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Page last updated at 11:14 GMT, Friday, 25 June 2010 12:14 UK
A cat from Jersey has shot to fame as the 'bionic cat'

Ryan Morrison
Ryan Morrison
BBC Jersey

Oscar and Noel Fitzpatrick (photo: Johnny Green/PA Wire)
Oscar's surgery was performed by Noel Fitzpatrick, neuro-orthopaedic surgeon

"Without this surgery he wouldn't be here, it's as simple as that," Kate Allan, whose cat Oscar is recovering from an operation at the vet, said.

But Oscar is making headlines as it was no routine operation - he is the first bionic cat.

While snoozing in a maize field in Jersey, Oscar had his back paws sliced off by a combine harvester.

Oscar's other owner, Mike Nolan, was at home when a passer-by knocked on his door to ask if he owned a black cat.

Mr Nolan said it was horrible: "Complete panic at that point, [Oscar was] covered in blood, bits of flesh, it was very gruesome."

Oscar the cat (photo: Jim Incledon/PA Wire)
It's thought Oscar may not be so keen to go out when he returns home

"It was very traumatic, I was convinced we were going to have to put him down at this point.".

Peter Haworth was the vet Mr Nolan saw at New Era Veterinary Hospital in Jersey, he was able to clean and dress Oscar's wounds.

Mr Nolan said: "Peter was able to stabilise him, got painkillers going and he was comfortable within minutes of getting into the vets, on a strong painkiller I imagine."

The vet then suggested Oscar's owners approach Noel Fitzpatrick, a veterinary surgeon from Surrey, who had been doing pioneering work on prosthetics.

The next stage in Oscar's road to fame then involved a lot of communication between England and Jersey with x-rays and pictures being sent back and forth.

Mr Nolan said: "Peter e-mailed Noel, they had a lot of communication, Noel then contacted us to let us know what his processes would be.

"It was very much a three way communication time, a lot of e-mails, pictures and x-rays flying around and Noel pretty quickly decided Oscar was a good patient."

Oscar in a field (photo: Mike Nolan)

Two weeks later he was flown to the UK where he was measured for the implants and finally to have surgery.

The new feet are custom-made implants that "peg" the ankle to the foot. They are bioengineered to mimic the way deer antler bone grows through the skin.

Ms Allan said the chances of her cat surviving without this operation would have been nil.

Ms Allan said: "The fact that Oscar was such a young cat, he was only two and a half when it happened made him an ideal patient for this surgery.

"Oscar is a very chilled cat, he is very laid back, he takes things well which led to the surgeons in Surrey describing him as a very suitable candidate for this kind of surgery."

Oscar had to be transported to the UK from Jersey by air cargo and the whole journey meant him spending up to eight hours in his box.

Mr Nolan said he felt for Oscar: "It was a little traumatic for us but I would imagine it was a lot more traumatic for him, a lot of noises and a lot of things going on he wasn't aware of."

And for his owners one of the worst parts of the process was the uncertainty as it had never been done before.

Oscar the cat with legs bandaged (photo: Mike Allan)
Oscar had his paws bandaged after the accident

Ms Allan said: "It was the uncertainty, nobody knew what the outcome would be because it had never been done before, we were in the hands of the surgeons.

"Right the way along they said 'we'd do everything we can but we've never done it before', there were no guarantees.

"We really trusted Noel for the work he was doing and we went with it."

For his owners the decision whether to go through with the surgery or not was down to how it would affect Oscar's life going forward.

Mr Nolan said: "We would never have gone through with it if there was doubt about his quality of life going forward.

"As he is at the moment we're told he is running around, he has taken to his new feet really well. He is jumping about, walking as a cat should, eating, sleeping - it's phenomenal really."

They were both really impressed with the quality of care Oscar has been given.

Ms Allan said: "We really believe he has had such amazing medical care throughout, both at New Era here and at Fitzpatrick referrals in England they treat him really well.

"For instance he has three of his own rooms, he goes for walks on the lead, they treat him as part of the family, he goes out and about and so on."

There are pros and cons to Oscar being from Jersey but the biggest issue is that his owners can't just bring him home early.

Ms Allan said they're leaving him in England for now: "The fact that he is from Jersey has its pros and cons. He's still in England at the moment because he is going through full rehabilitation.

Oscar the cat (photo: Jim Incledon/PA Wire)
Oscar is recovering well in the UK

"If we lived in England we would be able to bring him back and forth because he could come home now but he still needs treatment.

"We have to decide if we want to put him through the trauma of flying or going on the boat regularly and at this stage probably not."

When Oscar finally returns home to Jersey his owners have said that they will be watching him much more carefully.

Ms Allan said: "I think he will be more restricted when he comes back. The feet don't have sensitivity in them but we will be able to take him outside and for walks and so on.

"But also we would be a bit cautious about him going to the fields with the combine harvesters anyway."

Mr Allan said: "Peter [their vet] has told us that following all the traumatic things that have happened to him he may not want to go out, he might be happier indoors."

After everything that has happened, his owners wanted to thank the passer by who found Oscar in the field and everyone else involved.

Ms Allan said: "We would like to thank the passer by on her bicycle, we still don't know who she was. Without her coming to knock on our door he wouldn't be here.

"There have been a lucky series of events in this story so we would like to thank everybody involved."

The Bionic Vet is on BBC 1 at 2245 BST on Wednesday 30 June 2010.

[The ability to comment is now closed on this story]

YOUR COMMENTS

Jaunty

dis is an awesome story, thanks 2 d passer by. but i dnt tink all d stress & expensis of move'n d cat 2 England should a'v bin don. or is dere knw gud surgeon at jersey. anyway good/bad for oscar cus he's got him self a costom maid leg, n fame.........

Gail-Nina, Newcastle

Criticism of the amounts of time and money spent on saving one cat overlooks the fact that this was experimental surgery. While I would never condone the use of cats in laboratory experimentation, in this case an animal with a very uncertain chance of survival happened to be the right subject at the right moment for the trial of a complex new procedure that seems to have worked. It's not just that a pet has been saved (though I don't underestimate the value and significance of this aspect) but also that valuable lessons have been learned that will be applied elsewhere.

Victoria, USA

i can't believe the combine noise didn't awaken him. i've had cats for the last 60 years of my life and all would have awakened. and many of them have been really mellow cats. all my animals have been "rescue" animals - those i've found in the country with obviously no owners, many just throw away animals left to starve and die because their original owners couldn't be bothered to take them to a shelter. i also agree somewhat with annna. i definitely wouldn't have been able to afford the incredible sums of money all this must have taken. it would be a good $200,000.00 here if not more. he's a very lucky cat in multiple ways.

Janna, Tennessee, USA

Our outdoor cats are very useful in keeping rabbits out of our garden, and mice out of our garage. At night they catch and eat flying bugs on our deck. We live in a rural area, but fortunately, no combines around here. They are very happy outside.

Historical evidence points to diseases such as black plague that were spread by rats, which would have not been so plentiful, had the cats not been killed due to their unfortunate association with witchcraft. We need cats to catch rats, to be a part of the whole eco-system; for our own protection and survival of the human race.

Marcelle

@ Anna

You are missing a crucial point. Dr. Noel is doing pioneering work that will benefit humans. Oscar's success means that humans will soon be able to experience these kinds of prosthetics. In all likelihood, because of this pioneering procedure, Oscars owners are not paying as much as you think they are, since Dr. Noel is reaping benefits (as are the engineers who pioneered his feet). That would be the balance between cost and benefit that you are looking for.

Putting that aside, if you've ever had a pet with and outstanding personality, you'd realize that some pets are worth trying to save. I've had several cats and out of them all, only one would have been able to go through what Oscar went through. He was above average intelligence and very social. My other cats would have never been able to handle these procedures and I would have had to put them down. According to Dr. Noel, Oscar is above average in personality, otherwise, he never would have done the surgery.

FRM, California

To those who doubt the value of the effort that went into Oscar's new feet - remember that pioneering research like this can benefit all animals. Including humans.

Mark, Germany

It would be great if you could give us a notice when the passer by calls in. She deserves a medal for showing compassion and mercyfulness with the poor animal! Others would surely just have passed by and let the cat bleed to death

Lineswine

Dear Americans who think cats should be kept indoors, we don't have the predators in the UK that you have...no raccoons, fishers etc.

Cats generally are safe to go out - yes there will always be hazards, but also we allow them to defend themselves by NOT de-clawing them. If you want your furniture to is barbaric & not carried out in the UK.

Warren, Gringley on the Hill

When we saw the picture of Oscar, my wife and I were ecstatic that his life had been saved. Both her legs were broken by an earthquake, but no one dreamed of putting her down, instead a wonderful team helped to put her back together. We are taking the picture of Oscar to put it on the wall of the hospital as we are sure that the orthopaedic team will love to see how even small creatures really matter in someone's life.

Emily, USA

This is a wonderful thing, both for Oscar and for innovation in prosthetic technologies that could one day benefit humans. The procedure is being tested on a cat in a humane way that benefits him, instead of being imposed on helpless lab animals. Watch the video; it's great to see Oscar cruising around on his new feet. If you observe his tail, it's down at first, indicating he's cautious, but towards the end of the video, it's raised high, usually an unmistakable sign of a happy kitty. Best wishes to Oscar for a full recovery!

Evelyn, Canada

This was a wonderful story. It was sent to me by a fantastic woman from a small town in Iowa. Joan and Phyllis have turned a small house into a sanctuary or no-kill shelter for cats. Any friend of animals is automatically a fabulous person!

Patricia

I am so happy to read and see that professionals in the Biosciences in the UK take a real-life, real-time, human, heartfelt interest in preserving and conserving the beauty and wonders of our Earth,its creatures and creation. In San Antonio, Texas, where I currently am living, a cat in Oscar's situation would have most likely been euthanized. This positive mindset and attitude greatly encourages me as I prepare to travel to the UK with my Schnauzer puppy to begin a course of study in Ecology and The Environment at Royal Holloway. Keep up the great work.-Patricia Pesek & 'Mr.Aaron-the-Uber-Schnauzer.'

Martin

This is a story that warms the heart. I'm an animal lover and especially love cats. Oscar looks to be a wee playfull cat so its fantastic that this operation has given him the chance to be able to get around again, afterall cats love to roam! Its a great breakthrough and not only for animal but anyone who loses a limb(s). Also the fact his owners still have him is wonderfull any cat lover will know that you and your cat have a bond, they show you the utmost affection and are allways happy to see you!

Jill, USA

What an amazing story. Ms Allan and Mr Nolan, I admire your commitment, compassion, and dedication to your cat. Dr. Fitzpatrick, I am amazed by your skill & ability. I hope Oscar lives out the remainder of his 8 lives content and happy :)

Emma, Bedworth

He is such a great cat, how fantastic for him and he seems to be coping so well, the vet has done an excellent job and the joy that Oscar has brought to all of us is amazing........ I hope he has a long and good life with his new feet... xxxx

Dallas

All I can do is laugh at the people saying that it would do better to give money to a shelter and let your cat die.

This isn't the land of kitty communism. If people can afford to save their cat and want to, they're within every right, morally or otherwise to do so.

Maybe if you're ill one day, you can opt to be euthanized and donate your money to charity instead of buying medicine and surgery.

Lynn, USA

Congratulations to the surgeon, and best of luck to Oscar and his family. If this family had spent the same amount of money on a new car, or jewelry, or travel, or some other commonplace "luxury", it would never have attracted the trolls' attention. Their choice to save their cat's life, and quality of life, deserves praise, not condemnation.

Leila, France

God Bless this man who gives his love to animals..We have 6 cats! there were 11, We just love them...God Bless OSCAR! L.C

Mary, USA

To anyone who is suggesting that the money was wasted, etc. has obviously never been very attached to their pets or probably never had one. Otherwise they would not suggest to just get a new one. I would want to help my cat if anything happened to her back paws and I had the money for it.

Liz, USA

What a sweet story. Oscar looks just like my cat Pepper. That's one luck black cat.

Meg

With views like Anna science and medicne would never progress. I take it if her mother/nan is I'll she'll save our taxes. Don't send them to the NHS for treatment. You could always adopt a lonely eldery person instead.

Diana, Bishops Hatfield

I am amazed at the positive outcome for little Oscar. The care, compassion and skill of all, involved in his care are immeasurable. Good luck to Oscar, and I hope he is safely home, in Jersey very soon. Truly an heartwarming and lovely story, that my family and friends will think, and talk about for many years to come. As a cat owning family, we know just how much Oscar means to his "owner"

Chris, Alverstoke

Fantastic story - more so because Noel Fitzpatrick saved my cat Smudge's leg last year, when standard practice would have been to amputate. I cannot praise Fitzpatrick referrals enough, and Noel is fantastic - his charges are patients, not merely animals, as important as any other member of the family. He clearly loves what he does and is so very good at it. Thanks again Noel!

Elise, Surrey

@ Elsie!!! and any other ignorant comments

Come on! seriously, not impressed. I wonder what you would say when someone you know need a bionic limb… 'Oh I'm not impressed by that'. Well this story is why that people in the future will be able to lead their lives to the full after loosing limbs.

Get with it! This is an AMAZING story and brings hope for the near future to those affected. Be it a human/animal or what ever! Without advancements like this we'd all be living in your hopeless little world!

Congratulations Oscar! Live your life to the MAX!!

Paul

Rather than sabotage the carefully designed artificial feet with gaffer tape the vet should have considered spray paint. Try taping up a cats feet with Sellotape if you want to see how destructive that decision could be. Nevertheless, a great effort.

Nikhil, London

This is one of the most heart warming stories I have heard. It a testament to all involved from Oscar through to Kate, the bi-cycle lady, Dr Noel & his team everyone! Even in the most difficult and unimaginable situations we can find a way out of it. While some may think it may not wise to put in so much effort into a pet, I think this is the exact reason we are are human!

Catrina, St Saviour

Well I sure as hell know which vet I am now going to register my puppy with when he come home!! :)

Anna

While it is nice that an individual cat didn't have to put down I would think it would be more animal friendly to adopt a cat from an animal shelter instead and then also donate the rest of the money which was not spend on a single cat for improvement to that animal shelter. Not that I am not for saving lives of pets if possible but I also think there should be some balance between cost and benefit to all concerned. It is a hard decision though and if somebody has the money I can understand spending the money in order to not to have to make the decision.

Sarah, USA

Quite an amazing story. Oscar is one fortunate cat, considering. Keep your kitties indoors! No cars, other animals, mean people, and in Oscar's case, combine harvesters to harm them. If they get bored, play with them!

Rosi, UK

What a great story of teamwork and courage from all concerned. This is a great step in the world of Animal/Human communication on all levels.

Animal Whisperer Rosi, Animal/Human Therapist

Polly, Hailsham

I just dont understand the nasty attitude of the authors of some of these emails. I think its wonderful that Oscar is able to walk (and run) again. I would do the same for my cat if I could afford it, but I would never castigate the people who are in the position to do a wonderful thing. I will watch the BBC programme with great interest. Luckly the disability wont bother Oscar, animals always cope. The dont have inhibitions.

Lynne, Northumberland

@ Elsie...despite your claims, you are NOT an animal lover! Any loving owner would not be so ready to give up on their pet and if you had seen the remarkeable video of Oscar walking only minutes after his operation it is clear that he will now HAVE a future where before he would not! If it were up to you he would now be dead! I pity YOUR poor pets! You shouldn't have any if you care so little for them that you are willing to give up on them at the first hurdle!

Alexander

This is an amazing story, and I'm glad to hear that Oscar is recovering well. The accident sounds horrific, especially so to me as I have two cats. One of them even sounds a bit like Oscar, since he is very laid back and is the type to just go to sleep somewhere nice and warm!

The surgery was amazing, and Noel seems to get very emotional when he sees Oscar walking; the mark of a caring vet.

It sounds to me like this "Alex" has never had a four-legged friend! Elsie on the other hand seems like she hasn't seen the video of Oscar walking as soon as he comes out of surgery. That is just the beginning, as he gets used to the legs he will recover a lot of mobility, just as humans do. There are serving members of the Armed Forces who have lost limbs but are still serving because they can do everything everyone else can still, and so cannot (and should not) be discharged. Oscar will probably adapt in a similar fashion, as cats are very adaptable creatures.

I wish all the best to Oscar and his family, as well as any other animals which are unfortunate enough to have such an awful accident; I also wish that they are lucky enough to have such amazing surgery from a competent, caring team of vets as demonstrated in this story.

Nicky, Weston Super Mare

What a wonderful story and an incredibly talented vet. Cats are very resilient creatures - one of mine currently has wire in his jaw having been hit by a car but has made a remarkable recovery. I watched the video of Oscar earlier and he seems a very happy little chap. All the best for the future Oscar and his owners!

Leishman, Hampshire

@ Elsie, Bangor

"I am not impressed by this. Although I consider myself an animal lover,I think myself to be realistic enough, to have one, put to sleep, with injuries such as this. However good, bionic limbs may be, they are not the real thing, and this cat will be severly restricted the rest of its' life. Elsie whyte"

Hmmm so going along with your theory we should put soldiers returning from afganistan with missing limbs to death as they too would be "severly restricted the rest of their life"?

Peter, East Hants

I'm really dismayed to see some adverse comments to this story, What do some people want? This process well might save a persons mobility in the future, so what a great way of discovering it's capabilities. Everyone's happy; Cat; Owners & Vet, hopefully it helps to benefit mankind.

Riva, USA

This is why my cat is an 'indoor cat'. He's not particularly happy, but I'd rather have him alive, rather than be hit by a car or taken by predators.

Rafe

To Elsie, does the cat look unhappy in those pictures? Who are you to say that the cat did not want to live? Look at all of the one legged animals around that love life. We had a dog who had one leg (lost the other in a car accident) and he ran around like an absolute nutter! It didn't slow him down in the slightest so I think you are so wrong.

IF they can be treated then they should be, you wouldn't put down a human if they lost both legs so why little Oscar?

Dan, Sussex

It's worth noting, I think, that this technology is still very new, and we don't know what the long-term effects of the through-skin implant will be.

Oscar's a fairly young cat, with a loving family. This surgery helps him live his life to the full, and gives medical science the chance to assess the effects of the technology without risking the health of human volunteers.

Nonsense? Hardly.

Andrew

Alex your right the money could spent much more wisely, like giving you a Lobotomy !!!1

James, Kent

@Alex "Why is money spend(sic)on this nonsense?" I agree, it could so easily be spent on a education allowing people like you to spell and use grammar correctly.

However, in this case I think it's justified, why can't someone spend their own money on something they want to spend their own money on, not to mention the fact that it is pushing the boundaries of veterinary science.

I presume you give all your money away saving 'beggers of the street'(sic) do you?

Andy, Liverpool

@Alex, why should they spend their money on something else? Just because you say its nonsense, it must be true?

Mike, Livingston

Money is spent on this so that if folks like Alex lost their back legs in an accident with a combine harvester we could replace them with a reasonable quality of life, rather than just putting him down as we would like to do.

Even animals like Alex have feelings and can go on to have a decent quality of life.

Lee

ALEX YOUR A PLUM.

Donna, West Yorkshire

wow- what an amazing and uplifting story to read when all around seems doomy and gloomy.

i wish 'oscar' the very best and to treasure his remaining eight lives!

JW, Rugby

@ Alex .. Really mate, Really.. Happiness and ingenuity are handed to you on a silver platter and all you have to say,'' is why waste it nonsense.''

Prosthetics aren't nonsense, they help many humans, why can't they help our 4 legged friends as well.

Just be happy someone thought enough of this creature to help him.

Elsie, Bangor

I am not impressed by this. Although I consider myself an animal lover,I think myself to be realistic enough, to have one, put to sleep, with injuries such as this. However good, bionic limbs may be, they are not the real thing, and this cat will be severly restricted the rest of its' life. Elsie whyte

Trudi, Bristol

This is such an inspiring story!!! My cat Merlin lost one whole back leg when he slipped off the railing of my balcony in the rain. He hops around happily enough but its promising to see the what potential treatment cats like him can have!

Very cute cats...cant help but giggle but very very cute!

Alex

Why is money spend on this nonsense? Use the money for something better like saving the beggers of the streets or something!

Penny

Gives all of us Cat lovers hope .. and as a cat rescuer who uses Facebook, I can tell you all my rescue friends worldide are sending this out today.. amazing work by Noel.

Lyn Falnders, Fife

I am delighted to read this and know some poeple care enough about their pet to let this happen. Amazing feat by the team who performed the op. I am very much involved in cat rescue and see much of the side of life where owners care not a jot so this is heart warming!

Michelle & Derek, St Helier

We have a little moggie called Zebedee & he was really poorly.

We took him to New Era where Oscar was treated and they are lovely Vet's. They truly understand that cats are like a family member & not just a pet. Good luck to little Oscar!




SEE ALSO
Amputee cat given 'bionic feet'
25 Jun 10 |  Science & Environment
In Pictures: Oscar the Bionic Cat
25 Jun 10 |  Nature & Outdoors
Robot arm controlled by the mind
12 May 10 |  Health


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