Bionic Cat Makes History

by Mary Haight on June 28, 2010

Prosthetic paws were fitted to Oscar, a two-and-a-half-year-old cat from Britain, after his hind legs were clipped by a farmer’s combine last October.  Neuro-orthopedic surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick made this historic advance for feline amputees thanks to a technological breakthrough in the field.

The three-hour surgery involved grafting replacement legs onto the remaining stumps of bone.  This is a sea change for prosthetics – the metal and flange you see on Oscar now allows for skin to grow into them to form a really tight bone connection. The surgery was done in November and is considered to be, given the delicate structure of the bones that were drilled and tapped to receive the prosthetics, quite an engineering feat:)

This black cat had amazingly good luck in benefiting from ground-breaking technology developed by a team at University College, London, led by Prof. Gordon Blunn. “The design of the feet uses custom-made implants to “peg” the ankle to the foot and mimics the way deer antler bone grows through the skin” according to a report from the UK’s The Engineer. “What made Oscar’s operation so difficult was its feet were severed at the… junction between the ankle bones and the arch of the foot.” You need to fashion the prosthetics in such a way that they mimic the “see-saw movement” of the ankle to ensure a natural gait. It took four months before the cat could walk on all fours, but  Oscar is now running and jumping as cats do.

Owner Kate Nolan was concerned with what would be the best solution for Oscar and give him quality of life – that she even had this option is fantastic.  For more on the science, read on. 

If anyone knows what the cost of this operation was, please share.  It may have been less costly due to its experimental and historic status – then again, that could be cause for the opposite case.  I’d like to know just how lucky this black cat was!

Update: The cost of the bionic paws was nearly $3000, and the price of the surgery is yet to be mentioned anywhere.  The best part by far is we now have video!! Thanks to Steve Dale for the lead.

(Photo source: AFP)

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Healthy Pets , Doggy Bytes. Doggy Bytes said: Bionic Cat Makes History http://bit.ly/bpt8uk via @dancingdogblog […]

  2. […] update on a weekday…..First, some serious science geekery. From Dancing Dog Blog we have a bionic cat! No. Really!Next, a post from Thoughtful Animal on the social skills of dogs. This is a great read, […]

  3. […] the feel good story of the week goes to @DancingDogBlog for reporting about the prosthetic paws fitted to Oscar, a 2 1/2 year-old cat in Britain. Oscar lost both his back paws in a farmer’s […]

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