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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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Newly tripod 16 year old!
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Illinois
Member Since:
11 September 2023
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7 October 2023 - 8:52 am
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Good morning! My sweet 16 year old Petunia had her rear leg amputated 2 days ago. She cannot get up on her own at this time, so litterbox usage won’t be a thing for a bit. I’m expecting her to go wherever she is laying. Last night was her first release (thank goodness cause I was getting worried), so there was quite a bit of a cleanup. I’ve tried many occasions to “stand” her up in the litterbox but she wouldn’t go. She has always been one who prefers privacy. I have pee pads, but I wasn’t sure what other innovated ideas there could be out there. Also, any good space setup that I can promote more movement? She’s currently in a 3ftx3ft pet playpen.

Her one back leg is still kinda weak from resting on it a bit, so I’m not expecting her to stand up on her own just yet. When I take her out for a few minute to assist her with walking, she is flimsy. Any good exercises I can do to strengthen the back leg?

 

Any other recovery advice for the kitties who took some time to get on their 3 legs again would be greatly appreciated! Thank you all so much!! 

The Rainbow Bridge



Member Since:
25 April 2007
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7 October 2023 - 9:38 am
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Hi Samantha and Petunia, welcome!  Sorry for the amputation, what was the reason?

It's still very early in recovery, two days is not a long time. Senior cats need an especially longer time to recover so try to be patient. What kind of pain medications is she on? It may be that she is a bit too sensitive to them and seeing pink elephants! Don't stop the meds, but get your vets advice on fine tuning the meds so she's strong enough to stand but not feeling breakthrough pain.

Keep her in the 3x3 pen for now, that's a good size space so she can heal. Rest is medicinal. Yes there are many exercises you can do later, once she is healed and stronger. Right now let her body use its energy to heal from this major surgery. No need to push her to do anything more than stand to eat and toilet. We had lots more tips in our Tripawd Cats book, our What to Expect articles , and the Tripawds Recovery Shopping List . Also consider booking a rehab therapist appointment now. Cats can really benefit from being evaluated by an expert after surgery (about 10 days is when they like to see new Tripawds). Plus Tripawds Foundation can pay for your first rehab visit so you've got nothing to lose!

Keep us posted on what the vet says about her pain control adjustments.

Illinois
Member Since:
11 September 2023
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7 October 2023 - 2:24 pm
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Thank you for the reply! She had bone cancer in her back leg. Early Sept I noticed a bump on her leg where her foot meets her fibula/fibula and I brought her in the next day where X-rays were performed. She is on gabapentin 50mg every 8 hrs (30 qty) and robenacoxin 6mg once per day (6 qty). I would never stop the meds! I want her to recover and be pain free! 

Assisting her to use the litterbox isn’t working. She just doesn’t want to go. I am okay with keeping her on a pee pad and cleaning it up as she goes for it actually would worry me if she attempted to use a litterbox on her own with how difficult it is for her to just sit upright.

I think what worries me the most right now is her laying on her side all day and if that could hurt her one leg. I did take her out and laid her next to me on the couch for about 20 mins and gave her some good massages and scratches. She really loved it and I think REALLY appreciated it. She deserved it! 🙂 It can’t be easy just laying on a cat bed all day. 

Illinois
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11 September 2023
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7 October 2023 - 2:27 pm
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I should also mention I think she doesn’t go when I try to help her use the litterbox is because she can’t stand normal. Her back foot doesn’t want to straighten to stand, and that is why I am getting nervous that her laying all day on that leg is doing more harm that good. And I wouldn’t want to lay her on her incision side just yet. 

New England
Member Since:
11 January 2022
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7 October 2023 - 4:15 pm
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Maybe she could lay on her belly for a while to get off the good leg? 

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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7 October 2023 - 5:00 pm
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Kist catching up on your sweet Petunia💖  She clear is adored by her hooman and receiving  great care. 

As Jerry said, this is so very early in recovery and she doesn't  feel like running  a marathon yet.  It's major surgery and a hooman would still be in the hospital on a morphine drip!!  Sounds like she's  on good pain meds and that can make her want to just lay around.  Rest is a good thing right now.  As Jerry said,  you can revisit the dosage  with your Vet once you are sure her pain is well managed.   FWIW, sou ds like she'ssoing okay for thos early on.  Drink, peeing eating and rest comfortably ... all. good.👍

I did take her out and laid her next to me on the couch for about 20 mins and gave her some good massages and scratches.

Keep doing that.  Relaxing the muscles as they adjust to the new normal is a big help.

One other thought  in addition  to Mischief 's suggestion of seeing if she'll lay 9n her tummy.....depending  on how sensitive  her incision  site is right now, you can try havi g her lay on that side for a little bit.  If it's too painful  she won't  tolerate it....otherwise worth a shot.

Deep breaths and k ow that recovery  doesn't  last furever.  Hard tube patient  right now, but that's  what's  required  this early on.

Keep us posted and give Petunia  some scratches for is.

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:
25 April 2007
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8 October 2023 - 2:33 pm
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How is she doing today? Any better? Our paws are crossed!

Illinois
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12 October 2023 - 6:31 pm
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Hi Jerry, I can’t believe it’s been a few days since I posted this! A lot of progress has happened!

I put a litterbox in her playpen and she used it (pee)! She didn’t poop for 7 days so I brought her into the vet to get an enema and that worked instantly! Seems like there were a few hard poops in her colon, most likely poop that hardened over the days, so I’m curious if it was just hard to pass.

She started to lay on her belly more, which I am so happy about! She’s much more alert and her sweet self! Today I re-arranged my bedroom so she can have some room on a rug (my entire house has hard floors) and she walked for a minute today and said, “That’s enough, I’m wiped out!” I had a little freak out thinking that maybe she forever lost her muscles in her only back leg, but I kept telling myself, be proud she did the 30 seconds of “walking!” So I’m gonna continue to keep her in the play pen, and take her to the bedroom to do a little walking, only as much as she can do. 

The thing that keeps running in my mind is the comment her regular vet doctor said to me and that is make sure she’s using her leg so she doesn’t lose her muscles. So I keep thinking, is there a length of time being in a restricted area where there is no point of return for her to be able to use her back leg? I understand that she’s older and this is a major surgery, but reading about other kitties who’s walking within days makes me question myself and get into a negative mindset.

 

All in all, she truly is doing AMAZING! Im so proud of her! She gets her sutures out in 4 days and I know she’ll be sooooooo excited not to have to wear a cone anymore!

Virginia







Member Since:
22 February 2013
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12 October 2023 - 9:49 pm
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I know it's easier said than done, don't  even think about a "point of no return", okay?  She's already showing you she's improving.even of it's 30 seconds at a time.. Keep doing exactly what you're  doing.  Yes, having a non slip scatter over hardwoods is necessary for traction and confidence.

  reading about other kitties who’s walking within days makes me question myself and get into a negative mindset. 

Nah, don't  compare the speed with which she gets her sea legs to others.  And I can assure you, not every kitty masters walking the first several days.......they're probably  in the minority and fewer than you may think.

FWIW, generally it takes about two weeks to recover from the surgerymitself and avout a month to master the tripawd gat, muscle  adjustments, etc.  

You're  doing great.

Oh, and YAAAAY for poopiconpoopicon

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:
25 April 2007
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10
12 October 2023 - 11:56 pm
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Wow this IS a lot of progress! From the poopicon to the walking and little day trips, this is all really great news. I love that you are seeing these events too. Sometimes it's really hard for us to recognize the positive changes happening, but when you spell them out like this they are crystal clear.

I agree, don't compare. Most older cats take a while to recover, Petunia is pretty normal in her timeline. Just take things day by day, and don't try to work her too hard. Strength will come in little increments but it does get there. Keep encouraging her to move around without allowing her to overdo things. You can try letting her out little by little, gradually increasing her playspace, until you feel she's confident enough to move around without injuring herself. Go get some inexpensive carpet runners too. Hardwood floors are brutal on any Tripawd but especially an older one. I think if you add more traction you'll see more progress.

Keep us posted!

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