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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My best friend’s cat had a freak accident and needed to have a back leg amputated (also dealing with a bruised lung from the accident). He had the surgery Wednesday, I believe, and he came back home Thursday night. Yesterday (Friday), my friend told me he was having a rough morning, meowing and throwing his body around. I wasn’t around, so I wasn’t sure exactly what that looked like. But I went over during the evening to help out, and he had another episode that night, where he pushed off his cone and started freaking out, frantically moving around and literally flipping. It was absolutely, absolutely terrifying. He calmed down shortly after. We aren’t sure what’s going on and what’s causing the freak outs.
I haven’t been around today (Saturday), so I don’t know if there’s been anymore episodes. My friend said she would call the vet and doctor in the morning to ask for help with what’s going on, but I haven’t heard from her about any updates. So I thought, in the meantime, I would come here to seek advice that might point us in the right direction.
After some research, my thought process is that it might be dysphoria caused by the medicine. I read on one of these threads that buprenorphine might cause that, but I’m not sure if that’s what he’s taking — asked my friend, but waiting for confirmation. After he took the medicine last night (Friday), he had some pretty confused (drugged?) looks, which seemed like probably effects of the medicine. In addition, it’s clear that he’s frustrated by the cone — he keeps getting it off — so it might be frustration episodes. It might be panic attacks from what’s going on and realizing that he’s missing a limb. Or it might be phantom pain (I’m not sure if that’s the same as potential panic attacks). Do any of those sound about right? It seems pretty urgent to figure out what it is, since we don’t want him to be physically freaking out and bump his stitches and impact it. If it’s the medicine, is it a matter of giving him lower amounts per dose, but more doses? So the impact isn’t as intense per dose?
Whatever it is, I’ve read that other potential solutions could be to put a blanket over his cage (he needs to be in there for 2 weeks) so that he feels like he has his own space. I’ve also read that warm compresses could help. In addition, does anyone also have advice on cones? He keeps getting it off — is it just a matter of needing a better one or are we doomed to keep needing to put it back on him?
My friend has to go back to work on Monday and she says that she’ll likely need me to watch him during the week (I’m freelancing, so I have the flexibility). I’m freaking out, worried about him having freakout episodes while I’m there and not being able to properly help him/calm him down. How do y’all approach putting on cones and physically calming down the pet? Also, what if I can’t get the medicine in him? I don’t want to be physically forceful with him considering his stitches, and I worry if I put it in his food, it won’t work or he’ll hate eating, which would be bad since he needs to eat (ofc, not too much, to manage weight). I’m super worried that I’ll mess up in some way and he’ll end up hurt. Has anyone had a physical therapist visit their home to watch their amputee pet?
Finally — and so sorry for all of these questions — is this all similar to what y’all have dealt with? My friend was worried that this was unusual, and while I read a lot of similar accounts, I worry that it’s maybe unusual with the episodes in particular. And how long was it until the stitches came out?
NOTE – Just as I finished writing this, I got an update from my friend! Apparently he had a good day today! Right now (evening), he just peed, took his medicine and fell asleep. So hopefully that’s a good sign, but still curious about a lot of this in case the episodes pop back up
25 April 2007
Hey there, welcome! You are such a good friend!
I need to be quick since I’m on my phone and don’t type well on it. But for now, it’s good to hear things are getting better!
This isn’t too unusual as far as behavior but definitely worth calling the vet. The kitty’s medications may need adjusting.
I will be back tomorrow with feedback on you other questions. Till then stay tuned for feedback from others.
21 July 2019
My cat had an amputation on Tuesday (the 16th) and is doing the same thing. I found a thread on this forum from 2015 and it was very informative. It does happen in cats that have had amputations and can be mixture of the incision gets itchy, frustration, and phantom limb pain. For my cat I believe it’s frustration at not being able to scratch the itch which sends him into a panic attack sometimes. I try to catch it before it gets too bad and I lay him on his side and pet him. Sometimes I rub around his incision to help relieve the itch and it calms him instantly.
18 October 2009
Hello denpen and welcome, your future posts will not have to wait for approval.
Thanks so much for sharing your experience here!
And Kyle, what a great friend you are! Please consider registering as a member or encourage your friend to register. Your posts won’t have to wait for approval and you can take advantage of all this site has to offer.
There is a lot of information there specific to cats. While lots about being a Tripawd is the same for dogs and cats there are some differences and it seems like the way cats recover is one of them.
I haven’t had cats since I was a kid so I’m going to defer to the cat forums and our great cat parent members for specifics. Just know that the first couple weeks of recovery can be pretty bumpy, don’t get discouraged your kitties will get to their new normal!
Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls