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Death row cat feline fine thanks to vet Noel

By Rebecca Black

Published 27/11/2015

Claire Harper with Buggy
Claire Harper with Buggy
TV supervet Noel Fitzpatrick with Claire Harper and Buggy the cat

Meet Buggy, the big-eyed moggie who was not expected to see his first birthday, but is now thriving.

He was born with severe problems with his back legs due to inbreeding, but captured the heart of east Belfast woman Claire Harper.

Her stubbornness and love for Buggy led her to contact TV's supervet Noel Fitzpatrick whose surgery, Claire says, has led to a "fairy tale" like recovery.

Claire adopted Buggy earlier this year after meeting him through her volunteer work at the Cats Protection League rehoming centre in Dundonald.

She said she couldn't bear to see him die alone in the sanctuary and, despite owning five other cats, took the decision to adopt him.

"Every cat should at least have a few months of their lives where they experience a loving home where they are adored and spoiled, so I brought him home," said the 31-year-old finance worker.

Claire sent his x-rays to specialist vets across the UK, but none said they could operate. She had been advised to put him down when as a last resort she contacted Noel.

The Irish-born vet runs a veterinary referral centre in Surrey, and in 2009 was the first surgeon in the world to give a cat prosthetic limbs and is now one of the stars of the Channel 4 programme Supervet.

Buggy's remarkable journey from being recommended to be put down to being given the same life expectancy of any other cat will be screened as part of The Supervet series next Wednesday.

Fans of the show were treated to a sneak peak of the episode last Wednesday, showing a lively Buggy not taking kindly to the supervet, snarling loudly at Noel as he gently opened his cubicle door.

"It's so typical," Claire laughed. "All the other animals form a real bond with Noel, and then the one that comes over from Belfast tries to eat him.

"He is actually a very friendly boy, he loves attention and loves fuss."

Claire first met Buggy last November when he was a young kitten and fell in love with him, even spending Christmas morning with him last year before taking the decision to adopt him, and then taking him home on February 1.

"It was clear he wasn't quite right, he looked a little different, it was clear he was inbred," she said.

"He had multiple hind leg deformities which were not really operable, but it just made me love him even more.

"It was obviously going to be very difficult to find a home for him because at that stage he really was on borrowed time - the deformities were only going to get worse over time. The feeling was that he would not live to see his first birthday.

"I just thought there was no way I could let him die in an adoption centre."

The situation worsened when Buggy had a fall in February and quickly started to deteriorate.

But Claire said that she simply loved Buggy too much and was too stubborn to give up on him. "I had seen The Supervet on TV and the amazing work Noel could do, saving other animals that vets said were down and out. I contacted his practice as the last chance saloon," she said.

Next, Claire travelled by ferry and car to Surrey for an initial consultation. At that stage, Buggy was too young to be operated on, and they held off until June.

The surgery was a success.

"In July, we went back for Buggy's check-up and I asked Noel about life expectancy and was told he would have a normal life expectancy now," she said. "He is now able to run and is teaching himself to jump, which he never really could before. Every day, the improvement is amazing.

"I just can't believe it, it is like a fairy tale story."

Buggy's story will be featured on Supervet at 8pm on Wednesday, December 2 on Channel 4.

Belfast Telegraph

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