The Bionic Cat

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Oscar the bionic cat: Pioneering surgery gives a poor cat TWO false back legs

By Liz Thomas
Last updated at 1:29 AM on 25th June 2010

Nine months ago he was fighting for his life after an horrific accident cost him both his back paws.

Now Oscar is a bionic cat after pioneering surgery to give him prosthetic back paws.

The two year-old moggie is understood to be the first in the world to have the operation to attach new feet.

Oscar was operated on by groundbreaking veterinary surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick.


Oscar, the cat with a pair of prosthetic paws, courtesy of neuro-orthopaedic surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick

Healing with prosthetics, titanium and other metals – he sounds like the stuff of science fiction.

But actually he is the modern answer to All Creatures Great and Small and now he – and Oscar – are set to be the stars of new BBC show The Bionic Vet.

The series follows Fitzpatrick, 40, as he tries to save animals using cutting edge technology, while Oscar is the star of the first episode.


An image of a pre-operation scan of Oscar’s leg

Viewers will hear how beautiful black cat had his black paws sliced off by a combine harvester after he had gone out to play in fields near his home.

Losing blood and barely conscious he was close to death when he was found and owner Michael Nolan was warned to expect the worst.

The bank manager from Jersey said: ‘He was out in the corn fields. He was found by a neighbour. He had no back feet left it was horrific. There was blood everywhere. Bits of his skin were hanging off.’

Both his back paws were severed, and while cats can survive with good quality of life with three legs, they cannot with two.

Fitzpatrick devised a way of attaching prosthetic ‘paws’ to Oscar’s ankle in both back paws.

‘We will have to put new feet on him or put him to sleep. The procedure has never been done before.’ said the vet.

The audience will see how over a three hour operation he drilled holes into the cat’s legs and inserted metal rods into his ankle bones.

These cutting edge implants – known as an ITAP and developed by University College London – attaches to the bone at the point of amputation.

It sticks out of the skin enabling a prosthetic paws to be attached.

These have been specially made with a degree of wobble to enable Oscar to walk, climb and run.

The groundbreaking new paws are similar to the style of Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius’s ‘blade runner’ style prosthesis.

But Oscar will now have to be a house cat because the false limbs are not suitable for outdoor life.


Noel Fitzpatrick, neuro-orthopaedic surgeon, and kennel assistant Jane Kilner, with Oscar the cat

Fitzpatrick admits that he has become a last hope for desperate owners who have run out of options for their beloved pets.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, March 26th, 2011 at 3:00 pm and is filed under Animals, Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.