Miracle recovery for kitten shot with an air rifle

A tiny kitten that was left for dead after thugs shot him four times has made a miracle recovery – and found his forever home with the vet who saved his life.

The kitten has been named Pirate after undergoing emergency surgery at Westway Vets in Consett to remove his eye, along with air rifle pellets from his neck, spine and skull.

It was feared the kitten, who was thought to be only eight weeks old, would not survive the risky one-hour operation and could have been left with permanent brain damage, but Pirate has made an incredible recovery.

Vet Lucie McKenzie, who has now adopted him, was called out to an allotment in Wingate, County Durham, following concerns from residents about a kitten with an eye injury sheltering in a hen house.

Pirate was barely alive and initially Lucie thought hens had attacked and pecked him as he was suffering from a horrific eye injury. An open wound on his neck was riddled with maggots and Pirate, who was put on fluids because he was so weak, wasn’t expected to survive the night.

He underwent surgery the following day to remove his eye, along with the pellets lodged in his skull and spine. Lucie, assisted by senior veterinary nurse Jenny Johnson, performed the delicate operation at Westway Vets’ surgery in Consett.

Lucie said: “A bullet had gone right through his eye and come out at the top of his skull, leaving it fractured. We removed his eye and the pellets, although he still has one remaining in his spine, which shouldn’t cause him any problems.

“The surgery was so delicate because he is so small and there is a risk of his body temperature dropping. Taking an eye is difficult and there was also a worry the maggots in the wounds would cause infection.

“The biggest fear was removing the bullet from the top of his skull. We didn’t know if he would wake up with brain damage. He lost one eye and couldn’t see out of the other one after the surgery but, luckily he has regained sight.”

Lucie and her colleagues at Westway Vets were astonished at the way Pirate recovered from his ordeal, and now the vet who saved his life has adopted him.

Pirate is now living in Sedgefield with Lucie and the rest of her menagerie of rescue pets. She previously adopted dogs, Scamp, Teddy and Megan, and two more cats, Poppet and Pumpkin.

Lucie added: “The night after the operation, Pirate was tucking into his dinner and, within five days, he was running around. He couldn’t stand and was very wobbly when I first found him because he was so badly injured and weak.

“He is a firm part of the family and will have a home with me for the rest of his life. The people who did this to a kitten are evil and I would urge people to be very cautious.”