Local News

Cat Prosthetic May Prove Beneficial To Human Amputees

Posted March 22, 2005

— A first-of-its-kind surgery on a cat at North Carolina State University's Veterinary School might one day help human amputees. The cat, born without its lower hind legs, got a special prosthetic that is attached to the bone.

George Bailey is a special cat with a special problem. His hind legs never completely formed, which is what endeared him to Al Simmons and Kathy Vincent.

"You know, of course, we thought, 'Well, this one we'll have to keep because no one will want to adopt him,'" Simmons said.

George Bailey could get around, but the Moore County couple knew George would eventually need help. He would not tolerate standard external prosthetics. They found Dr. Denis Marcellin-Little at the N.C. State Vet School, who knew of a way to attach customized limbs to the bone called osseo-integration.

"These screws are going to lock things in the short-term and then the bone will grow into this porous material," Marcellin-Little said.

Marcellin-Little rehearsed the surgery on a bone model developed by N.C. State engineering students. Students also helped design and make the prosthetic limb. It will take a month for the leg to heal.

"Then, we'll train George Bailey to be walking on his new foot here," Marcellin-Little said.

George Bailey should get along fine with just three legs.

"He'll be able to walk and plus, I think, this will help a lot of other people," Simmons said. "This is kind of a real interesting technology they're doing."

George Bailey's owners will not have to pay the full cost of the cat's procedure. The university is absorbing much of the costs of research and development because of the valuable learning experience for students.

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