Three Legged Cats
Veterinarian Reviewed on July 16, 2009 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Regardless of why your cat only has three legs, you should still brush up on your knowledge of cat behavior so that you can best take care of your cat.
If your cat has recently lost a leg, you should keep in mind that there will be an initial adjustment period. Do not think that your cat will be back to normal quickly, as all cats will need to come to terms with getting around on only three legs.
If your cat has lost one of her forelegs, she may have trouble landing properly after she jumps down from a higher place. Keep this in mind and try to make sure that there are plenty of soft cushions for her to land on. But, if your cat has lost one of her hind legs, then she may not be to jump up very high.
During your cat’s initial adjustment period, she will make a few mistakes which could possibly lead to further injuries. Although you should always keep a close eye on your three legged cat, you should allow her plenty of space in which to learn her own limitations and personal expectations. Cats are quite ingenious and the loss of a leg does nothing to stop them from enjoying their life to the fullest.
You should constantly monitor the weight of your three legged cat. She should never become obese as not only will it be harder for her to lose the excess weight, but she will also have fewer limbs on which to support the excess weight. Make sure that your cat gets plenty of gentle exercise in the beginning and then allowing your cat to become more active as she gets used to being on only three legs as this will help her in strengthening her remaining limbs.
Rest assured that most three legged cats are able to quickly adapt to having only three legs rather quickly and will eventually be just as active and inquisitive as they were before losing their fourth leg.
There are a number of ways in which you can help your cat adjust to her new life. Firstly, learn to pay extra attention to your cat’s body language and the sounds she makes. Preferably, you should be able to match your cat’s mood with her body language. After you have figured that out, your next step will be to take careful note of what situations cause your cat to become upset. Just by understanding this, you will greatly be able to help your cat live a less stressful life.
Something else to remember is that cats have a very good sense of smell. In fact, they can smell fourteen times better than a human can. So you will need to make sure that your her litter box is always kept cleaned, otherwise she might not use her litter box at all.
Nearly every cat that has three legs will be on some kind of prescription medication. You will need to learn how to effectively give your cat her medication as most cats hate taking medicines and will usually put up a fight. It will be easier if you are able to obtain medication that is in liquid form because pills are harder for cats to swallow.
Never apply too much pressure whenever you are petting your three legged cat, especially if she is standing on all three legs. The added pressure may cause her to lose her balance. Be cautious when touching your cat near the stump of her missing leg as she may well be overly sensitive.
All in all, by just being extra cautious with taking care of your three legged cat, you will be able to provide her with a happy and healthy life for many years to come.
Photo Credit: cygnus921
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan