Technology has helped human amputees live with their disabilities and now that's spreading to cats. A pioneer veterinarian in the United Kingdom has fitted a cat with only two feet with prosthesis to allow him to walk again.
According to the BBC, Oscar the cat had his back feet severed by a combine harvester. But, thanks to custom-made implants bioengineered to mimic the way deer antler bone grows through the skin, Oscar can still walk. The prosthetic feet are actually pegs called intraosseous transcutaneous amputation prosthetics (Itaps) and they were developed by a team from University College London. Led by Professor Gordon Blunn, who is head of UCL's Centre for Biomedical Engineering, the team worked with Surrey-based vet Noel Fitzpatrick to combine engineering and biology and produce the impressive implants.
"The real revolution with Oscar is [that] we have put a piece of metal and a flange into which skin grows into an extremely tight bone," Mr. Fitzpatrick said. "We have managed to get the bone and skin to grow into the implant and we have developed an 'exoprosthesis' that allows this implant to work as a see-saw on the bottom of an animal's limbs to give him effectively normal gait."
"He's just the best cat in the world. I can't tell you how good it feels to keep him alive," Fitzpatrick added, cuddling up to Oscar the day he walked on his implants for the first time.
The Itap technology is currently being tested on people and has already been used to help a woman who lost an arm in the London bombings five years ago.
Here's a video of Oscar at home with what look like new, better shaped feet that allow him to walk around with the awkward and lumbering (though admittedly endearing) stumpiness seen in the BBC clip.