SOFIA, BULGARIA — A stray cat in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia is getting a second chance at life after being fitted with prosthetic paws, the first surgery of its kind in Europe outside the United Kingdom.
According to an AFP report, Pooh the cat lost his hind legs in an accident last year as a kitten. It’s believed he was run over by a car or a train. His difficult situation made him a good candidate for a prosthetic surgery method called ITAP, where the titanium implant pegs against the bone directly.
The protruding titanium stems provide a secure attachment point for the cat’s paws to snap in, which are made of polymer and rubber. For the procedure to be a complete success, Pooh's skin will eventually grow over the bone and stems tightly enough to prevent infections. Now 10 months old, Pooh is running around fine on his news hind legs at Sofia's Central Vet Clinic, and has even been seen cleaning them.
Another young amputee cat, Steven, has now also undergone the same procedure. These are Bulgaria’s first successful feline prosthetic surgeries, and the first in all of Europe outside the UK. In 2009, a cat named Oscar was fitted with prosthetic hind legs in a similar procedure in England, which cost roughly $62,000. Pooh’s surgery cost roughly $1,600, and was paid for by donations from the animal shelter that cares for him. Now that he’s got functional legs, the shelter is trying to help him find a new home.