Rehabilitation of a three legged cat

Boris Diamond

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At the rescue where I volunteer, there is a three legged cat. Poor little guy was severely abused and is healing from other injuries, too. He had his surgery 2 or 3 weeks ago. He is not being fostered at this time. He needs fostering badly, and even though it will be difficult to find room for him, I think it is up to me. He is not getting the attention he must have. He is a very sad little kitty.

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We put him in a pen, hoping he would get some exercise in there. The only exercise he gets is when we pick him up and carry him to the other side of the pen. Then he returns to the more sheltered part of the pen. He does use the litter box and he will go to his bowl to eat. He would struggle when I first picked him up. He now naps in my arms with his head down in the crook of my arm. I have spent some time with him and I think we are buddies. As much as anything, this cat needs to have faith in people and joy in life again. He needs much affection and that I can supply.

I am not experienced with the rehabilitation of tripod cats. If someone with experience with a cat like that can give me some advice, I would be very appreciative. He needs to move around and regain the ability (and will) to walk.

Would it be best if he were in a cage at night, or loose in my bedroom? How many hours a day should I try to exercise him? Should I manually stretch his legs out and massage his hips? Any suggestion would be appreciated.
 

neely

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Bless you for stepping up and caring for this precious boy. 🤗 Although I do not personally have experience with a tripod cat I thought this thread might be helpful and give you some tips and advice:
Accommodating A 3-legged Cat

Please keep us posted and let us know how he makes the transition. :heartshape:
 

jarn

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My first cat was a tripod (stray hit by a car) but I got him after the majority of his rehab.

He was very withdrawn when I first brought him home - mostly stayed in the cat bed. We slowly lured him with nommy treats and he started exploring more. I would give your boy time and encourage him gently to explore.

Also - whatever vet did his surgery, he was still having issues. I took him to my vet who said he needed a...debridement? It's 18 years, I don't remember, I think so. They did it, and his behaviour and attitude changed almost overnight. He was in less pain.
 

Mamanyt1953

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I think, other than making sure his surgery is healing properly, this will be a matter of helping him learn to trust and have confidence again. The lack of a leg, once he is trusting of his surrounding, will probably take care of itself. Outgoing, confident cats who lose a leg generally are up and running amok fairly quickly. Bless you, although I'm not the least surprised that you stepped up. Try introducing him to Boden first, after he trusts you. Boden is young and new to the home, therefore less threatening, than your senior cats might be.
 

fionasmom

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I have a three legged German shepherd, lost his leg to melanoma three years ago. Amputee animals really do adjust and this little guy has not had much time to recover. If you can take him, he will start to heal both physically and psychologically. Poor guy is in a rescue, not saying that your rescue is not a good one, but he has no home or person and he just had major surgery following a bad life.

There are some things which can go wrong with an amputation, even of a toe, and if you suspect that he should see another vet. Maybe the rescue would pay for that? My guess though is that he is just sad and alone, along with not feeling great.

There is a website for three legged animals tripawds.com and they have a support group. I don't want to sound like a weirdo, but amputation is an incredibly proactive thing to do for an animal whose limb is beyond saving and for any animal who was in good health previously, meaning that it was not metastatic cancer in the leg and rather occurred because of an injury, the animal usually feels so incredibly good not to have the battered limb still attached to him.
 

BlackCatOp

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One of my childhood cats ended up being a tripod due to cancer. From what I recall, we allowed her free access to the entire house and she even climbed a ladder up to a bunkbed the first night home. No special accommodations were provided. As she aged, we did try to “help” her with jumping down from places since her’ was a front leg. Since, she was a young cat and has not endured all of the other stress and fears as your foster here has she was up and active when we brought her home. Unless you have a concern about his surgery @ 2-3 weeks post-op his physical injuries have probably healed and you are dealing more with the emotional trauma poor kitty has suffered.

Is he food motivated? I would try to see if you could “bribe” him to come out of his shell. Maybe also a food dispenser ball/mouse that he has to move around to get the dispensed food?

Best luck and huge appreciation for all of our rescuers!
 
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Boris Diamond

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Thanks for all the replies! The Vet who did the surgeries cleared this cat, Tiger. No more antibiotics and the doctor said he needed to be moving around. I think it is mostly mental now.

I have some more information about Tiger. I was told that the recently amputated limb was badly injured a year ago. His other injuries happened recently. But the right rear leg may be used to carrying extra weight, having to compensate for the badly injured left rear leg. He jumped off my bed last night and he seemed to have little problem getting across the room, so maybe I have been underestimating his ability to get around on three legs.

I took him home on Thursday. He is not eating well and he has not eliminated since he got here. He has turned down all the special snacks and baby food, too. But he is eating some of his regular food. I am giving him water by syringe, as there is evidence of constipation and I'm not sure of his liquid intake. His eyes were unfocused Thursday, almost no color showing. After some time with him, his eyes became more normal looking. And Friday they looked normal. He is very fearful, and who can blame him with what he has been through. But I seem to have gained his trust and he lets me hold him. He slept in my bed last night. And tonight he purred while lying on my shoulder!

Progress is being made, but it will take some time. Right now I think is more mental. When he gains confidence, I think he will regain his spirit. Then I'm hoping his digestive track starts up again and he starts moving around.
 
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Boris Diamond

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What kind of food is he eating? Wet? Dry?
He ate some wet and some dry on Thursday. But nothing since. I am giving him water by syringe.

Foster failure???

With all this cat has been through, I don't think I would take the chance of adopting him out. Yeah, he's mine.
 
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Boris Diamond

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I had some soupy cat food and rubbed some on his mouth last night. He licked it off. I did this for a minute and then he ate some from the bowl. Later he finished it. This morning it was the same thing. I had to rub the cat food on his mouth so he would lick it off and he ate some again. And just now, he finished it. I am thrilled this cat is eating! His eyes look good too. Whenever I woke at night and looked at him, he was watching me. He got on the hammock in the cage so he would be high enough to see me. I think our bond is growing.
 

2CatsAndADaphne

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You are amazing for caring about this special cat! I read all your comments are you are doing wonderfully! If this cat did not trust you, he would be hiding and definitely not falling asleep in your arms!!! We chose to amputate my cat's front leg and scapula when he was 14 and diagnosed with chondrosarcoma. My cat (Jerry) had a hard time at first, getting used to three legs but really within a week he was running around, but keep in mind he was at his home recovering. I think as yours gets used to being in a loving home with a person he can trust, you will see him blossom. Mine could still run up and down stairs, and even jump up on top of the fridge. Being a tripod did not affect his mobility at all. If you are seeing what you assume is lingering pain, you may want to ask the vet about "phantom pain." We ended up giving our Gabapentin for a brief time after it was recommended to me.

I would HIGHLY recommend that you join Tripawds (tripawds.com). It is a helpful message board and info site for owners of three legged dogs and cats. I met the most wonderful and encouraging people on that site years ago when I had Jerry. Your guy is so lucky that you took him home to care for him. He has a real chance at recovery now because of you!
 

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fionasmom

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2CatsAndADaphne 2CatsAndADaphne adorable little tripawd kitty! It is amazing how they really look entirely normal minus the limb once it is all over.

I should have said that my dog was out of it for at least a week after the surgery, not himself at all and I think that some of it was due to all the meds as much as anything else. Huge reaction to the fentanyl patch which almost became an emergency in itself. Even at that, this cat has had so much more trauma in his life that it stands to reason that it will take time. He knows you are his friend and rescuer.
 
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Boris Diamond

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Update on Tiger.

After ten days, he head butted me. At two weeks, he stopped hiding. Now he has mostly gotten over his fear. I am introducing him to my other cats. He shows no fear meeting them. He gets around well.

He is a very sweet cat. I did spend lots of time with him, but I am surprised he responded so quickly. I am excited for the day when introductions are through and he has full access to the house. I'm not sure this could have gone much better. I was fearful for him, but I think he just needed some attention and confidence. Here is a picture taken today. :redheartpump:

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