When Cindy Jones found Vincent at an Iowa animal shelter, he was missing half of his back tibias, or shin bones. Enamored, she took the kitten in. A veterinary orthopedic surgeon at Iowa State Veterinary Medical Center (where Jones’s daughter is a student) first tried treating Vincent with physical therapy and a tiny cart but realized that “endoprosthetics” were his best chance at normal life.
Now, the 3-year-old shorthair has titanium-alloy hind legs attached directly to his femurs; they’ll eventually be lengthened to the size of an average cat’s legs. He’s one of a few animals in the world with prosthetics, and doctors hope the expensive experimental treatment will be more practical one day. In the meantime, Vincent is helping us prepare for a future where we will all be — and love — cyborgs.