Kittens have a lot of energy to burn off. It’s hard to see a kitten who can’t run around and do so, and when one group came across such a kitten, it decided to do something about it.
A partnership in Denver, Colorado, created a prosthetic leg for Sonic the kitten and made him its namesake, the Denver Post reports. The “Sonic Project” is the first collaboration for the Art Institute of Colorado and the Denver Animal Shelter that will combine technology and art to help animals in need by creating custom 3D-printed prosthetics. The team began working together in April and gave Sonic his prosthetic this week.
The 4-month-old black kitten was born without a major bone in the top of his right front leg. Walking on the leg could have caused damage; if Sonic’s gait was awkward, it might affect the rest of his body.
Shelter veterinarian Louisa Poon told the news outlet that amputation is the normal route but that Sonic gave the group a chance to test out 3D printing for animal prosthetics.
“Most important is having an understanding for how this prosthetic works for a cat,” Poon told the Denver Post. “For other animals with these deformities, especially when it affects both front legs, they’re not adoptable and we usually have to euthanize. So hopefully we can learn from this and we can make them adoptable again.”
The process is extensive. Each prosthetic takes four days to create. Sonic, a growing kitten, is on his fifth model. Every few weeks the team has made new ones to account for the kitten’s changing size.
Sonic’s prosthetic is the first project since the organizations launched their partnership in April. Art Institute professor Gregg Harvey sees the opportunity to help many more pets with this combination of design and technology innovation.
“As we’re starting to understand how his mechanics move, we’ll develop more and eventually have a lighter material,” Harvey told the news outlet. “At the end of this, we’ll have a very exotic final product that will fit perfectly to him. This is about getting to apply design skills to somehow better the world. Animals are innocent — if we can somehow help Sonic, we’re doing a good thing.”