Cat Undergoes Revolutionary New Full Knee Replacement

A cat whose leg was rendered unusable by cancer last year has just received one of the first total knee replacements for felines, the Huffington Post reports. Due to his weight, the damaged leg could not be amputated. But though commonplace for dogs, bone replacement in cats is in its infancy. The challenge is in the felines’ smaller size, including their more delicate bone structure.

The surgery was performed at the veterinary college of North Caroline State University, in Raleigh. Engineer and professor Ola Harrysson described the operation as “[part of a] pure research project, in a way,” since a joint of this kind for a cat has never been done before.

The surgeon, Denis Marcellin-Little, practiced the operation four times on models before the real thing. Although knee replacement surgery was performed on a cat in Britain in 2009, the complex joint used in the NCSU operation is much more complex, and more closely matches the types used in humans, both in its functionality, materials used and precise matching with the living bone.

The joint was fabricated out of plastic and a cobalt chromium alloy, using a laser to harden the metal powder, a process which allows for more exact shaping than standard machining. The size and shape of the implant is supposed to match up perfectly with the actual bones with which it is fused.

The cat, whose name is Cyrano, survived the operation well. Since the surgery pioneered new, experimental techniques, and is considered research, providing an exact accounting of the cost was difficult for the university. Much of the cost was also defrayed by donated materials. But the owners are expected to pay about $20, 000.

Sandra Lermer, one of Cyrano’s owners, said “He’s my child. And if it were your child, would you begrudge the money? I have a personal philosophy that people are, at best, equal with the other inhabitants of the planet. And I’m very, very grateful that I have the money and (am) able to do it.”

Lermer happens to be one of the founders of the large electronics company, Cisco Systems. She is indeed fortunate that money didn’t need to factor in the family’s decision. Many pet owners, even with insurance, don’t always have the option of dealing with major health problems. Indeed, in the United States, many poor, uninsured people have in the past been unable to afford their own medical care.

Cyrano is supposed to take it easy for three months, but should be able to get back to being a cat after that. He is currently 10 years old and his cancer has remained in remission for a year so far. With luck, his owners will get at least eight more years of good health with their furry friend.

Related stories:

New York Alley Cat Gets Valentine’s Week Rescue

Integrating Holistic and Conventional Veterinary Medicine

Photo credit: Alvesgaspar

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Loretta P.
Loretta P.2 years ago

Wow, great article.

Christopher M.
Christopher M.2 years ago

I spent $2,900 to unsuccessfully save, and euthanize, my cat, and I am not eager to go through that again.

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra2 years ago

Thank you Joel, for Sharing this!

Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe3 years ago

I am so glad Cyrano did well with his surgery. Good luck getting him to take it easy for the next three months!!

Cyrano, I wish you the best of luck and a healthy and happy life from here on out.

Alina Demydchenko

I wish such a care about animals would spread all over the world some day.

Karen Baker
Karen Baker3 years ago

I would find the money !!!!

Carrie Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

Nancy L.
Nancy L.3 years ago

Here's a link to Cyrano's video. So happy for him and his human!! :)

Darla G.
Darla G.3 years ago

There have been many wonderful advances made in veterinary science and I think it's great. I did say "yes" that I would be able to afford an expensive surgery. That might have been a bit premature and I was thinking with my heart instead of my head but I know one thing...I would do anything I could to get the $ for surgery for one of my pets.

mari s.
mari s.3 years ago

Good luck to Cyrano and i hope he has many more happy decades -- i understand completely why his guardians love him so. But, what was the alternative -- would they have amputated and Cyrano then be a 3-legged cat? I hear about 3-legged cats periodically and they also live very happy and healthy lives -- some even have special wheels attached so the new pressure of being on three legs can be alleviated. I'm just thinking out loud here -- about all the options available out there. All in all, i wish Cyrano and his family continued success and health and happiness!