Meet Finnegan, the 3 Legged Cat
Meet Finnegan! He is the newest member of my misfit band of sillies!
I recently moved with friends in MD and my soon to be ex-kept the cats. They preferred living with him and not in a cramped basement. Plus one was in complete love with his dog!
And, don’t tell… but I am a total cat person!
Cat person writing a dog blog; how is that for silly irony??
Don’t get me wrong I love dogs too… but cats pull at my heart strings.
I guess there are just soooo many that wind up never getting adopted.
And the cry of a kitten is as close to maternal instinct as I have ever felt!
First off, they say you find love when you aren’t looking.
I certainly wasn’t looking!
Not for any kind of love.
My life feels like I have swept it all into a dust pan… it is there… but it isn’t fitting back quite right.
I spend endless hours trying to figure out how to get it to feel the way I think it should. Not the way that it did, that didn’t feel good at all for over 3 years that was sad and broken, but the way my mind and society thinks it should.
I just haven’t not gotten there yet. But I am starting to accept that the way it feels is okay.
So I have this fabulous 1948 Ford Pick Up truck that I can’t afford to fix up yet, covered in my friend’s driveway. The wind had been really bad, and the weather has turned really cold.
Two days in a row I went outside to find a cat curled up on my truck cover.
A sickly cat covered in fleas.
At first, I was afraid to touch him. He looked sick.
Then I remembered I was a vet tech and an animal lover.
I reached over and scratched his cross eyed face and he began to purr.
Then he got up to nuzzle me and I realized he had only 3 legs
He was missing the rear left leg.
I asked my new family, and they told me the story.
He was abandoned as a kitten by the family that owned him. They just left him when they moved.
Supposedly the people who moved into their home put food out for him, and several neighbors did. But he was still cold.
And it was unbearably difficult for him to get around.
All the extra food has made him overweight. And being overweight on 3 legs is just cruel. That inhibits his ability to get away from cars and dogs or anything else that wants to hurt him.
So I took him inside with me, to live at my house.
My best friend has always wanted to adopt him, but she has met some resistance from her husband. Calling him my responsibility made it somewhat better for him to accept.
But a cat is a big responsibility both financially and from a time stand point.
AND, I have 2 very high drive dogs!
I KNOW that I couldn’t have a kitten. There is a much higher likelihood that my dogs would kill a kitten than hurt a fully grown adult cat; but it is still always a concern.
And, even though they have both previously lived with cats, and they have adjusted to the cats upstairs doesn’t mean I can just throw a new cat in the basement and “hope” that it works.
What if You Want to Add a New Pet to Your Pack?
First, off is to know your dogs.
Again my dogs have a very high prey drive!
Kittens run FAST, they climb things, and when they cry it is very high pitched. Puppies are a lot the same, BTW.
All of these things look like prey!
An adult cat or an adult dog is already fully grown and fully matured physically.
Adults are much less likely to run and climb aimlessly and their voices are different (yes, this makes a difference).
I also like taking an adult because I feel that they are less adoptable than kittens. Everyone wants a kitten or a puppy, when really it is nice to see the adult that you will have and keep. As with humans, puppy and kitten personalities often change when they hit adulthood.
Do a Test Run
I would never let a cat, kitten, adult dog, or puppy loose with my dogs without knowing at least partially how they will respond.
Visit friends or family who have the same age and type of pet you desire, if your dog does not respond in an appropriate way, chances are that bringing one home will be difficult if not severely dangerous.
Establish a Safe Place
I always have a room or a spot where my new pet can escape and get away!
Up until Finnegan’s arrival, I have always placed a baby gate up in a special room where my cats could jump the gate and escape my dogs.
But with a 3 legged cat, I had to put a gate up so that he could climb under to his cat box, food, and a special cat bed.
Put Everyone on Lockdown or Boot Camp Duty
First I put all of my current pets (the dogs) up either outside or in their crates or in another part of the house. This way Finnegan could find his cat box and a few spots around my home. He wasn’t pressured to run and hide and he could assess his surroundings. This sets him up for later litterbox success!
If he saw 2 dogs out and he had to pee or poop he might just do so wherever he felt safest… therefore creating a problem for later.
Next I let one dog in at a time.
I picked my most laid back social dog that I trust to go first.
Because I am more adept at reading her behavior I can better assess if the cat gets aggressive how she will react.
I always find it much more appropriate for the cat to react aggressively than the dog. Cats are smaller and often chased by dogs, so this can be a normal reaction. Plus cats have difficulty with change and often act defensively to keep dogs away.
Thankfully Finnegan didn’t mind Fury at all! Not a hiss or a spit or a combative paw was drawn.
So after many hours of letting them socialize, I introduced dog 2.
Again things went well, and he knew where he could go to get away from the dogs.
I, however, still never left them alone. I always kept an eye on all of them to ensure there were no issues.
I even crated my dogs the first night. Since I could not monitor their socialization while I slept, I opted to crate the dogs and let the 3 legged cat wander his new home.
It has been a week and a half now and everyone is getting along fabulously!
But it is critical to ensure the safety of all your pets when you want to introduce a new one to your home!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.