The Complete Guide to Caring for a Three-Legged Cat


Due to social media, awareness of the existence of tripod cats has never been greater. But in the event you’re visiting this text today, it might be due to quite a lot of reasons.

Possibly you’re planning to adopt a 3 legged cat, or your kitty is about to undergo a leg amputation, otherwise you’re simply curious to learn more about tripod cats.    

Whatever your reason — welcome!

Today we’re going to cover every thing you should learn about caring for a 3 legged cat, including the sensible adjustments and lifestyle shifts you should make for the tripod in your life.  

🐾 We, too, have a tripod cat! Yoda became a tripod after receiving life-saving amputation and radiation therapy to treat FISS cancer.

Here’s an idea of what we cover today: 

The Ultimate Guide to Tripod Cats 

  • Limb amputation could also be essential to retain your kitty’s quality of life
  • Caring for a tripod cat doesn’t must be hard — but may require a couple of practical adjustments
  • In case your kitty’s leg is amputated, there are proactive actions you’ll be able to take. They’ll help to make the post-op adjustment process as painless as possible
  • You’ll have to keep your three legged cat lively. That is to make sure it doesn’t gain an excessive amount of additional weight through inactivity or overeating
  • There are specific long-term lifestyle changes you should make, including how far you permit your tripod kitty to independently roam

Let’s begin by the essentials of what you should learn about three legged cats…

What You Must Know About Tripod Cats  

So, what does tripod mean? The definition of tripod refers to “a vessel resting on three legs”. 

A tripod cat is a cat that has three legs, with either it’s hind or foreleg missing. (They’re also occasionally known as ‘tripawds’.)

Quite a lot of people consider tripod cats to have special needs, but this isn’t strictly true. Three legged cats can live as lively and rewarding lives as their four-legged companions. They don’t necessarily need any additional veterinary care either. 

The truth is, three legged animals are just as feisty and lively as they’re with 4 legs.

For instance, you’ll often see a 3 legged cat running about with no problem in any respect. Because it’s interestingly the slower gait of walking that occasionally proves to be tougher.

Our very own fluffy boy Yoda is a tripod cat. And he’s a major example of how vibrant a life three legged cats can have, as he continues to affix us on our adventures all over the world.

Caring For a Tripod Cat

Very first thing’s first. We would like you to know that the standard of life for a tripod cat could be just nearly as good as that for a cat with 4 legs.

When you’re currently deciding whether your kitty should undergo amputation surgery, this may increasingly be a really emotional time for you. And we’re sending all of our love and squeezy hugs your way.

But in the event you’ve been advised that losing a limb via amputation to your cat could save their life…

The professionals can most definitely outweigh the cons.

(We’re not going to heavily deal with cat leg amputation complications within the article. As a substitute, we wish to as an alternative emphasize the potential for your kitty continuing to live an exciting, fulfilling life post-amputation.)  

Inarguably, there shall be quite a lot of changes each you and your feline buddy could have to make in the event that they have a limb amputated. And these changes may indeed be everlasting.

Other changes could also be easy shifts to assist your kitty regain their stability and confidence. Especially as they adjust to having three legs.   

So in the event you’re wondering ‘Is caring for a tripod cat hard?’ we might say…no! It’s actually very easy to adapt to caring for a 3 legged cat.

There shall be differences in caring for a 3 legged cat. Nevertheless it’s nothing that’s not manageable, in the event you’re committed to giving your kitty the perfect quality of life possible.

When you’re completely latest to the world of tripod cats, you might want to ascertain out the Tripawds community. This can be a dedicated space for dogs and cats who’ve had a leg amputation, and has a great deal of free resources so that you can dive into. 

Adjusting to Three Legs

Especially for the primary month post-amputation, your kitty will need a number of supervision and care during this adjustment period.

It goes without saying that adult cats who’ve grown up with 4 legs may take longer to regulate to an amputation than, for instance, a younger cat.

Yet cats are incredibly resilient. And the speed they bounce back from life-altering surgeries could be amazing. 

(Identical to our fluffy boy Yoda, who’s a cat with back leg amputation. We were blown away by how quickly he adapted to having three legs!)

Our fluffy boy Yoda after his leg was amputated

That said, here’s a couple of nuggets of wisdom on caring for a 3 legged cat during their initial adjustment period:

  • Carry on top of pain relief — ensuring your kitty is as pain-free as possible post-surgery will do wonders for helping their adjustment (your vet should supply this medication)
  • Provide non-slip surfaces, like carpet runners and other non-slick surfaces — this is important as they relearn find out how to balance on three legs and can help to reduce any trips and spills
  • Ensure food and water bowls are in easy reach — in order that they won’t should travel too far
  • Provide a low-sided litter box — as this shall be easier to your kitty to access 
  • Discourage access to high places — especially places where your cat has previously been used to jumping up and reclining on, akin to cabinets
  • Move furniture to assist navigation and mobility — you’ll be able to rearrange furniture and supply steps or a cat ramp to assist your kitty access places without having to leap or strain themselves
  • Be able to assist with grooming — as your kitty can have trouble twisting/reaching certain spots on their body, they might need a helping hand to maintain these areas clean 
  • Give them space from every other pets — your other pet pals may notice a change in your kitty’s scent and are available to analyze. Slow reintroductions will help them to regulate to your cat’s modified scent and minimize any stress.

The period of adjustment may rely upon the rationale why your kitty’s limb was amputated. For instance, if it was as a consequence of a automotive accident, there could also be lingering feelings of distress to cope with post-surgery. 

As compared, if like us you needed to surgically remove your cat’s leg as a consequence of a FISS there shall be different emotional challenges involved to your kitty. And this may change largely as a consequence of their very own temperament and personality. 

We don’t say any of this to fret you. Only to focus on that it’s not simply the physical rehabilitation you might have to cope with. But your cat’s emotional and mental wellbeing too. 

Activities and Exercises for Tripod Cats

In case your cat is undergoing amputation surgery, you must limit their movement for the primary 10—14 days post-surgery.

We had to maintain a strict eye on Yoda, who needed to wear a cone for at the least 3 weeks and never jump up/down on anything. For that reason, I put his bed, plus food and water, and a small litter box, inside a soft-sided pet pen.

That is to permit the wound to heal properly. But once every thing is correctly healed, there’s a number of opportunity to have interaction your cat in stimulating activities. 

Gaining weight can impact the mobility of a tripod cat. It could also contribute to future arthritis within the remaining limbs. So it’s vital to maintain them glad and lively to maintain those kilos off. 

Likewise, some cats may turn out to be frustrated after losing a limb. This could possibly be because they’re now unable to do certain activities or actions they might after they had 4 legs — or to the identical ability.

If this frustration and aggravation builds, your kitty could turn out to be depressed. Signs of cat depression include refusing to groom themselves and becoming more aloof, despondent and lethargic.

On the flip side, they might turn to eating for comfort too, like Buba the cat did.

To tackle this, there’s quite a lot of activities and toys you’ll be able to try along with your tripod cat. To maintain them stimulated, help them to adapt to the balance changes of their body and likewise to make food time more lively.   

Toys for tripod cats

Food toys for tripod cats

Scratchers for tripod cats

Overall, in the event you proceed to shower your feline friend with a number of support and love, we’re sure their confidence and optimism will only grow with time.

The Lifestyle of a Three Legged Cat

Keeping your cat indoors: yay or nay?

A variety of resources suggest keeping your tripod cat indoors.

That is as a consequence of their increased difficulty in escaping hazardous situations (akin to other cats, dogs, cars, or other wildlife).

Nevertheless, in the event you do need to allow your kitty to explore outdoors, you will have to closely supervise them. But there’s no reason why they will’t exit into your garden. Especially in the event that they have clear exit points and also you’re close handy to maintain them protected. 

If taking your fur-friend further afield, we might recommend purchasing a harness for a 3 legged cat.

Take a take a look at The Kitty Holster — which even suits cats who’ve undergone a front leg amputation. 

Adjusting to the amputation

Your fluffy kitty may experience a type of ‘phantom limb’. That is where they proceed to try to scratch themselves with their missing leg.

You can assist by keeping a watch out for these moments and scratching the spot that’s frustrating your kitty.

The amputated area or stump may proceed to be a sensitive spot to your cat. And so they may initially be reluctant so that you can touch this a part of their body. Take your time in desensitizing your cat to experiencing touch here.

Avoiding overeating

As we mentioned before, your kitty could turn to comfort eating during their adjustment to having three legs. In these instances, you might need to search for low-calorie foods to forestall excessive weight gain.

You too can prevent overeating by distracting your cat with games and toys. 

Prosthetics for cats

Recently, there have even been developments in prosthetics for cats. Three legged cat prosthesis is gaining recognition with projects akin to these, that are looking for additional ways to support kitties that struggle with adjusting to being a tripod.

Temporary and prototype prosthetics are still currently being developed and tested, as a consequence of COVID-19 delaying progress. So regulate this spot!

Resisting lifestyle adjustments

Lastly, don’t be surprised in case your cat resists a few of these lifestyle shifts. This can be a major adjustment for them and as we’ve all experienced, our kitties can sometimes be stubborn!

Jane wrote an article about how her own ‘tripawd’ kitty Molly resisted changing from her old litter box. We do love Molly’s commitment to sticking with what she prefers!

Tripod Cats: The Wrap-Up 

So there you may have it — the essentials of tripod cats, including find out how to help your cat adapt to being three legged after a limb amputation.

Our Yoda is just as glad as a three-legged cat as he was a four-legged cat. He still walks outdoors on-leash, climbs our seats contained in the van, jumps on our bed to snuggle with us, and he still enjoys and gets the zoomies!

As we said firstly of this text, it may well be a highly emotional topic to take into consideration. Which is why we’re so glad that you just’ve taken the step to teach yourself on what life for tripod cats can appear to be.

Head over to our Instagram in the event you’d like to see our own tripod boy Yoda’s latest adventures. 

Do you may have a tripod cat? If that’s the case, what’s your experience of caring for them? What advice would you give to someone who’s adopting a tripod or their cat will soon turn out to be a three-legged friend? We’d love to listen to from you!


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