WHAT'S A FAUX PAW OR TWO?
Little Oscar, a two-and-a-half-year-old black cat, made a faux pas by sleeping in the maize field while it was being harvested. A giant combine harvester sliced off Oscar's two back paws.
But wait, he's okay now. In fact, the little cat from Jersey -- in the British Channel Isles off the coast of Normandy -- is the world's first bionic cat, sporting new prosthetic paws.
A faux pas in the maize field led to two faux paws and world-wide fame. Oscar's a star!
NO ITALIAN STEW, THANK YOU
It's a good thing Oscar isn't Italian. He might have become the main ingredient in a Chef Beppe Bigazzi cat meat stew.
Here's how it all came about:
Oscar's sleeping in a Jersey maize field, while it's being harvested. The combine gets him. Good-bye paws.
Woman on bicycle rides by and knocks at nearby farmhouse, asks if Kate Allan and Mike Nolan have a little black cat, then tell them what happened to Oscar. He was so badly hurt and looked so gruesome, they thought the vet would quickly euthanize him.
DO NOT EUTHANIZE PLEASE
They sped with Oscar to the local vet, Peter Haworth. "Peter was able to stabilise him, got painkillers going and he was comfortable within minutes of getting into the vets, on a strong painkiller I imagine," Mike Nolan told BBC News.
The vet suggested Oscar's owners talk with Noel Fitzpatrick, a veterinary surgeon who was doing pioneering work on prosthetics. After a whole lot of phone calls, e-mails and sending x-rays and test results, Fitzpatrick (pictured left with Oscar) and his team decided they could help Oscar.
COOL CAT OSCAR
Kate Allan told BBC News: "Oscar is a very chilled cat, he is very laid back, he takes things well which led to the surgeons in Surrey describing him as a very suitable candidate for this kind of surgery."
Fitzpatrick and biomedical engineers designed the artificial paws so that they would be fused to the bone and skin, allowing the implant to work as a seesaw on the end of Oscar's limbs to give him a normal gait, according to MSNBC.
YES, IMPLANTS PLEASE
Next, the vets inserted peg-like implants (ITAPs) by drilling them into Oscar's ankle bones. These metal implants are attached to the bone where Oscar lost his paws and are coated with a substance that helps bone cells grow directly over them. Oscar's own skin then grew over the end of the peg and formed a seal to prevent infections. Finally, artificial paws were attached to the ends of the ITAPs. (Thanks to MSNBC and its news services for the above technical description).
Oscar's rehabilitation included training which taught him to walk and jump again -- and he was on all four feet in under four months.
Oscar's story brings up some ethical questions for future discussion, such as the costly procedures and care he received. Oscar's fake paws, alone, cost about $3,000 -- that does not include the operation itself, or rehabilitation care.
It's doubtful that this pioneering technique will be widely available due to the cost and it's still pretty rare for an animal to lose two legs at once. But the ITAP technology is being tested in humans.
Mike Nolan, one of Oscar's owners, said: "We were aware that this sort of procedure is cutting-edge and also has an impact on human medicine, so knowledge about the way that Oscar's been treated can be carried over to human treatment going forward -- so that's good for everyone," as reported by MSNBC.
by Sharon McEachern