Belfast cat kicked so hard he nearly died
This is the miracle cat who was apparently kicked so hard that the contents of its abdominal cavity were forced up into its chest.
Michael Toal (36) has issued a stark warning to pet owners in the Sydenham area of east Belfast after finding his cat Marmalade sprawled under a summer seat with horrific internal injuries.
He believes the feline, which lives at the Victoria Drive home of his girlfriend Angeline Walsh (35), had been kicked hard in the stomach that it caused a perforation of his diaphragm and almost killing him.
Michael said Marmalade was recovering after emergency surgery at PDSA on the Antrim Road at the weekend and is a bit of minor celebrity there because any previous cats suffering diaphragm perforations have died.
The three-and-a-half year old was let out on Thursday night and didn't return when Michael went out on Friday morning to call him.
"I found him lying sprawled underneath a summer seat in the garden, so I lifted him into the kitchen and he sprawled on the kitchen floor and lay still," he explained.
There was no obvious outward sign of injury, but the couple made an appointment with the veterinary charity.
"He lay on the sofa for 24 hours - he didn't eat, he didn't drink, he didn't go to the loo," Michael said.
"He didn't really deteriorate but at the same time he didn't really get any better.
"His breathing was slow and rapid - we now know that was because the abdominal contents had been displaced up into the chest.
"He was operating at 10% lung capacity for 36 hours."
The vet carried out a chest X-ray on Saturday and warned that Marmalade needed to undergo emergency surgery.
"They cut him from just under the breastplate right down the stomach, and the intestines were moved from the chest cavity and put back where they were supposed to be," Michael added.
Marmalade lost a lot of blood during his ordeal but the vet is confident that his platelet count is rising again and his colour is improving.
The surgery cost more than £1,000, but Angeline was eligible to get help with the cost from PDSA.
"What I believe is that he's been kicked directly in the stomach with such force that it displaced the contents of the abdominal cavity into his chest cavity," Michael said.
"It's not right picking on defenceless animals - I don't even know where to start. How anyone could do that to any animal is beyond me.
"He's a very quiet cat. He's quite clingy. When I'm in the house he would come up and hang around me a bit. He would definitely be a bit wary around strangers.
"He's just a lovely wee cat who loves cuddles, he loves sitting and being sociable."
Michael issued his alert on Facebook to local residents to be aware where their pets were at night.
"There's somebody out there who thinks it's OK to nearly kill animals by abusing them," he warned.