LONDON (Reuters) - A cat that had both its back legs severed by a combine harvester can walk again after being fitted with prosthetic limbs in a world-first operation.
Two-year-old Oscar has been given a pair of artificial limbs by veterinary surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick, using a technique developed by a University College London team.
Oscar was lazing in the sun near his home in Jersey when the accident happened last October.
He was referred to Fitzpatrick by the local vet and only a day after the three-hour operation, he was trying to stand.
Despite some infection that had to be overcome, in less than four months he was able to stand and bear weight equally on all four limbs.
“Oscar can now run and jump about as cats should do,” said Fitzpatrick.
The prosthetics, called ITAPs, were attached to the bone at the amputation site and then coated with hydroxyapatite which encourages the bone and skin to grow over the metal.
Artificial paws were then attached to the ends of the ITAPs.
“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 Kate Nolan, Oscar’s owner.
Kate’s husband Mike said: “We were aware that this sort of procedure is cutting-edge and also has an impact on human medicine, so knowledge about the way that Oscar’s been treated can be carried over to human treatment going forward — so that’s good for everyone.”
The ITAP technology is being tested in humans. It has been used to create a prosthetic for a woman who lost her arm in the July 2005 London bombings.
Editing by Steve Addison