Several years ago, prosthetic limbs for cats became a medical breakthrough. The legs are a rubber polymer made with titanium. The legs are a custom fit for the cat. Before using pins to set the legs into the existing bone, they are coated with hydroxyapatite which stimulates bone growth on the portion and helps prevent infection. The last part of the procedure began after a month of initial surgeries. Although it was once rare to see a cat with a prosthetic since many of them have learned to walk missing a limb, it’s becoming more commonplace to see them. It’s also a blessing for a cat because only having several legs puts a strain on their back, leading to hip dysplasia or, worse, Cancer. There are many heartwarming stories about cats who can now walk with ease and feel more comfortable. There are some estimates that over 10000 animals are already enjoying the benefits of this new technology. One of the most recent stories is about a cat in Greece.
Tragedy to triumph
Last year, Sofia Zoi’s veterinary clinic received a heartbreaking surprise. A one and a half-year-old cat were brought to her clinic by the animal welfare association. The poor kitty was homeless and, somewhere along the way, suffered a tragic accident that took there of his paws. The clinic suspects it was a hit and run or that he was caught in an engine. Once he was brought to the Larissa Veterinary clinic in Greece, he went through three surgeries for the untreated wounds to get infected. Afterward, Dr. Zoi wanted to do something more to help him, give him new paws.
Zoi Worked with Bio3Dvet, a Greek team of engineers and veterinarians who made implants specifically designed for cats. During the four surgeries, they were worried that he would have an infection or something worse if his body rejected the implants. Additionally, they didn’t want him to suffer any more trauma. There was also a concern if having these would make him aggressive because he was constantly bothered. After four surgeries, the paws were attached. Now, they had to wait for him to adjust and see if they helped him. It wasn’t long; in fact, according to Greek City Times, it took him no more than 15 seconds, and he was walking around as he’d always had them.
The clinic was so impressed with his bravery and strength, they named him Perseus. In Greek mythology, Perseus was the one who slew Medusa. Additionally, there is a constellation in the sky that is said to depict this scene. It’s a fitting name for a cat who surmounted one of the most challenging surgeries and can enjoy life again. After the surgery, the clinic had many offers from people wanting to adopt him. However, he’s become the unofficial mascot, and they can’t imagine life without him. According to The Animal Reader, Dr. Zoi said, “he’s adapted to the clinic, he’s spent a lot of timers here, there are a lot of technical issues, his paws need changing, he needs special care. And I also don’t want to know if I want this animal to leave. He brings joy to the clinic.”
Future of prosthetics
Although prosthetics for animals are still not commonplace, there are so many questions about long-lasting effects. Many cats like Perseus are getting an opportunity they may not have had thanks to the advances in veterinary medicine. Sadly, before these were available, the quality of life for these animals may have been so poor that it wasn’t worth the expense. Additionally, fewer people are likely to adopt an animal with this story of disability. However, as more technology is developed and veterinarians see a result, it’s more likely that cats will be able to live out all of their nine lives without having to suffer through great pain and without the option to follow their natural instincts. Unfortunately, not all cats are good candidates for prosthetics.
Aside from Sophia Zoi in Greece, many veterinarians are working towards the common goal of helping more cats like Perseus get the help they need. According to Modern Cat, Dr. Derrick Campana, a veterinarian in Virginia, has worked with prosthetics and animals for twelve years. He’s been so successful he’s often referred to as Dr. Doolitle. His journey into the field started with a veterinarian who was set on helping a chocolate Lab named Charles, much like Zoi and Perseus, that she brought him to a prosthetics clinic for two-leggeds. Although Dr. Campana had never considered practicing veterinary medicine, Charles touched his heart, and he wanted to do more for animals with disabilities. Dr. Campana had always been an animal person, so it was easy to switch to veterinary medicine, even though he still smiles about the transition years later. So far, he creates approximately 1000 prosthetics a year and has treated about 20000 animals. He’s traveled to Spain and Lampang, Thailand, to help animals who are suffering. It’s been an upward battle since Dr. Campana has to rely on what he thinks will work because prosthetics for animals are not regulated. He’s also working towards making prosthetics more affordable so more people can afford to help their animals. He gets a lot out of helping them because even though they can’t speak, animals who receive prosthetics have a look in their eye that says thank you.
Pete Singer once said, “we have to speak up on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.” Doctors who are working towards advancements in the field of prosthetics are doing just that. They are giving animals who may not have a chance the opportunity to live a whole life and be happy. This type of work takes perseverance and a deep sense of compassion for the wonderful animals that touch our lives and open our hearts.