Hey guys! So, Badger has a condition called megaesophagus. Megaesophagus is a congenital defect of the esophagus that makes it very large and misshapen. So, he has a challenging time getting his food down into his stomach. For that reason, he has to be fed his meats on an angle. I put him up on my leg at a 45 degree angle and then i tilt the bowl. This is how he eats. At this angle, the food can more easily glide down his esophagus and into his stomach. This allows gravity to do some of the work, that his esophagus can’t do on its own. Look at his face! Badger. What is this look? What is this look?! So then I got to thinking, what if there was a device that was designed just for cats? So if you look it up, you’re likely to find lots of different devices that have been designed specifically for dogs with megaesophagus. A dog is willing to sit in a high chair or in something called a Bailey box, which are basically these boxes that keep the dog upright. But I couldn’t find anything like that for Badger. So I got out of pencil and paper and just started drawing, what could this possibly look like? Ultimately I needed help from an engineer to make this thing a reality. So as soon as this idea popped in my mind, I thought, “I have to call Preston.” If you remember last year i had a paralyzed kitten named Chloe. And Chloe had an assisted walking device that Preston helped design. HANNAH: What’re you doing, Badge? Come out! Say hi! Your friend’s here! PRESTON: Hey, Badger! HANNAH: Preston came over immediately. He took all of Badger’s measurements, and we brainstormed together to think how this thing could go from a sketch on paper into an actual device. My name is Preston Tobery. I am the coordinator of maker technologies for the University of Maryland libraries. So the really awesome thing about 3D printing is rapid prototyping. To have an idea that you can get in your hand very quickly. Typically an idea, you would send it out to a company, and months and months later you get that idea in your hand. With 3D printing it’s very rapid. Within a couple of hours a couple of days, you have something in your hand that you can look at, feel, measure, make sure it’s working right. HANNAH: Look at the brain! Oh my God! PRESTON: That’s an actual child’s brain. We print out kids brains every month. HANNAH: Wow. PRESTON: They come here and go home and throw in a brain. HANNAH: Wow, that’s really neat. I love seeing all of the weird stuff they have in the 3D printing studio. Preston basically comes up with all these ideas of things he wants to make and then he creates them. So I love what he has come up with. Oh, coooool! This is awesome. PRESTON: I thought you would like that. HANNAH: The first version that Preston made was a fixed feeding station with a step so that Badger can put his paws up and take a bite. Do you understand? Look! Look at this! This is perfect! This is… I have goosebumps. That’s so cool! I wanna cry! That’s so cool! Seeing him use this thing for the first time was really amazing. It meant that it was going to work. PRESTON: When I met Badger with that belly I was like, oh. This needs to be a little bit more comfortable than just a straight-up step. HANNAH: Yeah, it needs to accommodate his little dadbod. The 3D printing lab is amazing. It has more than just 3D printers. They have all sorts of cool technology like augmented reality. So while we were there, I was able to put on a weird helmet, and of course all I did was just put cats and dinosaurs all over the room. But the point is technology is amazing. A lot of the time, we have to make do with what we have. We have to go to a thrift store and look at doll furniture or a tiny little table. Why should it be that way? Why can’t we create things that are specifically designed to be able to save these little guys? I think this is especially important when you’re working with special needs cats and kittens because there are not a lot of devices for these guys. Badger’s almost eight weeks old. I don’t want him to have to be dependent person forever. I want him to feel empowered that he can eat a meal on his own, but do it in a way that’s safe for his, body! So that’s exactly what we did. PRESTON: Like our first piece, it proved that the idea that you had was working for Badger, and… from that idea, then we can just trim down the edges and make a really beautiful piece. HANNAH: Today, Badger is getting his final 3D print. This thing looks amazing! It’s got an adjustable arm so it can grow as he grows. It’s got an extra step you can put into it. And of course I love that it says “tiny but mighty” on the side. Let’s try this gravy. Oops! Look at you, all posted up for your meal! Good job, Badgie! Badger’s a big fan of 3D printing. Because pretty much anything you can think up, you can make come to life. Preston even designed some little cat toys for him. The point is, don’t be afraid to get creative for these little guys. If you have an idea, try it out. It just might work! Many thanks to Preston and the University of Maryland for sharing their skills and their technology with us. Bye bye!