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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1 September 2018
I am a receptionist at a Veterinary Clinic and feel so alone, failed, and distraught over this situation.
In mid-June, a client came in with a 9 month old male unaltered cat who’s rear legs had been run over by a truck. His rear left leg had severe soft tissue swelling and minimal open wounds however his rear right leg had a huge wound on the elbow (hock) which could not be surgically closed. The owner was given a few options, amputation being one and bandaging the leg, keeping the pet crated for months to try heal, while on antibiotics and pain medications. Unfortunately, the owner could not afford either and opted for euthanasia. The veterinarian, myself, and the rest of the staff felt we could give him a fighting chance if we amputated as most pets seem to have a minimal adverse recovery so we offered the option for the owner to surrender the kitty to us. She’ was absolutely grateful. That evening he went into surgery. I decided he could come to my home to heal and be adopted out once he made a full recovery.
This is where our nightmare begins. Lego had his rear right leg amputated at the hip joint. Surgery went smooth without any complications. He remained hospitalized for a few days so we could keep a close eye on him. During this time, he would rear up and flail as if he were being attacked on the now missing limb. The episodes of this happened about twice a day. We gave Buprenex for pain and he had to have the cone of shame on at all times. Once I brought him home, he continued to ” writhe” up to 10 times a day. He literally would flail in the air, yowling, a hissing as if he were in a cat fight with a ghost cat.
It’s now September and we have tried Gabapentin, Fluoxetine, Steroid Injection, and Prednisone . The episodes had decreased in severity while on Fluoxetine but we were unsure if it was the medication or he was adjusting so we weaned off the medication. He has now begun the process all over of writhing episodes 10 to 20 times a day. I have restarted Fluoxetine to try to control them again but if it doesn’t work we are unsure of what else to do. The doctor is out of suggestions and recommends an MRI and behavioral assessment which will be thousands of dollars out of my pocket. There is no possible way for me to afford this. I have 3 other pets with their own laundry list of medical issues I am treating. I can’t give up on him, so now Lego is mine. I just want him to be comfortable. During these episodes, his ears lay flat, is eyes dilate, and he cries out. It’s heartbreaking.
Has anyone else had a kitty with this issue? If so, how long did it look last. What did you try? Do you know if it was mental or physical?
I’m so lost and heartbroken for him.
Thank you in advance!
25 April 2007
Hi and welcome. I hope you don’t mind that I moved your post here, but I really wanted you to see that for some cats, this post-amputation behavior is not uncommon, unfortunately, but it can certainly be corrected and he can be happy again. Scroll through this forum topic for posts like these and you’ll see other similar situations. We also talk about it in our book, Cool Tips for Tripawd Cats.
Thank you for giving Lego a chance at a good life, and for caring so much about him. It sounds like you work at a great clinic, but are any of the vets who have seen him pain management specialists? If you can get him to a vet who is certified with the IVAPM (International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management), they may be able to pinpoint exactly what’s going on, without having to undergo the expensive MRI. pain management specialists can usually figure these things out quickly, because it’s what they do.
Also, getting him into a consultation with a certified animal rehab therapist will also help to figure out the problem. And the best part is as long as the practitioner is CCRT or CCRP certified the Tripawds Foundation will pay for your first rehab visit .
Try not to panic, you are on the right track by trying to figure out a way to help him feel better. I have to run now but I know others will chime in soon with their own tips too.
Darn, I just erased my response. I’ll be quick because I’m tired. I like Jerry’s suggestions and thought you might also want to post at check with our wonderful vet: https://tripawd…..k-a-vet/
I seem to recall someone had posted here before with a similar issue, cat or dog, I’m not sure. I think it turned out to be some nerve issue from the surgery. Does anyone else recall this?
Thanks for loving Lego!
Hugs for you,
Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona
11 July 2016
Hello and Welcome,
Sorry, you have to join us, and Lego is having issues. Thanks for rescuing the dear soul! (love his name)
How long was Lego on pain meds after his amp? Was he just on the Buprenex? Sounds like phantom limb pain to me in my (not a vet) opinion. We have had several members report the same issues and most resolve with meds.
Did you restart the Gabapentin? I would start that again and keep Lego on that and see if that helps. If you can take Lego for acupuncture along with the gabapentin until things settle down, that would help. I would start the gabapentin again and leave him on in it every 8 hours were our instructions follow your vet’s advice of course and see if the episodes decrease.
I would never say it is a mental issue when our animals are crying out, and eyes dilated and attacking the missing limb and flail. Those are all pain indicators. That’s not to say the Fluoxetine isn’t helping I have no experience with Fluoxetine.
A lot of vets are not up on current pain protocols and phantom limb pain. You are not out of options try the Gaba again and depending on if you can afford a second opinion with a pain specialist, acupuncture /rehab vet.
Hang in there I know how hard it is to see our animals suffer Purrkins had a very late onset of phantom limb pain he would aggressively attack, bite and lick where his arm was episodes would last a few minutes it appeared to come out of nowhere. We take Purrkins for acupuncture and purchased the farabloc blanket he is doing great with both.
This might be the post Kerren is thinking of it was included in Jerry’s search post above.
Here is another post Cat displaying strange behaviour after amputation
As Jerry mentioned this topic is also in our new book Cool Tips for Tripawd Cats The Tripawds Feline Amputation Recovery and Care Handbook.
Let us know how you make out please what steps you take next and what helps Lego.
Hugs & Scratches to Lego please
Holly & Purrkins
Good morning, I’ve slept and am thinking better now. Holly and Purrkins have great advice. Our cats recovery was different so it’s great to hear of another experience that was somewhat similar.
What I was trying to recall was someone, with a dog I think, where the surgeon went back in to tie off a nerve (?) and the pain stopped. I may be out to lunch on what the surgeon did. Since cats can’t describe their pain, I’d like to tell you my experience with a recent left hip replacement. The pain meds did not take the pain away fully. I continued to have discomfort with swelling for a short time and would get sore if I did too much. It takes a year to heal completely. The strangest thing was after a few days my right leg muscles would jump while I slept. This happened for just a couple of nights. Some people end up with damage to their femoral nerve. We only know this because the patient can talk about it but cats can’t.
You are listening to Lego (cute name) and I hope you find a solution soon.
Hugs and chin scratches for Lego,
Kerren and Mona
22 February 2013
As you can see, you are in the best place possible to get support and fit hand experience from our kitty family. Stay close, keep us updated. This will get figured out.
Kerren, the dog you are referencing is “Ollie” regarding a nerve bundle that needed surgery to sort it out. Of course, I can’t find the posts, but you techie search people will.
Any chance of an allergic reaction to the sutures, or a suture pinch a nerve? That can cause craziness.
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!
18 October 2009
I started to look for the story but couldn’t remember the pups name… so since Sally remembered his name I found the thread:
On page 5 there are some videos of Ollie when they were still trying to figure out his pain reactions. It’s a long thread with discussions of his cancer (mast cell) and treatment. But he did have to go back to the hospital to fix the pain left after his amp surgery.
I hope you find some relief for Lego very soon!
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
7 September 2018
Hi, I’ve only just joined the forum and this is my first post following one of my cats having a hind leg amputated. Harry was having very bad episodes once or twice a day when he first came home which sound similar to what you are describing. He would suddenly cry out, start biting at his stump and tail, fling himself about and start hissing and lashing out. Anything in his path would be fair game to attack, including me, and one of my flip flops will never be the same again! He would calm down after anything between five and 20 minutes and then be absolutely fine. I took a video of one of the episodes and showed it to the vet who immediately told me to stop the Vetergesic (I think it’s called Buprenex in America) as he thought he was having hallucinations. As soon as the medication was stopped he did not have any more of these severe episodes. Harry is still on Gabapentin as he seems to have developed some strange behaviour like throwing his stump in the air (like a dog cocking it’s leg up a tree) when he walks slowly and we are trying to get to the bottom of this – I don’t want to hijack your thread so I’m going to start a new thread to see if I can get any information about it. Hope Lego is improving.
25 April 2007
I don’t want to hijack your thread so I’m going to start a new thread…
Thank you! and welcome. We appreciate you chiming in here and look forward to learning more about Harry.
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