Leo, who was still a kitten at the time of the accident, is owned by the Storey family, who lived in Hemington until the end of June.
A family from Hemington have been praised for the relentless love, support and care they showed for their cat after he was hit by a car in March 2016.
The Storey family, which includes Allen, his wife Nadine and their children Elliot (15) and Thomasin (12), rushed him straight to the emergency vets, where it was confirmed that the poor puss had sustained severe head injuries and his life was hanging in the balance. The ginger kitty ran onto the road on Sunday, March 20, and was hit by a car.
The next day Leo was taken to Dovecote Veterinary Hospital in Castle Donington, which specialises in veterinary surgery, neurology and diagnostic imaging.
A CT scan taken by vet Andrew Robinson at Dovecote showed that Leo had suffered multiple fractures both to his skull and jaw. Even if surgery could heal the fractures, it was unclear whether damage might have been caused to his brain.
Keen to give Leo a chance, the Storeys agreed to an operation and so Andrew wired Leo’s jaw and skull together to stabilise them.
The complex surgery resulted in further complications, including a problem with Leo’s eye, a kidney infection and neurological damage to his swallowing and tongue movement. He had to be fed through a tube into his throat and it was touch and go, with the kitty staying in hospital for a month.
Leo finally returned home to his family on April 25, where they took on the task of tube feeding him for several weeks. Once he was able to have the tube removed, they then had to teach him to eat again using his mouth. This was quite a task, which the family only managed to achieve in June. Then, in the last few weeks, Leo has finally been well enough to go outside and is even hunting, and well and truly settling in to his new home in Willoughby on the Wolds.
Vet Andrew Robinson said: “It’s great to hear that Leo is now back to his old tricks. While the surgery was difficult, the most challenging aspect of Leo’s case has been the prolonged recovery period and the extra care that he has required, both while he was being tube-fed and when he was learning to eat normally again.
“The Storey family has, throughout, been completely dedicated to looking after him and, without their commitment to helping him recover, I doubt that he’d be here today. They are a special family and he is a lucky cat!”
Allen Storey said: “We were in a complete state of shock when the accident happened. We knew he was in a critical condition but, as he was so young and full of life, we were determined to give him a chance.
“It’s been a long road and I’d like to thank the whole team at Dovecote who have been so caring but honest and realistic with us throughout. The vets were incredibly skilful and the nursing staff were so dedicated and looked after Leo like one of their own.
“Encouraging Leo to start eating for himself again was difficult and we all had to stick with it and come up with different ideas to tempt him. When he did finally start eating from a bowl on his own, it was an emotional moment for us all. Looking at him now, almost fully back to his normal affectionate and curious self, we are delighted that he and his brother can get on with enjoying their lives again.”