it was heavily crusted.

She displayed frequent, rapid, deep abdominal breathing and persistent body trembling. I noticed the surgical site moving up & down as if she was trying to mover her leg. She is constantly jolting up and fervently licking her surgical site. Her tail is mangled and I have not seen her tail move unless she changes position and it drags along. I fear that there is active nerve damage at the base of her tail too. When I try to gingerly assess that area, she jolts around to lick the area. There is a protruding area under her skin at the base of her spine and her tail (vertebra?) There is also an open area on the tail about 1/2″ to 1″ from her anus.

She had started to trust me until I took her to the vet today. The stitches were so embedded, that it took about 20 minutes to remove them. The vet did not want to mess with her tail today because of the pain and added trauma today. The vet did give me an antibiotic and some Tramadol for pain. I read that and ice pack can also be used. Do you feel that will Help?

She is so sweet, I all the advice I can get to help her. Thank you

The Rainbow Bridge

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6 April 2020 - 3:53 pm
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Hi Maureen, welcome. We hope you don’t mind we started a new topic for you but we felt this sweet kitty needs a topic all her own so we can help you better.

I’m sorry for the lack on instructions and information you received on caring for her. Poor kitty! How is she now? What is her mobility like? Is she still showing pain signals ?

What did the vet say about her dehydration and the other injuries on her body? Did they search around for any signs of infection? Oh, is the Tramadol helping at all? It’s not the best of pain medications so if it doesn’t seem to be working (you notice she is still giving pain signals ), please call and ask the vet for another pain medication that might be more effective. 

As for an ice pack, sure I would give it a try if she is agreeable. See our Heat and Ice Instructions for notes on how to use ice therapy.

Sorry I have more questions than answers! You may also want to check out our Best Tripawd Cat Pain Management Tips while you wait for input from the community.

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6 April 2020 - 5:14 pm
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Maureen, thank you for being such a great advocate  for this sweet kitty.  You took on a lot that could be far less challenging  had she gotten proper pain management   and better instructions  from the start!  She clearly was showing pain signs.  This is MAJOR surgery and humans would be in the hospital on a morphine drip for days!!  To go through having a limb cut off with basically no pain medication  just breaks my heart!!

Check out the links Jerry gave you to give you some idea of what to expect, or what you should have been told to expect.

Most kitties come home with an antibiotic, Gabapentin  and/or Buprenorphine (sp??).  Drinking amd peeing are important,  but pooping and eating  sometimes are a little off.  “Jolting up” is often a sign of painful phantom limb pain syndrome and the Gabapentin will help with that.

Did they take her temperature?  While no outward signs of infection I’m really glad they FINALLY  have her on an antibiotic!

As Jerry ,mentioned, check into other pain medications that are more suitable for cats who just  had MAJOR surgery!

Will wait for your feedback and input into the questions.  We are here for you amd for that incredibly  brave kitty!


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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6 April 2020 - 8:34 pm
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Thank you for your response. I plan on checking out the link for “cat pain tips” . I’m new to this “blogging” stuff. I hope I can find it again. I check marked the “subscribe to this topic” box in hopes of finding it again. My vet appointment today was disappointing. With all the COVID-19 precautions, they were attempting to see patients outside. Of course, we could not be seen outside and the 20 minutes for suture removal had a few people outside waiting. I am naming her “Frankie”. I asked my daughters’ family for suggestions. All of her stitches reminded them of ‘Frankenstein”. At first, I was applaud, but know it’s growing on me. The Tramadol has help a little, but she is still having the phantom pain ; leg jerking, but the twitching seems a little better. She hates the medicines and is still trying to hide from me. I understand that, I broke her trust. As far as mobility, she seems to be doing well. Of course,  she appears to be a little weak and somewhat wobbly, although, not unexpected. I’m a nurse and I told them about the dehydration/tenting. I plan on contacting and driving to my former vet for advice and better pain management . She is eating, urinating and defecating. I’m really worried about a pelvic fracture. I just lost a cat in January who had to be euthanized because of “Mega-Colon” related to an unknown pelvic fracture. I’m still heartbroken and feeling guilty. I lost a total of 3 cats in 5 weeks. The other two were elderly and I knew they were dying. It was devastating. 

Here and Now

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6 April 2020 - 9:27 pm
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rncats said
I plan on checking out the link for “cat pain tips” … I hope I can find it again. 

See Jerry’s post above.

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24 April 2020 - 8:25 pm
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I have named the cat “Frankie” (short for Frankenstein). It was my daughter and my granddaughters idea and I think it kind of suits her. I’m sorry to say that Frankie had to have her tail amputated on Monday (4/20/20) and she seems to be more comfortable now. She is on an antibiotic and pain medicine and the tail “stump” is healing well. There appears to be some posturing, at times, on her remaining back paw that may indicate some permanent nerve damage in her spine. I was told that she was caught in a car engine that had traveled quite a distance. Her rear paw pads were also burned and there is some course fur and whiskers growing back on her head. She has begun to trust me and her anxiety appears to have greatly decreased. She is getting around pretty well now and I have even got het to play a little bit. Thank you for your support.

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28 April 2020 - 9:00 am
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Yay for failed fosters smiley_clap Sounds like Frankie is right where she needs to be sp_hearticon2 Glad you were able to get the rest of the care that she needed. She will have to find her new balance one more time. That may be a reason for the posturing. Also, wondering if the burns on her poor paws may have messed with her sense of touch? 

You saved her life!!! You were/are literally her Angel here on earth. Would love to see a picture if you get some time to post one. Here are some tips for adding photos HERE

Please keep in touch and let us know how she progresses!


Jackie and Huckleberry sp_hearticon2


Jackie, David, Bo, Andy, Oscar, Angel Mitchell, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

Huckleberry's Blog

1 May 2020 - 5:38 pm
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Thank you Jackie. 

Unfortunately, the posturing of the paw was occurring prior to the tail being amputated. I fear that the burnt paw pads definitely contribute to her unsteadiness. I hope they are not panful, there could also be nerve damaging there too. Her remaining back leg is very weak and you are right, her balance if off again. In fact, she had a set back from being over confident and she slipped and banged her “stumps”. It was heartbreaking. I know it was extremely painful for her. She was flopping around like a fish out of water on the floor and crying out. Luckily she came out of hiding for some food that I laced with some pain medicine. She slept on the bed last night and has come out a little more today. She’s trying so hard, I feel she badly wants to be loved, but is afraid. We lost the trust we gained. She is so fearful again. She is such a sweet girl. I pray that abuse did not contribute to her issues. I keep telling her to take all the time she needs. I entered a drawing for an ASSISI device. I believe it works like a TENS unit for people. I’m sure she would benefit greatly, but I’m not sure she would let me use it. She does join me and seems to calm some when I try to meditate, so who knows. I could always donate it to someone else who could use it or give to my vet for other to use when needed.

I would love to show you a picture of her, but I could not figure out how to attach it. Thanks again Jackie, It’s helps to bounce concerns with someone. She has suffered so much, I just want her to recover so she can live a happy life and someone to love her.

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11 May 2020 - 4:15 am
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Just hopped in to check and see how Frankie is doing. I hope she is starting to feel better. Please drop a line when you have a chance.


Jackie and Huck sp_hearticon2


Jackie, David, Bo, Andy, Oscar, Angel Mitchell, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry

Huckleberry's Blog

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