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Title: Feline amputees : gait adaptations and welfare implications
Author: Forster, Lyn
Awarding Body: Royal Veterinary College (University of London)
Current Institution: Royal Veterinary College (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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This research focused on three areas of interest regarding feline amputees; owner perception of how their cats adapt to limb amputation, the possibility of phantom sensation, and changes in gait. In general owners felt their cats had an acceptable quality of life; however a proportion believed their cat experienced pain. Anecdotally, owners reported that their cats continued to attempt to use the missing limb following amputation. This prompted the investigation of noninnate forelimb behaviours potentially indicative of phantom sensation; such behaviours apparently persist for months or years after amputation. The impact of phantom sensation on feline welfare is not known, although in humans phantom sensation is a risk factor for phantom pain. Alterations in gait and posture in humans are associated with pain and osteoarthritis. The kinetic changes in feline gait were assessed using a pressure sensitive walkway; this provided its own challenges as the software was designed for large bipeds. As such, a proportion of this work was devoted to developing methods to reliably extract data for small quadrupeds. The results detail how feline amputees alter their weight distribution and paw placement when moving. Observation of amputee cats suggests that they move their limbs differently to those of normal cats, and this was confirmed in a kinematic study using markers to track the motion of each limb. Prior to this research very little was known about how cats coped with limb amputation. The results will better inform the veterinary profession and owners of feline amputees about expected changes, and potentially inform future work on the impact of limb amputation on the welfare of cats. On balance, although there may be some areas of concern, the welfare of cats is acceptable following amputation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Cats - Surgery - Complications, Feline welfare, Cats - Wounds and injuries - Treatment, Cats - Psychology