A cat owner has praised expert vets for carrying out lifechanging surgery after his beloved pet had been shot in the head with an air rifle. 

Simon Melvin, from Rochester, Kent, said he was “mortified” when vets at Linnaeus-owned Warren House Veterinary Group in Kent first broke the news after spotting the pellet on an x-ray, before referring his pet to the renowned Southfields Veterinary Specialists in Basildon. 

He said he was also left feeling angry after he realised his pet Sypha had been wounded almost two years earlier and the pellet had been lodged in her head all the time. 

Simon explained: “When the vets at Warren House told me someone had shot her I was mortified, especially as I instantly knew when it had happened. 

“I remembered her coming home with a wound on her nose almost two years previously, which my local vet and myself thought was just a scratch. 

“So, it was really upsetting to think that horrible thing had been stuck in her head for nearly two years. 

“I felt rather silly for not figuring it out at the time, though I imagine I’d have gone straight out looking for the cowardly wretch had I done so.” 

Simon said Sypha’s health had suffered for all that time, until a detailed CT scan finally identified the shocking cause of her problems. 

He added: “Sypha had suffered from an ongoing cough and a marked reduction in her energy while she was playing or following me around outside. 

“Normally, she would have darted about like a maniac and run ahead, but suddenly she started to lag behind and meow as though something was causing her discomfort. 

“There were several visits to our local vet and several attempts at treating her but the cough would come back every time so we were eventually referred for specialist care at Southfields. 

“I never expected such terrible news, though. I was fairly hopeful it was something minor but when the specialist called me in to look at the images I got a sinking feeling when I saw that white spot in her head.”

Following the initial discovery, Sypha was referred to Linnaeus-owned Southfields, where Carlos Rubinos, a recognised specialist in small animal surgery, oversaw her case and revealed the positioning of the pellet was unique, so needed intricate surgery to remove it. 

Carlos said: “Sypha was referred to Southfields as she had been showing increased respiratory noise and occasional episodes of drooling for two years. 

“Our investigations, including a CT scan, discovered a pellet lodged in her nasopharynx, a small spot between Sypha’s brain and the nasal cavity. 

“Pellet gun injuries are unfortunately common in cats, which should raise social concern about this very worrying issue, but Sypha’s case was far from common. 

“A metal pellet lodged in the nasopharynx of a cat has never been reported before and we needed to devise a way to safely remove it.

“It was an intricate surgery where we split Sypha’s palate to access and remove the pellet and then reconstructed her palate, the first time this surgical approach is reported for management of this issue.”

Incredibly, Sypha was allowed home the day after surgery and has gone on to complete a remarkable recovery.

A grateful Simon concluded: “I think it's safe to say it was one of the most stressful things I have experienced. My biggest worry was the operation being unsuccessful, as I really wanted to see Sypha back to her usual self. 

“My parents, Evelyn and Patrick, and my partner Emma were amazingly supportive and Southfields were absolutely brilliant, too. The level of care you receive is top notch, you can really tell the vets love animals too. 

“If I had to use a specialist vet again, and I hope I don't, I'd have no reservations about going back. They kept in touch the whole way through, and really looked after Sypha while she was there.

“She's now back to her old self, fully recovered and doing fantastically. It's like nothing had ever happened. She’s back to running around like a maniac again which is really great to see. It’s amazing that it hasn’t deterred her at all from going out and about.”

Linnaeus-owned Southfields, which moved into its state-of-the-art £16 million Basildon hospital in 2022, offers specialist services such as anaesthesia and analgesia, cardiology, dentistry, dermatology, diagnostic imaging, exotics, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, radiation and soft tissue surgery. 

For more information, go to www.southfields.co.uk or search Southfields Veterinary Specialists on social media. 

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