Oscar the Cat may need to be renamed “Peg” after a recent surgery fitted him with a pair of peg legs.
Just like the Six Million Dollar man’s doctors, Oscar’s veterinarians believed they could rebuild him. They had the technology. And rebuild him they did.
Not so long ago, Oscar was sunning himself at his home in Britain’s Channel Islands when he had a nasty close encounter of the columbine harvester kind. His lower hind legs were ampawtated in the accident.
Fortunately for Oscar, his local vet referred him to Dr. Noel Fitzpatrick (with Oscar, right), a neuro-orthopedic surgeon in Eashing, southwest of London.
Together with biomedical engineering experts, Fitzpatrick gave Oscar two metal prosthetic implants by drilling holes into what remained of the limbs. Then they were coated with a substance that helps bone cells grow directly over them.
The custom-built “paws” that are attached to the implants were designed to wobble a bit, imitating a cat’s natural gait. The cat’s own skin will grow over the end of the peg to form a natural seal to prevent infections.
Fitzpatrick said he and biomedical engineers designed the artificial paws so that they would be fused to the bone and skin. “That allows this implant to work as a seesaw on the bottom of the animal’s limbs to give him (an) effectively normal gait,” he said. “Oscar can now run and jump about as cats should do.”
After about four months of rehab training to learn to walk again, Oscar was back on all four feet. Oscar’s owners said they hoped his new paws would also further the technology for developing artificial limbs for humans.
Here’s video of the Six Million Dollar Cat: