Alison AplinJerome, my (now) 3-legged cat

I must first thank the many people who commented about the plight of Jerome – and they were all such positive cat comments. (The heartache of pet ownership Dec 5, 2012). I was wary initially that I would get people saying that Jerome got what any cat deserved i.e. cruelty, because of the attitude that some in our community have towards cats. But the genuine gardening public didn’t let me down; I feel that all true gardeners have a respect for all animals which I feel was apparent in the many comments shared.

Jerome - the (now) 3-legged tabby catI have had quite a few people tell me about their cat enclosures attached to their homes. I think that the idea is excellent for many, but not for me – I will explain why. Every home that I have ever owned has had a lot of trees in it – the bigger the better. Here in SW Victoria we have a vast number of very large Eucalypts and deciduous trees. We also have a massive bird population with so many different varieties of birds at different times of the year, depending on the food source in our garden.


Jerome always loved to climb trees when he was a 4 legged animal. But he used to climb to show off. His offerings to us i.e. his ‘kill’, consisted of very dead, skeletal birds and mice that had been poisoned. His skill was never very profound in the hunting area.

I am also, dare I say, a rather vain person about my home, and as we will be having this current garden open to the public next spring, have nowhere to erect this enclosure so that it can be attached attractively to the house.

Jerome when outside now stays close by as we work in the garden. He has certain spots in the garden where he sleeps during the day and then is always present when we rattle the dog’s bowl at feeding time. He has a massive appetite, but then he is a very large cat.

We have been led to believe that Jerome is a Maine Coon cat, or at least part thereof which is a very large breed of cat. He appears to fit the Tabby and White colouring of the breed, with superb markings. He has a white belly, all paws are white and he has white under his chin. But it is his tail that is his pride and joy. It is very thick with the most beautiful markings, like black rings that girdle the tail down the length. And he has this wonderful expression in his eyes which says ‘Who, me?’ He is now 3 legged, but he is still my beautiful big boy!

Because of Jerome’s strength of personality, it has taken the household quite a while to adapt to Jerome’s problem. This is in part due to his stoic nature – he has never looked back from his experience – I think that I have suffered more than him! I keep reliving his horrific experience while Jerome just gets on with his life – as you can see in this video.

A further saga to the original story posted was that the person who found Jerome in their rabbit trap, not wanting to be punished for the illegal use of their trap, dumped Jerome a long way away from our town in an industrial zone. This remarkable cat managed, with only 3 good legs, one suppurating crushed mess for the fourth and suffering extreme emaciation after 4 weeks absence, to find a home some distance away, where the property owner found him in their side yard and took him to the RSPCA who then took him to the local Veterinary surgery. Fortunately Jerome was microchipped.

The RSPCA, the local vet and the kind person who found Jerome in their garden have my absolute thanks for their kindness to a suffering animal. I have enormous respect for any person who stands up for cruelty to animals in any form and the local vet surgery in particular have been a tower of support.

Archibald with his Elzabethan collar bucketJerome is still a kitten, albeit a large one, so he is still growing. He is managing so well with his limitations and seems to be quite content with his lot in life. His attitude remains as the family larrikin and we adore him for it!

Of course with Jerome getting all the attention, our 7 year old black Labrador, Archibald has missed out. He has a ‘Canine Hot Spot’ on his rump which I feel certain is due to a level of neuroses other than heat that has contributed to this. For this reason, Archie has had to wear an Elizabethan collar or bucket over his head to stop him making it worse.

Pet ownership is definitely one of responsibility. But I for one would not be without them.

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Alison Aplin

About Alison Aplin

Alison is a passionate, multi award winning sustainable landscape designer, Horticulturist and arborist. She has been the owner and designer of 2 Ecotourism gardens that have both won significant awards. Her writing is based on knowledge, empirical learning which is essential to sustainable ethic, and a questioning mind leading to much research. Her articles are often controversial - with a disclaimer that she is responsible for the written matter, and not Garden Drum. A deeply caring person about the natural environment, Alison's writing endeavours to explain why sustainable landscapes are so important. Without people like her, they will be lost and gardens will become merely concrete

7 thoughts on “Jerome, my (now) 3-legged cat

  1. I’m glad Jerome has come through this ordeal. Great there were some caring people … To help. Sounds like a terrible experience, I wish you and Jerome good times in the garden.

  2. I’m pleased that Jerome is doing so well.
    In my previous post to you I intimated that water is the enemy of 3-legged cats because years ago a friend lost her 3-legged cat to a swimming pool, due to his not being able to pull himself out with just one front leg. The possibility of the occurrence should be stated by vets.

  3. I often watch Jerome drinking out of our pond. I take heed with your comment – I would be devastated to lose him after so much. Ours is only a shallow pond throughout – at the most it would be 30cms. I have always wanted it to be deeper, but the pond was done by previous owners. Maybe we should be lucky that it is not deep after all – although I am sure that if he lost his footing he may be in trouble. But Jerome is now a very strong, large cat who I feel will always be a survivor, albeit with 3 legs. But I do thank you for your concern – it is noted.

  4. Alison, have you looked into the tree top runs?? A green mesh type enclosure that can be hidden in the tree tops, and on the ground, whilst creating a safe environment for both the cat, and the wildlife…

  5. Thank you for your comment Hollie. While I commend your ideas for the benefit of wildlife and pet safety, practicality precludes us considering any of these ideas. As a 3 legged cat, Jerome has learnt his boundaries. We regard him as HIGHLY intelligent, although he doesn’t look it! And with his new-found intelligence, he has learnt that he now cannot even consider catching a bird, lizard etc with only 1 front paw – his balance is seriously jeopardized. He climbs, but knows his limitations – it is now usually into the fork of a low branching tree or on top of our car.
    His days are spent mostly lying in the sun when he needs warmth and rolling with his 3 legs in the air, or under foliage on hot days to keep cool. Surprisingly he doesn’t put on weight, tho’ he has an enormous appetite.
    Jerome is now no threat to the fauna in our property – he has the good sense to realise this and now just be an observer.

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