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Health and Wellness

Leg Amputation: Helping Your Cat Survive and Thrive

Animal lovers across the globe can all agree: we never want to see our beloved pets in pain. We would shelter them from any kind of hurt imaginable, if we could. But, sometimes life has other plans, and we have to deal with what we are given.

Losing a limb is never easy, whether you’re talking about a human or a pet. The loss can cause great emotional and physical drains on the afflicted and surrounding parties. But, all of that can be managed with a little patience and time.

My husband and I had to learn all these things the hard way. Our cat Obi had to have his right back leg amputated two years ago, due to a break that developed an infection. We were distraught, stressed, and blamed ourselves. We didn’t know if we would be able to help him recuperate the way that he needed. We had to learn on the fly what really worked for us, and helped the situation to become easier to handle.

Photos courtesy of Ashley Martini

Photos courtesy of Ashley Martini

Confinement:

Confinement is the key to recovery, right after your cat comes home from the vet. Your cat will need to stay stationary and restricted until they get their stitches or staples taken out. We found that a wire crate with plastic floor worked best for us. The crate should be just big enough for your cat to be able to turn itself around and sleep comfortably.

Litter Box:

Your cat is going to struggle with the litter box, until they get steady on their remaining limbs again. You may notice that they have a hard time getting in or out of their normal litter box. You can use a shallow disposable casserole pan as a litter box, to help relieve some of the stress on your cat’s body. You will also want to make sure you clean the box right after it is used, to help cut down on the chances of amputation site infection or irritation.

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The Cone:

When dealing with an amputation, your cat will more than likely need to wear a cone. Making your cat wear the cone is very important, as it will keep it from getting at the stitches or staples, and being able to pull them out or cause irritation.

Baby Onesie:

There will be times when the cone is going to get in your cat’s way, and be a burden, during its recovery. In our experience, we found that using an altered baby onesie was very effective at keeping Obi away from his stitches, while also giving him the ability to move around better during his confinement. We altered the onesie by sewing up the leg hole on the side where his missing leg would have been. This gave him free movement with his other legs, while keeping the wound covered and safe. The onesie can be unbuttoned and rolled up for litter box use.

Mobility and Jumping:

After losing the leg, Obi was no longer able to jump up to his favorite high spots. We were able to remedy this by placing a chair by his favorite spot, so that he could jump half way up and be able to get to his favorite place in the house. Encouraging mobility after wound healing is complete is important. By encouraging mobility and activity, you can help your cat keep their weight at a healthy level. Any heavy weight gain will put unneeded stress on your cat’s body, and remaining legs.

While these things may help you too, when your cat is recuperating; keep in mind that it is always best to see what your vet recommends. A vet’s advice and guidance will give your cat a head-start to recovery, and learning how to live life with one less leg.

How is Obi Now?

We chose to do amputation to save Obi’s life, and it was the best decision we could have made. He healed perfectly. He gets around with no problems, other than not being able to jump to really high places. He uses his chair to get up on his favorite ledge and cat tree. He can streak around the house just as fast as our other cat. He’s still very playful and loving. He loves to have the right side of his face scratched, since he can’t scratch it himself – and we’re happy to do it for him. Obi is happy, healthy, and loved.

About the Author: 

Ashley Martini is a freelance writer who lives in Fayetteville, TN, with her husband, son, two cats, and their dog. She volunteers for Challenger’s House, which is a for life cat rescue located in Toney, AL.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Suzanne Bunker

    Aug 9, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    Can you post a picture of the altered onesie? Our cat just had his right hind leg amputated on Monday and I am trying to figure out how to sew the leg hole up in the back. He hates the cone!

    Thank in advance

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