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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I’ve honestly never joined an online forum before–I am saddened that this has ended up being my first, but so grateful for its existence.
I have two cats whom I adopted as kittens from the pound in October 2010, named Zooey and Leo. I am in my early 20’s and live alone, so having their company means a great deal to me. They are honestly my best buds! A couple weeks ago, I noticed Leo had a bit of a limp with no other sign of injury. He is prone to random bouts of leaping wildness around our small home, so I figured maybe he just took a rough landing and pulled a muscle or something. He was still climbing his tower and otherwise acting like his normal self, so I just kept an eye on it for a couple days. However, it only got worse over the course of a week, so I took him in to our vet. She did an x-ray which revealed a large dark area all around his rear hip joint and gave me the heartbreaking news that she feared it was a bone tumor (apparently rare in cats in the first place, more so in a non-limb, and let alone cats as young as he).
She referred me to a bone specialist in the area, who we visited today. He did not have to look at it long to confirm that my poor boy does indeed have some nasty cancer that is destroying his hip and the beginnings of his femur. His only chance at this point is a hemipelvectomy and amputation of that leg. They did a couple radiographs of his lungs, which came back clear of any cancer there, so that is one positive. The amputation surgery is set for next Tuesday.
I am absolutely heartbroken. Leo is perhaps the sweetest, most friendly and extroverted cat I’ve ever known–he sleeps by my side every night and is ready to rub his cat face all over me the moment I wake up, as if he’s just been waiting all night for me to do so. He’ll come to me when I call him, and thinks that everyone he meets is his best friend. I love my Zooey too, of course, but she is definitely a more of a true cat’s cat in her take-it-or-leave-it, aloof-ish Attitude with a capital A :p
Seeing Leo hobble around in so much pain now when only two weeks ago he seemed just fine, has just been the absolute worst. I am also quite frightened as I don’t really know what to expect from such an intense surgery in the first place, and they won’t be able to give me further prognosis of the cancer until after. I am very anxious about recovery, because I work full time and don’t really have anyone to take care of him at home. As expensive as this surgery is, the importance of work is taking on a whole new reality check. I was also just beginning a search for my first home in light of a end-of-2016 bonus and a raise for the new year, and this has put a serious damper on that excitement. This year started off so strong, but has made a hard turn south on me very rapidly.
If anyone else here has dealt with a similar situation, I’d love to hear your story. I can’t seem to find much specific info on bone cancer in cats’ axial skeletal system, and I’m just trying to get any kind of reassurance that he’ll make it through this to lead a decent life after it all.
Thanks in advance for your advice and support.
18 October 2009
Hello and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.
I’m sorry you are facing cancer in your boy Leo, he sounds like an awesome cat.
I’ve not heard of a hemipelvectomy in a cat before on this site, but we have had several dogs who have had that surgery. Here are the results I get when I search the forums. Again, all dogs but maybe something useful there for you.
Check out this Forum on Three Legged Cats. It is a recent addition to this site which aims to organize the ever growing kitty information being collected here.
I’ve had two rear amp dogs, both small, who have done just fine with their amputations. From what I’ve seen here cats may adapt even better than dogs!
Our Tri-Cat members will be along soon to give you great advice.
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls
Hello and Welcome,
We are sorry you have to be here! This was also my first forum I ever joined.
If you have to be here, you will see you will find all kinds of support and information here. You are not alone!
This is not a easy time , we all understand the gut wrenching news to our loved companions and the financial toll it can take.
We have had a lot of bone cancer kitties join, Karen directed you to our new Kitty forum do check that out .You have great news that that the lungs came back clear. Try to focus on the good right now, this is not the end of Leo’s life. You are helping Leo by taking away the pain the leg! Its hard but try ok!
I will include some of the blogs and some forum links for you to read that are kitties with bone cancer that I recall. I hope this does not add to the overwhelming news, I think when we see other stories it help us in our own.
Crumble the cat loses a leg to osteosarcoma and bounces back!
Harry Pawter and the Cancerous Bone
Hopping her way towards a (hopefully) cancer free life three legs at a time
If i can remember anymore I will add them later.
We got our cat Purrkins in the same year as your got your guys, we also adopted his brother they are litter mates;) Both are 6.
Purrkins and Leo have the same personality as your describe. 😻
Purrkins had a soft tissue sarcoma on his front left leg, he is in his 6 month of being a tri-kitty. He is dong fantastic! I could of never imagined him to do so well on 3. He amazes us daily!
Bone Cancer is painful did they send you home with pain meds? If not please call and get some for Leo so he can be comfortable until his surgery day.
Try to to be strong for Leo, panic on here with us;) We will do our best to help.
Do you have family or friends you can enlist to help out after the surgery?
Ask any questions you have , a lot more members will chime in!
Holly & Purrkins
I’m sorry to hear about Leo’s upcoming amputation. My cat Mona got a tumour from a vaccine, called a vaccine associated sarcoma (VAS) and she had her front leg amputated. I belong to another site where other cats have had a VAS and in some cases some cats had a hemipelvectomy. Here is a 2012 posting from the VAS site:
“My beloved cat MJ passed away an Friday at age 17. I am writing because I want people to know that he was diagnosed with VAS in 2005. He had a hemipelvectomy and one chemo treatment. He lived 10 great years on those three legs and that disease did not get him.”
Most cats recover and manage well from the amputation. The underlying condition, i.e. cancer, is usually more of the issue as the cancer may have already spread. It’s good news that Leo’s lungs are clear.
If you can’t get many days off work perhaps the clinic will keep him overnight. Could you have a friend or cat sitter look in on him during the day while you are are work?
Kerren and Tripawd Kitty Mona
23 April 2016
So sorry you are facing this and your poor little Leo is hurting. While my Tripawd was a dog, I can just say I would not hesitate to do an amp for a cat of mine. They really are marvelously adaptable and Leo is young and has that on his side. It is, of course, about removing that source of pain and hopefully having a long time post amp with a happy and pain free cat. It also sounds like you have a knowledgeable vet in the bone specialist, so that is very encouraging, too.
Wishing you and Leo and Zooey the best.
On October 27, 2016, nearly 6 months after amputation, and 18 months since his cancer likely started, we lost Pofi to a recurrence of Soft Tissue Sarcoma in his spine quite suddenly. His Daddy and I miss him terribly along with his canine sister, Mia, and two feline siblings, Lucia and Cliff.
Thank you all so much for your links, advice, and words of encouragement!
Unfortunately, I do not really have any family in the area, and my friends are all working full time themselves. I will be able to work from home all of next week, however I am not sure beyond that, but at least I know I’ll be able to keep a close eye on him during the immediate days of recovery. The clinic will also be keeping him overnight after the day of surgery. In the meantime, I do have pain meds for him from our normal vet, and despite being in pain, he’s been in a pretty good mood this week still which has been a small relief.
Just very much hoping now that we will not find cancer elsewhere on Tuesday.
I will keep reading all the stories you shared, and will share the surgery outcome asap.
We will be sending you both pawsitive energy for Tuesday, we will be thinking of you!
Working from home is great news! You will be there when it is needed most!
You can do this without help! Alot of people do OK!
Your not alone you have all of us!
If you have any questions please just shout ! We will do our best to help you thru.
Make sure you have a good pain protocol in place before bringing Leo home. That will make a huge difference on how recovery goes for you both!
Have some of Leo’s favorite foods on hand , we got a bunch of different canned, smelly foods for Purrkins, the smelly fish tuna ,salmon, chicken and herring. Something I do not regularly feed him.
Some kitties do not want to eat, the pain meds can do that.
The smellier the foods worked for us.
A lot of cats usually like to hide when they get home.
If you plan on having him recover in a bedroom, just make sure he wont have access to under the bed.
Stuff pillows and blanket under it. Or put the mattress on the floor.
You want to be able to get to him at med time.
You are helping Leo by removing the pain! You are doing this for him ,not too him!
Sending you both Big Hugs!
Holly & Purrkins
Thank you, Holly & Purrkins
Some not good news, though. Leo was doing okay for most of today, just napping on my bed. He came out not too long ago and seemed lovey at first, but then started growling and behaving strangely. He was wandering around kinda aimlessly, and wouldn’t put any weight on his bad leg whatsoever, and kept growling intermittently (very out of character for him). This was about 45 minutes ago, and for the last 10-15 min he seems to have calmed down enough that he’s laying down by his kennel and stopped growling at least, but I am very scared still by this sudden development.
There is an emergency animal clinic open 24 hours nearby, but there are many scary reviews for the place on Google about taking advantage of pet owners in their vulnerable state. I’m also not even sure what they could do at this point. Both my normal vet, and the surgical center where he will be having his amputation done, are closed until Monday, and his amputation isn’t until Tuesday morning.
I have been giving him buprenorphine orally twice a day for the pain as prescribed by my normal vet, but he’s still hours early for his next dose… Should I try just giving it to him early anyway? I am extremely wary about the emergency clinic, but if he continues to be like this tonight/tomorrow, I don’t know if we will be able to wait until Monday.
Any suggestions are deeply appreciated for this frightened cat momma.
Sara & Leo
If you phone your vet’s office they may have an answering service who will get an emergency vet to phone you. This vet may suggest what to do for pain such as give the buprenorphine more often such as 3 or 4 times a day. You would want to check the dosage.
Your cat may find alternating hot/cold compresses on the painful site comforting. Please be careful that you don’t get bit.
I hope you can find some help.
I’m sorry to hear that! Sounds like he is in pain. Did this happen in between doses of buprenorphine ?
I agree with Kerren, call your vet , they should have a answering machine telling you what to do or who to call when they are closed in a emergency.
What are your dosing instructions every 8,10,12 hours?
I did call my vet, but their after hours machine just refers me to the 24 hour animal clinic with scary reviews. I gave him another dose of buprenorphine about 40 minutes ago, but he still is in pain. The dosage instructions are to give 0.15 mL orally twice daily. I gave him his first today at around 10 am ET, and then more recently at 5 ET.
What about calling the emergency place first, (scary one) just call and explain whats going on ,who your Vets are and the circumstances Tuesday amp. etc. We aren’t Vets just people like you who have been thru this.
Our instructions for the Bup was for every 8-12 hours our dose was 0.25ml . Purrkins is a bigger kitty. Not sure what size kitty Leo is.
We have a online vet that checks in periodically I will attach the link. You could ask her? Not sure when she checks in.
No, of course I definitely understand you are not vets. Leo is fairly big, around 14 lbs so perhaps this dosage is not enough at this point..
I live about 30 min. north of downtown Detroit. My normal vet is just up the road, but his amputation surgery will be at the Animal Surgical Center of Michigan in Flint. I have heard good things about MSU. Looks like it’s about 1:40-2 hours from me though, and I wanna avoid taking him anywhere if it’s at all possible, as he is quite traumatized by car rides.
He seems kinda better now, has been resting (but not quite sleeping) next to me on the couch for about 15 minute. It’s also been a full hour since I gave him his last dose of meds.
Ok If things get worse its a option, It would be a drive for you & not good for Leo if he does not like car rides that would be torture! I have read good things about Animal Surgical Center.
I would not hesitate calling the emergency clinic just for advice. I understand your afraid! Post in the forum too, can’t hurt.
It might not be enough on the dosage. I would stay on every 8 hours. Again not a vet;)