The Tale of the Three Legged Cat (Part I)

In the summer of 1992 I was given two beautiful black kittens. They were litter mates and at first I couldn’t tell them apart, but they were very different. One was a loving cuddly kitten, a bit perturbed at being placed in new surroundings, but instantly as devoted to us as we were to him. The one who later became the Three Legged Cat was not happy to be taken from his home and his mum, in fact at first he didn’t like me at all. It took weeks before he grudgingly purred for me, but he became my jealously devoted friend and followed me around like a shadow for the next 14 years.

He was only just over a year old when disaster struck. I woke up to find him hiding in a pile of clothes and sticky with blood. Whilst I was on the phone to the vet he stood up and hopped out: most of one leg was torn off and his tail was partially severed. I was hysterical, the vet was surprisingly calm. He came round and sedated the cat (who was actually very calm) and tried to calm me down (I would have appreciated the sedatives). The vet took the soon to be Three Legged Cat away and left me with hopeful words, but I did not feel hopeful at all.

I then had to pull myself together and go to work. One of my housemates worked at the same school and had explained my lateness, apparently to students as well as staff. I arrived to be met by sympathetic colleagues and concerned pupils. One lad, possibly one of the most notorious ne’er do wells in the school ran up to me, hugged me (I wasn’t expecting that!) and said “I really hope your cat’s alright Miss.” He asked me for a progress report about the Three Legged Cat’s recovery every day for months. It’s at times like this that my faith in human kindness is renewed.

We never found out exactly what had happened; we know that some neighbours (who used to be housemates) startled the cat when they got out of their car (he never seemed to be startled by strangers, only by people he knew well), they saw him run into a passing car and then sprint away. They couldn’t catch him, they weren’t even totally sure that he had hit the car – he appeared to be OK. They tried to get in touch with us, but we were out and of course I didn’t have a mobile back then. By the time I spoke to them the next day he had already been at the vet for several hours.

Three Legged Cat II

He spent a few days at the vet, then we were allowed to bring him home. In the first three weeks of his three-leggedness, the TLC took a lot of looking after. It was February and the vet had needed to shave off almost half of his fur, so we had to keep the house very warm, almost tropical, 24 hours a day otherwise he shivered from the cold. His remaining back leg had sustained minor injuries so at first he needed almost constant supervision and care because he couldn’t even use a litter tray without being supported. My sister took a week off from university and looked him during the day, the following week was my half term holiday. Amazingly after just two weeks at home (less than three weeks after his accident), he could cope if we left him for a few hours.

Over the next few weeks he got stronger, he started being able to groom himself properly, he learned to walk and balance again. He seemed to suffer more from the loss of his tail than his leg, I had never realised just how crucial a cat’s tail is for their balance until then. He stood slightly differently and bizarrely his whiskers grew longer as if compensating for the increased width that his new, slightly twisted, stance gave him.

The vet told us he would be back to normal in three months, we didn’t believe it, but he was. Three months after his accident the Three Legged Cat was charging around at full speed, playing with toys, climbing the stairs and finally lugging a large dead bird in through the cat flap. Usually this would provoke annoyance from his human housemates, but on this occasion we were delighted “Oh well done Three Legged Cat, you’ve caught a bird, you clever cat!”

He really was back to his old self, just with a bit of a limp.

9 comments to The Tale of the Three Legged Cat (Part I)

  • Ah, another mystery solved!
    He must be nearly 16 now?

  • He would be nearly 16, but sadly my beautiful TLC only made it 14 🙁 However I do still have his beautiful 4 legged brother who is nearly 16.

    Although I only started this blog recently, I’ve been lurking around various sites as TLC for years, so I just carried on, even though I suppose it’s kind of cheating now!

    Quite a few people were arriving here via Google searches about cats surviving with only three legs, so I thought it was time to blog about my specialist subject.

  • Cameron

    I have a 19 yr old 3 legged cat!!
    I found her on the hwy, just after she’d been hit by a car., where she lost her leg. My car was totaled in my attempts to save her..but here she is..just over 19 yrs later tough Kitty!!!!C

  • Oh my goodness! That’s one incredible cat. I’m glad he survived his incident. He is a very strong cat! Great blog, I love it!

  • Lindsey

    Feeling a little better after reading this. My cat has recently been injured and despite many trips to the vet and animal hospital it is looking like she will have to lose the leg. Worried about how she, and me will cope.

  • Hi Lindsey, sorry to hear about your cat, I remember how stressful that is, although I know that my cat coped and adapted much better than I did. I worried about him for ages, even after he was charging about and going outside again.

    Hope things go well for you and your cat. Best wishes, TLC

  • Rascals Human

    Hey three legged could you please come on tye life with a three legged cat page and help me lut it would be great thanks

  • Glenda

    What a wonderful story about your black cats. I have had 3 three-legged cats. The first one was my cat since she was a tiny baby. At age 17 she developed non- metastatic bone cancer in a hind leg and I had her leg amputated because she was otherwise alert and healthy. After the surgery, she acted as though she had been born with three legs. I lost Patches at age 20 to renal failure. Once you have a TLC, others will find you. My neighbor brought me a TLC from the emergency vet clinic where she worked. He was barely 6 weeks old and his hind leg had been crushed in a door. The remains were amputated. I adopted him, of course, because I had a handicapped cat house: steps to the bed and favorite chairs, cat trees with small increments in the steps, a cat door to the porch so he could have fresh air and sunshine without going outside. He is now 9 yrs old and very healthy. Five years ago, I adopted a brother for him from a rescue shelter. His brother is missing a front leg from an accident and is also 9 yrs old. They are best buddies. Three legged cats are like any others and just need a few minor adjustments for their comfort.

  • andrea renee smith hall

    Ebony my beautiful 12 year old had cancer cyst on her back leg and had to have the leg removed.
    We have two other cats and a little Welsh Corgi who had to have major surgery on his back, and it took 4 months of therapy to teach him to walk again. So
    when my little Eby was in the hospital getting her operation, we all had a long talk and it was decided that we would take care of Ebony round the clock.
    Spoil her and let her know she is a VITAL part of our family. She will travel with us now just like the puppy, and will be “social” with the family. She was kind of
    anti social before, but now she needs us. We love her so very much. Pix later. But I did post a video on my facebook of her home coming…