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Limb Amputation: How To Take Care of An Amputated Cat

Updated on July 3, 2017
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Limb amputation in animals refers to surgical procedure which involves removal of either the front or hind leg. A cat’s limb is amputated if:

  • The cat has acute infection in one of its limbs
  • It has been wounded in one of its limbs and normal repair is impossible or is costly, amputation will be the next possible solution
  • One of the cat’s limbs is cancerous – has been affected by malignant tumors. Even if the tumor is benign, it is better for the limb to be amputated to avoid the spread of the tumor to other limbs.
  • The cat’s limb is deformed which restricts the cat’s movement – makes it hard for the cat to move such as walking or running with ease – and proper functioning of the limb.

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How Amputation Is Carried Out

Generally, amputation of a limb doesn’t involve removing a part of the limb that’s affected. It involves removing the whole limb. Anesthetic may be used to ease or control the pain during the surgery. According to WebMd, use of anesthetic is important as it helps to control breathing, blood pressure, blood flow, and heart rate and rhythm during the surgery.

For more information on how a cat’s limb is amputated click here.

After the surgery, the wound will be closed up with either surgical staples or stitches. In addition, it will be covered with bandage. The bandage aids in reducing the risk of infection on the fresh wound which hasn’t yet healed. Dr. Nicholas Trout notes, “After surgery there will be an incision that needs to be assessed daily for swelling, redness or discharge.” He further states, “Stitches or staples need to be removed in 10-14 days. Do not allow your pet to click or chew at the surgical site. An Elizabethan collar may be necessary to prevent this from occurring.”

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Your cat will be discharged after a week if the veterinarian deems it is alright. This will depend on how comfortable the cat feels in walking on three legs or whether it is finding it hard to walk on the remaining legs. If it is the case, the cat will not be discharged until it feels comfortable and doesn’t walk with difficulty. Remember to continually update the veterinarian on the condition or recovery of your cat after it is discharged.

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How To Take Care Of An Amputated Cat

Pet owners worry if their cats will be able to adjust on walking on three legs. The fact is they adjust pretty well than us humans. In addition, they don’t feel discomfort at the maximum level as opposed to us. According to Dr. Nicholas, cats do function exceptionally well on three legs and are able to walk, run and play without feeling discomfort. He asserts, “Cats do not suffer the psychological distress of losing a limb the same way a human does. The primary purpose of the limb is in movement. Because cats do not need to perform fine motor skills they easily adapt to having only three legs.”

Cat Leg Amputation

  1. The cat should be confined in one room. This restricts the cat from walking around or running a lot which will exacerbate the pain since the wound is still fresh.
  2. Ensure food and water is easily accessible. This will aid the cat in not walking a long distance (even though it used to be a normal distance before the surgery). If it walks for a long distance, it will only increase the pain which will hinder quick healing of the wound.
  3. Check out the cat does not gain extra weight. If the cat gains unnecessary weight it will put a lot of strain on the three remaining legs. This will make it hard for the cat to walk on three legs since balance will be an issue. Furthermore, it may lead the cat to developing arthritis. Consequently, the cat should be fed on low fat diet. Remember, as the cat is inactive due to the wound it is easy for it to gain a lot of weight as it does little exercise e.g running and jumping.
  4. Ensure you get rid of any potential danger that may interfere with the healing of the wound. Keep any pets you may have far away from the amputated cat. Don’t allow your other pets to play with the recovering one nor your children, if you have any. In addition, if it has kittens listen as to whether it’s playing with its kittens. It is better to distance the young ones from their mother and allow them to be with their mother in your presence.
  5. Watch out the cat does not jump on chairs or tables before the wound heals. When the wound has healed and it has regained strength, well, it’s free to run around and do whatever it wants as the wound has already healed.
  6. Lastly, contact your veterinary doctor if you sense the cat is experiencing some discomfort such as having mood swings e.g it becomes quiet than normal or does not want to drink or eat. In addition, if the cat is finding it hard or is straining to urinate or pass stool, pay the veterinarian a visit.

Finally, “Cats do not show signs of emotional distress as removal of the leg is usually less traumatic than the condition that precipitated the removal. Phantom pain in the missing limb is rare in cats. Your cat will need a follow up with your veterinarian for wound inspection and removal of stitches. Any concerns you have should be followed up with your veterinarian.”

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    • SantaCruz profile image

      SantaCruz 6 years ago from Santa Cruz, CA

      Thank you for this helpful article! Great photo choice too ;-).

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