A cat in Russia has been given a second chance at life after being given prosthetics for all four of its paws in what has now become the second such surgery in the world.
Dymka, whose name translates as “Mist” or “Haze”, was admitted to a Russian pet hospital in October 2018 for severe frostbite, ultimately resulting in the amputation of all four paws as well as its ear and tail. It is unclear what led to the condition, but veterinarians say it is not uncommon to see frostbitten animals during the Siberian winter months.
“There are two likely scenarios: Either she ran away or she fell out of the window. Unfortunately, frostbite in animals is a very real problem in Siberia,” veterinarian Sergey Sergeevich Gorshkov told Russian news site Ngs.ru. Gorshkov carried out the procedure along with Natalia Vladimirovna Ulanova. He adds that between five and seven cats are admitted to his clinic every year due to frostbite most commonly affecting their noses, ears, and paws.
Veterinarians at the BEST Veterinary Clinic in Novosibirsk, Russia worked with researchers at Tomsk Polytechnic University to manufacture the 3D-printed specially designed prosthetics for osseointegration, according to a press release. Osseointegration is the science at the core of prosthetic limb integration. A titanium implant penetrates the skin and is inserted into the bone, notes the Amputee Osseointegration Foundation Europe. Here, living bone cells attach to the metal surface to provide permanent anchorage for artificial limbs, or prostheses, which are then attached to the implant with either a screw-shaped or press-fit prosthesis.
First, veterinarians conducted computed tomography (CT) scans of Dymka’s chest and pelvic limbs, notes the veterinary clinic’s YouTube page. Titanium studs were then surgically placed in the front and hind limbs after being coated in calcium phosphate to minimize infection and reduce the risk of implant rejection by the cat’s body. Each individualized prosthetic paw part was printed using 3D modeling and attached to the titanium studs, all of which are removable and replaceable.
From beginning to end, the entire process took around seven months.
“Now the cat leads a full-on life: she walks, runs, plays, and successfully overcomes stairs,” the university said.
A video shared by the veterinary clinic shows Dymka – with her ears and tail also amputated – cautiously walking around and receiving face scratches. The cat has been sharing a water bowl with Ryzhiy, or “Ginger”, the first cat to undergo the procedure, notes the clinic in a Facebook post. Ginger also had frostbite and gangrene, leaving veterinarians no choice but to amputate her limbs, reported Siberian Times when news broke in June 2019.