One of the side effects of being outside in low temperatures is frostbite. Frostbite, in turn, can lead to gangrene as blood flow to the tissue is cut off, resulting in the death of that tissue. This is especially troublesome in the extremities, such as the fingers and toes, but can also result in the amputation of a hand, or foot. This was the recent case with a cat left out in -40-degree weather, as the poor animal had to have all of its paws removed.
Caught out in the cold in Siberia, Russia, the cat, named Ryzhik had been abandoned. Fortunately, for Ryzhik, the technology to craft cheap, but functional prosthesis has become more common with the introduction of 3D printing technology. It was also a good thing that he was also adopted soon after his incident.
His new owners were determined to save Ryzhik’s life, as usually in this case the animal is put down. So, they took him to an animal clinic in Novosibirsk, Russia, where veterinarian Sergey Gorshkov was able to fit Ryzhik with prosthetic paws, so he could walk again More important still, Gorshkov thinks that Ryzhik is the first cat in the world with prosthesis on all four of his limbs.
“He is definitely the first cat in the world that experienced such surgeries. The limbs have fully connected with the skin and bone,” Gorshkov told the Siberian Times. “The part of the limb that goes inside the body is spongy; the bone tissue grows inside it.”
A Plan is Hatched
The prosthetic paws were attached to the bone structure in an attempt to give Ryzhik the ability to walk again. And while Ryzhik initially looked a little unsteady on his new paws, it is believed that the cat will eventually find walking using his new prosthesis easier over time. In fact, the clinic where he got his prosthesis is hoping to patent the special technique involved in Ryzhik’s recovery for use with attaching artificial limbs on birds.
Ryzhik seems to have taken to his new prosthesis as he has not tried to remove them as of yet. Made of semi-firm rubber material, the paws can absorb the shock of walking and jumping, which cats tend to do a lot. That was the biggest concern for Ryzhik’s recovery, but so far the cat seems to be adjusting well to his new paws.
Animals and Prosthesis
Animals with prosthetic limbs are more common than you think. With the advent of 3D printing technology and the introduction of cheaper and cheaper materials, animals now have the option of prosthetic replacement when they lose a limb. The biggest challenge for prosthetic makers is smaller animals with bonier limbs, which makes it more difficult to fashion a working artificial limb.
Even animals who previously had a disability are receiving prosthesis to help correct their problem, allowing them to lead a full and healthy life. And where limbs aren’t possible, there is also the option of wheels or other devices to help with mobility issues. Here is a video showing Ryzhik walking around with his new paws.