Guides And Advice

How To Care For A Three-Legged Cat

As a cat lover, you may find yourself the owner of a three-legged cat at some point. The two most common reasons for amputation are cancer-related ailments or trauma caused by a road accident.

Though, for whatever reason, your cat is still exceptional. And tripod cats can live happy and healthy lives with the proper care and a bit of modification to your and your cat’s lifestyle.

Here are some essential tips for caring for your three-legged cat.

Cats Are Very Adept At Getting Around On Three Legs

Cats are very agile, and they can compensate for a missing limb. They can walk, run, and even jump on three legs. However, they may have some initial difficulty balancing with only three legs, resulting in them occasionally falling over.

How Long Will It Take To Recover From Surgery?

It all depends on the type of surgery, your cat’s age and health, and whether or not they have had any previous surgeries. Your cat should be able to go home within a few days, but it will need daily monitoring for at least a week.

More significant procedures, such as tumour removal, take up to two weeks before cats fully recover and can move around normally. Orthopaedic surgeries where bones were cut during the operation may take a little longer.

Your cat shouldn’t feel pain or marginal discomfort if you follow your vet’s aftercare plan and dispense medicines accordingly. However, plenty of love and care from you and your family will be the best medicine to give your cat.

How to care for a three-legged cat

Caring For a Three-Legged Cat Isn’t Difficult

Looking after a tripod cat isn’t problematic; it just needs adjustments so you can comfortably meet its needs.

First, provide a comfortable place to sleep, rest and recuperate. This should be placed on the floor, downstairs in your house and have no obstacles. Cats like to rotate sleeping areas, so make sure there are a few sleeping areas around the bottom floor of your home.

Ordinarily, it’s advised to keep your cat’s litter tray, scratching post, food and water bowls as far from each other as possible, but in this case, keep them as close as sanitary possible so your cat doesn’t have to move too far between them.

As your cat gains more movement and confidence, gradually move these apart until they are in their usual places within your home.

Speaking of litter trays, getting a low-sided litter box for easier access while your cat recovers is advisable. There may be a bit more mess outside the box, but the more patient you are with your tripod cat, the quicker it adjusts to its new condition.

You’ll also have to make a few adjustments around the house to ensure they don’t fall over or hurt themselves during the first few days after surgery.

Provide non-slip surfaces like rugs where you may have tiles or wooden floorings, such as your hallway or kitchen.

How to care for a three-legged cat

Where possible, move furniture they previously liked to jump on closer together, and if moggy had a favourite part of the sofa or window sill they prefer to sleep on, then provide a stool, chair or box so they don’t have to jump as much and risk further injury.

Cats like to groom, which may be particularly difficult for those missing a leg. You can help by grooming them regularly with a preferable brush which will keep them free from tangles and mats and provide a great bonding experience for your and your recovering cat.

Remember to keep on top of all pain relief medication, and finally, it’s safer if your tripod cat spends all of its time indoors with monitored access to outdoors only if you feel it’s safe to do so.

Keep Your Three-Legged Cat Active

Don’t let your tripod cat become overweight. Cats can develop muscle atrophy and become overweight when they cannot move around as much as they previously did.

Ensure your cat has a healthy diet and try to limit stress, a known catalyst for overeating in cats. Any increase in weight can put extra strain on their remaining limbs, which could cause issues later on.

Consider buying a treadmill or indoor track for cats that allows your cat to run on it safely. Though be sure not to leave them unattended.

Provide Lots Of Toys And Play

Toys for your cat will encourage them to stay active and healthy and stop them from getting down or depressed.

Tripod cats are like any other and will still love to play with feathers on a stick or similar fishing rod toys. They will still like to play with ping-pong balls, but they won’t be able to chase them as much as they used to.

How to care for a three-legged cat

Due to their high intensity, it’s recommended that you don’t play with your cat using laser pens while it’s recovering.

Flat cat scratchers, ramps and even the perennial favourite, the cardboard box, are all excellent options to keep your cat entertained while recovering.

The most important thing is to give your tripod cat lots of love and attention, even if it means getting down on all fours yourself.

Check In With Your Veterinarian

As well as adjustments to home life, remember to regularly check in with your vet post-op to ensure your cat is healing well.

In the early days, checking the stitches or staples is essential, as they can quickly become infected if not cleaned regularly.

After this, you will want to look for any problems that may arise, including pain, infection and other issues. Keep an eye on the incision site for any swelling or redness.

Make sure that your cat is eating and drinking enough. If there are any signs of depression, such as over-eating, not grooming and lethargy, then contact your veterinarian so they can evaluate whether something else might be happening.

Cats are particularly good at concealing pain and do not always let on when there is an issue, so it is up to you to be alert for any changes in behaviour.


Cats are stubborn creatures so the initial adaptation period may present a few challenges; however, moggys with three legs adjust to their new life remarkably well.

Although tripods can’t move as quickly as they did when they had four legs, they can still run, jump and play and you’ll soon see that your three-legged cat is a perfect pet and just as happy and loving as any other cat.