A female cat in Russia that lost all four of her paws to frostbite can walk, run and even climb stairs again, thanks to the veterinarians who replaced her missing limbs with 3D-printed prosthetics made from titanium.
The hardy gray feline, named Dymka (“mist” in Russian), is about 4 years old. A passing driver found her in December 2018 in the snow in Novokuznetsk in Siberia and brought her to a clinic in Novosibirsk, according to Russian news site Komsomolskaya Pravda.
Dymka was suffering from frostbite of her paws, ears and tail so much so that veterinarian Sergei Gorshkov had to amputate those damaged extremities, The Moscow Times reported.
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During the punishing Siberian winters, veterinarians at the Novosibirsk clinic typically treat at least five to seven cats due to frostbite in their paws, ears and noses, Gorshkov told The Moscow Times. Frostbite develops when cold temperatures freeze skin and tissue, particularly in extremities. In severe cases, the tissue dies and requires amputation.
Gorshkov and his colleagues at the clinic collaborated with researchers from Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) in Tomsk, Russia, to create a set of prosthetics for Dymka.
“Thus, Dymka became the second cat in the world with prostheses of all four limbs. The cat’s new front and rear paws have an individual model that was printed using titanium on a 3D printer,”
the university wrote in the statement.
“To reduce the risk of implant rejection by the cat’s body, the TPU scientists applied a microactive calcium phosphate coating through micro-arc oxidation,”
the university added.
“The external parts of the prosthesis are also printed on a 3D printer and made in the shape of cat’s paws.”
The scientists developed and applied a coating made of calcium phosphate to help mount the titanium implants that were inserted and fused into her leg bones, and to minimize the risk of infection and implant rejection, TPU representatives said in a statement.
Researchers used computerized tomography (CT) X-ray scans of Dymka’s legs to model and then 3D print the titanium rods. Dymka received her prosthetic implants in July 2019 first in her front legs and then in her hind legs, Novosibirsk News reported. In a video shared to YouTube by the veterinary clinic on Dec. 10, 2019 seven months after Dymka’s new paws were attached she was enjoying a wake-up stretch, walking around an examination room and playing with a fringe on a blanket.
A close-up showed where the titanium rods joined to her legs, ending in “feet” made of flexible black material with textured bottoms.
Dymka is now the second cat in the world to have received four metal prosthetics. In 2016, the Novosibirsk clinic performed a similar procedure, mounting titanium implants on a male cat named Ryzhik (“Red” in Russian), who also required a quadruple amputation of his frostbitten feet, according to The Moscow Times.
Seven months after the surgery, Dymka has fully recovered.