Amazing Bionic Legs for Oscar the Cat

Meet Oscar. He’s a pretty amazing cat!

When Oscar was 2-1/2 years old, he had a horrible encounter with a combine harvester that cost him his back lower legs. A cyclist found him, covered in blood, and took him to his owners, who in turn took him to their veterinarian to be put down.

Oscar the Bionic Cat

The vet, Peter Haworth, knew a UK-based vet named Noel Fitzpatrick, who was the star of a BBC show called The Bionic Vet. After studying Oscar’s x-rays, Dr. Fitzpatrick decided that Oscar would be a good candidate for a ground-breaking operation, one that had never been attempted before.

The operation gave Oscar some special “bionic” prosthetic legs, ones that were embedded in his bone, and  will allow Oscar’s skin and bone to grow into the implants, virtually making them a part of his body, instead of something that he has to put on and take off.

Here is a quick look at what happened to Oscar and more about his implants: (Well, we’ve lost the first two videos, but here are the transcripts, and then you can see Oscar’s first walk on his new legs below.)

Here’s a transcription of the video, for those who prefer to read!

Surrey, England, June 2010 – This cat may help change the future of veteranary and human medicine. But can the world’s first bionic feline put his hardware to the test? After getting caught in a harvesting machine, the 2-1/2 year old black farm cat lost both his back paws. Flown by air cargo to a ground-breaking veteranary facility, now Oscar’s wearing an extraordinary implant, actually, a set of two. Custom-fitted flexible rubber booties help Oscar navigate surfaces, but the true miracles are the metal stumps  embedded in his legs. Like the way deer antlers grow through skin, directly into bone, a unique construction allows tissue to grow inside the prosthetics, helping ward off infection.

Eugenia Nieto, DVM, PETS Referral Center, Berkeley: “It’s going into the bone, and then there’s an area where it’s sort of like a mesh, where bone and skin are able to grow into it.”

The experiment is a success! Similar technology’s already being used in people. And this incredible farm cat is crawling his way to a life-saving frontier.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all kitties and puppies that lose a limb could have this type of implant? And the implication for human amputees is also exciting. Many complain of soreness and rawness where their prosthetic meets their skin. Many try to cushion the area by pulling on a couple of socks or other materials. This new type of implant would eliminate that problem.

This next video shows Oscar getting up and moving around and eating after 3 weeks with his new legs, and gives you a bit more detail about how the legs work. Oscar looks to have become quite comfortable with his new legs and is doing great!

Here is the transcription for this video: (again, we lost this one, but here is the transcript)

Oscar’s New Feet:

C’mere boy. C’mere boy!

So it’s now been 3 weeks since we put on Oscar’s new feet . He likes his new blades, don’t you Oscar? Good boy. He also likes fish. But he can run and jump on them now. And his feet are moving pretty well, indeed.

C’mon, then! C’mon boy!

So you will have seen his prototype feet, which were just compressive devices, they were devices which just had a little spring in them. And that was just to encourage him to use his feet in the first instance, and to remodel his bone, so it built up around the metal. Now he’s moved on to a different phase in his life where he needs to be able to run. We can see that his new foot is like a blade. It hits the ground like a normal foot, and has a little sole on it, so he can get some traction, and works like a seesaw.

The foot was designed so that the metal inside his bone couldn’t break, so if Oscar gets into difficulty, the foot will break here, at a break point, before it would break the implant inside his bone. It’s very much like the bindings on a pair of skis, so it will break off here at the “binding”, before it breaks your leg. Which is the way skis work, and we designed this implant with that in mind, so you’re skiing down the hill and you catch your foot, it will snap here, before it breaks your leg. So that’s pretty cool.

And here is Oscar’s first walk after receiving his new feet.

Cool, indeed! So happy that not only was Oscar’s life saved, but also that he is able to live out his other 8 lives on all four feet!

 

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