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My Three-Legged Friend

Updated on August 24, 2015

A Tale of My Furry Friend

My furry feline friend, Ronnie, had a very impressive tail, and he had many friends who commented on it. He also had a very impressive tale, which I will tell you here. He would often sleep with his front paws wrapped around his back leg or tail, as shown in this photo. I said "wrapped around his back leg" because he had just the one - he was my three-legged friend.

This page is about how he came to be a three-legged cat and how we adapted to a new way of life. We all think our own particular furry friends are special, so I hope you'll excuse my assertion that Ronnie was very special indeed.

All of the photos are my own, and are copyright. Please contact me first if you wish to use any of them.

In The Beginning

...was Portia, a rather aloof young lady, living in the house where I rented a room. After an encounter with a local tom, she produced three delightful kittens. Somehow we ended up with all three staying on after Portia moved away to London, and, in due course, her grandson Ronnie came along. He was a big, beautiful, fluffy bundle who never quite 'grew into' his enormous paws. I always suspected he had some Maine Coon in his heritage, but his mum, Tasmania, wasn't telling.

Ronnie's three brothers were adopted, but he stayed with us waiting to be picked up by a new family who had asked for him. The collection never came, and we decided that there wasn't much difference between having three or four young cats in the house. So he stayed.

All Boys Together

By this time, his mother had a second litter, and began to exclude Ronnie. He was just too big to play with her tiny new kittens. Fortunately, he was 'adopted' by his uncle Charlie who was only a year older.

Two boys together, they became inseparable. Ronnie quickly outgrew Charlie, but always allowed Charlie to maintain the illusion of being the boss. He was incredibly good-natured. If Charlie, in a moody, was itching for a fight, Ronnie would let him win. It was very funny, though, when at first sight of intruders in the garden, Charlie would hide, leaving Ronnie to chase them out. But, hey, if you're the General, you send your soldiers out to the frontline, don't you Charlie..?

Despite his size, 6.5kg at this point, he was not a greedy boy, and would delicately take just a tiny piece of fish, ham or cheese as a treat. He was a little wary of strangers, but I was never unhappy about that - he was so beautiful I didn't like the idea that he might make friends with untrustworthy passers-by.

Live went on, as you would expect, with the occasional visit to the vet for annual health checks and vaccinations, but nothing untoward. Ronnie's mum and auntie eventually went to live with other families. We had one or two incidents, like the time when I came home from work to find a live frog in the kitchen, and worse, the dead racing pigeon in the hallway... But, Ronnie never seemed to be the culprit. He would frolic after the occasional butterfly, but that seemed to be it.

A Favourite Activity

Ronnie loved to snooze on my bed, even though he struggled to climb up there.

What The Vet Said

One friday afternoon, returning home from work, I saw Ronnie limping across the garden. I thought at first that he might have broken a back leg, as he wasn't putting any weight on it. We went straight to the vet.

I had to leave Ronnie with the veterinary nurse, who said someone would call as soon as the vet had seen him. The vet phoned a couple of hours later saying that it wasn't a broken leg, but something potentially much worse... a blood clot in the femoral artery. She said they would try to treat it with clot-busting drugs, and would keep me informed on his progress.

Saturday evening, around 10pm, she called again. Gangrene had set in. We had only two options, she said, amputation or euthanasia. She said that the blood clot was related to a previously undiagnosed heart problem, and that he could live comfortably after amputation, or potentially have another blood clot at any time. I said that he was only 6 years old, and deserved every opportunity to live on.

The Aftermath

The rapid progress of the gangrene resulted in a difficult operation the next morning. But, after a couple of days, I was able to collect him. The veterinary nurse said he was a little "grumpy" which seemed entirely reasonable.

I was very upset when we returned home because Charlie reacted very badly. Maybe it was a change of smell, or the bandages, but for weeks afterwards Charlie would hiss and run away whenever he saw Ronnie. Ronnie was also severely affected by the diazepam he'd been given to sedate him, and objected strongly to the heart pills he now had to take daily. I began to think I'd made the wrong choice. Dark times...

You'd be grumpy too, if it happened to you...

The Most Important Thing

When you take a pet into your home, he is becoming a member of your family, and is reliant on your for his food, comfort and health. For this, he will entertain you, comfort you and give you his loyalty and affection.

Contented Middle Age

But when you reach the bottom, there's only one way to go.

In time, Charlie and Ronnie were reconciled and, again, inseparable. Four-legged Charlie would still hide from intruders, and three-legged Ronnie would still act as bodyguard. On a sunny day, they would recline in the garden together. When it was chilly or wet, they would share my bed.

Sadly, we lost Charlie a couple of years later when he mis-timed crossing the road. We were all devastated. Ronnie became an "only cat".

Interestingly, we now discovered that Ronnie could actually "meow". This was something he had never done before, apart from the occasional "silent meow" when requesting a sympathy vote. He'd always been a quiet purrer, but Charlie did all the shouting! Ronnie became closer to his human family, more affectionate, and eventually more relaxed around visitors.

He liked the occasional pilchard, was ever-prepared to share a piece of cheese, and thoroughly enjoyed a catnip "fish" or "mouse" at Christmas and birthdays.

Another Favorite Activity

snoozing in the sun

Catnip Mice Catnip Toys by Petstages
Catnip Mice Catnip Toys by Petstages

These Catnip Chew Mice are fun to carry around and bat about. They are filled with catnip. The innovative design of these chewing toys gives a floss-like action helping kitty to keep her teeth clean and improve dental health.


Entertainment For Your cat

Many cats love to play, especially young cats and indoor cats. Toy target your cat's senses and provide entertainment. Choose a fun toy that your kitty will use to entertain you, make you play and give you that much needed exercise - catnip-filled toys will give you both hours of fun. Catnip is very is attractive to most cats, and was certainly one of Ronnie's favorites. Another great alternative is a teaser wand, to exercise your arm and your cat's jumping and biting abilities.

Bergan Turbo Scratcher Cat Toy, Colors may vary
Bergan Turbo Scratcher Cat Toy, Colors may vary

A dual purpose cat toy like the Bergan Turbo Scratcher is entertaining for your furry friend, and also helps to protect your furniture from those claws... Ball included and ball included, for use in the circular track.


The end of our story

For the next ten years, we continued with our regular trips to the vet, every four months for a check up and new prescription of heart pills. He would sit on my knee in the waiting room, accepting admiring comments from the staff and other clients.

But, finally, at the age of nearly 20 years, his heart failed. Sadly, I was out of the country at the time, but after a trans-Europe telephone call with the vet, I had to accept that it wasn't fair or even possible to keep him going until I arrived home.

He's now buried in a favourite spot in the garden. Never to be forgotten.

Would I take the same decision again? Taking into account the costs of the operation, medication and countless vets bills, I certainly would. Apart from a short period immediately after the operation, he had a long and contented life. He was my three-legged friend.

Guides to pet health

We all know vet services are expensive, but we want to do the best for our pets. These guides can help you keep your pet healthy, with information about general care, vaccinations, and which conditions require prompt veterinary treatment.

Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats
Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats

In this must-read book. Dr. Pitcairn's provides concise information on dogs and cats including choosing a breed to suit your lifestyle, what to feed your pets and advice on training.

Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats : Your A-Z Guide to Over 200 Conditions, Herbs, Vitamins, and Supplements
Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats : Your A-Z Guide to Over 200 Conditions, Herbs, Vitamins, and Supplements

This is an easy to use resource covering common health conditions, a guide to herbs and supplements, diet and complementary therapies. It includes natural treatments for many common illnesses and conditions, including Allergies, Arthritis, Ear Infections and more.


If the worst news comes - And the vet asks you to choose life or death for your pet

Of course, we're not the only family to find ourselves in this position. It happens to many families eventually.

What would you choose?

See results
Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Formula Premium Dry Cat Food
Purina ONE Healthy Kitten Formula Premium Dry Cat Food

This Purina Kitten food has a good balance of protein and calories, and includes DHA, a nutrient also found in milk. It's ideal for your furry feline family member aiding growth, vision and brain development.


Have you had any experiences like this? What would you do if it happened to your furry friend?

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    • savateuse profile image

      savateuse 2 years ago

      It is amazing how well they adapt to three legs. I'm glad she had some happy times after that trauma!

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 2 years ago from California

      This was really touching. I went through something similar with my last dog. At 10, she had a fatty tissue lump diagnosed on her back leg. But, 6 months later it started to grow. Then she was diagnosed with cancer.

      The specialist recommended removal, skin grafts, etc. at the tune of $20,000 to start (just for the surgery) or $10,000 for amputation. We couldn't afford it. So, we prepared to make her as comfortable as possible.

      But, her vet recommended amputation and a much cheaper price (less than $2000). My dog through it all had such a will to live that we went ahead with it. She ended up living 3 more good years, with 5-6 months of health problems. She was happy go lucky and adapted so well to 3 legs. I don't regret the decision at all. She died one month shy of her 14th birthday.

    • savateuse profile image

      savateuse 2 years ago

      Sorry to hear that. Our vet didn't make any unrealistic promises, I think it's much better if they're honest about the situation.

    • profile image

      GrammieOlivia 2 years ago

      Glad your cat had a great outcome, ours did not fair so well. Our cat had a stroke. After many tests, xrays and drugs, with the promise of the vet that the cat would live a normal healthy life, our cat died anyway. The vet bills over 2,ooo. dollars and the cat lived 2 weeks. I don't trust some vets anymore.

    • savateuse profile image

      savateuse 2 years ago

      Thanks - it was hard at times, but he had a good life in the end.

    • savateuse profile image

      savateuse 2 years ago

      Pleased to hear you held on to your paws >^._.^

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 2 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      a lovely story -

    • VladimirCat profile image

      Vladimir 2 years ago from Australia

      What an impressive tale! I almost lost my back leg too but ended up with steel pins instead.

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