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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

Tripawds is your home 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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Tips on how to prepare (mentally/physically) for my kitty's amputation?
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Member Since:
10 June 2017
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11 June 2017 - 7:19 pm
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Hi all! My 15 year old kitty (yes she's still a little kitty in my eyes) was limping severely on her back left leg when I came home from vacation. I took Libby in the next day to the vet and the doc concluded that it was osteosarcoma. Now it has been a week and biopsy results confirm that it is a sarcoma, but they are unsure of which type. When they were trying to get stuff out of her leg for the biopsy, the vet found a lot of blood in that area (almost two syringes full) and she thought that was very abnormal to a sarcoma. Does anyone know what that could be? Anyways, I am taking her in again tomorrow to do an ultrasound on her abdomen and an X-ray on her front legs to make sure the cancer didn't spread or start anywhere else in her body. Her rib X-rays were clear which is a good sign, but I am hoping for the best! No matter the outcome tomorrow morning, we decided to have her leg amputated either way to ease pain. Right now she's doped up on pain meds and she just isn't herself. She is definitely in a lot of pain because she will barely move to eat, drink, or use the litter box (which I moved all right next to my bed where she sleeps). So, that is the background of my Libby and if anyone has any words of wisdom to offer in the area of sarcomas, I would greatly appreciate it!!

So now on to my second part. Because Libby is getting her back left leg amputated, I feel like I need to prepare in a number of different ways. I am a 20 year old college student and plan on taking her back to school with me once she recovers. She is 15, so I am a little worried about her because her age is up there. I am worried about her during surgery as well as after recovering. What should I get ready for her when she comes home? I am planning on cutting my litter box so she can get in there easier and I was going to make a little T-shirt for her (not sure if she will wear it though because she's a princess haha!), but is there anything else I am missing from one amputee parent to another? Any advise mentally for me as well would be great because I have very little idea of what to expect. Was there anything that surprised you/upset you that I should be prepared for? Is there any specific way I should act towards my kitty while recovering? Lastly, what is the average recovery time you experienced with your tripawd kitties?

Thank you so much in advance and so sorry for the long message! Praying that we will get the news tomorrow that her cancer hasn't  spread and will keep whoever cares updated 🙂

Livermore, CA

Member Since:
18 October 2009
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11 June 2017 - 7:43 pm
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Hello and welcome to you and Libby, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

I moved your post here to Three Legged Cat forum.  While you wait for our cat parents to give you input you might look though this forum, you will find answers to most all of your questions here.

I'm sorry you are dealing with cancer, but glad you found us here!  This place was all about dogs when I joined years ago but there are more and more kitty members here every day.  It's too bad any of us have to be here, but you will find lots of information and support. 

I hope you get good news tomorrow!

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010


              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

Member Since:
27 July 2014
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11 June 2017 - 9:42 pm
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I'm sorry to hear your cat needs an amputation. I hope it hasn't spread. Is there any chance there was a vaccine injection in that leg? My cat got a fibrosarcoma from a vaccine injection 3 years ago. She's doing great today and I believe the amputation took the cancer with the leg.

You can get a lot of information from these forums: http://tripawds.....gged-cats/

There have been other older cats who got amputations and they did well. There may be other challenges when cats have other conditions but your vet could let you know about there. Some older cats were a little slower in their recovery but ended up doing well. 

I had one day notice for my cat's amputation so I did little planning. My main suggestion is to have a room to keep your cat in during recovery. You don't want any hiding places, such as under beds. If there is a bed perhaps take the frame down until you cat has healed. Mona slept under a shelf in a closet as cats love cozy places to heal. Some people have a kennel for their cat with a blanket over top, or even a box on its side would work.

Mona went nude during her recovery - no cone, no t-shirt. It's rare though. So I can't offer much other than other's had their cat wear some type of onesie outfit.

I'd say the recovery time is about 10 days when they get their stitches out. There are huge improvements after that. Before that the cats sleep alot and pee in inappropriate places (joking although my Mona did). 

What surprised me? Mona spend her first night at the vet's house with his family. He said she was great, using the litter, sweet, etc. As soon as she got home she started racing around the house, jumped up on a window ledge and wiggled up between the window screen and window. She was nuts from the pain meds. I loved it when she slept. Sleep is healing.

I suggest wet food for the first few days. Mona loved canned kitten food and others feed their cats baby food.

Please read some of the previous posts and I'm sure others will chime in with their experiences. Let us know if you have any other questions.

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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12 June 2017 - 8:55 am
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Welcome to you and Libby. We are the club nopawdy wants to join but we are here to help. All of us are crossing our fingers and paws for the green light from the vet.

Libby is so lucky to have such a great parent like you! I think you will be totally impressed at how well she will do on three legs. Whether a cat or dog goes through amputation surgery, it's always harder on the humans. And what's even better is that cats actually recuperate and get around much better than dogs! Even older kitties tend to do really well.

Watch our Tripawds News blog on Wednesday, we'll have a "best of" tips to prepare for surgery post. Meanwhile you might find some of these Tripawds Cats articles and tips helpful.

Let us know how tomorrow goes!

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |


Member Since:
11 July 2016
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12 June 2017 - 9:02 am
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Hello and Welcome to you and Libby
We are sorry you have to join us and are dealing with cancer and amputation!, We are glad you found us!!

Our kitty Purrkins is 6 years old he had his front leg amputated 11 months ago due to a soft tissue sarcoma.
Purrkins does fantastic!

I have no idea why all the blood in the needle biopsy? Maybe someone else will have that answer. The vet didn't have any insight ?

We are keeping our paws crossed you get all clear today on the ultrasound !

Glad to hear Libby is on pain meds already! We have had a lot of older kitties go thru amputations if Libby’s health is good otherwise she will do well, the biggest difference is what Kerren mentioned older kitties recover slower. There is Nothing wrong with that! Just know its possible she may recover a little slower.

Prepare yourself for the incision. We have a forum that is broke down for just rear leg kitty blogs. If you can read some of those that will help !Stay strong for Libby, she will pick up on your emotions! If your panic jump on and panic with us ok!

Just remember in recovery, you are helping Libby , you are doing this for Libby not to her !
By getting rid of the leg you are Getting rid of the pain, your choosing a pain free and quality of life and hopefully cancer free life. Either way you are giving Libby a extended period quality of life!

Do you know if Libby will be staying the night ,? Will someone be there to monitor Libby all night if she is? If there is not someone monitoring her! It would be better to bring her home! Purrkins stayed 3 days in the hospital under supervised care!

Pain meds - make sure you know what your coming home with and for how long, how to administer them.
We were sent home with 3 days of Buprenorphine and 14 days of Gabapentin. All vets seem to vary on what is sent home & for how long! We did have to call the surgeon and get more Buprenorphine prescribed! I would rather have too much medicine and not need it, then be running back for more! Purrkins was on Buprenorphine total of 12 days and the Gabs for 14 days.

Most cats will want to hide when they come home. This is a normal cat instinct! Provide a safe place where you can access Libby at med time! A spare room with a door or some people use cages. If Libby is going to recover where there is a bed as Kerren mentioned make it inaccessible!! If you can put the mattress on the floor great, if not stuff pillows or blankets under it, Pack it full!! You do not want Libby under the bed!!

Stock up on food, canned food would be best in recovery if Libby eats canned food. I got a lot of different can foods for recovery knowing it might be a issue to try to get Purrkins to eat. The stronger, smelling foods helped in our case. Tuna & salmon, chicken and herring etc. We only had to coax him to eat the first day or two home. I always have turkey & gravy baby food on hand and that is also great to have on hand.

Litter box we cut ours down so Purrkins could get into the litter box. Purrkins did use his box when he got home the first day or 2 I helped in and out, we cut the front of his box out and once we did that he was good to go by himself.

Get approval for you t-shirt from the vet. Will it cover the back area? We did use baby onesies and got them approved so we didn't need a cone!

Stock up on food for you too! So you don’t have to run out for anything .

We had orders for restricted activity for 14 days, stitches removed 14th day and Purrkins was free to go back to being a kitty. We stayed in the spare room for 14 days!

When do you go back to school? Has Libby traveled with you before to school?

Things to consider with Libby being a rear leg amp. She will have a harder time getting up to places, providing some steps to assist her to get up to areas. We provided steps for Purrkins and he uses them all!
We have carpet runners down that made a huge difference for Purrkins he doesn't slide around now!

Things that surprised me were
*Purrkins did not move in the hospital, no attempt, he just peed where he laid. I read most kitties are up the same day. Not Purrkins.
*Purrkins flopped all over the place when I let him out of the carrier the first day home, I was not prepared for that! That was awful to watch. After the first hour home things got better! That was a combination of things, the first time he tried to get around on 3 and being drugged and being excited to finally be home!
*Purrkins 3rd eyelid was showing, from all the drugs that got better after a few hours home also.
*We were only sent home with 3 days of the Buprenophine.

What really surprised me is how Purrkins gets around!! I could of never imagined him to do as well as he does! So know that recovery does not last forever and it will get better ! Try not to compare your recovery to others. Libby will do recovery in Libby’s way!

Stay connected here, keep us update please we do care! We are here for you & Libby and will do our best to get you to the other side! Please ask anything if we missed something ok! Just ask!

Chin & ear scratches to Libby
Holly & Purrkins

On The Road

Member Since:
24 September 2009
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12 June 2017 - 10:00 am
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Don't miss the growing list of tri-kitty resources!


All Tripawds Tri-kitty Blogs

Best Tips for Three Legged Cats

While you wait for comments from others, use the Advanced Search above to refine your forum search results with specific phrases, and you're sure to find lots of helpful feedback. You can also search all blogs here , and feel free to call the toll-free Tripawds Helpline anytime!

Emotionally speaking, the tips we share in our Be More Dog podcast are certainly relative for anyone going through this, regardless of whether their dog or cat or goat is losing a limb... way-cool

Tripawds Founders Jim and Rene | | |

Member Since:
10 June 2017
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12 June 2017 - 11:01 am
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Hi everyone! I am so thankful and overwhelmed with joy of the wonderful and quick feed back! I am sooo happy I found this site, it really makes a huge difference in not feeling alone with this little life challenge. So a quick update after our visit with the vet today... all is clear!!!big-grinclap It was such a relief to hear that the cancer has not spread anywhere else in Libby's body! She received an abdomen ultrasound, rib X-ray, and front leg X-ray. Besides her being in the clear, she has a bit of old kitty arthritis in her front legs which might make getting around/recovery a little slower for her, but I know she can do it! She is a tough kitty! Thank you again for all the good wishes and kind words, it really means a lot to us. 🙂

I also want to thank everyone for the AMAZING advice and moral support!! I feel sooo much better prepared now. The links for other forums are also incredible. 

For traveling back and forth from school, the drive is about 4 hours and I have taken her back and forth about 5-6 times. She tends to sit under my back seat where I put a really soft blanket down for her. She really seems okay and even sleeps some of the way. She also likes the seat heater! My new lease starts July 1st, but I am willing to stay home at my parent's house where she can recover until my next semester classes start. She is scheduled to have the surgery sometime next week because I am leaving to go out of town this week and I want to be here during the surgery. I am hoping she will be fine by August 13th, which is the very last day I can stay home before classes start. If not, I may leave her with my parents and then come back to get her once she is fully recovered. 

Where can I get kitty stairs? My bed is about 2-3 feet above the ground and the space under my bed is about half a foot, but I will stuff it with pillows because Libby has a very strong will power and will no doubt go under there and not come out if she doesn't want to! Also, the floor in my bedroom is hardwood. Will that be difficult for her to get around? We barely have carpet in my house, but there is a bedroom with carpet that I can move her things into. I am going to try a lot of different food to try to get her to eat. She has gained 1 pound (8 pounds to now 9 pounds) since her last visit which is great news because I was really worried about her not eating as much as she usually does. She used to be overweight and it is weird to see her like this now, but I am guessing she is in a healthier weight range right now?

I need to discuss the amputation more with out vet. I was so worried and preoccupied about the cancer spreading that I haven't really gone there yet. Now that we know she is in the clear, I plan on calling the vet to discuss the amputation tomorrow or the next day. I will keep everyone updated for sure! Thank you soooo so so much again, I really can't explain to you how much this forum has helped me emotionally and mentally and how much it will help Libby during recovery.heart


Member Since:
11 July 2016
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12 June 2017 - 11:50 am
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First YAAAAAAAY clear X-rays & ultrasound!!!

We got our stairs on amazon smile.
I will attach some links to one set we got! I ended up recovering them to match the house LOL
The first set comes in two sizes a 3 step and a 4 step. We got the 4 steps. There are multiple choices of steps on Amazon or any pet store for that matter! If someone is handy they can make them.

We have steps for Purrkins to get onto our bed and to the window seats. We have moved furniture around to help also kinda tier some furniture into steps. If you cannot afford steps making boxes into steps would be a option. I would fill the boxes with something to weight them down and tape it up, then tier those!

Amarkat Steps

Steps Amazon

Stuff the bed really well I mean really well,no way access!! Board it off if you have to! It is guaranteed if there is a way Libby will get in there! 

We had no carpet in the house so I totally get it! We used exercise floor pads in recovery. Yoga mats work too! We got the carpet runners after recovery for the house. We are extra cautious with Purrkins on 3 legs! I put sisal on the window sills too because he was slipping.

I would recover in the carpet room if it were me. We all kinda do stuff different so whatever works for you and Libby do that! Just remember you will have 3 legs now you want to protect those 3 legs !

As for Libby’s weight going into this with extra weight is ok , she has gained the weight from not being as active because she hurts.

She very well might lose some weight in recovery!!! But after Libby is recovered you will want to keep a close eye on her weight ! Being a Tripawd will put extra stress on her and any extra weight is not a good thing. Purrkins is still active on 3 legs but not like he was on 4 so that means less food;)  We had to put Purrkins on a diet after recovery. Having arthritis on her front leg will also be better to have less weight.  So get thru recovery and see what the vet says on her weight, Deall with all that later;)

No need to explain we have all been thru this so we TOTALLY understand everything you are going thru now during and after !

You & Libby will get thru this! You have the tripawd nation behind you! Thats a good energy to have!

Hugs! heart

Holly & Purrkins

You can read about Purrkins journey on his blog if you want, we documented most of it, you just hit that globe under under his picture, he has a youtube channel too:)


Member Since:
22 February 2013
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12 June 2017 - 7:32 pm
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Do we have two lf. THE BEST KITTY EXPERTS or what???!! Purrkins and Mona....okay, actually their humans, have given you INVALUABLE first hand insight from experience!!

You CLEARLY love your Libby dearly and have HER best interest at the forefront of every decision you are making!!

And yes, I would get some non slip scatter rugs or cheap yoga mats to help with traction . And every yummy food you can think of is good!!

Get real clear with the Vet on what pain meds she will be coming home with and make sure you have an ample supply.

Recovery is NO picnic! STAY CONNECTED!!! As you can see, you are not alone!! We will constantly remind you during the recovery process you are doing this FOR Libby and not TO her!! You'll soon see it for yourself though!



Hugs and love!

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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10 June 2017
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20 June 2017 - 5:09 pm
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A wild update for anyone still following:

Wow so a lot has happened since I last posted. I left for California to visit family on the day I last posted. The next day I had to take a red eye flight back home because the pet sitter called and told us Libby collapsed and had become critically anemic. We got to the hospital as soon as we landed and they "thought" it looked like she had feline leukemia and they gave her a very very poor prognosis as in days if anything to live. Her red blood cell level was at 10% when a normal cat's is at 35%. The vet's recommendation was to put her down. I decided to bring her back to my house and say my goodbyes because I was told we only had at most 24 hours with her. They suggested we brought her back in a few hours to be euthanized (which actually really upset me that they wouldn't let me do it on my own time and they also pushed us to try to pay for it then. They were very apathetic and pushy about euthanasia.) I just couldn't bring myself to take her back in that day to be euthanized after laying with her and cuddling her all day, so I looked into at home euthanasia services to come the next day so she could go comfortably at home. We scheduled someone to come the next day at 11am assuming she made it until then. We were shocked that she was still alive because her entire body had lost color and her paws were ghost white. She wasn't eating the entire day until 10:30am came around. All of a sudden she was alert, purring, and moving around more (still not walking but moving her body) than the day before. Again, I couldn't bring myself to put her down when the 11am time came around, especially because she was acting more normal than before. We cancelled the at home euthanasia appointment and decided to take her to a third opinion just to see if there was anything at all we could do. We found a specialist vet about 30 minutes away that specialized in all sorts of areas including cancer. The vet there suggested transfusing her with cat blood and plasma and then seeing how she reacts and then would see where we could go from there. They also discovered that she DID NOT have feline leukemia and that she has an autoimmune disease. Her white blood cells were attacking her red blood cells and she still has the sarcoma in her leg. It seemed like a reach, but we decided to keep her on medication after the transfusion to suppress her immune system. That was 4 days ago and after a second check up today, her red blood cell count has gone up to 20% !!! Still not completely better, but she is acting like her self again minus the limp. Now to the leg issue... Libby is not a candidate for amputation anymore because of her other health issues going on. We are going to continue to keep her on her medicine and hope that she can get her red blood cell count up to 30% on her own and then the surgeon will consider amputation. She is a strong girl and I am so happy she is still here today. Hoping for the best and that we can have the surgery done within 3 weeks from now and that her red blood cell count continues to rise. Prayers and good thoughts sent our way would be much appreciated!! Thank you for all of the support!


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11 July 2016
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20 June 2017 - 5:47 pm
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Of course we are still following ! You join your family here.

Wow, I guess wild update !! Good for you!!! A million times good for you for following your gut instict!!

I’m so glad to hear your 3rd opinion was your answer! I am sorry about the first vets and them being pushy! Very sad and if you didn't have that feeling Libby would no longer be here.

We always say second or third opinions here and they pay off, Libby is alive because of you !!

Sounds like Libby is responding great !
Did they give you the name of the autoimmune disease? Just curious.

We are sending pawsitive thoughts and prayers for you and Libby for whatever path you take!
We are hoping for the best for Libby and again way to go MOM!!
Keep up the fight Libby way to go!!
Holly & Purrkinsheart


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22 February 2013
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20 June 2017 - 7:38 pm
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WHEW!!! Talk about cats having nine lives! Thank goodness, THANK GOODNESS you went with your gut...your heart...and brought Libby home!! 🙂 🙂 To think how close you came to "that" because of the first Vet's ASSessment.....soooo scary!
And whatever happens here on out, you have already gained some extended quality time for more purring and more snuggles! Libby is a fighter, thate for sure!!

We're all part of the Libby Fan Club and will be cheering wildly for a quick recovery with this hurdle! For now, just take it ine day at a time. And today is a good day!! 🙂

Lots of hugs!

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

PS...I woukd "drop by; the other Vet and have"update" their records! 🙂

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!

Member Since:
27 July 2014
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20 June 2017 - 9:13 pm
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Thankfully you are persistent and so is Libby. I wonder if this relates back to the blood that was drawn out when the first vet was attempting a biopsy. Also, do you know the last time Libby had a vaccination?

I'm so happy that Libby is cuddling with you. She is bit dramatic when you leave home, isn't she? Just joking Libby - I will send many good thoughts of red blood cells multiplying so you reach the 30% target soon.

Hugs for you and cuddles for Libby. heartheart

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

Member Since:
2 October 2016
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7 July 2017 - 4:22 pm
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Holy smokes. What a story! Well done you for trusting your gut and continuing to search for answers. I hope she keeps making good progress and becomes eligible for amputation soon.

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