Cleo's injuries were so serious she needed urgent emergency surgery

A curious cat’s owners were left in a flap after a feathered foray went spectacularly wrong.

Callum Hedley and partner Kim Washbourn, from Lincoln, feared they’d lose beloved pet Cleo after she was left with horrendous injuries to her mouth while chasing birds.

But thanks to Vets Now, Cleo’s mangled tongue was pieced back together and she’s made a remarkable recovery, with just one of her nines lives used up.

Cleo, a Siberian mix, is Callum and Kim’s first pet together and they’ve never had any problems since they got her two years ago – but they admit she does have a penchant for chasing birds.

But Callum came home recently to find Cleo badly injured after she’d been outside.

“I saw her sitting on the window sill and I could tell straight away that something was wrong,” said Callum, 26. “When I took a closer look, there was blood around her mouth and she was drooling constantly. We think that’s she’s gone for a bird and pierced her tongue.”

As it was in the evening, Callum scooped lifeless and lethargic Cleo up and rushed her to the Vets Now pet emergency clinic in Lincoln.

It was there that the full extent of Cleo’s injuries became apparent, with Callum being told their beloved pet had virtually ripped her tongue in half.

Our emergency vet set about tackling her horror injury in a painstaking operation that went on until the early hours of the morning.

Senior vet Claire Hill explained: “It was clear Cleo’s tongue had started to go necrotic, which basically means the cells had started to die, so surgery was essential.

“After carrying out a thorough examination and discussing the options with Cleo’s owners we made the decision to go ahead with the operation that night.

“It was a very delicate procedure where we had to cut away the damaged section of the tongue and then reconstruct it.”

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Cleo the cat with owner Kim
Owner Kim with Cleo

A sleepless Callum and Kim had been standing by the phone and got the middle-of-the-night call they’d been praying for, telling them Cleo had come through safely.

“We really feared we were going to lose her,” said nurse Kim, 27. “We thought at first that the vet would recommend she be put to sleep for her own good.

“Even then, we thought of the long-term implications. At first, she was being fed through a tube and we didn’t know if she’d ever be able to feed or clean herself again.

“It was such a worrying time, but the staff were brilliant. They were so caring and they let us in to just stay with her when she was recovering from the operation.”

Callum and Kim took Cleo back to the clinic a few weeks later when she got her strength back to show our team how she was getting on.

“As a nurse, I know how nice it is when I hear from patients after they get out,” said Kim. “So, we went back with a card and a bunch of flowers just to let them see how well she was doing.

“Cleo’s recovery has just been remarkable. Within just over a month she was feeding and grooming herself perfectly as if nothing had happened.

“We’re certain that if it hadn’t been for the skill and care of the Vets Now clinic, Cleo wouldn’t be here with us now. They saved her life.

“She’s back out just as she ever was – and we’re just hoping she stays away from birds from now on.”

Image of Cleo the cat with owner Callum
Cleo at home with owner Callum

The pet emergency clinic in Lincoln is one of a nationwide network of Vets Now clinics and hospitals which are open through the night, seven days a week, and day and night at weekends and bank holidays.

All of Vets Now’s out of hours clinics and 24/7 hospitals have a vet and a veterinary nurse on site at all times.

“I think it’s vital for pet owners to not only know where their registered vet is, but also where their nearest emergency vet is,” added Callum.

“If your vet is closed then that’s going to be essential when time is of the essence.”