High school robotic club helps disabled kitten

Nadine Kalinauskas
Good News
January 31, 2013

Flipper the kitten was born with a twisted spinal cord, unable to use her hind legs.

"The cord was twisted like a telephone cable," said Dr. Harry Gurney at the Aspen Park Vet Hospital. "We just felt so bad for Flipper who had to drag her legs behind her as she made her way around the clinic."

Instead of putting down the disabled kitten, vets at the hospital contacted the Blitz Robotic Club at Conifer High School in Conifer, Colorado, and asked the students if they could help little "Flip" get around better.

"Club members — some of whom love cats — developed three prototypes that acted as hind legs for the furry feline. She gets into a harness, which helps her stay erect, then with hind legs pumping Flip begins motoring around the clinic," KDVR reported.

After three tries, the students came up with a "cat cart" held together with popsicle sticks and duct tape that allows Flipper to cruise around on her own.

"This is just the neatest thing," said Jan Gurney. "She loves kicking her back legs to help power the cat-traption around, it gives her so much mobility and in time her legs will get stronger and her spine may also loosen up to allow for her to one day get around on her own."

The "cat-traption," as it's being called, is not a permanent fix, but it might help Flipper build strength and, eventually, greater independent mobility.

Vets hope to eventually restore the use of her legs.

"They’re hoping Flipper will use it to gain strength in her back legs and loosen up her spine so she can one day get around without it. Then, maybe she’ll be ready to be adopted into a loving new home," HLNTV reported.