For most animals with permanent damage from frostbite, they usually spend the rest of their lives miserable and disabled. Sometimes, they are euthanized to save them from the pain, which is unfortunately a common occurrence.
However, for this lucky ginger-face, it was not yet his time. Poor little Ryzhik (that’s Russian for Redhead or Ginger) suffered terrible injuries from the petrifying temperatures in the city of Tomsk, Siberia. In January this year, when the temperatures dropped to a low as -40 degrees Celsius, homeless Ryzhik was left out in the cold all alone.
The poor thing was taken in by a kind-hearted person who cared for him. Unfortunately, his condition was already too advanced. Gangrene – total tissue death due to cut-off blood supply – had set in, and Ryzhik was in a lot of pain. All four of his limbs had to be amputated and it looked then as if his fate had already been decided.
For the love of Ryzhik
Ryzhik’s loving owner refused to give up on him following the heartbreaking amputation. The kitty was taken to a prosthetic clinic in Novosibirsk where four bionic titanium limbs were fitted on his stumps. A problem with fitting animals with prosthetic limbs is that they’ll usually keep trying to pry them off. Getting used to artificial limbs is a difficult process, but Ryzhik’s surgeons had this in mind while designing special limbs for the feline.
Using computer tomography and 3D modeling, they manufactured the most comfortable limbs that would suit the cat just right. According to Sergey Gorshko, the surgeon in charge of Ryzhik’s case, the titanium limbs were attached to the cat’s bones. The spongy part of the limbs was attached to his skin to permit tissue growth.
“He is definitely the first cat in the world who experienced such surgeries,” said Gorshkov to the Siberian Times . “The limbs have fully connected with the skin and bone. The part of the limb that goes inside the body is spongy, the bone tissue grows inside it. We achieved a good result. We have secured the function of the limb, although part of it has been removed.”
Ryzhik is now the first cat in the world to walk on four bionic limbs.
Getting used to his new limbs
While Ryzhik is not walking or running as confidently as before, he’s not trying to remove the limbs. This is a sign that he loves his new mobility and would get used to the limbs with time. A video uploaded on YouTube shows the brave Ryzhik walking down a staircase with his spongy paws. He was being careful and taking it easy, but he’s one brave cat.
Dr. Gorshkov’s clinic is working on new solutions to giving disabled animals a chance at a normal life. They are pioneering new techniques for attaching prosthetic beaks to parrots and even hoofs to cattle.
Dealing with frostbite in pets
To keep your pets safe from the harsh realities of requiring amputation and prosthetics, it’s important to always keep them warm during the winter. There are pet apparel such as overalls, paw gloves, boots, and hoodies made for domestic animals. Your pets shouldn’t be allowed to sit on window sills or step out into the snow with their paws uncovered.
According to Pet MD, if you notice a frostnip – a milder form of frostbite –, warm up a towel with hot water and dab the affected areas . Do not dip the limbs directly into hot water. Do not squeeze hard or twist. Gently dab. The animal may experience as the area begins to thaw, but if it looks darkened or filled with smelly fluid, consult a veterinarian immediately. This means gangrene has set in and tissue in the affected area is dying.
Best of luck to Ryzhik and all other cats who have suffered the same fate.