Emergency team beat the odds to save brave Smudge

*WARNING – graphic images of injury*

A rescue cat who helped his new owner beat depression has been saved after a horror car accident.

John Chapman, from Whitburn, South Tyneside, was so distraught after losing his last cat that he tried to take his own life. He found new joy after adopting helpless orphan Smudge but was shattered when the seven-year-old was knocked down outside his home.

He feared the worst but after a mercy dash to Vets Now, the skilled veterinary team were able to save Smudge’s life.

Now he’s happily back with John, 56, who has even built a new “catio” to make life better for the pet that brought him back from the brink.

CCTV footage of Smudge the rescue cat for Vets Now article on rescue cat hit by car
CCTV footage shows the harrowing moments after Smudge's accident

John’s mental health suffered badly when he had to give up work following a quadruple heart by-pass operation. And when his cat Maz had to be put down, it was the last straw.

“That tipped me over the edge and I couldn’t imagine how I would go on,” said former metalworker John.

“I took an overdose and I was rushed to hospital where they saved me. But I still struggled to see a real future.

“I couldn’t bear to get another pet because of what happened, but my family doctor said it would be good for me.”

John happened to see a YouTube video of a cat in Romania which was close to death and suffering from a highly contagious fungus. It had been rescued by two girls, Camilia and Liliana, who were looking for a new home for it and John was so touched by what the cat had been through he got in touch.

After intensive checks by Willows Animal Sanctuary in South Shields, John got Smudge four years ago and the instant bond changed John’s life and gave him joy and a fresh purpose.

“I felt he needed me and I needed him,” said John. “I live on my own and he gives me something to love. And he loves me, he always follows me around.”

But disaster struck recently when Smudge ran out into the road outside his house and was knocked down.

  1. Smudge

    Smudge and Camelia saying goodbye when Smudge left Romania

    Smudge the rescue cat sitting on the floor for Vets Now article on rescue cat hit by car
  2. Smudge at home

    Poor Smudge’s injuries after being hit by a car

    Smudge's injuries after being hit by a car for Vets Now article on rescue cat hit by car
  3. Smudge at home

    Smudge sitting in his ‘Catio’

    Image of Smudge in his catio for Vets Now article on cat RTA

“I got a knock at the door to say someone had just run him over,” said John. “I’ve spoken to the lady since and told her not to blame herself as he ran into the road and it was just an accident.

“It was horrible when I ran outside and saw him. He was lying there covered in blood and gasping for

“I thought he was going to die and I didn’t know what to do as it was a Saturday night. But thankfully my neighbour Grant knew about Vets Now and he got us in the car and ran us straight there.

“I was cradling him in my arms on the way and I didn’t think he was going to make it.”

Our clinic in Gateshead is one of a nationwide chain of more than 60 hospitals and clinics open seven days a week for out-of-hours pet emergencies.

“Smudge had suffered severe facial trauma and his right eye wasn’t functioning,” said senior vet nurse Ashley Wemple. “He was also bleeding quite heavily from his mouth and nose.

“We stablised him and gave him oxygen and fluids. Thankfully, the bleeding subsided and he began to settle. But, sadly, we were unable to save the sight in his right eye.”

The following day Smudge was well enough to be transferred to a specialist practice for further treatment and John was reunited with him six days later.

Smudge sitting his owner's arms for Vets Now article on rescue cat hit by car
John is relieved and delighted to have Smudge back home after his ordeal ©Vets Now

“I can’t thank Vets Now enough,” said John. “They were amazing right through, not just in what they did to treat him but just how they were also so caring and kept me informed all the way through.

“I slept downstairs with Smudge for the first few nights and now he’s back to his old self and you wouldn’t know he could only see with one eye.

“I’ve got the ‘catio’ now so he doesn’t have to go out and I’m just so relieved we’re together again.”

All of Vets Now’s premises always have a vet and vet nurse on site.

They also offer an online video consultation service to make professional veterinary advice more easily available.

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

If your pet needs an in-person follow-up appointment at any vet practice, Vets Now will refund the online consultation fee, so you never pay twice.