Owning a disabled animal can be difficult at times. Every loss comes with different challenges you and your feline must face. When it comes to three-legged cats, however, these challenges depend very greatly on which leg it is they are missing. The age of the cat affects the emotional standpoint more than anything. You are reading this for one of three reasons… You are curious, you are considering adopting a three-legged cat, or your cat has recently become an amputee. Let’s look at the differences between age, front leg, and hind leg amputee cats.

Age

Depending on the age the cat had its leg removed will change how the cat initially reacts emotionally. The younger the cat, the less likely it will become depressed or show signs of depression. A kitten less than 4 months of age will have the quickest recovery mentally, emotionally, and physically. When a kitten is younger than 4 months, they are still learning all it takes to be a cat and they are young enough to not be invested in daily activity most cats enjoy, such as jumping high, scratching, and using the litter box normally. For a kitten over 4 months to 1 year in age, adapting to newer ways of doing things will be more of a challenge but rarely do they suffer emotional stress long-term. Then we have young adult cats, ages 2 to 5 years. These cats will have a hard time adjusting and will likely suffer from some kind of depression. Depending on your care and love will be the final outcome of how long they are depressed. Now for adult cats, ages 6 to 9 years, it is the same as the young adults, but with a greater chance of the cat losing interest in many things they used to enjoy. Elderly cats, 10 years and over, have the hardest time with coping both mentally and physically. They spent many years knowing their body and what it does and does not do. More than half of the elderly felines who lose a leg become depressed and some do become severely depressed to the point of not eating. It is the owner’s responsibility as their feline family to help them any way they can through this process.


Front Leg Amputee

When a cat is missing either front leg, they typically get on really well with basic life. Problems that can arise are covering their messes in the litter box, scratching their front nails, and general climbing. As stated above, everything varies greatly on the age. You will need to make sure their front nails are clipped on a regular basis to keep them from snagging items in the house. You will have to watch what kind of toys you allow them to play with for that same reason. To keep them comfortable, you may have to assist them with burying their pee and poop in the litter box. This may not sound appealing to some, so the self-cleaning litter pans are always an option. As for climbing and general playing, they will adjust to getting around. They did not lose their ability to jump, run, or even attempt to climb things. You would be surprised to know, the fastest cat in my home is the three-legged one missing her front left leg. She is also great at jumping and general playing. To her, life with three legs is normal.

Back Leg Amputee

When a cat is missing either back leg, they will struggle with basic day-to-day activity and will need added assistance. Problems that can arise are using the litter box, jumping, and back pain. When a cat has a hind leg taken off, they tend to have the hardest time emotionally. A huge part of a cat’s life is running and jumping, both abilities will be hindered greatly. Though they will be able to run, the ability to jump is something they have to get used to not doing. This is where the importance of steps and reachable areas they enjoy, such as windows, are very important. Areas such as beds, sofas, and windows will have to have pet stairs by them to keep the cat from harming itself. Back issues usually come into play from the cat still attempting to jump. All of a cat’s power to jump is in the hind legs, most cats never learn how to jump with only one back leg. They often become depressed from this and hind leg amputees have the worst cases of depression.

If you are considering adopting an amputee cat...

They will likely already have a system down and you will have to learn to adjust to it. Depending on the leg that is missing, you may need to consider the furniture in your home. You will want them to be comfortable as possible and keep the injury risk low as possible. Don’t worry about other cats or even dogs treating a three-legged cat any differently. They aren’t as shallow as us humans! They likely won’t even notice the difference.

If your cat has recently become an amputee cat...

You have to be there for them and love them. That is the most important thing. Second to that comes adjusting through the process with them. Assisting them when they need it, and using your best judgment of their overall emotional state.

Signs of Depression in Cats

  • Lack of appetite

  • Not drinking

  • Using the litter box less or not at all

  • Not cleaning themselves

  • Hair loss, hair pulling

  • Lack of interest in things they once loved

  • No interest in playing with you

  • Change in vocal behavior (no purring/meowing)

  • Staying in one place for very long periods

Don’t let a person hinder your thoughts of adopting an amputee cat. I heard quite a number of nasty comments such as “Why would you want that?” as if the cat was just a non-living thing to them. Amputee cats are still cats, they just need extra love from the people around them. I would actually find it beneficial for a family with children to adopt an amputee cat. Teaching them differences on the outside don’t change what is on the inside. Four legs, three legs, even two legs… A cat is a cat all the same. Compassion, love, and understanding is what they need and something we all need a little more of in this world.

Do you have an amputated cat? Share your experience in the comments!

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Katy aird
Member
Katy aird

I have an awesome tripod guy ( missing front leg) he turned up on our street nearly 7 years ago missing his leg( no idea how it happened or where he came from, he’s about 9 and was semi feral so had a hell of a job catching him) and all in all he has a great life, is faster and more agile than I could ever expect and far more affectionate than I ever thought possiable for a cat that’s had such a hard life, he runs rigs around two dogs and another 2 rescue cats. Only issue he has is cleaning his left eye which he loves me doing as he can’t, If anyone is considering adopting a tripod, go for it , you will be rewarded with love ( and the cuteness when he sits on his hind legs to clean or look about is the extra… Read more »

Sondis Gurman
Guest
Sondis Gurman

Hello
I have adopted 4 months start kitten was amputated from right front leg due to car accident in the first was difficult to deal with him but now he playing and eating well the only problem is the letter box he can not keep his balance and stand well always staind with it’s poop I have to keep eye on him and clean him like a baby.
I love him so much from first sight his eye looked to me so I felt that he need me since he has also deformity in his right leg too.
Be kind to cats or dogs

Poornima
Guest
Poornima

We resuced a previously injured stray cat and are providing her medical care the vet says one forelimb cannot be saved . Worried about her rehabilitation thereafter.we already have a dog who is old and doesn’t really fancy cats..We are on a transferable job and might move soon. He has been a stray all his life and will he adjust to living in a house and would anyone adopt a 3 legged cat? Anxious and worried.

Dane
Guest
Dane

Hi there. We’ve been searching for some advice; there are pretty scant resources online, oddly. We have a 12 year old male cat who had a left hind leg amputation last year. Emotionally, he’s pretty okay. In the last few months we’ve noticed him curving his back toward the side where his hind leg was removed when he walks. It appears sometimes that he’s in some discomfort. Imagine a human with a crick in his or her neck, that’s sort of the position. He has recently begun stumbling sideways a bit when walking and his right leg is splayed out from the body a bit more than normal at times. Sometimes he runs and seems fine, others he seems like he’s got an overworked bunch of muscles or joints and I can’t tell exactly which groups or what to do or if that’s even the problem. Prosthetics are ridiculously expensive… Read more »

Mari
Guest
Mari

Hi! I adopted a Bengal kitten whose right rear foot was chewed off by its mother. She is active and fun of life, hasn’t any problems getting around, but jumping is difficult. The little stump is continually whacking the floor, getting litter stuck, bleeding and I bet the nerves endings scream when she bumps it. Would it be a good idea to have the rest of the leg removed or just adopt a wait and se attitude? And advice would be appreciated. She’s nine months old.

Crystal
Guest
Crystal

My friggin CAT took what was meant to be a chest shot, through BOTH front legs. The upper bone of one was blown to powder. She 3 legged it home, half dead, ended up losing a leg, still has shrapnel in her, & come to find out was preggo the whole time. So when I see people still posting on MGK vs. Eminem, I can’t help but think about the fact that SHE has more street cred then most rappers in the game.

Amy Schlegel
Guest
Amy Schlegel

I strongly disagree with your comment the cats with back leg amputees don’t know how to jump. Quite the contrary! I have two cats who each lost a back leg and both of them jump and climb very well thank you ! They appear to use their tails for leverage There is very little that a four legged cat can do the three legged cats cannot do! My cars have both adapted extremely well to losing a back leg!

Connie
Guest
Connie

I am happy to hear this as we just rescued a kitten that had been hit on the highway and we took her straight to an emergency pet hospital. Due to the accident her leg had already been severed and she is just a young kitten. Your cats give me hope that this little kitten will come home in a few days and will adjust very well to her three-legged lifestyle. I think since she is still very young she will adapt quickly to only having three legs. 🙂

Marybeth
Guest
Marybeth

I just rescued a three legged kitten. He is missing most of his hind leg, they believe something chewed it off shortly after birth. He is a very happy healthy kitty otherwise. Do you have any cat litter suggestion? The normal clumping litter is sticking to his stub on his missing leg.
Thank you.

Trish
Guest
Trish

I have a hind leg amputee myself. He’s older now and loses his balance easily in the box. Dr. Elsey’s makes a great litter for senior cats. It doesn’t stick to their fur.

Karen
Guest
Karen

Hi there, our 16 year old cat Blue was in an accident and now no longer has the use of his left leg. He has a small fracture and nerve damage, his little wrist is turned inward and he hobbles around putting some weight on it. He came home last night from the vet, we cordoned off a room and are assessing him at home prior to considering having the leg removed. It’s been devastating for all involved. Any advice or thoughts?

Valerie Martin
Guest
Valerie Martin

My sweet 10 yr old kitty is getting her front left leg amputated due to a cancerous lump tomorrow and I am beyond stressed and saddened that she has to go through this. I already feel better, though, by reading your article and the comments here. My biggest concern is will she still be able to do her normal things like balance herself when she eats, jump up and down off the couch and bed and clean herself on the left side. I don’t have to worry about her not getting lots of love and care, but I am gone during the day and wonder if I should take her to work with me or will she be ok by herself during the day? She is the sweetest, most loving cat I have ever had and just hate this happened to her. But, I know in time, it will all… Read more »

Wendy Yvette Aragon
Guest
Wendy Yvette Aragon

I have a tripod kitten, a friend found him in the street after a person ran over his front leg. I took her to the vet and decided to keep her. I am worried because she sleeps alot but I guess its normal in kittens and she eats well and is very clean, uses her litter box without help.

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