Our hero of the month for July is Belle. She is a beautiful black cat who is just 14 months old. Her visit was not because of an illness but because she was shot with an air gun.

Belle

After losing their much loved older cat, Belle’s owner went to Shropshire cat rescue looking to rehome a pair of cats. However their plans changed when they met three little black kittens in need of a home:

“I was smitten. When we enquired about them we were told that they were the last of their litter, 12 weeks old, three sisters and they asked whether we would consider taking all three to keep them together. Fortunately for these three sisters I could not be the one to split them up and that’s how we ended up with three little black cats!”

Named Elsa, Anna and Belle (after the Disney Princesses)

“ever since they were kittens they have always done most things together especially sleeping, playing and meal times.” They each have their own personalities and Belle is “the baby of the bunch, purrs nonstop, loves belly rubs and being talked to and is adorable”.


All three cats are outdoor cats but always come in at night. It was one such night that the owner called them in for their tea that Belle’s journey began. “I called them in for tea, Elsa and Anna turned up but no Belle. As she was normally the first to appear I decided to go into the garden and call her. On going outside I spotted her outside the garage door flat on her side. When I went to her I began to pick her up and suddenly realised there was blood coming from her side and she seemed quite cold and shocked. We immediately contacted Park Issa and rushed her to see the out of hours vet Lucy and nurse Vikki”.

When Belle came into us, she was obviously in shock and was breathing very rapidly with her mouth open. Her gums were very pale and she had obviously lost quite a bit of blood from the amount that was on her coat. However, the only wound that we could find was a tiny puncture wound in the skin over the ribs on the right hand side. Belle was admitted so that we could give her some fluids to help with the shock and the blood loss, and also some pain relief and antibiotics. As the vet was carrying her down into the treatment room, she could feel a hard lump under the skin over Belle’s ribs on the left hand side. There was no wound on this side, and we suddenly had the horrible thought that this could be a bullet and that Belle may have been shot.

Belle and Anna having a cuddle

Her breathing was still very fast and laboured, so we took an x-ray of her chest to investigate exactly what had happened, and if there was any other damage apart from the small wound. It was originally thought that Belle might have been attacked by a dog and that the puncture wound was from a tooth, but as soon as we saw the x-ray picture it was obvious that she had been shot. The x-ray clearly showed the bullet on the left hand side of Belle’s chest and also some damage to the lungs and bleeding within the chest. Amazingly the bullet had gone all the way through Belle’s chest without hitting any of the ribs or damaging the heart or major blood vessels, but she was still in quite a critical condition because of the damage to her lungs. We used a special ‘butterfly’ needle to drain some of the blood from around Belle’s lungs and make it easier for her to breathe, and within an hour or so she seemed to have settled down a bit and to be a bit more comfortable.

The next morning Belle seemed much brighter and was gradually getting her colour back, and although her breathing was still a bit rapid, it was a lot better than the night before. She was however reluctant to eat much so our nurses tempted her with some tasty food and syringed some high energy food into her to give her the strength to recover. Over the next couple of days she progressed well, to the point that it was actually quite difficult to listen to her lungs and monitor her breathing because she was purring so much!

Belle ready to pounce!

Belle went home after 3 days so that she could recover further there, and then a week later when we were happy that her lungs were functioning well, she came back in for a quick anaesthetic to remove the bullet from under her skin. A small incision was made and the bullet popped out nicely, doing much less damage than it had on the way in! She was able to go back home that afternoon for her family to look after her.

Her owner says that ‘she bounced straight back from her little operation’, and her sisters were obviously thrilled to have her back safe and sound: ‘They have been the best therapy for her at home, staying near her, getting her eating properly and more recently playing with her’.

Belle is such a sweet, happy little cat and was such a lovely patient to look after. She loved having her tummy rubbed whilst she was in, even when her lungs and chest were obviously really sore, and she was so brave throughout all her treatment.

Belle’s bravery throughout the treatment makes her one of our heroes. We are so pleased she has gone home back to her amazing loving family and they are so happy too.

‘As a family we are thrilled to have her alive and back with us. We cannot thank enough the Park Issa staff – the receptionists, nurses and vets for taking such good care of her and getting her home’

Our hero of the month was delayed as unbelievably when Belle was well enough to go back outside she was shot again by an air gun. This was a horrific incident that was traumatic for both Belle and her owner. This time the pellet was in a position where it would have caused too much damage to remove so Belle was treated for her symptoms but the pellet was left in. This shouldn’t cause her any long term problems but we will continue to monitor her closely. Fortunately, Belle has again not only survived but her fighting spirit helped her get back to her home faster than expected.

Belle was a hero after the first shooting but she has made an incredible recovery after the second and along the way has gained herself many fans in the staff at Park Issa.