A stray cat has been given a second chance at life thanks to a Cumbrian vet Graham Lewis and a good Samaritan.
They came to the rescue when the cat suffered a bad break to his femur that would have cost thousands of pounds for a specialist to fix.
Basil had been living on the streets when he appeared in a Carlisle garden badly injured.
Mum and health care worker Emma said: “My daughter was playing in the garden and he appeared out of the greenhouse dragging his leg. The whole leg was floppy and he was obviously in a lot of pain.”
Though the clinic had finished for the day at Paragon Veterinary Group in Dalston, Basil was seen right away.
“Graham whisked him through, and they put him under anaesthetic to examine him,” said Emma.
The news wasn’t good. The homeless cat needed a complicated operation usually carried out by orthopaedic specialists, and weeks of post-operative care.
Graham and Emma discussed the options and decided to give Basil a chance of life.
Graham would carry out the operation – the first time he has done the procedure – at a reduced fee and Emma would pay the bill and nurse Basil back to health.
“I said yes, I was prepared to foot the bill and keep him for the recovery,” said Emma.
“I had to think about it, but the thing is he is a young cat and he is well otherwise and it was only fair to give him a chance. I couldn’t have put him to sleep.”
Graham added: “If he was a pet, we would have been sending him to an orthopaedic specialist, but that would cost certainly a couple of thousand pounds.
“But we managed to do it at a fair discount, just charging for the stuff we used.”
Graham sought advice from a specialist and then tackled the procedure himself.
The operation involved putting a metal pin into the bone to join the break and a metal frame called an external fixator to hold everything in place while it healed.
“This procedure hasn’t been done in my time at Paragon, it’s not something we would normally do,” said Graham, who was delighted when the procedure went to plan.
“This was the best option for this cat, and pretty much his only option.
“It’s not the only case recently where we have had to push our boundaries a fair bit.”
Basil then faced eight weeks confined to a crate in Emma’s house.
Emma’s health care training meant she knew how to look after him and keep the wounds clean where the metal frame entered his skin.
“He was a good boy and tolerated it really well,” said Emma.
Two months later, Graham removed the external fixator and Basil was free to move around.
“I didn’t know if he would just run off when I let him out again, but he didn’t, he stayed with us,” said Emma.
Basil now has a permanent home with Emma and her daughter.
“He is really playful. He chases pen tops and my daughter’s toys,” said Emma.
“He is a very lucky cat. Given another person who found him, or another vet not as keen to pursue it, he would have been put to sleep.”