Tortoiseshell cat Harley lies on a dark leather sofa being stroked by her owner

Harley walks again after severe road traffic injuries

Left unable to walk after a road traffic collision, Harley was in agonising pain.


The pet cat was severely hurt – the trauma had caused injuries to her spine and pelvis and a dislocated hip.


Harley was in shock, and our vets were worried she could also have life-threatening internal injuries.


“I did think the worst when I saw Harley,” says her owner Geraldine Cotton, 67, who has enjoyed life with Harley since she was a kitten.


Receiving a phone call from a neighbour at 1.30am, Geraldine rushed over to find Harley collapsed in the garden, unable to move her back legs.


“I bent down to pick Harley up and her back end was completely floppy,” remembers grandmother-of-three Geraldine.


“Her eyes were like saucers and she was stone cold, I really thought they would have to put her to sleep. It looked so bad and she was ice cold and very stiff.”


Tortoiseshell cat Harley walks through a paved garden staring into the camera
Harley is back on her feet after serious injuries following a road traffic accident

Harley’s family brought her straight to Blue Cross after the devastating accident.


And after receiving intensive vet care from the team at Blue Cross Victoria animal hospital, Harley is now back on her feet.


After weeks of treatment, the five-year-old tortoiseshell can enjoy life at home with her family in south London again.


“We hoped for the best and put our trust in Blue Cross,” explains Geraldine, who adds that Harley is ‘like a child’ for her and 67-year-old husband Ian.


Tortoiseshell cat Harley is held in the arms of her owner
Harley is back where she belongs in the arms of her loving owner

Harley had two major operations during her time as an inpatient at our central London animal hospital.


Thankfully, the much-loved pet had escaped damage to her internal organs. 


Jack Meier, Blue Cross Head Veterinary Surgeon at Victoria animal hospital, says: “Unfortunately we see these types of injuries quite commonly in cats following road traffic accidents, due to high velocity trauma to the backend of the cat.


Vets in blue gowns perform surgery in an overlit operating theatre
Blue Cross vets operated on Harley

“Although the injuries were severe, Harley was fortunate to have had no damage to the internal organs – it is possible for cats to have internal bleeds, damaged lungs, or ruptured bladders following trauma like this – and these injuries are life-threatening.


“The first thing we do in a patient like Harley is check for internal injuries, give pain relief, and attempt to stabilise breathing and cardiovascular abnormalities.”


Once Harley had been given pain relief and X-rays to find out exactly what vet care was needed, she went into the hospital’s major operating theatre for her first operation.


Harley is among thousands of pets who receive low cost vet care at Blue Cross Victoria each year – the hospital has never closed its doors since opening in 1906.


“The two-hour op involved tricky surgery as our surgeons were working in an area with lots of important vessels and nerves that they had to be careful not to damage,” explains Jack.


“The screw placement has to be done very precisely or else you could end up hitting the spinal cord, causing paralysis, so the vets take careful measurements to aid surgical planning.”


Tortoiseshell cat Harley gazes into the camera with huge, green eyes
Poor Harley needed extensive surgery on her severe injuries

After giving Harley time to stabilise and feel comfortable following her first operation, our vets planned a second surgery to help the injured cat’s dislocated hip.


An x-ray of a cat's spine and legs showing a dislocated hip joint
Harley's dislocated hip needed help

She was cared for around the clock by our clinical team, who made sure Harley had enough pain relief, could enjoy her favourite food, and was able to go to the toilet.


A few days later, Harley went back into surgery for an operation to mend her dislocated hip.


The one-hour surgery involved removing the top of Harley’s thigh bone, to allow scar tissue to form in its place.


“This scar tissue is the basis of a ‘false’ or ‘pseudo’ joint and this allows pain-free movement of the thigh,” continues Jack.


And during the next seven weeks, Harley’s family were given plenty of support from our team to make sure their pet had all the follow-up appointments, X-rays and physiotherapy she needed.


“I really thought we were facing the worst news after Harley’s accident,” says Geraldine, whose family, friends and neighbours helped with donations towards the tricky surgery.


“So, to hear that Blue Cross could do the operations, I was really pleased. Harley’s been walking and is pretty much back to normal. She’s just gorgeous.”


Tortoiseshell cat Harley is stroked by her owner
Harley has been through a lot but is happy and healthy again, with the help of Blue Cross

Although Harley has a slight limp in her back left leg, she will gradually get back to full speed with physiotherapy and exercise, to build up the strength of the muscles.


Playing with her toys, racing through her tunnel and exploring the garden at home, Harley is clearly able to enjoy being back with her family after the traumatic accident.


Husband Ian adds: “She’s made a brilliant recovery and she’s even more friendly now. When she wasn’t here it was very quiet. She’s such good company.”


— Page last updated 05/06/2024