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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Richard
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Richard

My vet is recommending a scapulothoracic disarticulation. She has had a swollen front paw that after a lot of testing turns out to be secondary to cancer higher up the limb. She’s quite healthy, and been pretty ok throughout the month on a fairly high dose of meloxicam. Her only behavioural change is her desire to stay full time in one spot under a table except when using the litter box. But she seems otherwise happy: good appetite, purring when she’s petted, etc. I’m prepared to bite the bullet with the amputation. But – she’s 18, and I’m concerned about the possibility of putting her into a chronic depression for her last years. Any thoughts based on experience and probabilities?

Teresa
Guest
Teresa
We adopted a young cat (maybe less than 2 years old) who had been abandoned, attacked by dogs, got an infected leg, scaled a 10 foot wall with glass shards on the top, had an amputation of his back leg as it could not be saved (it had maggots), and then was attacked again by another dog, bit in the face, and nearly lost one of his eyes. He could no longer live in a house with dogs so we took him in and he’s a very happy, active kitty who has really bonded with me. He will always be an indoor cat because we live in a city/country where street dogs are common and, just in general, he’s safer. My dilemma now is should we neuter him – I hate to remove something else from him when he’s already been through so much. There’s such a minute chance he… Read more »
Michael Hamilton
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Michael Hamilton
I am a little troubled by this article. We had a semi-feral kitten in our apartment complex get caught between the slats of a wooden fence and hang there upside down for God knows how long. When we found her the next day screaming, we got her down and allowed her to go her way, not realizing that the leg was splintered. It quickly became necrotic, and she was actually trying to chew it off when we finally caught her again. A local shelter helped us afford the amputation. Still being only around 12 wks old, she grew up not knowing her limitations. She runs, jumps and plays with all the other cats, and now at five years, she has assumed the role of “Queen” in our little brood of nine other medical rescues. Up until now, I have not worried about her, but I now have a senior dog… Read more »
Pam
Member
Pam

Advice on semi-feral hind leg amputation. I adopted feral cat about 5 years ago (he’s now about 6-7), tamed him and named him Scratches. He lives in our yard and screened in porch with a cat door. I can hold him, pet him, etc., but no one else can. He has a wound on his back foot and after exhausting all possibilities, the last resort is amputation. I trained him on using a litter box and after staying at the vet for a few days, possibly longer after the procedure, he’ll live on the screened porch in a large dog cage until he can safely be on the porch/yard. Anyone have advice or words of wisdom? Thank you!

Melissa
Member
Melissa
My fiance and I adopted a 4 month old kitten that came in to the shelter with a respiratory infection 2 months prior. We adopted him the first day he was healthy and available. We brought him home on a Friday and noticed on Sat that he was not using his back left leg. After a nice trip to the emergency vet and X-rays we found out our little kitten had a broken hip. The vet said the break was old and had healed a bit but broke again. On Monday we took our little panda back to the shelter. The shelter stated that they would amputate if we still wanted to adopt him. We did and the next day they took his leg. They also found out there were two breaks. After two weeks in recovery at the shelter, we brought him home. Panda has been such a great… Read more »
Kristin chandler
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Kristin chandler

Okay I have an older cat 9 years or so neighbors shot him and his front right leg was amputated about a year ago. I don’t feel like he’s depressed but he was an indoor outdoor cat and now of course he is not 🙁 my main issue is with his litter. I don’t mind covering up his potty however it gets so stuck in his paws which wasn’t ever a thing and he drags it everywhere it’s discusting. I really don’t like to sit and sleep in random cat litter and I know my boyfriend is completely grossed out and I am too honestly. Any recommendations for a cat litter?

Laura
Guest
Laura

My Enzo had a front leg amputated 7 months ago. He’s recently developed a runny eye on the same side as the amputation. I’m thinking it’s because he can’t groom like he used to. Does anyone else have this problem or any helpful advice?

Lizi
Member
Lizi

I know I’m late to this discussion but my boy Oli lost his front leg a year ago today. The last week he’s been acting like he’s just lost it again? I don’t know what to do, he keeps having freakouts when he was fine a few weeks ago. He hisses at everyone in the house and meows like he’s dying, won’t let us touch him and moves his body like something out of the exorcist trying to get away from the leg that isn’t there anymore…is it an anniversary thin??

Kathleen Quinn
Guest
Kathleen Quinn

Hello, I have a female tripod, back leg missing, because of a birth defect. Or a mutated gene, in my own opinion. She is 10 and I think some backbisdues are now happening. She’s still eating, drinking, and moving around. But when I go near her back toward the tail she gets mad. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated

miss yell
Guest
miss yell
Hi my 4 year old cat became a back leg amputee in August 2017 so its only been 5 months. Shes not the brightest cat and gets into silly situations. She wont use the litter tray and prefers the floor not really an issue as its on a hard floor. She has periods where she looks like shes in pain, her walk seems a lot more ‘hoppy’ and she just appears to be sore. I would like to know what I could do to help her. I have 2 other cats as well, they always jump on her playfully but she gets very grumpy. Now she tries to avoid them as much as she can. She still very loving towards us and our dogs. The year before she was in the vets with a broken front shoulder. I am concerned that her shoulder injury gives her jip now she has… Read more »
Megan Young
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Megan Young

Hi! I recently adopted a young adult cat that was hit by a car and had his left hind leg amputated. He seems to be doing well eating drinking etc. There are 2 concerns is seems when he urinates it is next to the litter box not in it & I don’t know what to do. The second is when he needs to poop he goes in the litter box but because he lost the entire leg it seems he has difficulty getting it to drop and then rubs his behind on the floor to get it off. I don’t know what to do to help him or if it will perhaps rectify itself as he is only about 2 months into being 3 legged. Any suggestions?

Nami
Guest
Nami

I live in the Houston area, and am the new mom of a 6 week old Harvey refugee kitten. He is missing one of his back legs, and we have no idea how he lost it. The vet said it was not infected, but he gave us some ointment for irritation. We have hard wood floors, and his leg is missing below the knee joint. When he rounds a corner or looses traction he hits that short leg and causes it to bleed a little. I was thinking of fashioning some kind of pad to use on the leg, but he keeps taking any bandages off. Any advice on what we can do? He also will use the litter box, but the litter gets stuck to his place on his leg. I appreciate any help I could get. Thanks

Jordan Nix
Member
Jordan Nix

He wouldn’t have happened to have a brother with the same amputation would he?

Teddy's Slave
Guest
Teddy's Slave
Hello there. I have a 4yo rescue (neutered) cat (Teddy) who is missing half of one of his back legs – I adopted him 2 years ago. I was told by the shelter that he was born this way. He can run, jump (to a certain height – the vet has told me to keep it to a metre), play with no problems and is actually very playful. When I asked the shelter if he was okay to be left alone all day (I work full-time), they said “Yes, he’s best without another pet in the house too”. However, he was living with a bunch of blue heelers and other cats for most of his life and now seems a bit lonely. He’d been adopted a couple of times but always returned as he was “too shy”. I don’t know who decided that because he’s certainly not shy with me,… Read more »
Sandra Gore-McCracken
Guest
Sandra Gore-McCracken
Need some advice guys, I have a beautiful black cat, he is truly amazing!!! He is 17 yrs old and has developed a cancer in his tail,he is also blind, this just happened this past year, he is strictly indoors, his vet says that he will need to have it amputated, he really looks phenomenal for his age, my baby is very healthy and happy, the vet states that because of his health, she would recommend the surgery, he will need labs due to his age, my concern is that he is blind and he is 17, I am more concerned with his quality of life, he means the world to me and my family, I just want to do what is right for him, nor anyone else, he is a male with a very long tail, I have read that older Kitty’s have extreme issues with amputation, does this… Read more »
chloe
Guest
chloe

My 11 yr old cat had her left foreleg amputated 3 weeks ago, she has already had her right eye removed,so at a disadvantage, and last week had dental extractions….initially after amputation op appeared to be coping but between the op and dental noticed 3rd eyelid up and seems to be very depressed and down….emergency vet visit yesterday for fluids and steroid jab as dehydrated and lethargic, on returning home she did eat but today has refused every kind of food temptation offered, am so worried about her, due to return to vet on Wednesday but seriously thinking about calling to get her in tomorrow…its like shes totally given up…has anyone experienced this, any advice would be appreciated, many thanks

Harlot scarlet
Guest
Harlot scarlet

My cat Luna was hit by a car last night fracturing her right back leg and splitter her pelvis. I want to give her, her best shot possible. Worst case scenario I will go with amputation but right now repair is the plan. Vets have given me an estimate of approximately $7000. I know this isn’t relevant but I need advice on financial assistance. I’ve been researching online but none of this makes sense to me. I’m so overwhelmed with it all and just need a little
Bit of guidance . Please!comment image

elizabeth grace
Guest
elizabeth grace

call around to different vets – we found a huge range in prices – the one vet that we chose had a very fancy vet office in a posh neighborhood – she actually did the whole surgery for 450 dollars – I would have thought because her office is so fancy and the clientele was definitely an upper-class clients that she would have been the most expensive

sherri
Guest
sherri
my cat is almost 9 and he has bone cancer in his rear leg, we do not know what kind because I’m afraid to do a biopsy as they said it could break his bone which would mean immediate amputation, and I’m not ready to make that decision, he is not even acting sick yet! His other leg has the beginnings of hip displasia, he also has heart disease so amputation in itself could be risky although the vet says he will use meds that are not as likely to cause problems with his heart, he is recommending amputation, and I’m scared to death of what he might have to deal with for his last years (if they are even that long because of his heart issue). he has no pain and is acting completely normal, we found this by accident because they were looking for asthma in his lungs… Read more »
Christine Wagner
Guest
Christine Wagner

Two days before Thanksgiving we found a cat who couldn’t use her front leg. We had seen her about 2 weeks prior and she was fine. It turns out that she had been shot. Once with what the vet assumed was a .22 and they also found a BB. We took her in and she became our tripod kitty…yesterday. This is something new for us. It was a front leg amputation. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

Meowdith
Guest
Meowdith

Another thing is to keep an eye on her teeth. When a cat has one of its front leg’s amputated, they can sometimes have a hard time jumping down from places. Your kitty will easily be able to jump onto your bed or kitchen table, ect. and she won’t think anything of it, but she will have to re-learn how to land when jumping down. She’ll be pretty unbalanced in the beginning and may smash her face into the ground a few times before she gets it. So just keep an eye out for a bloody nose and chipped teeth. Cats are pretty resilient, she’ll do fine!

Tasha
Guest
Tasha
4th July weekend, 2016, we found the smallest little kitten, about 3weeks old and weighed less than a half a pound.. it was a hot day and found him lying under our car, naturally I went up to him to say hello, and appon reaching him I realized his hind leg was completely shattered (bone and meat sticking out) I burst into tears trying to imagen how hurt he must be, but he kept looking at me meowing and purring.. I took him home that night.. ofcourse no vet was open that weekend, so the next morning I thought for sure that he was not going to survive, he could no longer move, meow or purr, and had maggets all over his leg, he just lay there helplessly.. luckily a very kind lady in town help us, she took a look, when straight to a pair of scissors, heated them… Read more »
Britanica
Guest
Britanica

Thanks for your comment Tasha and sharing that wonderful story 🙂 I am very happy there are people in the world like yourself and that lady who help animals like this in need.

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