Oscar the cat, has regained a spring in his step following innovative surgery by Dr Noel Fitzpatrick to fit him with a pair of prosthetic paws. The two-and-a-half-year-old feline had his rear paws accidentally amputated by a combine harvester. Oscar’s road to recovery began after his local vet referred his owners, Kate and Mike Nolan, to Dr Fitzpatrick in Eashing, Surrey, England. Now, thanks to bioengineering work by UK-based neuro-orthopaedic surgeon Fitzpatrick, Oscar has gained new feet in a world-first operation.
The revolutionary design of the feet uses custom-made implants to connect the ankle joint to the foot and mimics the way in which deer antler bone grows through skin. Working with a team from University College London, Dr Fitzpatrick pioneered the use of the weight-bearing prosthetic implants, combining engineering mechanics with biology. In Oscar’s case, the procedure was complicated by the fact that his feet were severed at the junction between the ankle bones and the arch of the foot. He has since been fitted with a series of prototype new paws to ensure the best possible long-term fit – and is back to his normal happy self.
Mrs. Nolan said she and her husband had to do a lot of “soul-searching” before deciding to go ahead with the operation. “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.”