Oscar - The Cat With Bionic Feet

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Oscar is a green-eyed black shorthaired cat who lives with owners, Kate and Mike Nolan, on the British isle of Jersey in the United Kingdom.

The Accident

One day, the 2 1/2-year-old-cat was quietly dozing in the sun in a field not far from his home. Unaware of the approach of a combine harvester, Oscar was run over by the big farm machine.

Both of his back feet were severed!

The Veterinarians

Discovering their injured kitty, Oscar's owners rushed him to their local veterinarian. Their vet referred Oscar to Dr. Noel Fitzpatrick, a neuro-orthopedic surgeon a veterinary surgeon based in Surrey, 35 miles southwest of London.

After an initial examination, Dr. Fitzpatrick had good news. He thought he could give Oscar bionic feet.

"We had to do a lot of soul-searching and our main concern has always been whether this operation would be in Oscar's best interests and would give him a better quality of life," said Mrs Nolan.

The Surgery

Once the Nolans understood the treatment and discovered the operation could have an impact on human medicine, surgery was arranged. In a three-hour procedure, the veterinarians inserted peg-like metal implants into the bone where Oscar lost his paws. The implants were coated with a substance that helps bone cells grow directly into the metal. The cat's own skin then grows over the end of the peg to form a natural seal to prevent infections. The peg protrudes through the bone and skin, bioengineered to mimic the way deer antler bone grows through the skin. The custom-built artificial paws are then attached to the metal peg.

The Recovery

Because this operation had never been tried before, it was with some trepidation that the humans involved watched to see if Oscar could walk with his new implants. Within minutes of taking his first wobbly steps on his new paws, Oscar was jumping up on low perches in the veterinary clinic.

After rehabilitation training, and despite one bout with infection, Oscar was bearing weight equally on all four feet in less than four months.

Application To Human Amputees

The success of the operation shows the potential of the new technology. In the U.S., several animals have received artificial limbs directly attached to their bones at North Carolina State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. The technology is now being tested in humans and have already been used to create a prosthetic for a woman who lost her arm in the July 2005 bombings in London.

Oscar - The Bionic Cat

Oscar may have spent one of his nine lives in his close encounter with farm machinery, but he is not letting the accident slow him down much. While he may not be faster, not stronger than before... but his new prosthetic paws make him one of the world's few bionic cats. You can watch Oscar take his first steps on his bionic feet in the video below. . .

 

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