Fighter Pilot’s Tripod Journey

So I’ve learned a lot in the last week since my furkid Pilot had to have his back leg removed. He had a tumor and the best option to save his life was to remove his leg entirely. I was scared, I won’t lie. I was afraid he might never be Pilot again. I was afraid he might not make it through the surgery. I was afraid (and still am) that the cancer spread past his leg. The fear was palpable and I cried constantly for days.

You can see how his leg looked before the surgery in my post here. I want to share my journey on here for other people who are going through this process as well and want to know more about it. I wish I had found a blog post to help me through this at the time.

First you should know every cat (or dog) is different. While some cats might not be able to handle this drastic change to their body other cats will thrive with three legs. We are lucky that Pilot is a tough kitty and I guess the fact that we smother him with love all the time doesn’t hurt.

We took Pilot to the Orthopedic Surgeon on Thursday and we were told that if his cancer had spread they would have to put him down but if it had not they would remove the leg. I told them either way I wasn’t ready to put him down, he was still really happy and healthy other than his leg. Luckily they couldn’t find any proof it had spread so that day they removed his leg and the surgery went really well.

On Friday they let us pick him up and take him home. When they brought him out to us it was a shock to say the least. The spot where he once had a furry little white leg was bare pink skin with stitches. It’s still taking me some time to adjust to this.



They had said he wasn’t moving much and that he wasn’t eating or drinking water. I felt it was a good sign that once we brought him home he began eating, drinking water and walking around. What he needed was the comfort and love of home. We put a blanket for him on the ground, his own litterbox a few feet away and food and water right next to him.

We had to give him a medicine (liquid form) under his tongue twice a day. We had antibiotics to give him twice a day (we gave this to him crushed up in wet food) and he had a patch on his foot to manage the pain. We made sure one of us was always home to watch him.

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We tried to block off his usual litter box with a trunk in the doorway because we felt it was too far away and too difficult to get into. Manly Man woke up that night and couldn’t find Pilot. It turned out he’d climbed on top of the trunk and dropped down on the other side to try to get to the litter box. We moved the trunk at that point and he eventually learned that he had a new litter box.

Within 24 hours he started walking really well and climbing up and down from the sofa. After 5 days he was running across the house, it was amazing. When I came home from work on Tuesday he curled up in my lap on the sofa like he did everyday before the surgery. He was quite nearly good ol Pilot again.

Warning TMI: I will note he had some trouble with pooping. I tried putting some fiber suppliment in his wet food and for a few days he didn’t seem to go. Then suddenly on Monday night he laid down in his litter box, which was strange. I went to go google what that meant (google can be your best friend in these situations) and as I was doing that I missed the diarreah that ended up on the wall and the floor. He had been blocked up but this helped, though maybe a little too well.

So it’s been nearly a week now since his surgery and he’s come so far. I have a feeling that eventually he’ll have forgotten what it’s like to have that 4th leg. I’m so glad I can be there for him and make this easier on him. I love being his mommy and filling his world with love especially since he does the same for me.



  1. Anonymous

    May 16, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Sounds like he’s doing great!

    1. Robin

      May 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      He is, he’s a trooper!

  2. Avitable

    May 16, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Oh wow.  That photo just broke my heart, but I’m so glad that he’s doing so well!

    1. Robin

      May 19, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      It’s been unbearable at times but every day gets a little easier as he seems to be getting back to his old self. I appreciate your concern, means a lot.

  3. Alissa

    May 17, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    Honestly, I had no doubt that he would overcome and learn to deal. In fact, I disagree that some animals are different and never adapt – we use tripod volunteer animals in our hospital to show how life just goes on for them and they make the best of the situation. I’ve never seen an animal give up. My Stew-face has his front left leg removed after getting hit by a car as a kitten and its amazing the jumping and running that he does. Most people don’t even realize he has a leg missing in the first place with as fast as he moves. 

    Regardless, my heart breaks for you and I was sad through the whole thing for you. I remember when my Stewface almost died after swallowing three hair ties and a headband. He was hours away from death. It tore me apart and I was a mess. The recovery is just as scary as the actual surgery. I know your Fighter Pilot will get stronger day by day and will always be the kitty you’ve known and love! Keep posting photos of his recovery – they are inspiring and happy. He looks great! 

    1. Robin

      May 19, 2012 at 1:18 pm

      Thank you so much for that, it really made me smile.

  4. Liz

    May 22, 2012 at 2:28 am

    Aw, Pilot is too cute!

    I hate seeing my kitty suffer. They really are like biological children. I’m glad Pilot is doing well and adjusting so well. He really is a tough guy! Sending hugs and love your way.

  5. KT

    June 3, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    What a touching story; I hope kitty is doing well!

    1. Robin

      June 4, 2012 at 11:03 am

       He is doing a lot better, thank you.

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