We have all seen, at one time or another, the sight of a three-legged cat walking across the lawn or along a fence. How tempting it is to ask them their story, and perhaps to wonder about the welfare of such a situation — is the cat suffering, or quite happy?
Whether it results from trauma or disease, limb amputation — as an alternative to euthanasia — has become much more common than it once was. Although a serious surgery that requires extensive healing, amputation can actually help (rather than hinder) animals by removing their source of pain and suffering. In most cases, it saves lives. Surgery may be the only life-saving option for animals hurt in car accidents, or for those suffering from bone cancer or other serious diseases. Of course, it may not be easy for a cat to re-learn how to maneuver as they did prior to amputation. However, with time, most animals compensate nicely for the consequent changes in weight distribution and learn to walk and even run again.
Seeing that content and spirited cat walk down the street on three legs is a reminder that, if a worst-case scenario comes true, there are options that can humanely extend life for our best friends. They are, after all, their own best ambassadors, and rise up nimbly to life’s challenges.