Life could've turned out very differently for Vincent the cat.
Vincent is 3-years-old, born in Nevada with an abnormality that deprived the cat of his hind legs. His limbs are missing from the mid-tibia down, Discovery reported. Someone with a kind heart found him as a kitten, abandoned at a campground, and brought him to the Story County Animal Shelter.
That was the best thing that could've happened to Vincent.
The woman who found the cat couldn't take him home (her husband forbade it), but Cindy Jones didn't have any reservations about Vincent, even though he couldn't walk. She grew fond of the little kitten.
The woman took the cat to her home, filled with three other cats, four dogs, four kids, and a husband who didn't mind having a disabled pet. Even luckier, Cindy's daughter was a veterinary student at the University of Iowa State, ABC News added.Anxious to help her mother's new cat, she put her in touch with her teacher, Dr. Mary Bergh, who's worked with lots of injured animals. She tried physical therapy and even a cart to help him get around, but when all else failed, she turned to a very high-tech solution.
That solution? A surgery to outfit Vincent with titanium hind legs, and give the cat the best chance for a normal life.
"It's the first one we've ever done and they've been very few people in the world that've tried to do something like this," Bergh said.
The vet enlisted the help of an orthopedics company called BioMedtrix, which donated Vincent's titanium-alloy legs and were built using 3D modeling and printing, the Huffington Post added. Typically, such high-tech legs would cost thousands of dollars.
"A lot times when people think of prosthetics, they think of something that is strapped onto a leg to allow walking," Bergh said, but because Vincent's deformity is just under his thighs, his prosthetics had to be different. Instead, the cat had surgery to insert the prosthetic limbs onto his femur bones, and they poke out through his skin.
The cat has had two surgeries so far. His first was in February, 2014, and mere days afterward, he was walking. A year later, he had a second surgery to give him some longer limbs.
"The first time I saw him after surgery, it was scary, I'll be honest, because you don't normally see metal things poking out of your cat," Jones said.
Vincent is only one of 25 animals in the world to be given 3D-printed legs, and Bergh thinks that in the future, more disabled animals could get similar help."I think this does open the door for us to be able to help other animals that have similar problems," she said. "And even what we've learned just through Vincent's one case, we've actually refined the technique and the implants, so the next cases we do moving forward will be even more successful."
Vincent will have more treatments to gradually lengthen his legs until they are as long as they would've been normally. The titanium prosthetics will eventually allow him to do everything a normal cat would be able to do.
So far, he's already pretty lively, Jones said.
"He runs around. He plays with my dog Oliver. He lays in a bed. He grooms. He's just... a great guy. In most shelters he would've been euthanized. He wouldn't have had a future … (But) he can't jump yet... and we don't let him go upstairs. You know he wants to and he'll look at a table top and he'll go, 'Hmmm.' "Give him time, and Vincent will be just as mischievous as any feline.
[Image via YouTube]