Life with a Three Legged Cat

Three legged cats aren’t as unusual as you might think.

At first, a three legged cat will need a lot of care: but that’s true of any animal (or any person come to that) who is recovering from major surgery. Once the wounds have started to heal, the cat is ready to get back to normal, but owners aren’t always quite as ready as the cat…

1. Let them enjoy the great outdoors

Cats like space. Cats like to roam. People like to feel calm, so sometimes they want to keep their three legged cats indoors. But who does that benefit? Not the cat!

It took me ages to stop worrying every time my cat went outside, but he was happy and content to be exploring, hunting, failing to climb trees and generally patrolling his territory.

2. Eating

Three legged cats don’t need special diets. At first they might put on a little weight – hardly surprising after a few weeks of inactivity as they recover from major surgery.

My three legged cat was fed the same food as his brother and allowed to lead a normal, active life. He quickly got back in shape. (Although unlike Garfield, his shape wasn’t round)

3. Scratching

Scratching and pulling claws was a real problem. My cat lost a back leg, so he just couldn’t stand on one leg and attack the neighbour’s finest trees and fence posts any more. Good for the neighbours, not so good for the claws.

We bought a thick coir doormat and fixed scratching posts on the skirting boards which provided some help, but we learned to live with the fact that the carpet on the riser on the bottom stair started to wear out mysteriously fast.

4. Grooming

Losing a leg left our cat with an annoying, just-out-of-reach patch on the side of his head. A quick comb or a rub was all that was required to sort this out.

5. Health/lifespan

Lots of well meaning people assumed that having three legs meant that my cat’s days were numbered. In fact he was fit and healthy for most of his life and lived to be 14 years old.

It wasn’t the lack of a leg that finally did for him, but advancing years and failing health. His over-active thyroid and high blood pressure were nothing to do with an accident many years previously, he would have suffered from these anyway – his four legged brother developed the same conditions very shortly afterwards.

Three Legged Cat I

…and finally

Living with a three legged cat really isn’t all that different to living with a four legged one. My cat spent 13 years as a tripod: he was happy and contented and he lived a great life.

243 comments to Life with a Three Legged Cat

  • julie up north

    hello. i came to this blog looking for answers and gratefully think I have found them. Mike Christopher’s info seems to be what i was searching for…my 9 year old tabby lad George had his back right leg amputated on 7th Nov 12 after getting clipped with a car ( we think ). he managed to scale a 6ft fence and appear at the back door to look thru the glass (merecat style)as hes always done.only when he ran in the house did the fracture open thru the skin…all hell broke loose….10pm dash to emergency vets 20 miles away and 1 night stay there. £200 bill. next day moved under sedation to our own vets who amputated that day..another £350 bill…i suppose the reason i still talk about the accident is that i and my 2 daughters are still traumatised at seeing the leg pop open and the way he ran around on it so confused himself.2 months on and George is still adored as ever.The 1st 2 weeks we all took it in turns to sleep downstairs with him in his basket at the side of the couch. We did this to keep his brother Oliver aged 13 and twice the size upstairs when we could not supervise.Oliver was scared of Georges new hopping movement.They were never the best of friends before and to be honest nothing has changed. George has made a remarkable physical recovery but we all still worry about his mental state. He had some episodes of phantom leg when his ear was itchy…so we scratched it for him…he had a few episodes of growling and hissing at the space where his leg would have been stretched out on the floor , but wasnt..biting the carpet instead..all this has passed.He seems to do differently every day. The only worrying thing he does now is rotate the muscle of the thigh towards his head in a clockwise direction about 5 times a day.It seems to be after he has walked forward and wants to stop but cant stop ….Once or twice hes done it so many times hes overbalanced and just lay down.Hes eating, using the shared hooded litter tray, doing stairs, doing beds all as he was before.Both cats will now remain indoors for as long as we can contain them which is easy at the minute as its winter but we will have to see what spring brings…they both rule this house and me and my 2 daughters wouldnt have it any other way….they are loved cats…

  • Anne

    Hello Julie up North. Welcome to the world of tripod cats! So glad you found this site which was an absolute lifesaver when JJ had his leg amputated as I was completely traumatised. JJ is one of three cats and still very much the boss cat despite his disabilities, he also has asthma and needs inhalers twice a day. Your George seems to be coping remarkably well and it is a credit to you that he has been able to sort out for himself what he can and can’t do. I am sure the muscle-twitching thing will settle down as the nerve endings knit together as they do seem to be the last to heal. From Anne (even further up North!)

  • mike christopher

    Hi Julie, he will get even better. Our Sophie is doing Great. We added a sister for her last summer and Sophie Still rules the house.

    They haven’t been the best of sisters as we had hoped(we thought she might want a friend), but surprisingly lately they have been playing more.

    We also have to scratch the ear and side of head that Sophie can’t get to and that’s her FAVORITE thing, us scratching it. When we’re scratching, her little stump goes a mile a minute.

    Sophies doing great and we are so glad we didn’t do the other option. She has resumed going back out with her sister in tow…but they both seem to stay close to our yard, but like you we are in northern Illinois so they stay in during cold weather.

    Good luck, mike

  • Sue

    Hi everyone

    I have a 3 legged cat called Charlie who has had his right back leg amputated 3 months ago. He was run over by a car on a main road and the RSPCA took him to a vet for treatment. They put signs up on lamp-posts around the area but sadly his owner/s didn’t claim him. A girl from work posted on facebook if anyone wanted a “rescue” cat. So I friend requested the girl that had him, she was the vets nurse. I went over to see him at her house and he was gorgeous, jumped off the sofa within a few minutes & I was freaked out. I thought he wouldn’t be able to do anything like that for quite some time, but his recovery was really fast. Luckily he didn’t have any other injuries so I just had to wait until his staples were removed before I could pick him up. He shows no signs of missing his leg, doesn’t seem to have any phantom pains or anything I’m glad to say. At first, I was nervous of his injury but he started running, jumping & chasing his ball which helped me relax. The girl gave me a puzzle ball for his food, which was great physio for his leg and so were the stairs. I thought I’d have a heart attack when he started running down the stairs as he seemed to jump down a few stairs at a time. He rubs his neck/face against door frames to itch them, jumps from the floor to the back of the sofa, Since he stood on his back leg to see over the bath when I was in it, he now jumps on the toilet seat & jumps into the empty bath for a look around. He runs up the stairs, jumps onto and off the bed. I once had to “unhook” him from the kitchen worktop where he’d tried to get up – so funny, he has no fear! Another new thing is to jump on his litter tray hood & onto a small part of the kitchen worktop sadly for him, there’s nothing to see up there ha ha. All his fur has grown back now, he doesn’t have a stump. At the moment I don’t let him out as I live a couple of street’s away from a main road, but maybe in a couple of months I will let him in the back garden. Unfortunately it has a patio, no grass but it gets a lot of sun in the summer and i think he’ll really enjoy that. I’m sorry to hear that other people’s cats have problems adjusting, hopefully this will get better in time. I really hope people will find Charlie’s story helpful. He amazes me everyday even when I forget he only has 3 legs he’s such a fantastic cat, I’m so lucky to have him. Good luck everyone!

    Sue

  • Anne

    Hi Sue! Charlie sounds to be making a fantastic recovery as they do, and so fortunate that you have chosen to have him rehomed with you! I think a lot of the problem with adjusting, certainly in my case, was coping with my own grief at having had a 4 legged cat who became a tripod later on. There had to be adaptations made within the home by getting lower cat climbing frames etc but generally I just let him get on with finding his own way. I’ve had to change my cattery to one where there was adequate room for accessing the sleeping area at a reasonable height and not the usual high shelf with a narrow ladder that some have. There are some lovely ‘ah bless’ moments like your worktop incident, where JJ is scrabbling around and hauling himself up onto the bed with his front claws like a mountaineer grappling up an icy peak with ice axes LOL! But he races round like a greyhound and bosses my other two cats.
    You have SUN where you are? Crikey, we’ve not seen any of that in North Lancashire since last April. I’m sure he will enjoy the patio but might be worth checking if the garden’s escape-proof. Back leg amputees have an amazing ability to climb UP (JJ regularly dragged himself up an eight foot fence after amputation). The problem was climbing or jumping back DOWN over a fence or gate as there doesn’t seem to be the same amount of propulsion from one back leg. I found that out when he was stuck the other side of the high passage gate on the main road side unable to leap up it from a standing start. So he’s confined to the garden now which he’s still not got used to, but there’s enough going on with bird feeders etc and patio furniture to climb on. It’s a far cry from his pre tripod days when he used to have a wider territory, getting himself a fearsome reputation for sitting on neighbours windowsills and terrorising their indoor moggies. Enjoy your special cat, he will be so much fun!

  • Michelle

    Hi..I just stumbled up on this tonite. I am getting readt to adopt a 3 legged kitty. We visited here last week & she is having surgery today. I have never had 3 legged animals before, this will be my first. I have two other older cats & I am very hesitant how they will react. I told the shelter I would foster her right now to see if the other cats get along. I have a sneaky feeling once I get her I will keep her. I hope and pray that she adjusts well to the kitties & us. I have lots of love to give her!! Wish us luck & any suggestions/pointers are much appreciated!!!

  • Marge

    @Michelle

    My three-legged cat is almost 3 years old. I got him when he was sick and his bone was hanging out of his leg. He had surgery about a week later when he was a little healthier. I also had other cats at home. I suggest:

    ~After surgery – put her in her cat carrier. I know it is tempting to hold her the whole way home, but I did that and now mine get’s so fussy and loud when he has to go in the car. Don’t coddle her just because she has 3 legs and is probably the cutest thing you ever saw!

    ~Keep her in a different room for the first week or two, separated from the other cats. Give her a shallow tray for litter (she may be too small to climb into the large box) and start testing what she will eat. My cat wouldn’t eat for the first 5 days almost. He refused dry food, wet food, and treats. My mother finally cooked him some chicken cubes and he would eat that.

    ~I know her incision will look scary and huge and kind of bloody, but its fine! It is just crazy to see such a small animal with a cut that goes up half its torso. They’ll lick around it a bit, but shouldn’t gnaw on it. Let her get used to it. If she starts biting at it, nip it in the butt.

    ~When you start acclimating her to your other cats, just let it happen as you normally would with a 4 legged cat. You’re pretty much home-sailing from here. Once she can use the litter box and eat, she is about up to par with the other cats. Mine has no problems at all anymore – he is somehow the alpha cat of the group. Very confident and very friendly. He runs, jumps, climbs, etc. He is quite strong.

    ~Don’t declaw your cat. Is it her front or hind leg being amputated? Either way, she’ll rely on climbing more than jumping. Just don’t let her make a habit of sharpening her claws on your furniture – get her a scratching post.

    That’s all I can think of for now!

  • Michelle

    Marge…thank you so much for the info. I will want to coddle her but be afraid to lift/pick her up. I am going to put her in one of my bedrooms & let her stay by herself for bout a week.
    It is her back leg. My vet has told me she will be fine. I am sure we will end keeping her…cuz I will love her sooo much!!
    Thanks again!!!

  • claire

    Im so relieved to hav found ur website. My beautiful little boy Zooter got hit by a car last night and im deverstated, he’s not 1 yrs old yet, i still havnt stopped crying. I got th ambulance to pick him up n the vet has told me that his front paw has been crushed and he may loose his leg.

    He one of my 3 babies and im scared he wont manage without his front leg. Id appreciate sum advise for when he gets home n what i can do to help.

    Many thanks, Claire x

  • Lois Lindemann

    Hi Claire, sorry to hear that. I bet you are devastated. My cat was only just under a year old when he lost his leg. He’s the one whose picture ins in the post above. as you can see, he went on to be happy and healthy.

    If he does lose the leg, Zooter will be weak and sore after the op, but don’t panic – the first few days are the worst. Hang on in there. Every tripod owner who has commented on here says that their cats recover and adjust much faster than the owners do.

    My cat wanted company and needed some help getting in and out of the litter tray. I put him in our bedroom and spent a lot of time in there with him. I’m sure Zooter will let you know what he wants – most cats are pretty good at that!

    Good luck and very best wishes to you. Please come back and let us know how you get on.

  • Michelle

    Hi everyone..it’s official…little Cupie (she was named Calista & now Cupie short for Cupid cuz we got her close to Valentines day) is officially ours. We have adopted her.
    WOW…what a couple weeks & a huge difference. Cupie is running/jumping everywhere!! I am amazed. She has some fiesteness in her!!! She is amazing! Sweet kitty until she is biting the heck out of me.
    Claire..keep faith & soon enough yoy too will see how amazing your kitty is too. May take a couple weeks..just keep him calm & go show him lots of love…encourage him to play a little. When he up to it. You will see God’s amazing work!!!
    Good luck to you & Zooter…we will say many kitty prayers!!!

    Michelle

  • Randolph

    I may have to have my 12 year old cat’s left front leg amputated and am wondering how would his adjustments be different from losing a back leg.

    • anna

      hi there i am just wondering what happened to your cat, saw your comment on http://www.three-legged-cat.co.uk and was interested as my cat needs a front leg amputated asap as has cancer tumour on her paw – and shes an older cat like yours 14 and half so am worried if she will cope ok or not? would be lovely to hear how your cat has got on? thanks, anna

  • Lori

    Hi fellow TLC owners! I am just three days into this, and after crying my eyes out the first day have finally started to accept this new reality. My one year old baby Lilly just had her front right leg amputated due to nerve damage (from a car hit) and she has just amazed me from the time she came home the day after surgery. Can’t believe how the cat just gets on with it, while the owner is a squalling mess! It is such a blessing to find a site like this and others to offer comfort and advice to those going through this. My girl is eating well and has already tried to jump onto her favorite stool in the kitchen, nearly giving mom a heart attack. They truly do continue to enjoy their lives as normal-really!

  • Kat

    After three weeks of trying, a fellow rescuer finally caught the 12 to 14 week old kitten who had a bad leg. I had agreed to foster her if they could catch her. The bottom half of her left back leg was missing. I took her straight to a good friend of mine who is a animal surgeon. He amputated the rest of the leg and I brought her home last night. She is young and I know she will be fine. She certainly would have died from infection or been eaten by something as she was out in the country. I have her sister who was caught three weeks earlier. She is more feral still than this little girl. She is hissy but she loves to be petted. Here’s my question. What do you use for litter? I took a small shallow container and put shredded newspapers in it but she manages to throw the newspaper everywhere. And I can see no sign that she has used the bathroom. The vet mentioned she was constipated so he gave her something and he said it might be two days before she goes to the bathroom. But I would appreciate some suggestions on what to put in the litterbox. Should I just cut the newspaper into smaller pieces. Right now they are about 1/2 inch wide and about 6″ long. Thank you. I am glad to find this site as well. I don’t know if I will keep her, I have five small cat friendly dogs but still worry. But she will definitely have a good home here until either I see she will be happy her or I find her a good permanent home. Still no name yet. I don’t want to go with the obvious Tripod or Stumpy. She is also a Manx with no tail but I don’t like Rumpy either. Suggestions are welcome. She is cream colored with faded spots. She is twice as long as her sister and very vocal. But the vocal could be from the pain before and now the recovery.

  • Damien

    My cat Sooty was savaged by something the other night resulting in his front left leg being torn off. The vets think this happened in the early evening and he dragged himself home through the night which caused more damage and dirt to the area. We rushed him to a vet 2 days ago where they have battled to save him for 2 days now, his first Op was today to clean the wound and stabilise him, hopefully he will improve tomorrow but will need more surgery in 2 days time to reconstruct where his leg was torn off. I’m guessing the trauma he has been through will affect how he recovers, the comments on this site have given some encouragement or my children who are waiting with baited breath to see if/ how he recovers.

    • Lois Lindemann

      Hi Damien,

      I’m sorry to hear about your cat. That’s exactly the sort of state that my cat arrived home in, with most of a leg missing as well as a badly injured tail. I remember the worried feeling very clearly, although it’s many years since I went through it with my own cat. I was amazed at how quickly he came home and how soon he recovered and was back to charging around, indoors and outside.

      I hope things go well for Sooty and your family.

      Best wishes, Lois

      • Damien

        Thankyou lois for your reassurance, Sooty has now had his final Op to remove the debris and clean it all up etc, he is now home looking a little sorry for himself but receiving loads of TLC and starting to learn to live without his front left leg, early days but happier than last week for sure.

  • Anne

    I am sorry to say that my three legged cat JJ (oriental lilac in photo) had to be PTS on 11th July after suffering a sudden onset (literally 24hrs warning) of multiple organ failure (fatty liver disease, pancreatitis and kidney failure). He was three weeks off his twelfth birthday and for three years had been a tripod as well as having inhalers for asthma. He died in my arms quite peacefully and is buried in the garden under the damson tree. Like all three legged cats he was a marvellously courageous personality and I miss him terribly as do my other two cats. I may not post on here for a while but enjoy reading how others have got on with their tripods. Thank you for your support when I was struggling with new ways to cope with JJ’s amputation, it really meant a lot to me. And I hope I was able to give words of inspiration too when others were struggling to adjust.
    Anne

  • Lois Lindemann

    Oh Anne, I’m so sorry to hear about JJ. He was obviously a real character and I’m sure you’ll miss him enormously.

    I’m not surprised you don’t want to post on here for a while, but I hope you will check in from time to time. I’ve enjoyed reading all of your posts – and I’m sure the new tripod owners appreciated all your good advice.

    Love and best wishes,

    Lois

  • Jean

    Glad to have found this website! Wilbur is 6-years-old, declawed front … and has recently suffered a severe hind leg injury. The vet gave us a few options; one of which is amputation; one of which is putting him to sleep. The girls (granddaughters) were here today (Wilbur is actually their cat who lives with us) for a family meeting to discuss which option we need to take to ensure what’s best for Wilbur. Thank you ALL for great information … this will definitely become part of our family discussion as we make what we hope will be the best decision moving forward.

    • Belinda

      Hi jean
      I had to put my beloved cat Eric to sleep after 16 yrs.He had a tumour and kidney failure and couldnt eat anymore.I was devastated as he was like my child I never had.
      However today i went to a cat rescue centre and i saw a 3 legged cat called Toby, 18mths old
      that was feeling very sorry for himself.His previous owner couldnt pay for his vet bill and so
      had to rehome him.I cuddled him and he seemed to warm to me alot that i couldnt walk away.
      He stole my heart and that was that.i rang my hubby and to my suprise he said”bring him home”.
      tomorrow he comes home.Weve so much love to give him.So give your cat a chance.I do hope you will.It will be worth it and am sure you wont regret it.

      Belinda

  • Kat

    Good for you Belinda. I am sure Eric would be proud of you for rescuing another fur baby. They never replace, only help fill the void. Of course then they carve a space for themselves in your heart. I agree with Belinda, Jean. My foster feral kitten had to have her back leg amputated. It has only taken her two weeks after the stitches came out to make it up to the fourth level of the cat tree. I am sure she will conquer the 5th before the end of the week. I was worried at first about how she would come down but she did it like a champ. Her sister on the other hand falls off the tree half the time because she does everything at break neck speed. Animals adapt so much better than humans. Good luck.

  • Jean

    Thanks, Belinda, for sharing your story! We held a “family meeting” with the grandchildren a couple of days ago. The final decision was to amputate. His surgery is scheduled for tomorrow … so he will come home on Friday. Holding my breath!

  • mike christopher

    Belinda, good for you!!!

    Jean, you won’t be sorry, see my posts from earlier this year and last. Sophie is still doing great and pity the animals that thinks she’s weak from only having 3 legs.

    She does need a little scratching help on left side, but she does everything else she seems to want.

    So glad we helped her live.

  • Belinda

    well done Jean!
    You and your family have done the most braviest and big hearted thing ever! you will all be blessed.
    I pray friday’ s op for your cat is a success and I am sure it will.The cat is so lucky it has tremendous love and support from his family that never gave up on him.be patient and you will see.
    This will take time as am sure you would have been told.I take my 3 legged cat toby home this afternoon.
    I will keep you posted on how he settles in.
    good luck

    Belinda xx

  • Phyllis

    I have a 14 year old persian cat whose name is Sassy, is was the runt of the litter when I got her at 6 weeks old. She has always been my baby. A few months ago had to have a toe amputated on right rear paw. She did well and was back to normal. Then about 2 weeks ago I noticed she was chewing all the hair off that paw and there was a large mass on it. The vet had to amputate the paw up to the hip. My heart was devestated, I cried to no end. She is small for her age. She hops around and its been about a week now. She has issues yet like she doesn’t jump up anymore. I’m hoping this will change when she is healed. She was healthy besides that. Some people said I was being cruel to remove her leg, but I love her so much and the blood work was all good. Is there anyone out there who might know if she will adjust at her age and if she will jump on the sofa and bed again. I have a heavy heart.

    • Cheryl

      Phyllis: Do not worry. My cat Felix was over 10 when he had to have his rear leg amputated. Cats are so resilient. Sassy may not be able to jump up as before, but she will be just fine. Cats with a rear leg amputation can’t jump up (or not as much as they once could, they lack the spring with only one leg), but jumping down is not a problem from any height. I have small steps/stools around so Felix can get up on the bed, his favorite chair, etc. You will also have to help her scratch her ear every now and then ;-)

      As for the people who said you were being cruel – pay them no mind. Sassy is still “young” and by the sounds of it well loved. She has lots of years left.

      Welcome to the group – The people here really helped when Felix had his surgery. Good, realistic answers to your questions.

  • mike christopher

    Your little baby will probably jump again.

    Our Sophie gets on the bed and even on the hood of our car.Somehow??? LOL

    Any way Sophie and her sister still go outside and even for all day and some night, back to going to neighbor’s house and everything she did before. (except get on our roof, which we never did know how she did that)

    We have to groom her because of fleas which flock to her missing rear leg side and we do that a few times a day. She Loves that.

    You were wise to do what you done…..she is Grateful, believe that.

    God Bless

  • Darren Broadhurst

    Hi Guys,
    My daughter and I are days away from rescuing an 18month old cat that has a missing front leg. im worried that she will start accumulating large vets bills…..it has been taken off totally from her body and doesn’t seem to cause her any pain/issues..advice please ?

  • Phyllis

    Hi Guys,
    Just a follow up about my 14 year old Sassy who I had to have her right rear leg amputated because of a tumor about 2 1/2 weeks ago. First week was very difficult for her and me I cryed alot. She seems to be adapting and now can climb up on the couch with me. My heart is still heavy watching her, but she is my love. So glad I found this site. Don’t feel so alone about this anymore. Thanks for listening and sharing with me.

  • Jean

    Wilbur is 6 weeks post-surgery now, and I am concerned because he is having a LOT of trouble keeping his balance when walking. We lift him up and down from chairs/bed, etc sot that he is not straining the remaining rear leg; but he “splays” when he tries to walk and it wrenches him violently to the side and throws him to the floor. This is not all the time or with every step, but it is hard to watch … has anyone else had this problem and has it decreased with time?

  • mike christopher

    First to Darren, you should not have extra bills. Sophie had a couple follow ups, but hasn’t been to the vet in 18 months.

    Jean , Sophie also took a while but now almost 2 years later, she has been just fine. She also acted strange, flopping and such for weeks, but once she figured it out, she’s never looked back. It was painful to watch, and still I feel sorry for her, but she copes probably better than I did.

    Good luck to you both.

  • Jean

    Thanks, Mike! That makes us feel a bit better. Yes, it is VERY stressful to watch; since it obviously “hurts” when he flops down so hard! We are babying him to pieces! :-)

  • Darren Broadhurst

    Thanks mike. As she is a rescue cat and only 18months old I’m presuming she will be ok. Obviously with not knowing what caused it ,I was slightly worried. Illness,car etc. also she has a “flea allergy” I’ve been told just to keep up with the normal monthly flea treatment ( spot on ) and suchlike and she should be ok. Just don’t want to take on “problems” as my daughter will be upset if it all goes wrong very quickly !!.

    Cheers Darren

  • Darren Broadhurst

    Thanks mike. As she is a rescue cat and only 18months old I’m presuming she will be ok. Obviously with not knowing what caused it ,I was slightly worried. Illness,car etc. also she has a “flea allergy” I’ve been told just to keep up with the normal monthly flea treatment ( spot on ) and suchlike and she should be ok. Just don’t want to take on “problems” as my daughter will be upset if it all goes wrong very quickly !!.

    Cheers Darren .

  • Karri

    I rescued a 7 week old kitten (Hope) that suffered nerve damage to her front left paw causing paralysis in her paw. Hope is now almost 4 months old and is still unable to walk around on her front left paw and uses it as a crutch. I have to keep it wrapped to prevent sores from developing since she scoots around with it dragging. One vet recommended to have it amputated completely within the next month to prevent it from becoming infected in the future. She can still partially move her left shoulder and elbow but is unable to prop herself up to walk normal. She has lost a lot of muscle in her injured leg as a result of being unable to use it like normal. Another vet suggested that I leave it as it is and see how she copes with it. Has anyone else had a situation like this where you could give me some insight on what’s best for Hope? Also, how do 3-legged cats cope being outside? She currently is kept in my screened in porch during the day and let inside in the evenings, but my husband is allergic so this cannot be a permanent solution. Thank you in advance for your comments!!

  • anna

    My cat who turned 15 years old this month had to have one of her front legs amputated last month – it was heartbreaking!! she had a cancerous lump on her front paw so they amputated most of the leg. It was either that or put her down and there was no way i could have done that as i love her so much and she wasn’t suffering much at the time apart from a sore paw she was happy enough. But the vet said she would only have 4 months to live if i didnt amputate. He did say because of her age there is no right or wrong decision and he himself at the time confided he didnt know what he would do if it was his cat! – but i knew amputating was the ONLY decision for us! and i can say she has coped marvellously!!! she is currently running around the house now on her wild chases while i am writing this!!! she does hobble around and sometimes looks pitiful to watch but she does also run around and jump on the tables,beds, sofas all the time no problem!! she has now mastered the cat flap after we kept her in post-op for few weeks. She does find it harder to jump down as its her front leg she has lost – and sometimes bangs her stump on the floor which always makes me wince! – but other than that she is fine!!! she still purrs away like nobodies business! am so glad i made the right decision – the vet after the operation actually said to me “you made the right decision as she has coped far better than we thought! ” – just shows cats are so resilient whatever their age and just adapt – i honestly think its us that dont cope as well!!! i found this site a brilliant help and a comfort in the days leading up to her surgery as i was worried i was being selfish amputating at almost 15 years old – but it was the right thing to do definitely – anyone wanting to contact me for more info or is in similar situation please get in touch!

  • anna

    ps – karri your cat would cope absolutely fine outside – i found a great comfort looking on you tube for 3 legged cats after surgery and there are some clips on there of 3 legged cats bounding around outside jumping on walls and shed roofs as though they had all 4 legs!!! nothing seems to stop them!!

    • Karri

      Thanks, Anna. It really helps being able to read everyone else’s stories. I just finished watching some of the videos that you mentioned and couldn’t agree more. This definitely helps me feel better about my decision!

  • mike christopher

    Karri, as Anna said, Our Sophie seems to do everything as before, except maybe jump as high with her rear leg missing. She used to get on our roof , we’re not sure how, but she no longer does that. We called her the “goof on the roof”.

    But as far as outdoors, she’s out every day even when we are gone for hours. We do not let her out overnight. Your cat will be fine.

    • Karri

      Thanks, Mike, for your reply. I will try letting her out during the day after she heals up and see how she does. I will keep her in at night as well. Thanks for the re-assurance that she will do just fine outside!

  • Jean

    Wilbur is now 6 weeks post-surgery, and this site has been a HUGE help to us in understanding his needs and his prognosis. The girls (granddaughters) were adamant that he was not to be put down – which was what the vet was recommending – and they are thrilled that we found this site for emotional support (for us humans – ha!) and everyone is “loving up” on our little guy. Wilbur’s catmate, Doc, is a fully outdoor cat. The two cats at least are “hugging” each other now, at breakfast and when Doc comes inside to visit. Wilbur is declawed (front only) which Doc is not .. which makes us concerned even more for Wilbur’s safety outdoors. We have not let him go outside in the grass yet; we live in the country, and if he gets out into the woods, we fear for his safety, since he could not really defend himself or get home quickly/safely. He yearns to go outside … but we need to be with him when he does go out … has anyone tried a cat leash and, if so, how did it work out for you?

  • Kerry

    Hi all,
    That goodness I have found this page! This has been the most awful week..
    We found Jeff as a 4 month old kitten cold, wet & hungry under a bush last bonfire night & brought him in for “one night” my dad. We just celebrated having him a year a few weeks ago. He has grown in to a beautifully striking young man, confident, adventurous, hilarious & an essential family member.
    However this Tues eve he came in the cat flap crying and limping. We thought about calling the emergency vet but he seemed to calm down. However the next morning he couldn’t get out his bed so we took him straight to the vets. She couldn’t even touch his hind because he was howling in agony. She sent him off for an X-ray thinking he might have pulled something (said he hadn’t been run over as his claws weren’t scuffed?) we never expected to receive the phone call we got. His leg was broken so shattered it was either Put him to sleep or amputate. There was no question we would do anything for him despite not having insurance & we decided that with the vets advice we couldn’t live without out Jeffy as long as his life would be worth living. We were all devastated. I have 3 cats & consider them my babies. I was just heartbroken my adventurous, mischievous little boy might not be able to do the things he loves, climbing trees, sitting on top of the shed, running and jumping on the dog. I was so relived to see him after his op, getting him home that night broke my heart even more as he was so wobbly from the anesthetic he just kept getting up & falling over and looked so confused. Thursday & Friday were awful as he just led there depressed and refusing food or drink. However we had a breakthrough Saturday, he drank some milk & ate some baby food, he went out in the garden on a lead for a wee & purred! It was the most amazing sound! I’m hoping we are on the up now, and once e can have the collar off I think there will be no stopping him. He’s been through so much in his little life but we will do everything we can for our little Jeffy. All advice on here has been fantastic after this awful, heartbreaking week

    • Lois Lindemann

      Hi Kerry,

      So sorry to hear about Jeff’s leg. Is that him in your avatar photo? He looks gorgeous.

      The first few days are bad. When my newly three-legged cat returned from the vet, I kept wondering whether I was doing the right thing for him, but once he started to improve he got back to doing almost everything he’d done before.

      I’m glad to hear you’ve taken Jeff outside, my tripod loved the great outdoors. I worried about him every time he went out, but he was happy!

      Best wishes to you and Jeff – hope he’s getting his mobility back and adapting to life as a tripod,

      Lois

      • Kerry

        Hi Lois,
        Thanks for gettin back to me. No the avatar pic are my other 2′cats, Ty & Luna.

        I have great news! Jeff has made a miraculous recovery since Saturday! The difference is unbelievable! He is running, jumping, rolling, playing, eating. We are all sooo pleased! He’s trying to nip his stitches when we take the cone off to give him some relief & is bit wobbly at times but he’s gettin back to our little mischievous Jeff!

        Will keep you informed with how he progresses but I’ve got high hopes he will make a full recovery :))))

  • Phyllis Cameron

    When I first had my cat Sassy’s back right paw amputated do to a tumor and brought her home, I was devestated wondering if I had done the right thing. I cried alot at first, kept telling her I was sorry, but I love her to much to have put her down, when other wise she was healthy. The only thing is she and I always did a little song when I would come home from work called the roll over song. She was always so excited to go to the carpet and I would sing the song and she would roll over. But now she tries to so hard but can’t seem to roll over except one side. I sing to her anyway. Does anyone know if she will ever be able to roll both ways again. It has been about 2 months now. The other thing is sometimes she tends to go backwards instead of forward and falls down and gets upset. It takes her a couple of moments to go forward. Has anyone experienced that.

  • Lynne

    Hi

    Our cat Tommy was hit by a car in September and had to have his back leg amputated, as first all seemed ok, but after about 4 weeks he started to have funny walking back and flopping to the floor attacks, hes so lovely and purrs, eats, lots of sleeping and loves cuddles, however, now he seems to have lost his balance and runs or walks then flops and falls to the floor. It has been just over 2 months, its very painful to watch him, is this balance thing something that could take months or years? We dont let him out cos as it is early days we are concerned he might fall on something and hurt himself more.

    :-) xx

    • Jean

      That is exactly what happened with our Wilbur, post-surgery. It scared us, because the flopping and contorting looked so spastic and painful. Wilbur is now 2-1/2 months post-surgery, and his balance is back … he has figured out how to take a flying leap to get on his favorite chair; and the spastic flopping is a thing of the past. We have not let him roam free with his cat-mate Doc yet; but are starting to let him outside for brief supervised periods of time. Good luck to you … I’m sure that Tommy will fare well, too!

  • Kate

    I’m so glad to find this thread. My cat is currently in surgery to have his hind leg amputated, of course I’m devasted for my ‘fur baby’ but also very relieved as it’s being amputated due to bone cancer, there has been no spread so this means our family stays together for longer!!

    I’m after some hints and tips for when I bring him / the first couple of weeks please. I have 3 other cats and Ollie is the boss of the group, the others are distressed not having him around.

    All comments appreciated – I’ll also read back through the thread but currently at work.

    Thanks in advance

  • Cecilia

    Hello, I came across this page when I searched for quality of life for three legged cats. My daughter saw a beautiful kitten on an animal charity website from Greece. The charity was looking for a home for the kitten who unfortunately was born with a bent hind right leg. She got the kitten on 9th November this year and three days later took him to the vet. The vet referred him to the vet hospital and the surgeon took X-Rays of his leg. The kitten is called Kardoulis which means “little heart” in Greek due to the black heart-shaped patch on the back of his head. He is the sweetest and lovable kitten. In any case, after the surgeon looked at the X-Rays, he said that his leg could be saved if the tendons would bend in the correct position. However, if during the operation he noticed that this would not be possible, then he would amputate. So Kardoulis’ operation was scheduled for 5th December and we all prayed that his leg would be saved. Sadly it was not to be as the tendons kept springing back into their bent position when the surgeon tried to correct them. So his leg was amputated. It was terrible to see him meow and wondering what had happened. But now, he is making a good recovery and he has started going out into the garden. My daughter has another cat, Poppy and she and Kardoulis have become the best of friends. The only down side is that when Kardoulis walks he often loses his balance and we are worried that he will not be able to run as fast as Poppy in the event of danger. Other than that he hobbles along quite well and he is a happy kitten.

    • Lois Lindemann

      Hi Cecilia,

      Good to hear that Kardoulis is recovering well.

      My cat also lost a hind leg, he was just under a year old at the time. He also overbalanced quite often to start with. He seemed to be putting his weight on the missing leg, which obviously wasn’t there to support him. It took a little while, but he adjusted and learned not to do that.

      My cat also regained most of his running speed, although his three-legged running style did look a little strange and people often told me his was limping!

      Hope things keep going well for Kardoulis,

      best wishes, Lois

  • Jean

    We just lost our tripod, Wilbur, to an embolism .. almost 3 months to the day from when his rear leg was amputated. What a shock … for us and for his sibling, Doc, who searches the house every single day looking for him.

  • Jean

    Thanks, Lois! The girls were devastated, to say the least. They had worked so hard on their research to ensure that we were doing everything we could for Wilbur before making the (family) decision to have the surgery back in September. He was doing so well with the transition .. and all was good. To have this happen so suddenly (we took him to the vet on a Tuesday morning because he was unable to move his remaining rear leg; vet sent him home thinking soft tissue strain; and he passed that night after being held literally all day on one lap or another); this has been, to say the least, very very difficult. Then to watch poor Doc beg us to go search for his buddy is another entire issue … Doc, who has never been a people cat, comes in, searches the entire house for Wilbur, climbs up onto the back of my chair (Wilbur’s spot) and begs to be held and his head rubbed … something he has never allowed us to do. We’ve discussed getting another cat, but the decision has been to wait until summer when the girls are here every day to bond with him … but, even writing this blog, there are tears in my eyes!

    • Jamie

      I’m so sorry for your loss Jean! I just found this website and have been reading through everyone’s stories and I thank you for sharing Wilbur’s experiences. My heart goes out to you and Doc! There’s nothing harder than losing a loved one! Praying for comfort!

  • Jamie

    Hi everyone. I’m so glad to have found this site. I am currently battling the decision as to whether to have my 8 year old Princess Minnie’s front leg amputated. She has fibrosarcoma in the area close to her shoulder blade. Friday she is scheduled to have her 3rd surgery in 3 years to have a tumor removed. The vet phoned me the other day to discuss the possibility of having her front leg amputated to increase the odds of her removing all the cancer cells. This was such a shock to me since it had never been brought up before so I’m really struggling with the decision. I have consulted several cat rescue friends and another vet who all agree that I shouldn’t even hesitate to make the decision but as you all have experienced it is a tough decision. It sounds like it’s tougher for the mom versus the kitty! As I read through the posts it definitely sounds like it won’t be as traumatic as I thought so I’m leaning towards having it done. I have until Thursday to make the decision. I think the hardest part is that she shows no signs of having cancer or being sick. Maybe if she acted sick it’d be easier.

    I know I’ve read several people say they kept they kitty separated in another room and I’m wondering if I’ll really need to this. I feel like this may be more traumatic for her because she just loves to cuddle with her other siblings. It sounds like I need to go purchase some pet stairs so she’ll be able to easily get on the couch and bed. I’m not sure of the answers I’m seeking but any advice would be appreciated as to what to expect when I bring her home. Do I need to plan on being near her 24 7 for a few days, a week?

    Thanks to everyone for sharing your stories!!!!!!!

    • Lois Lindemann

      Hi Jamie,

      You have got a tough decision – especially since she isn’t showing signs of illness. Actually, that part was easy for me – my cat was missing most of his leg when he arrived home after an accident, so amputating the rest wasn’t really a choice.

      I didn’t keep my three legged cat separate from his brother, but I did keep him in one room until he was mobile enough not to end up falling down the stairs (he was very wobbly and off-balance for the first few days). When we were at home we let them mix, but when we were out they were either both shut in one room, or one free to roam and the TLC stayed confined.

      When my cat first came home he needed a lot of help and I went through the inevitable did-I-do-the-right-thing crisis as I watched him struggle. The first few days are awful, but within a few weeks my cat was amazingly mobile.

      Good luck, whatever you decide to do. Please feel free to come back and ask for more help and advice – or just to let us know how you get on.

      Best wishes,

      Lois

      • Stacy

        Today I received the devastating news that my seven year old “Bumble” has Osteosarcoma on her left rear leg! The doctor has advised us that amputation or chemo and radiation are our only two options to euthanizing our Bumble…

        The hardest thing is that my husband and I have no children…truly these are our kids…we just went through hell with our beloved 15 year old kitty “Baby” and the up and down roller coaster of her renal failure…we buried our Baby just 10 days ago…! During Baby’s demise, our other kitty Bumble had been showing signs of limping and favoring her left hind leg…since she is only seven I disregarded this as a simple strain or sprain…up until a month ago she was chasing and terrorizing our third kitty, “Walnut” Anyway, because of what was going on with Baby I was completely distracted and just decided to continue to monitor Bumble’s behavior.

        Well, when we realized that nothing more could be done for our darling Baby we were brokenhearted but said our good byes…three days later we took Bumble in to the vet. Bumble was sleeping excessively and not acting herself and by now we were really getting worried that she had truly injured her leg…. X rays were done to see if there were injuries, an abscess, anything that would cause the progressively worse limping that she was doing…the doctor saw nothing alarming on the x rays and gave her an anti-inflammatory injection. The shot did nothing to relieve the limp or the lethargy. I took her back in to see the doctor on Tuesday. The vet sedated her this time, did more x rays, a full blood panel and bone biopsies of her left hock. The blood results were good, as are her kidneys, heart, etc…Cytology results would follow…and as I stated the news was not good.

        My husband and I had discussed putting her through treatments and had all but ruled out EVER putting her through the trauma of an amputation! But my reading of all of your personal stories and experiences with your babies has made me re-think the decision to euthanize Bumble…She is fairly overweight to begin with (as she has really slowed down) and I think this will be extraordinarily difficult on her….BUT, your stories of love are so uplifting! I am very scared to not only put her through all of this but I fear going through it with her and seeing her suffer… I am still so raw from my experience with Baby’s suffering…If anyone has any words of advice or encouragement I would so appreciate it! Should our decision be to amputate? How do we know that her cancer won’t spread and that we are not unnecessarily putting her through so much… this is a WONDERFUL site and I am thankful to have found it… please feel free to offer any words of advice…since this is bone cancer we don’t have much time to make a decision.

        Many thanks to all of you!

      • Jamie

        Hi Lois. I wanted to let you know that I made the decision to NOT amputate. I prayed and prayed about this situation and all signs led to me not doing it. I take comfort in knowing that after Princess Minnie’s surgery the vet said where the cancer was, amputating would not have helped in her situation. Princess Minnie came home last night and hasn’t left my side. She is recovering as well as an be expected. The vet made a very deep and wide incision in hopes that we have finally nipped this cancer in the butt!!

        Although my ending was much different than the others posting on here, I again want to thank you and all those who are posting on here. If I did have to go through with it I was much more comfortable with the process after reading everyone’s stories. God forbid I know someone that goes through this, I will be directing them to this blog. God bless!!

  • Stacy

    Today I received the devastating news that my seven year old “Bumble” has Osteosarcoma on her left rear leg! The doctor has advised us that amputation or chemo and radiation are our only two options to euthanizing our Bumble…

    The hardest thing is that my husband and I have no children…truly these are our kids…we just went through hell with our beloved 15 year old kitty “Baby” and the up and down roller coaster of her renal failure…we buried our Baby just 10 days ago…! During Baby’s demise, our other kitty Bumble had been showing signs of limping and favoring her left hind leg…since she is only seven I disregarded this as a simple strain or sprain…up until a month ago she was chasing and terrorizing our third kitty, “Walnut” Anyway, because of what was going on with Baby I was completely distracted and just decided to continue to monitor Bumble’s behavior.

    Well, when we realized that nothing more could be done for our darling Baby we were brokenhearted but said our good byes…three days later we took Bumble in to the vet. Bumble was sleeping excessively and not acting herself and by now we were really getting worried that she had truly injured her leg…. X rays were done to see if there were injuries, an abscess, anything that would cause the progressively worse limping that she was doing…the doctor saw nothing alarming on the x rays and gave her an anti-inflammatory injection. The shot did nothing to relieve the limp or the lethargy. I took her back in to see the doctor on Tuesday. The vet sedated her this time, did more x rays, a full blood panel and bone biopsies of her left hock. The blood results were good, as are her kidneys, heart, etc…Cytology results would follow…and as I stated the news was not good.

    My husband and I had discussed putting her through treatments and had all but ruled out EVER putting her through the trauma of an amputation! But my reading of all of your personal stories and experiences with your babies has made me re-think the decision to euthanize Bumble…She is fairly overweight to begin with (as she has really slowed down) and I think this will be extraordinarily difficult on her….BUT, your stories of love are so uplifting! I am very scared to not only put her through all of this but I fear going through it with her and seeing her suffer… I am still so raw from my experience with Baby’s suffering…If anyone has any words of advice or encouragement I would so appreciate it! Should our decision be to amputate? How do we know that her cancer won’t spread and that we are not unnecessarily putting her through so much… this is a WONDERFUL site and I am thankful to have found it… please feel free to offer any words of advice…since this is bone cancer we don’t have much time to make a decision.

    Many thanks to all of you!

    • Jamie

      Stacy my heart goes out to you and your husband. You brought tears to my eyes and I can feel your pain. My husband and I also don’t have kids so our 7 kitty kids mean the world to us! I’m so sorry for your loss of Baby! I know how painful that is and no words can bring comfort, all you can is take it day by day and hope each day the pain goes away a tiny bit more.

      As far as Bumble, I also agree you should not put him down. First of all, if chemo is an option without the radiation I would definitely go that route. I currently have another kitty Magnum PI who has been battling cancer for the past 3 1/2 yrs. Each year he does 6 treatments of chemo and then the cancer goes into remission. I can’t remember his type of cancer but I know it’s different than yours. We have had much success with the chemo and there have been no side effects. The 2nd time the cancer came back I thought he was on death’s door. My husband and I actually had made the decision to put him down but then we received a miracle and he began to bounce back. I have been through so much with Magnum, there was a time I had to forcefeed 3 times a day for an entire month, but we never gave up. I just had the feeling to NOT give up. It was a very rough time, it wasn’t easy at all but we made it through. I look back at all of Magnums struggles and I can’t believe the kitty he is right now. You would never know all he’s been through. We’ve actually nicknamed him the Cookie Monster because he never stops eating. Anyways I wanted to share that because I have experience with chemo. Radiation is a different story because it’s so expensive that we wouldn’t be able to afford it. Magnum is currently finishing his last round of chemo this week. We will again continue to pray his cancer goes into remission and we get many more years!

      Maybe you can try chemo and if that doesn’t work amputate. Yes it’s an awful decision but after reading everyone’s stories I would hope you find comfort in their happy endings! It is going to be hard but hopefully knowing that up front will help make it a tiny bit easier! I will pray for you and your husband to find guidance in your decision. Please let us know!

  • mike christopher

    Stacy, 2 years ago we had to amputate Sophie’s left hind leg. You would not know it today. She is active, and goes outside and traumatizes her new sister we got for her company. Sophie didn’t really take off to Kia at first, but now are friends.

    Bumble will adapt, you wil experience pain in watching at first as it takes awhile for the cat to adjust. You will need to watch the diet also. Don’t put her down, she will have a full life. Even today I feel sorry for Sophie…..but she doesn’t.

    mike and lynda

  • mike christopher

    Stacy, 2 years ago we had to amputate Sophie’s left hind leg. You would not know it today. She is active, and goes outside and traumatizes her new sister we got for her company. Sophie didn’t really take off to Kia at first, but now are friends.

    Bumble will adapt, you will experience pain in watching at first as it takes awhile for the cat to adjust. You will need to watch the diet also. Don’t put her down, she will have a full life. Even today I feel sorry for Sophie…..but she doesn’t.

    You also will need to groom that side of her head the missing leg is on.

    mike and lynda

  • Kim

    My 7 year old male cat, Max, had his right rear leg and half of his tail amputated about 5 weeks ago after being caught in a car. He seemed to do well, walking fairly well with some balance issues. Approximately 5 days ago he began to twist and flail and be unable to balance. He does make it to the litter box once or twice a day but doesn’t eat unless I bring food and water to him. His nose is moist and he shows no signs of sickness, just an inability to balance well enough to walk. I’ve seen him stand and acquired a new prescription for pain meds today in hopes that might help. Anyone else experienced this? It breaks my heart when he tries to stand, twists, spasms and falls. He becomes so upset that he just lays back down.

    • mike christopher

      Our Sophie done the same thing, but only for a week or two. She started off fine for about then went into the twists and spasms for 7 to 10 days.

      She finally came out of it and has been fine ever since. It was painful to watch and we thought maybe we done the wrong thing saving her, but today she is doing great.

  • mike christopher

    Our Sophie done the same thing, but only for a week or two. She started off fine for about then went into the twists and spasms for 7 to 10 days.

    She finally came out of it and has been fine ever since. It was painful to watch and we thought maybe we done the wrong thing saving her, but today she is doing great.

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