Cat Walks Again Thanks to New Surgery

Experimental procedure mimics deer antlers
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2010 12:28 PM CDT
Oscar, the cat with a pair of prosthetic paws, is seen in this undated photo from neuro-orthopedic surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick in Surrey, England.   (AP Photo/Jim Incledon/PA)
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(Newser) – A British cat is up and walking after a first-of-its-kind experimental surgery that could have implications for human medicine, too. Oscar, who lost his back paws in a farm accident, has two prosthetics fitted directly into holes drilled into his bones at the amputation sites. The pegs were coated with a chemical that will encourage bone to grow around them. The effect is designed to mimic the way deer antlers grow through the skin.

Oscar lost his paws when he fell asleep in a field being swept by a harvester; cats can live without one limb, but not without two. Veterinary surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick devised the unique bioengineering procedure that saved his life. “We had to do a lot of soul-searching,” one of Oscar's owners tells the Guardian, but eventually they decided it was in the cat’s best interest. Four months later, Oscar could stand, and Fitzpatrick says he “can now run and jump about, as cats do.”

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