Delicate work by emergency vets and vet nurses helped save Tootsie from serious eye injury

An owner feared for her cat’s sight after a thorn became lodged in his eye.

But the most delicate of operations by a team at Vets Now – captured on a remarkable video – saved the day for little Tootsie.

And Vicky Marlee was just thankful help was at hand at the pet emergency clinic in Gateshead after facing the prospect of a lengthy drive for vital care when her own vets was closed.

Vicky, from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, has had two-year-old Tootsie since he was a kitten and says his adventurous ways led to the drama.

“He is just such an outdoors cat,” said Vicky, who’s 39 and works for an education organisation in the north east of England.

“We’ve got his brother MooMoo, too, and they’re like chalk and cheese. MooMoo is a real home lover, but Tootsie spent the whole summer out and he loves bringing mice back.

“He came home on the Friday morning and I thought something wasn’t quite right as he wasn’t opening his left eye properly. But he’s always coming back with scuffs and scrapes, so I didn’t really think too much about it.

“It was a really busy day at work and it wasn’t until I picked my son Otis up from school and he went to give Tootsie a cuddle that we really realised there was a problem.

“I got his eye open and I could see this scratch on his eyeball and little black speck and I was naturally worried about what it could do.”

Image of Tootsie the cat and brother MooMoo for Vets Now article on cat with thorn stuck in eye
Tootsie and brother MooMoo ©Vets Now

Vicky contacted her vets but, as they were closing, she was referred to an out-of-hours service. Because she was told the nearest location couldn’t see Tootsie at the time, she was informed she would have to drive 90 minutes away.

But she was then advised to contact Vets Now.

The Gateshead clinic, a mere 10 minutes from Vicky’s home, is one of a nationwide chain of more than 60 hospitals and clinics open, seven days a week for pet emergencies.

“It was such a relief to have somewhere like that on hand as you want help as soon as possible when you’ve got an emergency,” said Vicky.

“As it was, the vet said that as the object had been in Tootie’s eye for quite a few hours, they really had to try and get it out as soon as possible.

“If it was left longer it could have embedded itself further into his eyeball and caused even more serious problems.

“They said they were going to try to just sedate him and get it out, but if not, they would have to anaesthetise him and operate.”

Tootsie in the clinic ©Vets Now

Veterinary surgeon Victoria Cuthbert said that it was a very delicate procedure to try to remove the thorn without causing any damage.

She explained: “When Tootsie arrived at the clinic there was a small foreign object visible in the cornea of his left eye. We sedated him, applied local anaesthetic drops to his eye and quickly managed to remove the thorn.

“It’s important that eye problems are treated quickly so Tootsie’s owner did the right thing bringing him in when she did.

“He is such a lovely cat and we’re so pleased we were able to help him.”

Thankfully, Tootsie was soon on the mend ©Vets Now

Vicky said: “We were so happy that he didn’t need the operation and I was amazed at how quickly they managed to do it.

“We managed to get Tootsie home that evening and he was quickly on the mend.

“I couldn’t recommend Vets Now enough and I’d just urge people to get help straight away and not delay.”

The Vets Now clinic in Gateshead – where Tootsie received treatment – is one of a nationwide network of Vets Now clinics and pet emergency hospitals that are open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur.

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

Vets Now has also recently launched an online video consultation service to make professional veterinary advice more easily available.

While the service is not suitable for emergencies like Tootsie’s, their experienced vets are available to discuss any worries or concerns pet owners might have.

If a pet needs to be treated at Vets Now, pet owners are refunded the online consultation fee.