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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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Recently Rescued a Tripod Cat (Tips & Advice for a Newbie}
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Forum Posts: 4
Member Since:
9 September 2016
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9 September 2016 - 10:36 am
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Hi everyone!

I found this forum after looking around for a while and was hoping that I could find a good place of support here. Recently my husband and I went to the shelter to adopt. We had lost one of our cats a month or so ago and decided that we need to complete our loving “cat square” as we call it (we’re accustomed to having four cats). At the shelter we noticed Mr. L in the corner. He’s a beautiful, super fluffy orange tabby that seemed to be overlooked for all the kittens. We went to give him some loving and noticed he was a tripod (missing his right rear leg). According to the shelter technician he had been abandoned and then hit by a car, leaving amputation as the only viable option. He’s also a senior (8 years old) and so was not very readily wanted for adoption.

We decided that we’d be the ones to give him a forever home. However, we’ve never owned a tripod before and could use some help. We have him scheduled for a vet visit at our vet on Monday to get our Vet’s advice, as well. He seems to be able to walk around easily enough, as well as hop up and down onto beds/couches without issue. He can get into the litter box on his own, though may need a little help cleaning his back foot on occassion.

We’ve been avoiding picking him up excessively because we read that he needs that extra time walking around to build strength up in his muscles. My only concern is that every now and then he’ll seem to get very confused, completely lose his balance, and cry out. Sometimes he’ll start hopping backwards and seem unable to control it, his leg may kick in the air and as a result flip him over onto his side. When he does this I pick him up and hold him for a few seconds until he seems to calm down, then gently place him from wherever he had been onto the floor where he seems to pick up his balance.

Is this normal? Am I helping properly? Will he adjust better? According to the medical records he was amputated on 7/30/2016. It looks like completely healed up, I can hardly tell where the incision was and fur has grown back over the area. I’ve also considered getting him a prosthetic leg, but wasn’t sure if that would hinder or help. Just any sort of advice would be helpful and appreciated.

Thanks!

Livermore, CA




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9 September 2016 - 11:18 am
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Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.

You have found THE BEST place for support when dealing with amputation!

Congrats on your new addition and you will be rewarded many times over for giving Mr. L a forever home.

A prostetic leg is probably not possible at this point as there needs to be some leg left and usually some planning before surgery.  Not to worry though- tripawd cats usually get along even better than dogs!

Your cat may be dealing with tight muscles that need some massage or it could be phantom limb pain which is not uncommon.

Hang tight- some of our more knowledgeable cat members will be along to give some advice.

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



Forum Posts: 1466
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9 September 2016 - 1:55 pm
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You have a special family to a cat triangle and to rescue a tripawd to make a square. I love it!

My kittie Mona is a front leg amputee so she would function slightly differently than your Mr. L with a rear leg missing. Mona can jump up easily but jumping down puts a big load on the one remaining front leg so I have a number of boxes and steps for her to climb down. You won’t need them for Mr. L to go down but if there is a special place he might like to jump up to you could look at placing a box. He’s easily going up on the bed and couch so it may not be an issue.

The only time I have heard of a tripawd cat walking backwards it was a rear leg amputee. It doesn’t seem to happen with front leg amputees. Mona initially did a lot of face plants but she’s worked that out so I assume that they learn and adjust in time. I did take Mona in for a chiropractic treatment and learned some exercises for her. After the treatment I would see her walk, stop, adjust her remaining shoulder and then walk/hop again. She seemed to know how to make the movement better. Over time I would see many improvements in her movement as I’m sure you will with Mr. L.

It is so sweet that you pick him up to calm him down. I think that is the right thing to do and he will learn you are his protector. I learned from the chiropractor to give Mona daily massages which she loves.

The vet might give some pointers and you could get a chiropractic treatment if there is such a vet in your community. It the meantime a gentle massage on either side of the spine may help.

Welcome, I’m sure the rear leg amputees care-givers can help with more information and insight.

Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona

p.s. a simple toy such as a feather on a stick might help Mr. L practice moving forward. Mona likes a laser light.

Forum Posts: 4
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9 September 2016 - 2:24 pm
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Thank you both for your advice and welcome! I do think the possible of a phantom leg is likely as I saw him trying to scratch himself so with it this morning. I’ll give him a massage when I get home to see if that helps. Should I focus on his back near the amputation spot or the actual spot of amputation?

The Rainbow Bridge



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9 September 2016 - 2:41 pm
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Awww you are a saint for adopting him! Come on over to the Tripawds Chat room if you have a sec, I’m here for a bit.

Have you seen our Tripawds Kitty bloggers? You’ll find lots of inspawration there. Also, these tips about life on three legs as a kitty will help too.

If he’s overweight at all, it could be contributing to his balance issues. What’s his weight like?

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



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9 September 2016 - 2:42 pm
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Oh regarding massage, don’t do it right on the incision area. Here’s a few posts about giving massages.

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: 4
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9 September 2016 - 3:34 pm
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Thanks on the massage advice! He doesn’t appear to be overweight to me, he is naturally a larger cat as he is part maine coon though. When I say large I mean structure and bone wise. I’m not positive, but it looks like they took the leg off directly from the Hip area. There’s no nub or anything that I can really detect or feel. I’m not sure if that factors into anything. I’ll definitely check those links out! Unfortunately, I’m at work right now so I can’t get on the chat just yet.

Livermore, CA




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9 September 2016 - 4:50 pm
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I would work on his back and hips, and the muscles of the remaining back leg.  The incision area is healed by now but the nerves can still be sensitive.  My pug mix Elly lost her back leg after being hit by a car when she was 7 months old.  She is over a year past her amp so is definitely healed but she does not like me to touch or rub around her incision scar.

I always call that scratching the ‘air scratch’.  My first Tripawd Maggie did it for a month or two after she lost her back leg.  She would stick her chin out and her little stump would crank away!  It was funny and sad (to me) at the time- Mag stopped doing it after a couple months. Maggie had a mid-femoral amp which means a little piece of the femur was left.  You couldn’t see it as it was wrapped with muscle but you could definitely feel it. Elly has no stump left at all but her whole back end works when she has an itch on her right side and as I said she is more than a year past her amp now.

In my experience the ‘air scratch’ is not tied to phantom pain .  Maggie never showed signs of it, and Elly has not shown any signs of pain for 10 months or so and she still does the ‘scratch’.

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



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10 September 2016 - 4:53 pm
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Hi Mr L and family, welcomeheart

I cannot help with specific advice as I am a Mom to a huge Great Dane who lost her right front leg a little over 4 months ago.

All I would say is love and care play a very important part in the recovery.

And you sure have lots and lots of thatwinker

You had great advice from others so stay tuned, Mr L will follow sweet Mona’s steps and he will be a very happy cat indeed!

Can we see some pictures ???

Sending you a big hug and cuddles to your kitty pack heart

Eurydice 77kg/170lb Great Dane limping end of April 2016, amputation (right front leg/osteosarcoma) 4 May 2016 6 courses of carboplatin followed by metronomic therapy, lung mets found 30 Nov 2016. 3 courses of doxorubicin, PET scan 26 Jan 2017 showed more mets so stopped chemo. Holistic route April 2017. Lung X-ray 5 May 2017 showed several tennis ball size mets, started cortisone and diuretics. Miss Cow earned her XXL silver wings 12 June 2017, 13 months and 1 week after amputation and 6 1/2 months after lung mets, she was the goofiest dawg ever and is now happily flying from cloud to cloud woof woofing away :-) 

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13 September 2016 - 11:49 pm
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Welcome to the family!

I do hope you’ll post some pictures soon! How did the visit with your vet go? The way you describe him walking backwards sounds like what I’ve heard the rear leg amputation cat guardians mention. One even had a video of it, but I can’t remember who. I think it was a black and white cat? If I find it, I’ll let you know.

Tina and Smore

(with the spirit of Pebbles watching from the Rainbow Bridge)

 

Smore is my tripawd kitty who adopted me one summer evening. She had an injury to her front left leg and had to have her leg removed July 17th. She was only 3 or 4 months old at the time. Now she moves faster than some four legged cats!

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14 September 2016 - 11:07 am
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Thanks everyone for the tips and support! I’m still trying to figure out how to upload pictures on here for everyone to see Mr. L. His vet visit went really well. He was all caught up on his shots and the vet said that he is recovering very well for having only been recently amputated. She said that the backwards walking thing may just be him adjusting to his leg, but could also be indicative of an unseen injury in his remaining leg. Dr. Melanie said that if he continues to do it after another month or two of him adjusting to life as a tripawd, than we need to bring him back for a check-up. =)

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14 September 2016 - 11:50 am
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Glad to hear everything went well at the vet office!

Here is a link to hopefully help you to add photos. Can’t wait to see Mr. L!

Tina and Smore

(with the spirit of Pebbles watching from the Rainbow Bridge)

 

Smore is my tripawd kitty who adopted me one summer evening. She had an injury to her front left leg and had to have her leg removed July 17th. She was only 3 or 4 months old at the time. Now she moves faster than some four legged cats!

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