Courageous Cat
Credit: PDSA

Robbie, a courageous cat from London in the UK, has been named ‘PDSA Pet Survivor of the Year’ after he was caught in a terrible fire, leaving him with extensive burns and fighting for his life.

The award recognises Robbie’s sheer determination to pull through, despite the odds, as well as his owner’s devotion to his care and the dedication of the vet team who provided his life-saving treatment.

The British vet charity set up the competition to find the UK’s pluckiest pet, and according to senior vet Elaine Pendlebury: “We were inundated with amazing stories of pets that have survived against all odds. The entries included pets hit by trains, lost on the moors, crushed by tractors, bitten by snakes and cancer sufferers, to name but a few. They were truly inspirational and helped to remind me why I originally decided to become a vet.”

Robbie was nominated for the competition by his now owner, Gill Smith (54), a retired police officer from Croydon. Robbie was just six-months-old and thought to be a stray when he took shelter in an abandoned sofa in the village of Ash, Kent, in May this year. But this nearly proved his undoing when it was somehow set alight and consumed by flames, with poor Robbie still inside.

He was rushed to nearby Broadway Vets with severe burns to his face, head, legs and paws. Principal vet Sarah Platt said: “Robbie was in shock when he arrived and needed intensive care. He stayed with us for six months, during which time he had two skin grafts and daily dressing changes. One of his back legs also had to be amputated. But Robbie always loved attention even when he was critically ill – very few animals could have coped the way he did.”

Despite the pain and discomfort, Robbie was very tolerant and patient as he received thousands of pounds worth of treatment to get him back on his feet. Incredibly, much of this was paid for by the local community after the vet practice published appeals in the local paper.

Gill was visiting Herne Bay when she saw Robbie’s story in the local paper and joined in the fundraising activities to finance his treatment. She visited him regularly, despite living some distance away, and when no owner came forward, she offered Robbie a home for life.  

“I’m over the moon that Robbie has won PDSA Pet Survivor 2013!” said Gill. “Robbie is a unique character and he still bears the physical scars from his fiery ordeal. The tips of his ears are missing, he has a ‘Mohican’ due to the skin graft on his head, and the toes on his remaining back leg were ‘melted’ together into a stump. But despite this he runs around the house like a rocket.

“He is a little hero, and his bravery and fortitude have inspired many people in the community.”

Two runners up were also chosen: Rex, a Border Collie who was hit by a train, shattering his skull; and Wufra, a Saluki/Lurcher-cross who survived for three weeks in the Yorkshire Dales with no food or water and a broken leg. The other three finalists were Thumper, a rabbit who survived a fox attack, Bengal cat Malteaser, who was nearly frozen to death, and Border Collie Pip whose was crushed under a tractor wheel, shattering her pelvis.

Pet Survivor judge Liz McClarnon said: “Judging was so hard. In all the stories I read both the owners and vets showed complete commitment to help these little heroes survive. Robbie is such a beautiful and brave feline, I cried reading his story and am so happy he’s won!”

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