A kitten who cheated death by a whisker has been named Pet Survivor of the Year 2019 by vet charity PDSA.
Victorious Woody came top of the public vote to decide the winner and was up against three dogs, another cat and a duck for the coveted title.
All of the finalists have their own death-defying tales but survived against the odds thanks to the skill of their vet teams, their owners’ devotion, and their own survival spirit.
Little Woody joined the Wood family from Battle, East Sussex, earlier this year. He is a precious companion for owner Stephanie’s son, who has autism.
One day last July, at just five months old, the playful kitten returned home with terrible injuries. His owner Stephanie noticed immediately there was something wrong with his paw, but it wasn’t until they went to check him that they noticed his other horrific injuries.
First, they realised that most of his tail was missing, but the stump wasn’t bleeding, it was as if the wound had been cauterised. Then they noticed a deep slash on his tummy – and were horrified when they realised, they could see his insides.
Woody was rushed straight to the vet, where he underwent three hours of emergency surgery to stitch up his stomach, cleanly amputate the remainder of his tail, and also remove a toe due to a paw wound.
His tail injury meant there was a risk he could be left incontinent or even paralysed – if this happened then the kindest option would be to put Woody to sleep, so it was a sleepless night for the Wood family.
When they finally got the call to say that the surgery was a success and that Woody had successfully done a wee by himself, they were incredibly relieved. Stephanie visited Woody the next day, who was up on his paws already.
For his owners, the worst part was hearing about the possible cause of Woody’s injuries. Stephanie said that although vets confirmed that some of his injuries were consistent with a traffic accident, some weren’t.
His abdominal injury seemed to have been caused by being stabbed with something sharp – there was a possibility that Woody’s injuries had been deliberately inflicted by a person.
Stephanie said: “We reported it to police, and they investigated this as a cause of animal mutilation A neighbour said they’d heard a disturbance and a novice like an animal in distress in the field behind his house ten minutes before Woody appeared home. We’d heard of other cats in the area having similar wounds, it was awful to think someone might have done this deliberately.”
Woody stayed at the vet for eight days receiving intensive care before he was able to go home, but still needed round the clock nursing. He needed further surgery due to an infection but seemed determined to survive.
Finally, after months of recovery and rehabilitation he’s back to his normal cheeky self and doesn’t seem to be bothered by his missing tail. Because Woody was treated by a private veterinary practice, Stephanie crowdfunded and borrowed to cover the cost of Woody’s treatment, which reached around £5000
His owner Stephanie visited PDSA’s Brighton Pet Hospital to receive his PDSA Pet Survivor trophy and a luxury pet hamper.
Stephanie said: “It’s been a tough year for Woody and the whole family, but it’s ended on a high by winning this award. Thankfully the experience hasn’t changed his personality – he’s such a friendly little cat and will do anything for a cuddle or a treat. We couldn’t imagine life without him. Thanks, so much to the team at Sussex Coast Vets, to PDSA for recognising our miracle kitten, and to everyone who donated towards his care and voted for him to win.”
PDSA Vet Nurse Louise Chapman, who presented Woody with his trophy and prize said: “Woody suffered very severe injuries and it was touch and go whether he would survive. But thanks to the skill of his vets and round-the-clock care from his family during months of recovery and rehabilitation, Woody pulled through. He’s a true pet survivor and a worthy winner indeed.”