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

  • Lin

    Hello i posted last year in May 2009 shortly after my cat Bella had her right back leg amputated. Thought i’d give you all an update as this website helped me and my husband immensly when we were going through the stress first of finding Bella hurt and then the anxiety of how to cope once she came home.
    It was very distressing when she first came home as she was crying contantly as she couldnt get upstairs to hide under the bed (her fave sulking place) or go outside (we had to block the catflap). I posted about a problem we had with her walking backwards and then toppling over and crying as if she was in pain, this carried on for several months and eventually one night it was so bad to the point where she spent the night laying down as everytime she stood up she would stagger backwards and then fall over. The next day we took her to the vets and what do you know the vet put her on the floor and she starts hopping about the room…typical. Anyway the vet mentioned phantom limb pain and said that if this carried on perhaps to look at acupuncture for Bella.
    I can’t remember how long this phantom pain continued for but i know it was a good few months, however it eventually stopped. I do believe she still suffers with phantom limb tho as she goes as if to scratch her neck with the leg and her stump is going backwards and forwards like crazy, she occasionally topples over because she trys to stand on her hind legs. The other thing Bella does is if i stroke her and rub around her neck on the amputated leg side her stumps starts moving furiously as if she thinks it is her who is scratching herself. She loves us doing this and purrs like crazy.
    Bella still goes outside through the catflap, i worry about her like mad tho (dont think this will ever change) There has been a personality change in her as well, she used to not be a very affectionate cat but now she is like my shadow, shes always on my lap, if i go to bed she wants to come with me and wants to lay as close as possible to me whereas before she would ignore me and my husband a lot of the time and just go out.

    I hope this helps anyone who is going through this experience. If you have any questions then feel free to ask. πŸ™‚

    • Sharon & Tess

      Hi Lin,
      My cat, Tess, had her right hind leg amputated 10 days ago. Like you, I found this forum’s comments really helpful. We did not know what to expect and it’s always a comfort knowing that you’re not the only one going through something like this.
      I have to say, it sounds like Bella suffered a bit in the early days. That’s hard to bear I should think. We were lucky cos Tess seems to be coping ok and in fact she ran out of the carrier when we first brought her back from the vets and scoffed loads of food!
      That thing you mentioned about Bella scratching her ear with her missing leg, Tess does that too and has the strangest look on her face whilst she’s doing it. I just give her a scratch when she does it and that seems to work for her !!
      We are just at the stage of letting Tess out but so far I’ve let her have a little time outside in the back garden which is reasonably enclosed rather than the free access to outside which she is used to. She isn’t really jumping yet so I don’t think she can currently get very far but I’m sure that will change πŸ™‚ I’m sure I’ll worry but I think cats benefit from outside activities and we only keep them indoors to assuage our own worries. How long was it before you let Bella outside and did you have any anxieties before hand?
      It’s lovely to hear that Bella is doing well and it definately does help when people like you share your experiences in this way. Thank you

    • Emily & Hayley

      Hello Everyone

      We have 2 cats Denzel and Washington they are brothers. Last week Denzel got into an accident and had to have his back left leg amputated. He seems ok maybe a little quieter than usual. But i have a few questions to others who have 3 legged cats as i am new to this. My cat walks backwards and its seems as though he cant stop. its quiet scary actually he nearly walked backwards in to the fire because he couldnt control his back leg. his heart is always beating like crazy when i pick him up. it happens everyday for the most part of the day. will this stop? any suggestions. Also my cats were the best of friends and always playing and licking each other. they used sleep together alot but now washington (4 legged) wont go near denzel (3 legged) i really hate that they are not acting the same. Washington even hissed at denzel.. he has never done that before. πŸ™
      any advise..?
      Thanks Emily, Hayley, Denzel and Washington xx

  • Lin

    Hi Sharon

    So sorry to hear about Tess, sounds like she is getting on fantastically and she will just get stronger and stronger.

    Well it was about 3 weeks before we let Bella out but that was mainly my anxiety to be honest. I remember following her around the garden the first time she went out and i turned my back on her for a second and she was gone! I called her for about half hour before my husband said to just leave her and she would come back and lo and behold about an hour later she popped back through the cat flap. To be honest the worrying never stops, i hate going to work in the morning if i’ve not seen her or if i come home from work and she’s not in but she does always turn up. I definately agree that cats benefit from outside activities and i think it would be wrong of me to keep her in to keep my worries at bay.

    Take care and best wishes for Tess

    • Sharon & Tess

      Hi Lin,
      Thank you for your response. Thought you would be interested to know that I had no reason to worry because Tess is not all that bothered about going out anyway. I think the weather may be playing it’s part but she goes out for about 5 minutes and then she’s back in again!! She also much prefers it when I go out with her and she loves to come in by the “big” door rather than the cat flap… Cats can be so perverse. I’m going to have to guard against pandering to her every whim or else I may create a monster πŸ™‚

  • Blue

    Hi, I have adopted a cat with three legs (back one missing). When we got him the RSPCA tried to block all the exits out of the garden with chicken wire, but he has already breached the defences. This morning he got stuck on the other side of the fence (in the neighbour’s garden)and couldn’t get back in. Do you think it is safe to just let him roam (i.e. unblock the exits and give him free reign?) I’m afraid he might get stuck outside and not be able to get back in our garden. Thanks.

    • Sharon & Tess

      Hi Blue,

      I’m not an expert but my own cat who lost her right hind leg about 6 weeks ago is at the stage where she going outside again. As she can’t jump as well as she used to she is reasonably secure in the back garden as she can’t clear the fences. I have not blocked up all exits though and, if she wanted to she can slip between the sheds into next door’s garden! Since you have had the problem of your cat getting stuck, I think I would unblock the exits. Free reign up to a point, as long as he’s reasonably safe from obvious dangers such as a busy road would seem the sensible option. Cat enjoy some outdoor time and if it’s possible, then I think they definately benefit.
      Good luck

  • John Wilson

    I actually delivered my cat into this world. He was the first of 5 kittens born to a feral Calico that had taken up around our house in Morehead City NC. I thought he was still born when he first came into the world because he didn’t move and he had been in the birth canal way too long. After delivering his 3 brothers and a sister I realized that he wasn’t stillborn and cleaned him up. Because he was a runt he had to be nursed for the first 2 months of his life and I found it impossible to part with him. He was neutered at 6 months and before his first birthday had to have a tumor removed from under his tounge. In May of this year he was bitten by a rattler and lost his back left leg to necrosis. 3 months later to got hung in a chain link fence with his back right leg and injured it pretty severly. Ten days ago we noticed the pads on his right back leg were bleeding and took him to the vet. They gave us some topical oinment. This morning he went into siesures – he was rushed into the Vet who sent us on to an emergency clinic. The clinic just called and said they don’t expect him to make it through the night. I am devestated…………..Somewhere I have missed something.. He is only four years old. His blood sugar is very low and he has bloody diarea. He is vomitting bile. There are NO items in this house that he could have ingested – it’s a brand new home. It’s early CHristmas morning 1:20 and I am turning circles trying to figure this one out..

  • Anne

    Hi John
    I am so sorry for your cat’s situation and heartfelt best wishes back across time (I’m in Northern England).
    I am no vet but my TLC had pancreatitis two years ago. The symptoms sound pretty similar but I may be wrong, different country, different stressors. It just happened, no warning, nothing that I could have done to prevent it happening so please don’t beat yourself up about this.
    My oriental TLC cat JJ survived but it left him with severe asthma and then he lost his back leg to necrosis after severed tendons. Two of my other cats survived it but my little siamese girl didn’t make it. They all ended up on drips in vet hospital for ten days.
    As I say, I am no vet but I am sure everything that can be done will be done. It is all very well talking about God’s will etc when you are in so much distress; it doesn’t seem much comfort. All you can do is be calm and still and be there for him and send him love and comfort. If he survives it wasn’t his time to go. If the worst happens he will have been supported by you to the end.
    Kind regards

  • Lois Lindemann

    Hi John, I am really sorry to hear about your cat. I’m sure you are devastated – I know how devoted I am to mine and how it feels when they are really ill.

    I really hope you’ve had some good news, very best wishes, Lois

  • Pam

    Hi John, So sorry to hear about your cat. I am a devoted cat lover I have 4 cats JJ, Piper, Charlie & Geri In July JJ got knocked down and suffered very bad leg injuries. The vet said he would lose his leg but he bet the odds still has his leg but cant use it 3 months later Piper ran in front of my neighbours car and badly damaged the same right hind leg as his brother. He has had major surgery and a fixatare outside his leg and pins up through his paw The only thing holding his foot to his leg was his fur. Our vet did a brilliant job on him. He has been in a cage until this week He is now hopping around no bother. Hope u get good news about your cat. Thinking of you. Pam.

  • John Wilson

    I want to thank all of you for your heartfelt wishes today on Christmas of all days. But unfortunately the Vet called earlier today to tell me that Black wasn’t responding to the treatments that they were giving him. The Vet was actually recommending that we go ahead and
    let him go because he was suffering so. His pancreas and liver had essentially shutdown from some kind of bacterial infection. While I was talking with the Vet his heart stopped and he passed. I have spent the bigger part of today balling like a baby because all of this occurred so quickly – It’s really never occurred to me how much we love our animals. I think even more than people. I know that I never cry at funerals but I have cried like a child over losing this wonderful little TLC called Black. He really was everything to me for almost 5 yrs. Again I appreciate so very much all of your responses to post. I will keep a check on you as I feel that you are all a good bunch πŸ™‚ I plan to look a kitten soon.. John Wilson

  • Anne

    So sorry for your loss John. Please give yourself time to grieve for him. I too have cried more for my animals passing than for any of my human friends or family, sounds terrible doesn’t it, but they love us unconditionally and touch our hearts so deeply.

  • John Wilson

    I would like to know how “Unusual” is it for an animal to just take sick and die within a 24 hour
    period. I am starting to suspect that my cat was poisoned. He was vomitting a clear yellowish liquid
    the morning that he took sick. And later had a bloody diarrhea. Even the vet suggested that he may have
    been poisoned. This is the tricky part because I am living with a new woman and she is very jeolous of
    my time and previous female friends. She had even expressed a bit of jeolousy towards my cat because we
    were so close. I pray this isn’t the case but I am extremely curious as to why my cat died in such haste.
    She even paid the vet bills which were in the $1350 range. Any suggestions or comments? The only other
    under lying cause could have been an infection from his rear paw which i had been treating. His weight
    was good and coat was shiny. I didn’t have any indicators that he was sick at all. They did xrays and a
    quick ultra sound during his final treatment and found nothing.


  • Anne

    Whoah! This is getting into dangerous territory which says more about your relationship with your partner than with your cat. Let’s concentrate on the cat. You will never know for certain without a post mortem, exactly what happened. I suspect you are going through the stages of grief where you are casting about for an answer. (shock, denial, anger, sadness, yearning, resolution). You may think ‘what if I had done this or that, it may never have happened’. Your partner is one ‘suspect’. But there are other random things too that cause sudden death in cats. Things happen that are outside our control. You are angry. This will pass. If my partner’s cat was ill I would offer to pay the bill, out of kindness not guilt, don’t think the worst of her without good reason.
    Take care

  • John Wilson

    True. I am casting stones for sure.

  • Anne

    No worries. Advantage of the internet is ability to vent without any harm being done. Be kind to yourself. You have had a terrible day. This time next week you will think more clearly. Been there, done that, worn the t shirt. But don’t get another cat till you have come to terms with your loss. It will happen, just not yet. And give your partner a hug!

  • John Wilson

    March 26, 2006
    December 25, 2010

    My little boy has slipped away –
    He up and died on Christmas Day –

    The problem that I am having in a self examination is that I am a poet and think like a poet. I have a tendency to roll things over
    in my mind looking for a different angle or approach. Grief for me is an endless road of melancholy. I have about – after many hours
    of recreating the day in my mind – come to the conclusion that Black died from blood poison. He had an infection in his remaining back
    paw that was a week or so old. I had been treating it but it had looked better so I had decided to let him be and didn’t look at it for a couple of days. On the morning of the onset of his sickness I noticed right away that the paw looked much worse and he wasn’t walking on the leg but dragging it. His sickness progressed at such an alarming rate that I never really took another look at the leg other than noticing that he had gnawed the fur on the inside of his back leg a bit.
    I am sorry that if I seem a bit of nut but I have to admit that losing this cat has been more traumatic for me than about any other single event in my adult life. That said – it worries me that I could be this susceptible to grief – it may well weigh on my decision to own another cat.

  • Sharon & Tess

    Hi John, you really have been through it lately haven’t you? I’m so sorry for your loss, losing a beloved cat is equally as hard as losing any other good friend. Just a thought about Black, my sisters cat became suddenly violently ill just like yours and unfortunately didn’t recover. The vet thought that poisonong was the most likely cause, almost certainly accidental…he thought it may well be something like slug pellets or rat bait, certainly not deliberate!! More than likely if Black was poisoned, it was accidental. Please don’t blame yourself…or anyone else, some things just happen and it’s nobody’s fault. Take care.

  • John

    Thought I would check back in with you and let you see the new kitty (Cash). I named him
    after Johnny Cash I play a lot of his music with different musicians and it was sort of
    a tribute to the Man in Black theme. Hope that you all are doing well.

    • Sharon & Tess

      Hi John,
      Aw he sure is cute!!!! I’m a bit of a fan myself and I’m sure the man in black would be honoured by your choice of name.

      Best wishes to you both

  • Lisa

    I dont have a cat with 3 legs but found reading these postings a great help. I fortunately have an adorable 1 year old Kitty. The problem is that I can’t stop worrying about her. I worry that she will be taken away from me on the roads. This has got so bad that I can only relax when she is asleep in the house. This probably stems from witnessing my childhood cat being knocked over…after weeks at the vets he was put to sleep and I suffered nightmares for a long time afterwards. I am a very sentimental person and do get very attached animals. I was devastated when my hamster died (I’m 41!). I want my cat to have a happy but safe life, to the extent that I am considering my options. I am troubled by what to do for the best. My “problem” has got so bad that I am getting up every day at 5am when I let her out (I control the cat flap) and constantly looking out the window to check on her. If I see her anywhere remotely near the road my stomach is in knots, I cant get on with anything and it’s controlling my life. I can’t go back to sleep because i envisage something happening to her and feel the need to be “on standby”. If I go to the shops, when I’m coming back I’m half expecting to see her body by the side of the road :-(( It’s awful and the stress of it is taking it’s toll on me. My friends think I’m over-reacting and say “she’s just a cat”, but I love her to bits and can’t bear the thought of anything happening to her. I feel responsible for her, her safety and her well-being. I have blocked side access to my house (where the busier road is), and wont let her out at night, but I just cant stop worrying. I have considered moving house, rehoming her etc but jist don’t know what to do for the best πŸ™

  • Carolyn

    I have a beautiful 9 year old Simese whose leg was amputated two weeks ago due to cancer. Does anyone have any expiernce on how long it will take him to walk. He can do steps and jumps to chairs but when walking frequently falls down. He has finally re gained his appetite and is eating.

    Appreciate any advice – are we expecting to much to soon.


  • Anne

    Hello Carolyn
    My neutered oriental JJ lost a hind leg just a year ago when he was nine and now it is as if he has always had three legs! I thought he would never cope. It took me a lot longer to get over the trauma.
    The first few weeks are time for your cat to adjust and find his new centre of gravity. Resist the temptation to lift and carry him around. It is like watching a toddler take his first steps, although it is heart wrenching to watch, let him wobble and fall over, he will soon work things out for himself.
    I took the lid off the cat tray for easier access and bought a low level cat scratcher climbing frame that he could easily jump on to. As he likes to sit up high, I improvised a series of ramps with boxes and a footstool so he could jump on the bed and sofa and up to the windowsill till he was more confident.
    I locked the catflap and didn’t let JJ into the garden until the stitches were out and the wound completely healed to a pink scar. He has worked out his limitations – although he did climb a nine foot mesh fence and escape from the garden on a couple of occasions. I had to rescue him as he wouldn’t have been able to climb back into the garden. So there were more adjustments in the garden than in the house as he was previously a wanderer with a large territory. I found he was working out alternative escape routes – plant pot to garden bench to compost bin, up to larch lap fence, hop onto tree branch to twelve foot stone wall……so I had to think strategically like a cat to outsmart him!
    Hope all goes well with the recovery process. Best wishes Anne

  • Our familys cat was shot on June 1 of this year. He lost his left front leg. He has had issues with the litter box and that annoying itch on the side of his head. But he is doing great. We are still dealing with the trauma of someone deliberately injuring him. Check out our blog.

  • Sam

    My partner and i adopted a beautiful ginger cat soon after he had his leg amputated. He is 3 years old now and has coped remarkably well – however as he also has some hearing loss it was thought it best that he become an indoor cat. He Seems very happy with his indoor life and we have provided him with plenty of toys and things to scratch and climb and he doesn’t seem concerned about the outside world (even when the door is left open!)

    my only concern is that over the past couple of weeks he seems to have be becoming weak and unstable on his remaining back leg. To the point that i has to help him onto his favorite bed (a comfy chair!) less than a foot off the ground. He is showing no signs of pain or frustration and is happily crawling around under the sofa as i type….but i was wondering if any other owners of 3 legged cats have noticed this happen? Could there be a problem with the remaining leg taking too much weight (He is not an overweight cat – If anything a little skinny!)- Taking him to the vet next week but wanted to hear your opinions too.

  • janie

    my gorgeous cat Zebedee was run over and had his right front leg amputated 4 days ago. He is home and coping really well. However I am a nervous wreck and so worried about him going out. He always has been an extremely curious lively cat travelling far into the woods and across roads (although he lives in a quiet culdesac). He has his tail amputated some time ago cos Mr fox caught him.
    How on earth will he cope out and about… I realise he will never change his ways and it would be cruel to prevent him from going out. But I know I will not rest or relax until he is home again. I had a fear that Zebedee would come to harm one day due to his antics before he had his accident. but now I am a nervous wreck thinking about it.
    Any advice please. I adore my little chap x

  • Lois Lindemann

    Hi Janie,

    I know exactly how you feel. My three-legged cat Eli (he’s the one staring at you from the top of the page) lost his leg and tail in a traffic accident. I couldn’t believe that happened on our quiet road. He recovered quickly and was fine. I wasn’t fine, in fact I was a basket-case every time he went out. It was really hard to let him go out, but he loved being outdoors. The one comfort was that he seemed to have learned to keep away from traffic. He was only a year old when he became a tripod, but lived to be 14. He still got into lots of scrapes when he tried to climb too high, fell off things etc – but he was happy, even when I was worried!

    It’s probably going to harder for you to adapt than for Zebedeee. I think you’re right, it would be unkind to keep an outdoor-loving cat confined inside. I never stopped worrying about Eli, but it did get easier as I got used to it – and once it became apparent that he was quite capable of looking after himself when he went out wandering.

    Good luck! Lois

  • Bridget

    My cat jasper lost his back leg to cancer 2 years ago and struggled for a while with balance and kept flipping over and falling down which was really distressing for both him and me. He was 11 at the time of his op and hasn’t been the same since, he was always out and about exploring and chasing everything that moved, now he sleeps most of the day. He does seem quite happy and is very affectionate and purrs a lot. Anyway, the last couple of days he has gone back to flipping and falling, it’s not every time he walks, one minute he seems fine and then the next he can’t move without falling then 5 minutes later he’s fine again. Could this be down to his age, any ideas?

  • Allison

    Thank you so much for this post. My 3-year-old cat just fell in a freak accident and completely shattered his front right leg. He had it amputated last night and I was a wreck all day thinking about surgery options and complications. We chose amputation thinking about his quality of life and the cost of trying to repair the bone, which had no guarantee of success. I have yet to see him but they say he’s recovering great and will be up and at’em in a couple weeks. Eager to see how he does, but notes like these are certainly comforting. He’s a fighter and pretty damn cute, so he’ll just be a silly spectacle, I’m sure. Glad everyone seems to have good experiences.

  • Sharon & Tess


    I’m willing to bet that he will be just fine as the posts on this wonderful site attest to. My cat had a back leg amputated so a bit different from a front one. I bet you feel just as anxious as I did. Prepare yourself for things to look a bit gruesome at first because they will have had to remove a good deal of fur….but within weeks when the stitches are out and the fur starts to grow back in, things look and seem a whole lot better. We (me and the puss,Tess) are totally cool about it now (it happened last Nov) and I can honestly say she is the same girl as she was before with the added bonus that she cannot scale the fences and get to the road where she was run over so that’s a bit of a relief! It will be a bit different with a front leg because your boy will be able to get up, he may have a problem with getting down though. As you have found, there’s loads of info and advice on this site to cover any little problem that may arise. Three legged cats are more common than I ever imagined.
    Hope everything goes well over the next few days and weeks…keep us posted on your progress.

    Take care

  • Pamela Gileno

    Hello there,
    I am glad to have found this blog. My heart has been heavy this past week because my favorite cat just lost his left front foreleg three days ago. It was my husband’s fault for throwing him down on the ground too hard after the cat startled and clawed his leg. I saw the whole thing happen. It was horrible and Dweezil showed signs of immediate injury right away.

    They could not save his leg due to destruction of his radial nerve. So now, my beloved Dweezil is a tripod, and every day we see him, we will all be reminded of how horrible my husband acted. Of course, this incident is very hard on my husband, for he is very affectionate and loving with all our pets. I know his violent reaction to Dweezil wasn’t meant to inflict injury, but the fact it did inflict injury cannot be changed. I don’t know when I will fully be able to forgive my husband for this, and it’s painful to say this.

    I need to know that Dweezil is going to be okay again. Only when I see his fur grown back and him scampering about the house (albeit on three legs) and climbing up into our laps, purring the whole time, will the process of forgiveness begin.

  • Pamela and Punkyn

    To everyone whose posts I have read, thank you for your messages. I am grateful to have found this site as next week I am facing the amputation of my beloved Punkyn’s rear left leg due to cancer.

    Pamela I am so sorry for Dweezil and hope his recovery is coming along well.

    Punkyn is 13 years old so I am concerned how she will adapt to this change. Gratefully, it appears, the aggressive caner has not spread from her leg so the amputation will offer her the chance to continue living a healthy life. I have been reading everything I can find and watching videos so I am optimistic for a successful recovery. However, I am very anxious about the first few weeks of recovery. Any advice?

  • Cheryl & Felix

    My Felx had his rear left leg amputated on Thursday (Dec 8) due to trauma and is home now. When he came home on Friday, he seemed a little more mobile than he is today. He is eating a little, but does not seem interested in water. He will move himself around, but not too far. I am just wondering how long it could take for him to venture further than the blanket he seems to prefer to lie on.

    • Lois Lindemann

      It could take a few days – it depends on how steady he is on the remaining leg. My cat was carrying minor injuries to his remaining rear leg, so it took him a little while to get mobile.

      Hope Felix gets up and about soon!

  • Pamela and Punkyn

    Best wishes to Felix and you for a speedy recovery. Can’t offer any advice as Punkyn is not going to be having the surgery. She has not fully recovered from the tumor removal and do not think she could survive the amputation.
    Good luck.


    • Cheryl & Felix

      Thanks Pamela and Punkyn. Felix seems a little more perky today. Drank some water, and he even managed to stand (albeit for only a second or two).

      Felix and I send all the best to Punkyn and her family (you!).

  • Pamela Gileno

    I just wanted to say that Dweezil is recovering very quickly. He is jumping, running, and his personality is as wonderful as it has always been.

    Still mad at my husband….but that’s gonna take a while to let go of.

  • Cheryl & Felix

    Well it has been 10 days since Felix’s surgery. He is wandering around the house quite well. He even tried to sneak outside while the back door was open today. Stitches are coming out today (one last trip to the vets).

    Felix, Kinx and I would like to wish every one with a special cat (and ordinary ones too) the best of this holiday season. Take care

  • Pamela and Punkyn

    Cheryl – wonderful news for Felix! Punkyn doing well and we wish you a wonderful holiday season as well.


  • The Nooz

    Hi everyone – it’s great to see the comments on here and read how supportive you all are to each other.

    Our little cat Norris (aka The Noo – he’s 4 1/2) is an indoor cat, along with 4 other cats. They have several floor to ceiling cat poles around the house and we think that a couple of mornings before New Years Eve he fell off one of these. Horrible noises were coming out from under the bed – he was in awful pain our poor lad.

    Blue light to the vets. Vet felt that his rear left leg may be dislocated or broken and we left him for xrays and awaited a call.

    It was broken, a messy spiral fracture near the top of his femur. They decided they could pin it and we picked him up on New Years Day – a full set of scaffolding sticking out of his swollen back leg and strict instructions on cleaning and keeping him on cage rest for what felt like forever.

    A week later on and we knew things weren’t right. Little Noo wasn’t moving off the spot and had gone off his food. Back to the vets we went, another xray and this time the telephone call told us that the remaining bone above the mend had shattered and the recommendation was to remove his leg. Tears rolling down my face I agreed.

    The Noo came home the following day, and although back in the cage he was itching to be out – a different cat with no pain.
    He’s doing famously, not very brave with the jumping because it’s a back leg he’s short of, but he’ll happily fling himself off the kitchen bench and the furniture (at first he wasn’t used to his back end weighing less and kind of did hand-stands on his dismount, but this seems to be settling down now).

    The one problem we do have is with our alpha male, a big grey tabby called Henry who has taken a HUGE dislike to this three legged weirdo in his house. Henry thumped the poor little Norris so hard one day that he wet his pants.

    The Noo is terrified of Henry now and on encountering each other Henry fixes his stare and stalks Norris. If Norris so much as takes a step to run away Henry is on him like a whippet on a hare.

    So far we have tried:
    re-introducing them by keeping Henry in the cage for a week while Norris comes and goes past the cage. Didn’t work.

    Feliway plug ins all over the house. No difference.

    Currently trying homeopathic preparations, one for confidence and one for dominance (along with Belladonna).

    We even went as far as to bring a hamster into the house (in a very expensive cat proof cage) just so there was something further down the food chain than Norris in the house – but Henry is rarely entertained by Rodent TV unfortunately!

    Norris spends the day around the house with the other cats while Henry (who is more nocturnal away) sleeps shut in the bedroom. At night Norris spends the night in the bedroom and Henry has the run of the house. The longer Norris has been away from Henry for, the happier he’s becoming. Prior to the accident Norris and Henry were partners in crime.

    Can anyone please tell me if they think it might still be early days for this frustrating situation? I’m hoping so. Any advice or experiences shared may be our problem halved!!

    Can I just add – if anyone is reading this and in a position where they are having to contemplate amputation for whatever reason, please please do be assured your cat will cope far better than you could ever imagine. And if (as in our case) your cat has suffered pain for any time prior to an amputation – you will not believe the difference this procedure will make. We were a collective mess thinking about our beloved Noo minus a leg but as soon as we saw him it was clear how much his life had improved and now all it will take is practice (he is currently practicing very hard chasing one of the girls round and round the sofa!)

    Thank you three-legged cat caretakers!

  • mike christopher

    Our cat sophie also had a leg (rear) amputated the day after Christmas. She came home and was gung-ho like she always was. However she started acting strange after about a week. She will get up and go backwards…fall down…do front leg stands….flop on floor, etc. All after about a week of good being.

    The vet thinks her good leg’s knee has some bad tendons, so we kept her caged, but she seems to be no better, maybe worse. We took her back to vet again today after two weeks,and left her for a couple days for observation.

    Anyone with this kind of behavior knowledge in a cat? She is happy, grooming and eating, but it is very difficult for her to get up and get going.

  • Becky Winder

    Hi, it’s so nice to come across a website like this, our dearly loved little cat Blue got ran over yesterday and is now waiting surgery to amputate his front leg. I’ve just been trying to do some research to see how I can aid his recovery and quality of life when he comes home.
    One thing I am very concerned with is pain relief as I know cats hide pain very well, does anyone have any information on pain relief they used and did anyone use anything homeopathic?

  • Carlisle Overbey


    I adopted a three-legged siamese cat named Sriracha 5 weeks ago. Some kind people found him injured on the side of the road when he was approximately 3.5 months old. They couldn’t afford the surgery, but a local cat rescue paid for it and put him up for adoption. He is adjusting really well, but I am concerned because he is two months out of surgery and still doesn’t jump. He is missing a hind leg, so I understand its more difficult; however, the vet told me he would still be able to jump. He only gets up on furniture that he can climb. Is there anything I can do to encourage him to jump?

    Thank you for your suggestions.

  • Tiffany

    Dear Overbey,
    My baby had her back leg fall into a drawer when jumping off of a dresser almost 2 years ago. It was broken at the very tiny kneecap. I was given the options of surgery that was going to be less than 90% successful and REALLY expensive, euthenasia, or amputation. So after the veterinarys insistence that the kitty would be as good as new in no time I decided to have it amputated. July will be 2 years and she has never gone back fully to the way she was before. She is much more cautious, more scared and needs more assurance from me than she did before the surgery. However, it has really brought her and I closer…she has learned to trust me better, and rely on me when I help her, or encourage her to do something that makes her nervous. I have definately learned that she will use her claws more…she doesnt really ever jump but climbs. You must be prepared for this on your furniture and other places she accesses. But if you play your cards right he will draw close to you as his assurance that everything will be ok…and when you encourage him to do something he will be confident because he trusts you. But the climbing is totally normal…my kitty rarely jumps…its like they know that they only have one back leg left and they baby it. Be patient, it will get a little better, but your kitty will always need your love and reassurance because his body is different now and he needs direction. =
    ) I hope I could help!

  • Maika

    My 2 year old tabby had his back leg amputated a week ago after being stabbed by something sharp I think while in a cat fight that severed his sciatic nerve. He is doing amazing! Your stories really helped. Has anyone had experience with how Hightower a 3 legged cat can jump? I am looking into Cat Fence In a product that nets the top of the fence to keep him in. Max likes to walk along the fence line and roam a rarely quiet culdesac behind our house and I’ll feel bad stopping that but considering that’s where I heard him get in the fight at 7pm and couldn’t find him till 4am I don’t think I will be able to relax if he leaves the yard… he has a big yard/house and best friend dog/also I can put something in the back yard for him to climb on. I just don’t want to spend the $600 if he won’t be able to jump that high anyway. Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated.

  • Anne

    Hello Maika. My oriental lilac JJ had his back leg amputated July 2010. I have an enclosed garden with a 5 foot fence and two five foot gates but lots of trees and shrubs near the fences. He has always roamed far and wide but since the surgery he is unable to jump higher than the bed and that is with the help of steps! He had tried to climb a tree to access the fence so I chopped lower branches off. as well as checking other items such as the water butt he could use as steps. He has a cat climber in the garden with low steps so he can still sit high up. Only problem is if someone has left a gate open as he is then off down the street l!ke a greyhound He would never be able to jump back in the garden over a fence or gate if he was let out therefore that is the danger, Back leg amputees have difficulty climbing up, front leg amputees difficulty climbing down (so I believe). So your cat should be ok but watch out for anything he could use to gain access up the fence such as wire netting, plant pots etc. When he is fit to go out after the stitches are out and the scar healed somewhat, just watch him to see what he is trying to do and take evasive action. Good luck.

  • mike christopher

    I wrote a month or so ago about Sophie….in the last couple weeks aswitch has went off…she has finally figured out how to get up/down, run andjump, she is doing great and back to annoying us about going outside, which we let her do with supervision.

    Going to say we are going to let her have her outdoor time again (onr reason; she’s driving us nuts to go out) just not overnite like she used to.

    Complete success and happy cat, was traumatic the first month but worth it all.

  • Cheryl & Felix

    Just an update on Felix (amputation rear leg – Dec 10/11). He is doing great. Not able to jump any higher than the bed but is going outside (almost caught a quail the other day) with supervision. It took about a month for his “sister” to completely accept him again, but now they are back to normal. I still laugh/feel bad when Felix tries to scratch his left ear (his little stump just goes like crazy) but I try to make it up by giving him good scratches every day. Thanks to everyone on this website for the good advice and support.

  • Theresa

    I took in a stray who only had 3 paws. He is having surgery tomorrow to be neutered and have his left front leg amputated between the shoulder and the elbow. How do they do as far as using the litter box? Is there anything you can give me a heads up on that the vet may not think to tell me? Any help would be appreciated.

  • Theresa

    The 3 pawed stray I took in is going to have his leg amputated tomorrow and also be neutered. Are there any tips about caring for him afterwards? Litterbox use? Any information would be appreciated.

    • Cheryl & Felix

      Things to expect: he will not be very mobile the first week or two. I used a pellet type litter (Yesterday’s News – made from old newspapers – got at pet store) because the clay type would stick to my cat’s sutures. Make sure he has food and water and a low litter box really close as he will be dragging himself to get to everything. I kept Felix in the spare room with the door closed so he could have a quiet place (I have another cat). The first couple of days he will not seem to do much (ie. eat, drink) and he may not go to the bathroom right away. Felix figured out how to use the litter box in about three days – although he would go, but fall over when he tried to bury his waste. Best advice – give him a lot of love over the next few weeks, but don’t worry too much – these amazing TLCs figure things out pretty quick

    • mike christopher

      Our cat Sophie had a back leg(back leg easier to get down…front leg a little harder) is what I am told.
      Sophie is doing great, took about a month or more for that to happen tho. She has adapted well and is back to “normal”. She goes outside, but seems to know her limits. Looks at fences,but doesn’t try to scale them.

      I was sick at first and am still sad it happened, but believe me your cat will do fine and live a good life. I was hard to convince

  • Maika

    Anne-thanks for your advice. I ended up having to get extreme… My 2 year old cat is super ranbumcious and was trying to go over the fence the second time I let him out (before his stitches were even out) so I purchased CatFenceIn a netting that goes all along my fence line and boarded up all small holes…he even made it through a 3×4 inch crack before I discovered it. He loved to roam the culdesac behind our house…he seems to have adjusted well in the last week and is either found hanging in the house, yard or playing with the dog.

    Theresa-we are 3 weeks out from a back leg amputation..not sure how much it changes things front vs back. We are finally completely back to normal if you don’t count the missing leg, the not being able to roam-see above-and the fact that he actually is friendlier, hangs around more and wants more attention-which I love…the minute I brought him home he crawled into the catbox and did fine-I just left the lid off-he wouldn’t eat much for 2 weeks, I had to coax him with wetfood and finally needed pepcid and one pill of an appetite stimulant and he was eating normal-I kept attributing it to not getting to be in his normal spots in the house-go outside etc..but it was nausea from all the antibiotics…pilling the cat sucked!!! Wrap him in a blanket so only head is sticking out so you don’t get scratched. He jumped up on the bed to sleep in his normal spot on the second night..I had a little bed by mine at first..not sure how used to you he is but mine wanted lots of attention! Goodluck you will do great!

  • julie

    Hi, Archie is just one year old and frequently goes off on his holidays for a few days and then returns home starving and very fussy.
    Unfortunately, yesterday after he holidayed for two days he came home in the early hours and we saw his right front leg hanging, initially I thought he had broken it although he did let me touch it without any problem. I took him to see the vet who did xrays, and he has nothing broken and no bruising to any part of him so it wasnt a car ! The ve tseems to think it is nerve damage and said its possible for them to mend themselves but very rare, and if not then he would need to amputate which is terrible!
    some people have told me its cruel and he would be better off euthanised, of which the latter I hadnt even considered as he is so young, but having said that Archie is a hunter and does stray sometimes for 5 days at a time so Im so confused and upset. Its awful to see him walking round with his leg just paralysed and hanging, but we have to leave him like this for a week to see if there is any improvement.
    If anyone has any views or similarities please let me know.

    • Sam

      Hi Julie,

      Can you give me an update on Archie, I am going through the exact same with my little cat Kaos. Again he is a hunter and loves being outdoors but after a clip with a car his front right leg is completely numb due to nerve damage and Ive been told to let it hang for a few days then decide on amputation. I would really appreciate your feedback and update on how Archie is

      • Tiffany

        My parents cat was just clipped by a car a few weeks back as well. I have a three-legged cat already so when the vet told them that it was nerve damage and that she might be able to use it again someday I was skeptical. But after about three weeks she has almost full use of it again. Done be hasty about amputation if the vet says the feeling could come back, because it does happen!

  • mike christopher

    Julie, our cat Sophie was also independent like your cat Archie….Since we had her rear leg amputated she is back to normal…can’t keep her indoors, she comes and goes and we let her..that’s how she’s always been.

    She does just fine on 3 legs and so will Archie if you have to go that direction

  • Maika

    My cat Max loved to roam in the back cul-de-sac behind our house. I couldn’t stomach the idea of him just disappearing over the fence and being a little more defenseless on his 3 legs…not to mention the money already spent:) I also couldn’t stomach the idea of him being locked inside and I would have to lock the dog in as well since they both come and go through the dog door as they please- so I purchased Cat Fence In a netting that goes all around my yard-~400 for 200 feet of fence -has worked like a charm! He is very happy and I only heard him trying to scale the fence twice before he gave up…he plays a lot more in the middle of the night with his little stuffed mice and hamsters then he did before and it seems to keep him entertained during his past “roaming time” not sure if he misses his cat friends from the street over but they miss him in the first weeks they kept peering over the fence and meowing at him despite the dog and unfortunately in the middle of the night one came in the yard and had a hard time getting back out while the dog chased him around the yard πŸ™‚ otherwise all has worked out he is happy, gets around great on his 3 legs, is much more cuddly and purry and I always know that I can find him in the house are yard which saved my sanity πŸ™‚

  • MrWiggington

    Thank you for all your helpful advice about three-legged cats. I have just adopted India from the Cats Protection here in the UK. She is only 11 months old, and is settling in well with my other 6 cats. I am worried about her going out into the garden, but as she has never been outside, I feel I cant deny here the sunshine and the grass beneath her paws. We have just bought a scratching mat, as I can see she is having a problem using the posts, and also an almost spiral cat activity center, so she will be able to climb up to the top easily. I know what you mean about the phantom scratching with the missing leg, the first time I saw this I was quite shocked – not sure why! – and since then, I have always helped India by scratching that side for her. India has only ever known two fosterers who where both women, and so meeting my husband was a bit scarey for her, but he is doing as I tell him, and they are starting to get on okay. My other cats are a bit weary of her, they look as if to say: “you walk funny!” …but I am sure everyone will settle down. India has only been here a week. My youngest, Armani, who is 10 months, is trying to make friends. Hopefully India and Armani will persevere and the others will follow. πŸ™‚

  • Savina

    Just wanted to thank you all for the suppor you’ve provided! My 8month old baby “Rose” lost her leg yesterday. All your postings will help me and many others.

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