Animals are becoming some of the biggest stars of the Internet, and this is often because their owners set up a social media account for them to show off their cuteness. Sometimes, an animal becomes an Internet sensation for other reasons, such as having an amazing life story of overcoming an ordeal. The latter is the reason that a six-year-old cat called Vito has become a hit online. According to the BBC, former basketball player Silvia Gottardi and her wife Linda Ronzoni were away on their honeymoon when their cat, Vito, was involved in a road traffic accident in Milan. His legs were crushed by a vehicle, and the veterinarian was forced to amputate both his hind legs. Following the accident, his owners returned home immediately.
In many cases similar to Vito’s, such a serious accident would lead to the cat being euthanized. However, the vet made the decision to try and save Vito’s life. The only way to do this was to remove his legs. Unfortunately, this would leave Vito unable to walk. To resolve this situation, Vito had some custom prostheses made. His prostheses are unusual compared to those that are worn by humans who have lost their limbs, as human prostheses usually fit over the stump where the limb has been removed. Vito’s prostheses are different as they have been inserted directly into the remaining bones in his upper legs. It was the first time that this type of operation has been completed successfully in Italy.
This surgery had been inspired by a cat called Oscar, whose story had also been told by the BBC. This British cat had been the first cat to receive prosthetic legs after he had been involved in a serious accident with a combine harvester. Vito’s life had been interesting long before he had his accident and subsequent surgery. He had originally belonged to Silvia’s mother and lived with her and her husband in San Vito Lo Capo, which is a small town in northwestern Sicily.
Sadly, Silvia’s mother died and then her husband began dating a new woman. Unfortunately, the woman had an allergy to cats, so Silvia’s father made the decision to rehome the cat and offered him to Silvia. He then moved to Milan to live with Silvia and Linda. The couple had fitted their home with several cat flaps because they knew that Vito was accustomed to spending a lot of time outdoors. After Vito moved into their home, Linda and Silvia got married in July 2018. However, they delayed their honeymoon to the December of that year due to their work commitments. While they were away, Vito was being cared for in their home by a close friend.
It was then that Vito went missing for more than a day. When he was found, his owner’s friend realized that he was seriously injured. She took him to the vet where the decision was made to amputate one of his paws straight away and to try to save the other. Linda and Silvia were contacted by their friend who told them how serious the situation was. They felt terrible because they were so far away, but knew that they had people they could rely on until they were able to return home. Tragically, the surgeon’s efforts to save the second paw were unsuccessful because of an infection. The vet fit him with temporary rear legs to help the cat out while he began to work on a permanent pair of rear paws for Vito.
Although the operation to fit the prostheses was a success, Vito needed time to adapt to his new situation and to learn to walk using his prostheses. Thankfully, he adapted to his situation relatively quickly, and earned himself the moniker ‘the bionic cat’. Now, almost a year after he received the prostheses, Vito has adapted well and is often seen wandering around the streets near his home. As so many people were interested in Vito and his story, Linda and Silvia decided to set him up with a social media page so that he could show even more people how well he was going following his surgery.
On the Instagram page, Vito is known as ‘Vitizzosuperstar’. This is because Vito’s full name is Vitizzo and he has proved that he is a superstar in the way that he has coped with his new situation. His page already has more than seven thousand followers. Linda and Silvia regularly post videos of Vito as he goes about his daily business. If they were videos of any other cats, this may not seem that interesting. What has captured people’s attention is the fact that Vito manages to go about his daily business so well using his prostheses. This has fascinated animal lovers from around the world.
Vito has also attracted a lot of media attention. Photographer Claudia Rocchini covered Vito’s story, which was first published in an Italian publication and then also on Vito’s Instagram page. This led to the story being picked up by local and media and then media outlets further afield. Before long, his story had attracted global interest.
The cat’s Instagram page shows his reaction to the attention he has received in recent months. He ‘commented’ on the page that although the press was all talking about him, he remained humble. Despite all the attention, Linda and Silvia have also continued with their lives as usual. Linda is a graphic designer and art director, while Silvia is a former women’s premier national basketball league, including playing for the Welsh basketball team, the Coca-Cola Rhondda Rebels. At home, Vito is continuing to make progress with using his prostheses, and everything is looking good so far. Linda and Silvia are exceptionally proud of the way that he has coped following his horrific accident.