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Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat

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please share your experiences - removing a partially paralysed front paw my cat still uses
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Member Since:
16 July 2023
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17 July 2023 - 3:09 am
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Hello,

first of all: I'm Dutch, so English is not my native language. I hope I don't make to much mistakes and my topic is readable. 

I need some mental support in the decision to amputate the front paw of my cat Freek.

First about the name: Freek is a dutch variety of Fred, with a little more bold and masculine touch. It is pronounced like 'fake', but then with a 'r' in it.

Freek came to me as a lonely stray, maybe feral, kitten at the age of five weeks. The rest of his litter is probably killed by harvest machines. He is domesticated and very sweet when he wishes, but is a real freebooter and bushranger. He has an intense hunting drive, and lives outside in summer when he is not eating or sleeping indoors. Just keeping mice in my street under control, and occasionally a bird that flew against a window. Freek really would be very unhappy when he has to stay inside for the rest of his life, thats a no-go. My living situation is quite safe for an outdour cat: no cat-hunting predators, no outdoor dogs and a no-carzone around my house. The only cars that come into my street are coming there to park, because it's a dead end. Freek wouldn't come near to them.

Freek had a plexus brachialis laesion at the age of 18 months and now is 4 years old. His front paw is partially paralysed. He has no control of his wrist and foot and probably no painsensations in it. It looks like his paw is to long and over time he more and more lands on the dorsal side of his foot. This is more then at the start of the laesion, because of changes in muscles and ligaments over time. Now his foot is persistant swollen and has a superfical wounds, NSAID-medication won't help anymore. So I think it's time to amputate...

But I find it hard to know he still can use his paw now. What would it mean to him to miss this leg? Walking probably would be easier because of no more strange swings because of his 'to long' leg. But what about:

- rolling over?

- defending himself to other cats (for example: when my other cat Vicky wants to steal his food, he uses this paw to give her a gently slap)?

- washing himself (he uses mostly this paw)?

- climbing stairs and other objects and descending? He likes to sit high on a look-out-place...

- scratching to sharpen his nails?

- digging in the ground (he rather does his business outside then in the litterbox)?

- keeping the mice from running (yesterday he did just that with his 'bad' paw) when he is playing with them?

 

Please fellow catowners of a tripod with front leg amputation, can you tell me how your cats are doing this kind of activities now?

My vet told about a dog who's quality of life has been bettered after amputation. But in my honest opinion a cat uses his front paw more for activities then a dog.

Allready thanks for your reactions.

New England
Member Since:
11 January 2022
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17 July 2023 - 5:32 am
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I've approved this post as well.  You have very good questions.  My tripawd experience is limited to a dog.  I have a cat, though, and appreciate where your concerns are coming from.  I'm sure one of our tripawd cat parents will have good answers for you.

I love your description of 'Freek' as a more masculine version of Fred.  I know a Fred, so I'm having a laugh at picturing a more rugged version of him.

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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17 July 2023 - 4:00 pm
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Hahaha....yes "Freek" sounds like quite a character😎  And he's very lucky to have a human who understands  " who he is" and respects all his uniqueness. 

It does sound like amputation  is the best solution for him to regain overall quality.

Yes, he will figure out how to do all the things you mention in his own way and at hos own pace.  I know that  sounds like a very simplistic  answer.  But once you read the link to this comprehensive  overview of everything ypu meed to know about amputation  and recovery, you will have the specifics you are seeking regarding grooming, etc. 

It is advised to try and prevent front leggers from jumping up and down off high spaces.  So the solution  is to provide him "climbing aidesz' to his favorite spot.  The reason is you want to prevent any hard pounding landing on the one front leg

Not sure about the swatting of Vicky or the swatting  of mice for "play".....that may not jave been covered  before here.😉  

We have had cats who were just not going to be happy if they couldn't  be outside.  In an ideal world ot would be best of he could be monitored  while oitside,   Regardless, until he is fully recovered  he needs to sty inside

 

Anyway, I think you'll find the answers you need  from thos link:

          https://downloa.....-cat-tips/

These tips were put together by kitty members  who have gone through  every aspect of this journey.

Check it out and let us get an update when uou can.

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!

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
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17 July 2023 - 4:13 pm
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Thanks for giving Freek a great, loving home life. There are many cats who have to remain outdoor cats after amputation, like one of our earliest members, Fang

What does your vet think about your cat doing well on three legs?

Front leg amputee cats have different challenges than dogs, but both can do very well on three if that is the best option to treat their condition. Just try to make sure he is safe, and has as little exposure to natural predators as possible. Over time he will be more at risk of osteoarthritis so watch his weight to keep him thin (but as an outdoor cat, being overweight probably won't be an issue).

The biggest problem will be keeping him safe while he heals. No matter what, he will need some kind of safe recovery space during the period after surgery, at least 10-14 days. You might want to see how Huckleberry went from being an outdoor to indoor cat to see if that might work foryou.

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18 July 2023 - 2:29 am
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Thanks for those first reactions.

'It is advised to try and prevent front leggers from jumping up and down off high spaces. So the solution is to provide him "climbing aidesz' to his favorite spot. The reason is you want to prevent any hard pounding landing on the one front leg.'

I will try as far as I have control over his coming and going. But just listening how he took the indoor stairs to go to his favourite napping place (4,5 kg sounds like a mature human running up the stairsicon_rolleyes) i'm afraid his intensity in doing stuff is a little problem there...

About defending himself to Vicky, thats not a real big issue. Just telling her to back off, when she's snuffing his butt or stealing his food. In winter, when the outside life is not as interesting as at summer, Freek likes to bully Vicky with a full weight jump on her neck. 'Hey grandma, wanna play?' To other cats he generally limits himself to hissing and growling. And otherwise he can act like a pitt-bull I think, he's good with his teeth... I know, I made the mistake to use my hand as a playmate when he was a kitten...

Yesterday I spoke to the other vet that will operate on him (yes, he will be operated by two vets $$$, but they are a very cliënt centered practice). She told me about the choice to remove his scapula because of the best chance for no phantom pain afterwards and she thinks he will do great because he's quite young. And that it is the right time now because of the complications he's starting to show.

In the Netherlands we have no natural predators that would fight with mature cats. Well, actually better to say we didn't, since a couple of years the wolves are back in our country and my city is located in the 'wolfzone', but they won't come nearby my street. Foxes stay outside of this city too, for as far as I know.

Freek lived the first five weeks of his life probably outdoors and he's really strong minded about letting him go outside. He starts vandalizing my house if I don't obey.... He has shred a lot of cardboard boxes allready... So transitioning him to an indoor cat: won't gonna happen. I'm glad if he stays inside for ten days. He's personality is indeed a little bit like Fang.

So yes, he's indeed quite a character, but he's loved very much!

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
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18 July 2023 - 10:32 am
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Well it's obvious how much you care for him! And it also sounds like he should be OK in his environment. We hope the surgery goes well. When is the big day?

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20 July 2023 - 12:19 am
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August nine is the big day because one of the vets who will operate is on leave right now. Nice to know he will be well rested. I hope the neighbour's one year old cats don't take over his territory to much or will be more daring when he is missing a leg. They've just reached a status-quo, without real fighting.

The Rainbow Bridge



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20 July 2023 - 9:42 am
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Oh ok so you have some time to prepare, that's good. Any ideas for containing him during recovery? He sounds like he's pretty challenging to keep mellow.

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24 July 2023 - 2:53 am
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I'll keep him downstairs indoors and give him bench rest the first days. I'll be barrowing a bench from my brother, German Shephard size.

And i'll try him a medical catsuit on to keep him of the wound, other things on his body won't work. For example, I've tried on protective socks and leashwalking, but it was hell, he will rather get wounded then keeping stuff like that on.

Feliway in the house, no permission to leave through the catflap... (Sureflap app).

Freek is quite relaxed to handle for giving medication and things like that (unless he's really scared or pissed of), he is really sweet to me actually and he has the most adorable soft growl when he disagrees. He's most of the time not agressive at the vets, only a warning slap now and then when he's hyperaroused. But he doesn't like to cuddle very much and is really strong minded about going outside.

This morning Vicky - my other cat - is limping, so off to the vet again...

The Rainbow Bridge



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24 July 2023 - 8:47 am
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That sounds like you have the situation under control. It sounds like he won't be too wild during recovery, and since you know him so well I think you two can come up with some compromises to help him rest.

I hope Vicky is OK! Let us know.

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25 July 2023 - 2:15 am
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Vicky is okay, probably just a strained elbow. Limping is almost gone in 24 hours with NSAID. Because of other health issues (hot spot (?) / blatter issues) seeing the vet was usefull though.

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9 August 2023 - 2:20 pm
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Well, it is done. Freek is a tripawd now... Still feels a bit unreal, but the last couple of days, the wounds on his dorsal pawside increased and i think there were other complications of paralysis increasingly visible to, so I really didn't want to wait another week.

All went well, as far as we know now. The vets have send a couple of lymph nodes out for research, because they saw some enlargement and I would like to be sure what caused it. Although, when it is cancer, there's at this moment no need for treatment.

He didn't stay overnight at the hospital, his first night starts now, at home. He has eaten wel. I've arranged a XXL hospital bench for him, but of course he prefers to sleep in his peak-a-boo-game cardboard box. That's okay, as long as he stays peacefull and does nothing what might hurt him, we follow his wishes, like a good human servant ought to do...

The Rainbow Bridge



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11 August 2023 - 10:43 pm
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Hey I just saw your post. How is Freek doing/ How did the first night go? I'm so curious to know, and hope that everything is going great! Keep us posted when you can.

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14 August 2023 - 5:53 am
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I find it hard to say how Freek is doing right now actually. His functional motor skills seem to be more then okay, but I'm a little worried about the pain and his moods.

Within 24 hours at home he had taken the stairs up and jumped on some seats and even a table. Now they're filled with stuf, so he won't jump on it. I've prevented him from jumping down by taking him off myself.

He really doesn't like wearing any stuff on his body. He accepts the medical suit when it's on, but gets really grumpy and even mean when I want to put it out or on when I'm checking his scar. He had one free run without it and then he acts and moves almost like no surgery happened. But most of the time when it's of, he's intensively licking the none-shaven fur arround his wound. With his suit on, he acts a little bit defeated, or when it's almost time for a new dose of gabapentin: grumpy

He really wants to go outside to do his bussiness. When he's yelling that he wants to go out, I close him up in the bathroom with the litterbox. That's the only way he would use it. Sometimes  the locking up gives the wanted result, sometimes it results only in having a grumpy cat when I am finally letting him out.

He can be chill too, especially when he is under the influence of the gabapentin, but he had some painattacks: waking up growling and hissing. That worries me, so we give him a little bit higher dose gabapentin three times a day now. And I think he's had it with me fussing with him and not allowing him to do the things his way.

So I can't wait when we don't have to worry about the scar and set him free of wearing the suit. I want to see the real, happy and chilled Freek again, with his long tail up in the air and a mischief planning look in his eyes.

Virginia







Member Since:
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14 August 2023 - 9:16 am
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We know the recovery part can be frustrating for both of you. It does sound like he is really doing well though. Pottying,eating and definitely being feisty are all good signs.

You are doing an excellent job of monitoring him. And I know it's hard to keep his activity level down and to keep him so restricted, but it is very necessary during the recovery.

Just remember, recovery doesn't last forever...... it just seems like it!

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!

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