Losing a leg can seem like a traumatic affair, but three legged cats can usually cope well with their disability once they have got used to the loss of a limb. Cats might need a leg amputating for a number of reasons, including tumours or broken legs. While broken legs can sometimes be plastered to fix the problem, they may be beyond repair and need amputation.
When you bring your three legged cat home after his operation, you may need to keep him confined to a small room or kennel for a few days while his wound heals. This is to prevent him jumping around and splitting his wound.
It’s important to give your cat time to adjust to his new life as a three legged cat, but don’t mother him too much. Show him that you care by giving him cuddles, but don’t be tempted to carry him everywhere. Leave him to get used to being a three legged cat so that he can acclimatise to walking and balancing on his remaining limbs.
Having said that, there’s no harm in making life a little easier for him. Make sure that his food and water is within easy reach. You could also install ramps to make your house more accessible for your three legged cat. Also, make his favourite spots more accessible. For example, if he likes sitting on the window sill, place a chair close by to make it easier for him to access it.
Cats with three legs needn’t be confined indoors. Keep him inside for a few weeks while his wound heals and he gets used to his new disability, after which time he should have no problem venturing outside. If your cat has a SureFlap Microchip Cat Flap, you can manually lock the flap to prevent him from going outside.
Having three legs might make it more difficult for your cat to groom himself properly. Some three legged cats try to scratch behind their ear with their missing limb. If you see your cat trying to do this, scratch his ear for him to help him along.
Some three legged cats might suffer from phantom limb pain. Phantom limb is where the cat’s brain is still sending messages to the missing leg, resulting in pain. Phantom limb pain is quite common in three legged cats. This can sometimes be treated with painkillers, and failing that, acupuncture.
Your three legged cat’s diet doesn’t need to change so long as he is continuing to lead an active life. If, however, your three legged cat doesn’t exercise as much as he used to you might notice him putting on weight and he might need to be put on a diet. Speak to your vet about special dietary requirements for your three legged cat.
If your cat needs to have a limb amputated, your vet will be able to advise you on appropriate care. Many three legged cats cope very well with their disability after a period of adjustment.