A family faced a double heartache after a kitten intended to ease the agonies of the loss of a beloved cat almost died only two days after getting him.
Owner Leanne Naughton, from Bellshill, Lanarkshire, saw Theo became so ill at just five-weeks-old she feared he wouldn’t survive the night.
But he pulled through against all the odds and his fighting spirit has been recognised with leading emergency vets, Vets Now, naming him as a runner-up in their first Pet of the Year awards.
And Leanne says Theo, who has just turned one, has brought much-needed happiness after heartbreak.
“I had a cat called Molz for 16 years, but he passed away from kidney and heart failure last May,” said mum-of-two Leanne, 37.
“We did everything we could to save him, but it only got him a few more weeks. It was just awful, and I swore I’d never get another pet as it was so upsetting.
“But my husband Joe decided I needed something to help me get over it, so we got two kittens last June.”
Leanne had only had Theo and his sister Lola for 48 hours when they became seriously ill with a suspected bacterial infection.
Tragically, Lola died shortly afterwards, and Leanne feared she would lose Theo, too, when he started struggling to breathe.
Joe made a middle of the night dash to the Vets Now Hospital in Glasgow, but Theo was so sick they were told he was unlikely to live.
“I couldn’t believe this was happening after Molz, but we had to give Theo every chance despite it seeming like he might have to be put to sleep,” said Leanne.
“He was barely breathing, but although they gave him medication and put him in an oxygen tent he wasn’t responding.
“I couldn’t bear having to tell my kids Lucianna and Leilah that he was gone.
“I asked the hospital to call me back after 7am when the girls got up for school, so I could break the news to them. I knew they would have wanted to say goodbye.
“But it was a little later when they called, and it was to say he had somehow stabilised.
“I didn’t want to get my hopes up, though, and still thought this wee kitten wasn’t coming home. I’d actually been packing up his bed and his toys.”
After being fed by syringe and carefully monitored, Theo was back on his feet within 48 hours. He was able to come home later that week and was soon back to full health.
The family got a companion cat for Theo, Levi, shortly afterwards and both are thriving one-year-olds.
“When you look at this little ball of fluff, you’d never believe he nearly died,” said Leanne. “He’s a cat with no fear, so I still worry every time he’s up to something as I couldn’t go through the heartache again.
“I’m just so grateful to Vets Now for everything they did in getting him back to us and we’re absolutely thrilled about his Pet of the Year award.”
Dave Leicester, who is responsible for a team of experienced vets at the Video Vets Now service, said: “After a tumultuous two years, we wanted to celebrate the important role pets have played for so many families and individuals across the UK.
“It’s a chance to shine a light on pets who have overcome injuries, or other challenges, and provided their owners with overwhelming comfort and support.”
Read more about our Pet of the Year winner, support dog Matilda and our runner-up, brave rescue dog Gypsy.