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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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Rita -- a new kitty amputee
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Forum Posts: 16
Member Since:
9 February 2021
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14 February 2021 - 10:58 am
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I’m Kim, Rita’s mom. Rita is somewhere between 17 and 20 years old (she had been a stray so who knows exactly). I’ve had Rita for 12 1/2 years and two years ago discovered she had a metal plate in her right rear leg. Since I got her from a shelter, I don’t know the back story on why she has this plate; I was shocked to discover it (she’s also missing two digits on her front left paw, so I assume that happened at the same time as her rear injury). I only saw the metal because the skin around the metal had opened up, and you could see the plate. Two years ago the vet suggested we remove the plate, but amputation was a possibility if the underlying bone wasn’t strong enough. Rita did not seem like she had any pain, and I wasn’t willing to risk amputation. So, we left it alone.

[Image Can Not Be Found][Image Can Not Be Found]

Fast forward two years, and the metal got infected. She also fractured the bone. The vet once again (from advice from the ortho specialist) suggested amputation. After huge amounts of tears and grief, I opted for amputation. I’m glad I found this website, though I wish I had found it earlier. I was an absolute mess when Rita came home from her surgery–beyond consolable. I wish I had found this site earlier because maybe I could have been more prepared. 

Rita gets her stitches out tomorrow. I can’t wait to get the cone off!!!  The cone has made it difficult for her to eat. I periodically lift the food up for her but she has still lost weight. She also has chronic kidney disease. We had been managing that pretty well (she gets sub q fluids and a long list of kidney supplements) but I’m fearful this surgery will have hurt her kidneys too much. With the cone, it’s also hard for her to drink, which as a kidney cat is important. I do put water in her food. I’m just hoping that starting tomorrow when the cone comes off, we can work on reversing the damage. 

My question . . . does anyone know if cats use ramps? Rita stands at the side of the bed because she can’t jump up. This could partially be due to the cone, but this may be permanent. I’m currently pretty sleep deprived because any time she moves in the bed, I wake up to make sure she doesn’t need to get down. That’s not sustainable long term (hopefully she lives long enough for this to be long term). I  worry stairs will be too hard, so I was looking at ramps for the bed and possibly the couch.  Thoughts on what’s best for an older cat?  

Right now she pretty much just sleeps. I put her on the couch yesterday and she didn’t move until I moved her 12 hours later. I hope that’s just because the body needs sleep to heal.  

The Rainbow Bridge



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14 February 2021 - 3:37 pm
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Hi Rita and family, welcome. Sorry you had to join our club and we are glad you found us. Better late than never, you’re in good company now! You’ve been on quite a journey together. Keep in mind that senior kitties will usually take longer to recuperate than older ones, but they do get their mojo back in time. Tomorrow when the stitches come out (yay!) your vet can do a total assessment to see where she’s at as far as recovery so hopefully she’s right on track. And yes, sleeping is medicinal! As long as she’s able to eat and drink and eliminate she’s doing pretty good.

As for cats and ramps: pet stairs are more commonly used, but some Tripawd kitties like Penny do use them!

20180329_180815-e1522360602700.jpgImage Enlarger

Also see:

Remember, Safety First with DIY Ramps for Cats and Dogs

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


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16 February 2021 - 9:20 am
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Hi Kim, welcome. Sorry, you & Rita have to join us.

Don’t look back only furward ok, you found us now! Hopefully, you had a great recheck today?

We use steps here Purrkins is a front leg amp. We have one mini ramp at the litter box either will work. 

Steps take up less space.

These are our favorite steps. They are wood, heavy-duty, purrfect width, and depth. We have purchased three sets of 3 steps and two sets of 2 steps.

We cannot recommend them highly enough. 

New Cat Condos 110223-Brown Wood Constructed Large Pet Stairs for Cats and Dogs, Large

New Cat Condos website

Another good set we have 3 of these. They are taller and nice for the bed. We prefer the new cat condo version, but both are excellent steps measure carefully.

Armarkat Pet Steps, 4-steps,

Hugs

Holly & Purrkins 💝💝💝

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17 February 2021 - 2:40 pm
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Hi Kim & Rita! My trikitty Hiccup (20 months old, left rear leg amputated) does use a ramp that my husband constructed to get up & down from our bed. It is fairly wide, carpeted, & has a gentle slope because going down on a steep slope can be tricky. Due to his age & purrsonality he adjusts to change fairly quickly, so we never had any difficulty convincing him to use the ramp. That said, I also have a 15 year old 4-legged tortoiseshell female named Crumpet who hates change, and she has also taken to using the ramp. She has arthritis & had stopped jumping up on our bed shortly before the ramp was constructed. I’m pretty sure that she thinks the ramp was made just for her. All four of my cats love using it as a scratching post as well. If steps are difficult for Rita, a ramp might be worth a try!

The Rainbow Bridge



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17 February 2021 - 7:06 pm
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hiccup19 said
Hi Kim & Rita! My trikitty Hiccup (20 months old, left rear leg amputated) does use a ramp that my husband constructed to get up & down from our bed.

  

Thank you so much for sharing Hiccup and Crumpet’s ramp stories, I’m so happy the new furniture is to their liking! Do you have photos you can share? I’d love to see what the ramps look like. 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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Forum Posts: 16
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5 March 2021 - 5:28 pm
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Hi,

I thought I responded to this weeks ago but just realized my response didn’t post. Oops. Sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude. Thanks so much for reaching out and welcoming Rita and me to this club (that we didn’t want to join).  

Here is what I thought I posted:

Penny looks like my old cat Boo, who passed in 2018. Beautiful baby.

Rita got her stiches out on Monday (now two weeks ago). What a relief! She can now eat and drink when she wants. Plus, I don’t have to watch her constantly now. I feel like we both gained so much freedom. Wahoo! The vet said her wound looks fantastic. What a relief. Rita is a big lap kitty. She has finally gotten back in my lap. It’s a little bit of a struggle because my lap is obviously not flat and with three legs, she can’t maneuver too easily. But I’m happy she seems to have forgiven me for all the meds, etc. 😉

I went ahead and got a ramp for the couch. Years ago, my husband (now deceased) built stairs for our senior dog to get on the couch. Rita has mastered using those to get on the couch. She uses the ramp to get down. He also built stairs for the bed. Rita has figured out how to use those. I don’t have a ramp to get down, though. She sometimes will jump (yikes!) and sometimes goes down the stairs. I may ask my neighbor to build her a ramp. I did purchase one but it was really steep and took up a lot of space. So, I returned it. 

Holly, you’re right; stairs are less space. I didn’t think Rita would be able to do the stairs though. I’ve always called her my Mary Lou Retton because like the famous gymnast, Rita is small, athletic, and stout. Her athleticism has gone out the window with the amputation though (and older age). I miss having her run through the house at full speed. I miss watching her scratch her scratching post, which she can’t do (or won’t do) now. But all in all, I guess she’s doing well and has been a good trooper! 

I have lined the wood floors (which is the whole house) with runners or throw rugs to make it easier. That helps them, right? 
Thanks again.

Virginia




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5 March 2021 - 9:18 pm
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Everything  you have done is spot on perfect for helping  your sweet Eita have a safe environment!  Good job!👌

So glad to hear how well Rits is doing and that she has reclaimed  the couch and your lap!!😎

Thanks so much for checking in. These are the kinds of updates we love to hear. Keep on coming !

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!

Michigan


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6 March 2021 - 9:36 am
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It is still very early, and with Rita being a little older:) she is doing brilliantly!

Don’t count out Rita flying thru the house; be patient & do come back and let us know when you see it;)

YES, DITTO to Sally, you are doing all things right to help Rita.

Thanks for the update!
Hugs and scratches to Rita, please.

Holly & Purrkins💝💝💝

The Rainbow Bridge



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6 March 2021 - 12:53 pm
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You’re not rude at all! We are really glad things are good and Rita is back to being a lap kitty. Yes, traction is essential for Tripawds so great job covering up the floors with rugs to help her get around. I’d love to see the ramp you come up with! 

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

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Forum Posts: 36
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7 March 2021 - 5:55 am
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Great job, Rita and mom!! So glad to hear she’s doing well. I fashioned ramps from 18 inch wide shelving (approx 36 inches long) and stapled that mesh-grip stuff you put on shelves as traction . I cut the grip stuff long enough to fold over the top and bottom edge and stapled ONLY on the back and sides of the ramp (to avoid snags). Folding the grip material over the edges also ensures the ramp won’t move around as they use it.

Two ramp photos on Yum Yum’s recovery album page: https://photos……a4CjfGN68A

I’m also amazed at how well my cat has done post-amputation. They really do just live in the moment! 

– Jessica and Yum Yum kitty

Forum Posts: 16
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8 March 2021 - 4:00 pm
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Thanks. I wouldn’t trust myself to construct the ramp. But I appreciate your giving the information Jessica!  And I’m so glad your Yum Yum is doing well post-amputation. I love that name–Yum Yum! 🙂

Holly and Purrkins, thanks for saying she’s doing brilliantly. I realize part of what I need to do is re-adjust my expectations. I feel like Rita has aged overnight (between the infection in her leg, the fractured bone, and now the amputation). I know I look at her differently, which isn’t fair to her. The good news is that she hasn’t slept in the bed for a long time. I guess her leg must have bugged her enough that she couldn’t easily jump into bed. Now with the stairs, I wake up many mornings with her on my pillow (a lovely way to wake up). So that’s good. I hope her energy returns as she recovers more and more.

In the meantime, here is the ramp she uses to get off the couch. rita_photos | Kimmurdock.com I purchased it on Amazon. It isn’t too steep, which I appreciate. She walks up the stairs and down the ramp. My other cat has started using the stairs as well. He’s not a youngster anymore either, so I’m sure he’s thrilled to have stairs. 

[Image Can Not Be Found]

Michigan


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8 March 2021 - 5:34 pm
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Maybe this will help future look how old/young;) Rita is in human years.

https://catfrie…..manAge.pdf

Older kitties tend to take longer to bounce back; she is doing brilliantly for a senior kitty. Is she on any meds? Being a senior and now on three, she may have some arthritis. Rita will have no choice but to show it now. I would add in a joint supplement if you have not already. She has been thru a lot, so yea, try to take all the good things and celebrate. Rita is no different minus the limb; she is the same kitty and can still do kitty things with a little assistance. She is showing you that leg was indeed bothering her, so yay for sleeping in the bed.

I love the ramp and width of it. Awe, Rita is an orange tabby too!

I just read our catster magazine and thought of Rita; this was in it.

Image Enlarger

 Smooch to Rita (I love the new avatar pic too)

Hugs, Holly & Purrkins💝💝💝

Virginia




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8 March 2021 - 5:51 pm
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As usual, spot on feedback from Holly.  Rita is definitely still Rita,  just may be taking things a tiny bit slower woth some extra naps now because she has been through a lot!  .  And as Holly said the arthr may be more obvious now, but there are many ways to treat that.

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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8 March 2021 - 6:16 pm
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Oh I think that even though the progress feels small, she’s making those steps toward a new normal. Sometimes it’s hard for us to see that through all our worry. She looks really good in the images and I love the ramp that you are using! 

IMG_0288.JPEGImage Enlarger

P.S. Your book looks amazing, I need to read it!

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
Latest Tripawds News
Read my story here.

Support the Tripawds Foundation!

Forum Posts: 16
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9 February 2021
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9 March 2021 - 9:05 am
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Thanks. Wow, according to that chart, Rita is an old lady! 😉 This was Rita just 10 months ago (at what would be her late 70s in people years). I just added a video of her at rita_photos | Kimmurdock.com (I can’t figure out how to add it directly on this post). Thanks for the ramp info. I will look at it for the bedroom. The same company that makes the one I got for the couch makes one for the bed. But it was too steep and pretty big and heavy. Maybe this one is better.  Thanks!

Hmmm… I didn’t think about arthritis. She gets supplements for kidney disease (yes, we’ve entered that point, though with all the supplements, sub q fluids, and energy work, her kidneys have improved [at least before her surgery and anesthesia]). One of the supplements she gets is greenlip mussel oil (omegas), which should help with arthritis. But do you have specific arthritis supplements to suggest?  

Thanks.

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