When Cindy Jones first saw the tiny furry feline a little more than two years ago, he stole her heart.
“I took one look at him and fell in love,” Jones said.
Someone had found the kitten at a campground and brought him to Iowa’s Story County Animal Shelter, located north of Des Moines, where Jones worked. Despite the fact that the little guy was missing most of his hind legs, the cause of which was unknown, Jones wanted to help him out in some way. Now the Domestic Shorthair is finally getting around with the assistance of two titanium-alloy prosthetic legs, reports the Iowa State University News Service.
Meet Vincent, the now 3-year-old cat who has undergone two surgeries — the most recent being in February — to fit him with implants, which were inserted into the femur bones of Vincent’s legs and pass through his skin.
“His bone is looking great,” Dr. Mary Sarah Bergh, the veterinary orthopedic surgeon who attached Vincent’s prosthetic legs and oversees his rehabilitation, told the news service. “The implants are stable, and he’s walking really well on them.
“I couldn’t be happier with how he’s doing at the current time,” she said, adding that Vincent is probably only one of less than 25 animals with this type of implant.
Bergh met Vincent through Jones’ daughter, Emily, who was attending veterinary school at Iowa State. The associate professor is said to have worked with a wide range of injured species and reportedly realized early on that endoprosthetics would be the best chance for Vincent to have a normal life.
The design of the implants allows for Vincent’s bone to grow onto the titanium shafts to support his weight, Bergh reports. But the titanium shaft is exposed to the environment, which puts Vincent at risk for infection — an ongoing challenge she and Jones have worked hard to overcome.
The university’s video highlighting Vincent and his progress proves the little guy is ready to get into some kitty fun… and maybe even trouble.
Bergh told the news service Vincent’s procedure — considered to be an “emerging field” rare in veterinary medicine — may help her and other veterinary orthopedic surgeons in the use of implants for animals in the future.
As for Vincent, Bergh said his future looks bright.
“I anticipate that he’ll be jumping and doing really normal cat things very soon,” Bergh said.