Veterinarians with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have completed an unusual procedure by using fish skin to heal a mountain lion injured in a wildfire.
The 5-month-old male mountain lion kitten paws were burned in the Thomas Fire back in December. The Department of Fish and Wildlife brought him to their Lab in Rancho Cordova where they grafted sterilized skin from a Tilapia fish to the cat’s paw.
"What it does is create a biological bandage," said CDFW Veterinarian Diana Clifford.
It’s like a fish skin band-aid.
The technique is used in Brazil to treat human burn patients. The fish band aid is not used on humans in the United states and veterinarian Jamie Peyton from UC Davis researched the fish band aid and helped CDFW perform the surgery.
"People that have used this say they experience immense pain relief," said Peyton.
The fish band-aid is sterilized and sewn on the cat’s paw. The bandage protects the burn area and provides collagen to help speed healing.
"In addition, if the cat decides that it does not like the bandage on its foot and eats it... it’s totally safe," said Peyton.
UC Davis plans to continue research on the fish band-aid and they are looking for funding.
The mountain lion kitten did chew off the first fish band-aid, but vets say the first treatment showed noticeable results.
Doctors say he will make a full recovery but unfortunately, the mountain lion is too young to be released into the wild. When the cat’s burns are healed it will be transferred to a wildlife center in Sonoma.