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.

312 comments to Life with a Three Legged Cat

  • Fred's Human

    Yesterday I woke up with my cat, Fred laying on my bed. He has always been an outdoor cat because he was a stray and is very independent and a tom cat so he comes back with bloody ears and the whole nine yards. Well the neighbors found fred and immediately took him to the vets office and came and told us the took him there. When we got there Freddie had just had x rays and told us he would have to hane an amputation and right now he is having his surgery but I am very worried and every time I think about him my stomache starts aching.

    For the first time ever fred has been growling at people and wants to get out. I am only 11 but my kittie is my entire world and I already lost one cat last year because of a car accident and I am worried fred will die of shock. overall I am scared if you can give any advice please do it would be greatly appreciated. Tthank you.

  • Hi Fred’s Human!

    That’s really bad luck for you as well as for Fred. By the time you read this, you will probably have realised that Fred is coping better than you are.

    The first few weeks are hard, you will watch him wobble about and fall over. He will probably growl at you because he will be in some pain. My cat even attacked me a couple of times when I hurt him, but I quickly worked out how to hold and support him without causing him pain.

    I’m sure that you will wonder how he will ever recover, but three-legged cats are amazing. Ours also lost his tail and had other injuries, but he was back to hunting – and catching – birds within just 3 months.

    If you want proof, go and look at another three-legged cat on YouTube. He’s called Phoebus and he is amazing!

  • Fred's Human

    Hi TLC,
    Thank you so much for your reply. You are right – Fred is doing much better than I am, and my family as well. He has stopped growling, but he is definitely grumpy – he seems to want to mark his territory everywhere he goes, which he never did in the house before. Hopefully this, too, will pass.

    Can you tell me how long it takes for the hair to grow back where they shaved him? I worry that he’ll be cold.

    Fred is already mobile, walking around and even trying to convince me that he should jump up or down from furniture. (I’m still lifting him instead).

    Thanks again! You’ve got a great web site here!
    -Fred’s Human

  • three-legged-cat

    Glad to hear Fred’s doing OK.

    Actually, daft as it sounds, the shaved off fur might be the worst part – it takes a long time to grow back! It took several weeks for my cat to get a thin covering of fur, in the meantime we did have to keep him warm. We put extra heating on in a couple of rooms (and then wore T-shirts, even though it was February!) Fortunately he seemed to stop feling cold once he was reasonably mobile again, even though he was still quite bald.

    He was soon desperate to get outside, but it was February and really cold outdoors. It was lack of fur that kept him in, if the weather had been warmer he could have gone back outside much sooner.

    The first 2 or 3 weeks after the op are the worst part, but once you’re through that I’m sure Fred will be getting back to normal amazingly fast.

  • Fred's Human

    Thank you again! We’re keeping him warm with an electric blanket under his bed, so he’s already started being the “king” of the house. πŸ™‚

  • vixkix69

    It’s not all fun.My kitty Shadow has been a tripod for a year now. He is two years old. The day I brought him home fom the vet,he was already trying to jump and run. He refused to use a litter box,preferring to go outside,to have me chase him to get him back inside.We have has problems with his claws becoming infected from tree climbing or becoming stubbed from jumping. He has been attacked by dogs twice. He gets stuck in thick brush and sometimes,his back leg gets stuck in a hole / crack outside. We worry a lot,but he wants outside and makes it difficult for us if we dont obey. But we love him. He seems pain free and relatively happy. They recovr well but need supervision as they cant run / jump / climb as quickly as before.

  • vixkix69

    My first comment is not meant to be negative. We love our tripod. We just worry everyday. He recovered quickly,is very independent and very bossy. You could say “we” have adapted to his majesty VERY well.LOL.So,this is really no reason to have your kitty put down. They do fairly well.

    three-legged-cat writes: Hi vixkix69, I’ve only just spotted your comments. I know what you mean about worrying, I worried about my tripod every single day for his entire life. He didn’t seem too worried most of the time though πŸ™‚

  • kerina

    My cat Paris is getting her front leg amputated in the morning due to serveral broken bones.
    She is a very active kitty who thinks she is part dog so its good to hear she will recover well as it has come as a shock to us and we are very worried for her.
    Thanks for all the advice πŸ™‚

    three-legged-cat writes: Good luck and very best wishes, I hope Paris recovers well.

  • Freds Human

    Fred has become very active and even sleeps outside again. He is VERY happy and still acts the same but, unfortunately he is going to have to be fixed soon because they say he will live longer if we get him neutered. So if Paris isn’t spay you might consider geting her spayed. I hope paris recover as well as fred is recovering.
    Freds Human

  • kerina

    Hi again, it’s been a week since paris’s surgery and she is doing very well.After the drugs wore off she was very quiet and sleepy for a few days but now is back outside exploring and doesn’t seem too bothered at all.
    She still looks a little worse for wear, looking forward to her fur growing back!!
    Thanks for your advice, Paris was also a stray and has been neutered already.:)

  • Lin


    I’m so glad i found this site. My 3 1/2 year old cat Bella had her right hind leg amputated on Saturday after i came home last week to find her hopping around on 3 legs. She had broken it in 2 places and because of where the breaks were there was no other option. I am amazed at how well she is coping although im not coping as well! My other cat Jess keeps hissing at Bella, i guess because she smells of the vets, so that is making it harder. We had to board up the catflap as Bella does seem to want to go out, she has alays been an outdoor cat and has yet to lose her litter tray for a number 2. Can you remember how long did it take for your cat to go for a number 2? She has fallen off of a few things and does seem to get tired easily as she walks a few steps and stops.
    It is reassuring to see that your cats are recovering well and have eventually been let back outside. I know that i am going to be really scared to let Bella out and i wish we could keep her in but i guess thats not fair on her. Did you worry about you cat when you let him outside? I hope it will get easier but i cant help being over protective. Thank you for this site, it really has helped me a lot.

  • Hi Lin, that all sounds quite familar!

    To answer your questions, I can’t remember exactly, but it was several days (at least) before my cat started to use the litter tray regularly. I remember having to hold him up, because his remaining back leg was injured, so we were kind of relieved that he wasn’t producing much to start with!

    As for going outside, yes, I worried like mad. My three-legged cat lived for another 13 years and I still worried about him up until the end, but it did get much easier. During his first trip outside I was a basket-case, jumping up and down, desperate for him to return. That soon diminished to a minor worry once he’d been out a few times and I realised that he was perfectly fine.

    Basically, the cat proved to be much better at coping with his three-legged status than I did.

    Incidently, my cat’s brother was totally freaked out by him when we first brought him home, but they settled back down, it didn’t take too long.

    Good luck, I hope Bella recovers well.

  • lin

    Hiya, Just wondering if anyone experienced this whith their cat after the amputation… Its now been a week since Bella lost her leg. The first few days she seemed to be getting around ok but since yesterday i have noticed she has become much slower and keeps sitting down after every few steps. She also keeps falling/collapsing and then her stump twitches like mad and she crys like she is in pain. I also noticed that she walked backwards today, it was like she couldnt control her legs and she was going quite fast and crying. I dont know if she needs to go to the vets to be looked at? The wound itself looks fine, no weeping or bleeding im just worried that shes in pain as she wasnt doing these things to start with. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    Thank you

  • Fred's Human

    Hi lin!!!
    Fred has been doing well and is outside practically all the time, its actually not as scary as you would think to let them outside fred was outside within a week but fred was up and crying to get out of his kennel the day we brought him home. fred was going #2 the day after he came home but he recovered a lot better than most cats do.

    I hope Bella is doing well and recovers soon!!!!!!
    Fred’s Human

  • Hello,

    My cat, Elvis, was viciously attacked by a Pit Bull last Wednesday, 7/18/2009 at 3:00am; luckily I was still awake when I heard the commotion outside. I rushed outside only to see my cat pinned to the grown, screaming in agony while this beast was over him, doing his worst. I was able to frighten the dog away as my cat ran for cover to the neighbor’s yard. I rushed over to him only to find him lying helplessly in a flower bed, panting, bleeding, and shocked.

    His arm was severed in two, and the bone was protruding through the skin. Needless to say, he was in agonizing pain. We rushed him to the pet emergency room, and he was treated as best he could until his vet opened the next day. He was in very bad shape.. we were EXTREMELY worried. The doctors didn’t have a lot of hope, however they gave him 48 hours to adjust from the infuries to make certain that all was well with his organs, bodily functions, etc.. before even considering an amputation. Trust me when I tell you that tears, worry, and shear terror filled my thoughts daily. It was like living in pure torment!

    On Friday morning, 7/10/2009, everything looked good, test results returned normal, therefore the amputation began. He came through the surgery like a champ, and began to wiggle his first day. The vet had no problem telling me that “this cat” was an absolute miracle! This time, the only tears flowing was those of joy!

    He was kept over the weekend for further observation, and today, 7/13/2009, my precious angel came home! He’s already limping around the best he can, and even jumping up on the couches… I can tell you that my heart skips a beat every time he does this. I’m just SO afraid that he’s going to injure himself, although I’ve seen all over the internet that cat’s adjust far better than their owners. I just worry about him becoming depressed, etc. I know it will take some time for him to recover, after all.. this is just his first day back home in nearly a week, however I just want him to be self-confident, and happy again.

    I’m just so very fortunate to have him.. and I KNOW that I have been given a miracle. I’ve been given a second chance with my precious angel, and I intend to care for him to the very best of my abilities. Hopefully he will recover as well as he has been. I cherish my precious cat, Elvis. God is great, and I owe my life to him.

    I just felt like sharing my story with others. If anyone has any pointers to give me in caring for him, helping him recover, etc.. I would welcome the advice.

    Thank you for reading..

    Todd P.

  • vixkix69

    Elvis will be okay. My cat is 2 yrs post amputation. He thinks he is the alpha male! Just be extra aware of dogs in the neighborhood and consider a fence if possible (although my cat is apparently an escape artisit).My kitty sleeps in at night but insists on being outside most of the day. I do worry a lot,but he doesnt seem to care. LOL.

  • Hi Todd, I hope Elvis is recovering well,
    best wishes TLC

  • Louis Vice

    I packed up most of my belongings in Georgia to live on my aunt’s Montana horse ranch in August 1999. When I pulled up, the first thing she and my cousin asked me to do (literally, the first thing they asked me to do when I stepped out of my car after a 17 hour stretch) was to grab a kitty cat out from under some boards in the horse barn loft.

    From that point on, this barn kitty was my numero uno buddy (named him Louis) and always came running when it was time to feed the horses… or break the ice that formed on their buckets of water.

    One morning, I screamed my usual kitty cat yell and he came limping into the barn with a bum rear left leg. A quick call to an incredible vet named Vicki that had the capability to do x-rays on the spot revealed a crushed leg that was attributable to a horse stepping on him.

    There were only two options for this 7 month old kitty:

    1. Put him in a cast with wired leg and hope for the best, but Vicki did not expect that it would work in his situation and might lead to larger problems. Besides, a kitty cat with even slight use of one leg could be deadly in a barn/ranch where bobcats, skunks and others might make problems.

    2. Amputate the leg and take the cat home with me to Georgia as a house cat 1 month after Louis’ leg was broken. Of course, we would keep him inside the house before I left for Georgia.

    My aunt had seen enough of her cats dying at the claws of predators and I was very much attached to this cat, so his leg was shaved, sterilized (even had the blue surgeon paper placed over it) and was removed on the kitchen counter. That’s life on the ranch. πŸ™‚

    One day later he was up and about and using the kitty litter in his first day as an indoor cat. I gave him antibiotics and pain killers for a week or so and drove 1,700 miles home a few weeks later.

    10 years since, he’s been incredibly happy. I keep a step stool for him to get on the bed and an ottoman so he can get on the couch or his favorite chair. He’s as happy as can be and fast as hell, but a little chunky as compared to his brothers and sisters in the Montana barn.

    Two days ago, I noticed he had a hard time getting on the bed. It looks painful for him to walk, though he can still hobble on his bum to get to his food or use the bathroom (crystal litter saves the day by keeping him dry or dirt free). I now have an appt. with the vet hospital tomorrow and pray that he does not have brittle bones or ligament problems. He actually seems to be improved since I arrived home today. Would not surprise me if he’s just trying to make me stress.

    I don’t have a long story short here… but I think he’ll make out just fine. Just want to let you all know that a 3 legger can work it out on his/her own and not to stress about it.

    One thing, though… It is so played out to call a three-legged cat or dog “tri-pod” or “thump along cassidy”. I want to smack people when they call him that.

    Thanks for listening,


  • Lin


    I posted a few months ago after my cat Bella had her right hind leg amputated. This sounds really starnge and when i told the vet they had never heard of this but the problem is that she keeps going backwards. It happens when she has been sitting or laying for a while and she will get up to move but then hops a few steps backwards before collapsing. This has been happening more often in the last few weeks and im very concerned. I was just wondering if anyone else had any experience of this with their three legged cats?

    Thank you

    • Ana

      Hi Lin.

      I have just found this site but I had similar experience with my cat,Prudence, a feral kitten that I found on a farm with her leg hanging off. I took Pru to the vets immediately and they amputated the next day.
      The rehabilitation period was a steep learning curve for both of us!
      Re: the running backwards, I too was distressed at this behaviour and thought it was possible that, having used thick dissolvable sutures, parhaps a piece had worked itself astray and was causing discomfort. I spoke to my vet about this, and also to a friend of mine who is a general surgeon (humans). The consensus was, that just as in humans, animals get “phantom limb”. This is due to the severed nerve endings at the site.
      To aid humans, mirror therapy is used so that the brain can recognise that the limb is not there anymore..but you can’t do this with a cat! For Pru, I found that picking her up immediately as this came on and holding the stump gently in my hand seemed to work, or at least soothe her.
      It was a good three months until Pru stopped having these attacks, presumably as the nerves settled.

      Hope this is of help to you.

  • Ellise easey x

    ma cat just got attack by fox im wating to here if he’l need a amputasion or hell be kk but the fox or badger who gte him broke his left lwg while his bro leo doesnt now wats going x on x im 13

  • vixkix69

    Cats do well with three legs. I also had a cat who went backwards and it was brain damage, but they can also recover from this to some degree.

  • Orla

    I would kind of disagree with you about the food. If the cat is neutered they tend to eat more and any cat will gain weight then but, when the cat has less legs to support her then it can be very bad for the joints in the remaining legs.

    I have a three legged cat and she is eats everything she can. Currently I am bringing her to the vet to monitor her weight because she has gained some. I do feed her a little less than my other four legged cat but that’s only because he’s bigger than her. I feed her the right amount for her weight but no more and I make sure she doesn’t get at the other cats food. She’s turned abit lazy lately too so I got her a food ball(plastic ball with holes so food can drop when she knocks it about) so she has to work for her food.

    One other thing my cat has problems with. First I should say that’s it’s her fore left leg that gone. When she’s using her litter tray she tries to bury it with her missing leg and ends up lowering her body to use the stub. She has a habit of dipping her stub in her own poo, not nice, even worse when she go’s to sleep on the bed after it.

    I don’t know how she lost the leg, she was found straying with only three(fully healed too) and after a stay in an animal shelter. I saw her and brought her home. She’s dominate over the other older(although she was here first), bigger, four legged, male cat, he can be such a coward.

  • Lois Lindemann

    I suppose every cat is different. Actually I don’t monitor any of our cats’ food intake, we leave food down, they eat it. So far, none of them has put on too much weight. When my cats were kittens I rationed food, but we’ve inherited several adult cats over the years, they just got used to sharing with the others. They tend to over-eat for a couple of weeks but things settle down. When I get a cat that eats and eats and piles on weight I’ll probably have to change how I feed them!

    My cat lost a back leg and I think that’s easier to adapt to than losing one from the front. Once he got used to it he still charged around at great speed and went outdoors, so weight wasn’t a problem. As he got older, both he and his four legged brother developed over-active thyroids, so getting them to eat enough was the challenge.

    My three-legged cat still bossed the other cats though, just like yours.

    • Orla

      Yeah mines a gready little thing. As for the running around she used to fly about and no height was too high for her but today I just figured out that she’s anaemic which is why she’s been tired for the past few weeks. I don’t let mine outside, it’s not really a suitable area and she never wants to come back in(she just sits in hiding places too)

  • Bailey and Ahab

    I have recently adopted a three legged cat from the shelter. His name is Ahab. They think he was attacked by an animal and someone brought him to the shelter. I love Ahab and we’re still trying to figure out some things since he has always lived in a small cage before he came home. There are a few questions I have for people who have three legged cats who are indoor only:
    1. My cat still kind of scoots. He doesn’t seem to have graduated to the upright hopping stage yet. Does anyone else have a three legged cat that just scoots?
    2. Also I am worried about cleanliness. Sometimes, because he doesn’t hold himself up on one leg, things get a little messy. Does anyone know of a product that would be safe for me to use on him, kind of like baby wipes?
    3. Also for people who have three legged cats who use the litter box what litter do you use. Right now I use tidy cats but because I think he might be stepping in his urine the cat litter is attaching itself to his fur. What do you use?
    If anyone has any suggestions I would love to hear them. I love Ahab and when I went to the shelter and found out he had been there for six months and no one wanted to adopt him it broken my heart. He is very happy now and loves his home and the attention, I just want to make sure he lives a full and healthy life. I know cats don’t like being “messy”. Thanks!

    • nef's mummy

      hey bailey, I’m glad you adopted Ahab. I adopted my three legged cat Nef two years ago from a shelter. When I got her she had only recently had her amputation and had some hesitation in standing, with the issue with clenliness, i know it is some time since you posted your comment and i hope you have discovered some solutions, but I found a soap free handwash and soft tissues did not irritate the skin of Nef when I helped her to clean up. I’m also not aware of the types of cat litter available to you but it is best to use a crystal type one which absorbs the moisture to avoid litter sticking to the cat. But hopefully eventually Ahab will learn to stand on his own with confidence.

  • Frank


    Our cat Wilson has been hit by a train, at which he lost his hind leg and a large piece of his tail. On top of that, he got a blood clot in his brain, which blinded him for 7 days after the accident. Luckily his sight came back and he came to terms with his disability, so we now have a more passive but happy tripod. The first thing he did when we let him out in the garden, was to kill an enormous pigeon. We felt sorry for the bird, but happy for Wilson. It proved the accident didn’t take the cat out of him.
    Wilson still has one blind eye, but it doesn’t seem to bother him. But if he knew how close he came to being put to sleep, he would never look at us again.

    Good luck to all tripods out there,

  • Amanda and Scruffy

    Hi My cat is a typical teenager and likes to stay out late and also goes AWOL for a week at a time. He went missing 9th November but was spotted by neighbours up the road, destroying the vole population on their lawn. At 11.30pm last night Scruffy reappeared with his shoulder completely furless and oozing gunk.The vet advised us that it looks like he has been bitten by a hare approximately 3 weeks ago, this had healed – and she knew he had been in a barn as straw had healed in with it. This has since burst due to infection. I was glad to hear he had been in a barn as it was -16 degrees here last week ! He is currently on antibiotics,a drip and painkillers in the vets hospital. The senior vet will see him tomorrow morning to see if they can shave down his scapula (OWWW!) due to bone infection or amputate his front leg. He’s a fantastic mouser so I am glad to hear others comments about returning to usual behaviour though I doubt if he will be climbing oak trees any more – my husband is glad of this point as he’s fed up of going up oak trees to get him down !!

  • Squirrel-cat's Person

    Hello there-

    I rescued a friendly neighborhood cat who I had nicknamed Squirrel. She was limping around so I thought she had hurt her paw. It turned out that she had severely dislocated her front left elbow, most likely jumping down from the roof of the house (she had a penchant for death-defying rooftop antics). After one attempt to surgically fuse her elbow (which failed!), she had to go back last week and have her leg amputated. The vet actually removed not only her leg but the associated shoulder blade. Has anyone else had this done?

    She is recovering well and is getting used to walking around / hopping on 3 legs. I am going to make adaptations so that she doesn’t have to jump too high to go exploring, and I plan to groom the side of her face she can’t reach regularly.

    Here’s my one real worry- I have 2 other cats. She used to hang out with them through the window before I rescued her, so they have some familiarity with each other. But introducing a new cat to an existing cat household always poses a challenge, let along introducing a disabled cat. If anyone has any stories about how they managed the introduction of a 3 legged cat into an existing cat family I would love to hear them. I saw that a few people found that their 3 leggers actually became the alphas, but I am not sure whether they were always part of the family and always in that role before

    Thanks! -brandy

    • nef's mummy

      hey there. my experience is only that of introducing a three legged cat into a house mostly run by hermit crabs and by the odd human with a disabilty (I live with several people with disabilities). So I really have nothing much to offer here, but I do hope that everyone is settling in to the idea of squirrel being inside the house. I’m so glad you chose to look after squirrel. My cat Nef has had a front leg and shoulder removed, it certainly looks odd while it is growing it’s fur back! And yes it is a good idea to groom her face for her, Nef has a bit of difficulty reaching her face, as well as balancing to clean one side of her body, so she has regular cleaning sessions with me and a bottle of brush out shampoo. She really enjoys the time we spend together.

  • tiger


    my cat had his leg amputated at end of jan after being hit by a car in november, and then havin a metal cast on the poutside of his leg for 8 weeks, which got infected the week before it was due to come off hence the amputation!
    he was much happier with 3 legs as he could run about and go outside but i have recently been experiencing the same issues as lins can bella, has with walking backwards, flappin around and rolling around not able to get onto leg and twists his body round. he doesnt seem to be in any pain and it has gotten more noticable this week.
    if it doesnt improve i will take him to vets, (waiting on a phone call) but wondered if anyone knows what this is. has he dislocated himself or would that be a lot of pain?


    • nef's mummy

      this can be a problem with some cats, often it is confusion and phantom leg feelings. this can increase when the cat is sick with other things and they “forget” their leg is missing, they can panic and try to clean or stand on the missing leg causing them to twist around on the floor in confusion. I’ve found it best with nef to pick her up when she does this and put her on her feet to “remind” her. But as it could be caused also by an injury it may be a good idea to have him checked out.

    • Tigger's Mom

      Hey Tiger’s mom I have Tigger too! He was stepped on my our neighbors horse. He love the horses but I think they got spooked. So we took him to the vet and had to have his back leg amputated. This happened 3 months agao and he had been doing just fine. Lately I have noticed that he is backing up alot and freaking out like So I have an appointment for the vet tomorrow. However I have noticed that if I pick him up and cuddle him, he will calm down. Especially when I kiss him on the nose. I swear the look in his eyes is so sad. It is like he is telling me..”Mom help! I’m so scared”! I think that he wants to eat me as he hissing and howls.. but he doesn’t. I see that there are other mom’s and dad’s on this site that have exeperienced the same issues… Does anyone have an answer as to how long this will last? I’m understanding that this maybe Phantom Pains and have been told that this maybe normal?

      • tiger

        thats what he does!! i came to the conclusion that he had mayb bumped his back or that he twists his stump too far out.

        he does it every now and then but not like he was, when it happens i just keep him inside but hes always runnign and jumping so i dont think its anything serious.
        when i spoke to my vet about it they hadnt heard of it and said the best thing to do was mayb video it and then show them the video.

        the stump is not sore to touch and nor is the area around it. i think it just happens from time to time, mayb the stump disclocates.

        • Lois Lindemann

          My cat seemed to have phantom feelings/pains where he lost his leg for months. He didn’t run backwards, but sometimes he forgot, usually whilst he was grooming and leaned over to put his weight on the leg that wasn’t there. Of course he fell over and was very grumpy about it. I used to pick him up and make a fuss of him, then set him down straight. Eventually he stopped doing it, but it took a long time.

        • Tigger's Mom

          Okay so I havent been communicating lately. I went on vacation to visit family. My husband stayed behind due to work. So on Tigger had to have another surgery the first of June as the vet said that his backing up was due to the muscles being too tight and causing his hip to pop out of the socket. This is something that can be a complication from the initial surgery. So then we got him home and he made a remarkable recovery. Then on the morning on July 9, 2010 he wanted outside so bad that then my husband let our dogs out he ran out the door at the same time. He took off through our pasture and he never came back. I looked for him for days, then the days became weeks. I called every vet, animal shelter, I knocked on door posted over a 1000 flyers along with a reward for his return. I was so devastated!! I continuted this every day. I also prayed every day he would come home. So last night I went out side in my garage around 10pm and I saw the most beautiful site.. Tigger had come home!! He was so skinny but otherwise in good shape. I am so so happy to have him home. He just kept meowing and meowing like he was sayin “Mom I’m home!” He goes to the vet tomorrow to have a thorough check up. I just have to say that no matter if your 3 legged kitty is at home or outside he can sure survive and live a normal life. The most important thing is the Power of Pray!

          Tiggers Mom

  • Fred's Human

    My cat fred, was hit about a year ago, i wrote on this website because I was so afraid. Fred is so heavy, he still falls over, but he is so much better. Fred seems to be getting grumpy now,any ideas?….. I realize that it’s probably not from the surgery, but I was just wondering if you had any idea?
    <3, Megan Canaday

  • legoless owner

    hi ~ i was doing some research about grooming my ‘tripod’ and found this site.

    Mr. Kitty has been a tripod for about 8 years now. He was about 2 years old when he got spooked, ran off the porch and into the street ~ got hit by a car. He was very depressed when we first brought him home and to complicate things, we had just purchased our first home and had to move shortly after he returned home.

    Mr hid for about 6 weeks ~ became very depressed. Hubby watched out for him, I had to work. Just about the time hubby was consulting through prayer just what to do for poor Mr, Mr CAME OUT FROM UNDER THE BED!!!

    He’s been a wonderful cat since then. sure, he’s had his issues. he STILL does the stump itch. he’s very agile. can climb well.

    one day, Mr had TWO birds under the kitchen table (nice weather, back door open).

    Though he was initially frightened to be outside, eventually he went back to being an indoor/outdoor cat (our pets are neutered) but within the past couple years a neighbors dog has started jumping his fence and killing cats. We initially insisted he start staying inside ALL the time.

    After Mr. sneaking out a few times (he’s very calculating and quick!) and staying out, we’ve come to a truce. He hangs out in the backyard all night now, safe from the neighborhood dogs (stockade fence). He is a HOOT!!

    I’m sorry I have no advice for anyone. It’s been a joy to have Mr. an absolute JOY!!

    This is what i have ~ try to keep ur 3 leggers from getting fat. oh, and help them groom where they are unable to groom. that’s all i can offer.

  • Mole's human

    About four weeks ago one of my cats, Mole came home with a very badly broken leg. No idea how he did it and I was distraught about what quality of life he would have after amputation. I read everything on the internet and looked at many many videos of three-legged cats. Sites like this one are very reassuring so thank you so much.
    Mole was very grumpy at first and his sister hissing at him in his cone collar left him very disgruntled, but he healed remarkably well and was keen to go out as soon as possible. I worried about him every second, but he is doing great, jumping onto lower objects than before, but that will come as his remaining leg gets stronger I think. He gets a little more tired and wobbles a little when washing his face, but he is still my mad, gorgeous, idiotic Mole, albeit with none of his nine lives left. Thanks again to all you owners posting messages.

  • M


    I had a question about the scratching post. Do you mean it is best to get a flat carpet one so they can stand on it? I just got a kitten whose leg will be amputated tomorrow so I am trying to prepare my things so that he will have a comfortable time at my house after he heals.


    • Lois Lindemann

      I got my cat a scratching post that we mounted on the skirting board (baseboard), which he ignored. I bought some thick coir doormats – which the other cats loved to scratch on – but the TLC ignored them too. For a long time he drove me mad scratching at the carpet on the bottom stair and at the base of the sofa. Eventually I learned to live with it, bought an offcut of carpet and replaced the bit at the bottom of the stairs. He did eventually come round to the idea of using the doormats, but I think that was because he was copying the other cats.

      I don’t think he used any sort of scratching post for quite a while after his op, he was just too wobbly for three-legged scratching, so you’ll probably get a chance to see if your cat is OK at balancing or needs something flat on the floor before they actually need to use it.

      Hope everything goes well!

  • Tiffany

    My kitty that I call “Bear” had her back leg amputated about a month ago. She jumped off a dresser as her back leg fell in and busted it at the knee cap which was not repairable. πŸ™ My options were amputation and euthenasia. She is my favorite kitty so I couldnt put her to sleep. After the surgery she did very well. She still has trouble jumping and does more of a “hop” than a walk. But she is making progress. She recently has started doing something wierd tho that is making me nervous. She will be sitting there alone, and without anyone doing anything to her she squeels really loud, like her tail got stepped on or something. It seems like it is due to some sort of pain but when it happens she is literally just laying there. I always run over and try to comfort her but to no avail. she looks at me like i did it or something! I dont know how to help her, or why she does this at all! Has anyone else seen this type of behavior? Its becoming more frequent lately and I dont know what to do for her πŸ™ Please help!

    • Rascals Human

      My cat does the lonely meow thing, but it is just when he wants attention with us… try not to worry about it unless it happens very often. Every so often is fine and you shouldn’t worry about it

    • Rascals Human

      You should worry if it happening every five minutes cause he may be in distress

  • Rascals Human

    Hi my cat rascal had his back right (not left, i was wrong πŸ™ ) amputated and the other back leg had two toes amputated. He only came back yesterday but can already eat walk and use a litter tray with reasonable ease. However he did fall over and hiss at me once, so i pretended to be upset and he gave the most pathetic meow ever. I am worried that the other back leg won’t heal coorectly so i was wondering if anyone else had a similar operation done to their beloved tlc. If so i would like to know if they recovered well. My other dileema is our house is sonn going on the market so when we move our cat may not like it or be in distress( like some other sob stories i heard of, like MR KITTY HIDING FOR SIX WEEKS) but im sure hell be fine as he is strong cat, who is quite funny to watch as he looks so pathetic, and he used to be abnormally fat but is VERY sskinny now. He also had his two front legs partially shaved so looks like hes wearing ugg boots. Please can i have some advice about my problems and also about ‘phantom joint’ CHEERS this is a great website

  • Rascals Human

    Did anyone have a cat that had to be kept in a cage? Or had a massive cone-collar… thing?

  • Tiffany

    I been doing some research, but there isnt much…could it be phantom pain? Like nerve endings that are pulsating and sending sharp pains in the stub? If so what can I evcen do to help that? When she does the squeel it definately seems like she is in pain. She ususally will lick it right away.

  • Rascals Human

    Ive done research and it turns out the best thing to do if your cat gets phantom pain is to either pick them up and cuddle them to soothe them or pick them up and place them on their feeet to remind them their number of legs :/. If it is happening a lot though you should contact your vet to make sure it is phantom paiuns and nothing else and you can get advice there like i did. I hope this is of assistance.

  • Rascals Human

    Its been 8 days since my cat had a leg amputated but it only came home on saturday and i had to go spend a week away the next day but ive heard hes having a very successsful week and will be comin out of his cage and be allowed round the house on friday… and im going home a day later so i cant wait to see him again

  • Manuela & Tequila

    Hello Rascals Human & Anne,

    I didn’t know that this page existed as well, doh! I am so pleased to hear that Rascal is doing well. Wait until he gets out of his cage. Once he gets the exercise, he will adapt in no time. Believe me, where there is a (cat’s) will, there is a way! Tequila had her amputation about 4 weeks now and is doing well, in fact she refuses to budge from her beloved park bench (or should I say throne?!) out in the garden. I have rainproofed it and put some furry throw on it and now little Madam doesn’t even want to come in at night.
    Every time I pick her up and put her on the floor to go inside for the night, she scoots – in lighting speed – back to her bench. I think she has really made her point. I caught her stalking the frogs at the pond and she even sniffed out a mouse hole. Looks like there is plenty more life left in the old lady. After all she is 17 1/2. Thank god I have not noticed any more bumps or lumps either.
    Her fur has started to grow back nicely and you can’t even see the scar. I can really say with the hand on my heart.. Cats are wonderful creatures. If there is anyone ever worried about their cats losing a limb, PLEASE DON’T! I was worried sick before the op and thought life for my little feline friend was over… and HOW WRONG WAS I? It was me who had problems to adjust, Tequila just got on with it.. and is thoroughly enjoying the extra attention and milking it for all it is worth.
    Rascal’s human, let us know how he is getting on. With 3l egs AND missing toes, he will be another hero of this website! Just think along the lines..3 legs… well, I top you ;o)
    Anne, how is JJ doing?
    Manuela & Tequila

    • Rascals Human

      My cat has to wait two weeks to get out ofhis cage now cause its gonna be a few months before his other back leg has healed. I dont see why he wants to get out… he keeps falling over all the time… but he doesn’t get in a moood he just keeps trying and his walkings getting better.

  • Rascals Human

    Tequila is doing reallly welll which im glad to here it helps me realise my cat is doing just as welll and thats pretty good going

  • Anne

    JJ my oriental lilac neuter is now three weeks after the back right leg amputation and just getting on with it. He sometimes forgets the leg isn’t there and is falling off the windowsill and table then looking round self-consciously to see if my other cats have noticed! Still yowling at the trees and fence in the garden wishing they were a bit lower; this is a cat who had a large territory and spent most of his nine years lording it over the neighbourhood cats. A neighbour’s two burmese are indoor cats and he used to sit on their windowsill and peer in at them until they were so stressed the neighbour had to ‘have a word with me about the dangers of letting my pedigree cat out at all.
    But he is slowly resigning himself to the fact that I am not going to build steps up to the 12 foot high wall at the back of the garden, I am sure the sight of him tattered and three legged would freak them out even more.
    The feral tom who attacked him, causing severed tendons and subsequent amputation, was out on the tiles giving another cat grief last night – JJ was quite distressed and needed cuddles. I hope (in a nice way) that the episode reminded him of his own narrow escape and helps him develop a bit of caution.
    Regarding those awful rigid cone collars – JJ was so freaked out by it that I bought a soft inflatable buster collar on the internet (Bestpet) but he never bothered picking at his stitches when I took the cone off so he never used it anyway.
    I left the crate door open on day five so he could start hobbling round in his own time but still have a safe retreat. After the first week he felt confident enough to climb stairs and I put a foot stool by the side of the bed so he could hop up.
    His stump twitches when he has an itchy ear so a new bonding game is for him to come to me for a good old “Jungle Book’ type scratching session.
    I am amazed by his growing adaptability, jumping into a box then propping himself against the sides to have a good wash, leaning against the wall at the side of the cat tray till he gets his balance, sitting up with the back leg centred in the middle of his body so he can wash his face without falling over. I have been like an anxious parent with a toddler, sitting on my hands watching him find out his own way of coping. The only time I picked him up to put him on a low cat tower, he was unable to find his own way down (6 inches) so I decided not to interfere after that.
    I am unsure whether his feline mind actually registers that he missing the leg at all – I think he just sees it as an inconvenience – not like us humans. If it was me I’d need a bucket of morphine, six nurses and a dozen counselling sessions to even get out of bed LOL!

  • Anne

    It is now over two months since JJ had a back leg amputated. He has adjusted well and has only escaped from the garden once. That was when he discovered that he could used recycling bins and the wheeiie bin as a step up to the high garden wall. He got as far as the end of the block when I found him.
    He has now reached his pre -amputation body weight so he is now on a diet as I have to factor in the absence of a leg in recalculating his optimum body weight. He had been compensating eating I think.
    Today I have taken him and the other two cats to the cattery for a week while I am in Greece. A bed has been placed on the floor for him and I wonder how he will work out how to climb the ramp up to the high shelf where the other cat beds are? Another challenge for him. The cattery owner will also be giving him his Aerokat ventolin and flixotide inhalers so I hope he won’t be too stressed. Oh I miss him already. It’s like first day at school wondering how your child will cope.

  • Anne

    JJ got on very well at the cattery though didn’t feel safe enough to climb the l shaped ramp up to the sleeping platform which was about 1.5 metres high. A bed was put down for him on the floor but after day 2 the cattery people figured he missed the company of the other two. So they put a large cat bed on the floor for ALL of them. He also took his asthma inhalers well from the cattery owner’s son and this must have gone ok as JJ was not at all stressed when he came home.
    He had lost confidence in jumping and was starting to look miserable, trying something then giving up. Now the colder weather has arrived the central heating is on. He cannot jump into the radiator beds and misses the company of the other two who hug the radiators in the autumn. I have bought an Arizona cat climber which is lower and only a metre high and placed it next to the radiator. It has a fleece lined soft circular bed about a foot from the floor which is rigid enough for him to stretch up and grip the top so he can drag himself on top of it and so access the observation platform on top of the scratch post. From there he can drop down into the radiator bed and feel part of the gang.
    How’s everyone else getting on? I feel I’ve been talking to myself for the last two months…..

  • Orla

    I wrote a while ago about my three legged female cat, sadly she died in Feb(pin sized tumor that they couldn’t remove) I had to get another cat to keep Oscar company, neither did much together but he still missed the company.

    Everything was fine, no fights and Oscar was getting much braver going outside for a few hours during the day and, he was loving it but about a month ago he was nowhere to be seen. I searched for him for three days eventually finding him hiding in bushes(this was after a night drinking too, I was talking to him trying to calm him, I never noticed a guy walking up behind me thinking I was a lunitic talking to a bush at about 2am) The next morning hungover and without a car I walked with him in his carrier to the vet, he had been hit by a car probably on the first day/night and hid terrified after that. His leg was broken and if repaired it would have been weak and probably have broken again. So now I have again a three legged cat this time it’s the rear leg that has been amputated.

    After the op which was a week after he went missing he got all depressed and did nothing I had to bring him his food and water and pick him up bring him to his litter tray which he barely used(causing constpation) and carry him to bed. If anyone went near him except for me he would just growl at them. The only thing he would do is rip off his collar and lick his stitches (he got one out) That lasted for less than a week now he’s even running for his dinner.

    And, right now he’s on the bed beside me ontop of a new blanket giving himself a good clean.

  • Anne

    Oh poor Oscar! First the shock of the accident then lying low frightened for days, then the trauma of surgery and adjustment to losing a leg. A lot to deal with in such a short space of time. (For both of you)
    He seems to have bounced back (sorry!) quite quickly though thanks to your TLC – how did you manage to get him to eat and go on his tray, did he need hand feeding and propping up in the tray like my JJ did till he got the hang of it?
    Has it changed his character in any way? Like, has he lost confidence, is he more clingy with you now or did he always seek out your company?
    Glad he’s over the worst and recovering.
    PS: Sorry but I just had to laugh at your 2am talking to bushes LOL! I’ve done my fair share of stage whispering the cat’s name down the side of garages and under garden gates in my time, drunk or sober, dolled up or in my PJs! Only another cat person would understand….

    • Orla

      He ate no problem as long as I put his food in front of him, but had to take his collar off him because with it he just pushed his food away while desperately trying to eat get near enough to eat it.

      As for the litter tray he didn’t use it much and when he did the worst thing was trying to move about and walking in it. After he go’s he turns around checks it out and turns back around to bury it normally with the wall or sides of the tray for about 10 minutes, alot of moving about and he can never seem to bury it too. But, for a few days he was depressed and held it in I’d carry him to the tray a while after he ate and he’d pee but couldn’t poo. Never really propped him up.

      He has gotten a little more grumpy, but that might be because of 4 new kittens that had started running around and he was always a little bit on the grumpy side. He’s always been really clingy with me too, more so if he doesn’t see me for the day, so after a few days he was very clingy.

      He hasn’t perfected the running thing yet, a few days ago he tried running over to me, he got confused and ended up not using his back leg at all, held it in the air while he ran with with to front legs, he couldn’t control where he was going and ended up running into the corner. It’s awful but I could not control my laughter, and poor Oscar was on the floor looking confused and annoied.

  • TiptoeHat

    Our cat Tabitha moved to Cyprus on 14 September this year with us. We managed to keep her in for a week or so as to get used to the house before letting her out to investigate the surrounds. Unfortunately on 08 October she was out and about and got bitten by a Snake (Blunt Nosed Viper) on her left foreleg. After having the anti-venom and surviving the trauma that all this brought, the Vet informed us that the nerve damage to her leg was permanent and that the leg would need to be amputated. This was performed on 18 October and she is now home and recovering with a plastic cone to prevent her pulling out the stitches. I think this blog is fabulous as it has allowed me to read all about other pets and their owners as they cope with the challenges brought by life with a dis-advantaged cat πŸ™‚

  • Pam

    Hi my name is Pam. My cat Piper is 18 months old. He was knocked down on Sunday. He is getting surgery tomorrow but its looking like he will loose his leg.We are all so upset about this. Reading through the stories has eased my mind a bit. I wish tomorrow was over I am dreading it Our other cat JJ had the same experience 12 weeks ago Bad luck or what. We are all so atatched to our pets we worry so much over them dont we.

  • Anne

    Hi Pam
    Hope Piper’s surgery goes well. That is really bad luck having two cats experience the same thing.

  • Pam

    Hi Anne, Thank you. Piper had his surgery, The vet we have is brilliant. He fused his bone and put a pin in Piper’s leg. Touch and go at the minute with infection. Fingers crossed I love my pets so much Kind regards Pam.

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