What is a tripod cat?
A tripod cat is an amputee cat missing one or more limbs due to a birth defect, injury or illness. Thousands of cats are severely injured every year by vehicular accidents. Their lives are saved by surgical removal of a badly damaged leg.
A tripod cat can lead a full and enjoyable life and can thrive if they have an understanding owner. Cats adapt their lifestyles to cope with disability far more easily than do most people. Don’t expect a recent feline amputee to be ‘back to normal’ immediately, but don’t be over-protective, either. She must work out her new limitations and how to compensate for a missing leg and she must build up additional strength in the other limbs—and that can’t be done if you carry her everywhere
Although the loss of a limb sounds catastrophic to people, three-legged cats adapt well and are usually as agile and active as four-legged cats. While human limbs are a little more specialized (two for walking, two for manipulating things), all of the cat’s limbs are used for walking.
After an initial adjustment period, she will probably be able to jump and climb much as before, but if she has has lost a hind leg, maybe not as high. The loss of a foreleg can actually be a little more problematic for a cat than the loss of a hind leg. This is because the forelegs are used when the cat lands after jumping while the hind legs are used mostly for propulsion.
The three-legged cat will need help grooming areas that would normally be groomed by the now-missing leg, and you might even need to build some kind of stair or ramp for her if she can’t jump as high—or land.
NOTE: You may even want to make an extra long cat ramp over the length of your stairs. Position the ramp flush against the wall on one side of your stairs so it stays out of the way of human traffic. Wedge a rubber doorstop at the bottom end of the board to keep it from sliding.