Meatball’s story began several years ago as a stray. He began visiting the Kershaw family, Clare, Daniel and their children Sophie (age 13) and Jack (9), through their cat flap and eating their own cat’s food. The family told us he was such a handsome boy yet in such a bedraggled state, with ticks on his face and matted fur.

Meatballs owner Daniel Kershaw told us his story:
“We believe he had been treated badly in the past and was forced to live on the periphery of society, scraping an existence by finding food and shelter wherever he could. After months of showing kindness to Meatball, including feeding him by lying down on the ground with handfuls of wet cat food, we eventually gained his trust.”

“Gradually, we groomed him, wormed him, de-fleed him and cared for him until his eyes burned bright once more. Whilst still displaying some feral traits, he became a regular in our home and our children and ourselves would treat him like a beloved family pet whenever he chose to visit us. I often shared pictures and videos of Meatball’s latest antics on social media and many friends were pleased to read of his progress.”

“Sadly one day, Meatball dragged himself through our cat flap using only his front paws after being hit by a car. His back legs were in a bad way and he was crying out in pain asking for our help. He had come “home” to us because he had no one else to turn to in his time of need. I rushed home from work and took him straight to the vets. We were told that he had a fractured pelvis and would also need one of his legs amputated immediately with a 50/50 chance of survival. Although it was very expensive, we agreed to personally fund the operation, as the only alternative was to put him to sleep and no way were we going to let that happen to Meatball.”

Meatball’s surgery was successful and he was now a tri-pawed cat – a cat with 3 legs.
However, this recovery was just the beginning of his battle. The accident had left further damage to his body, resulting in Meatball being unable to pass urine without assistance. Their vets advised the family that this may not be due to nerve damage but could be because Meatball was still in great pain and needed time to heal. As he could not empty his bladder himself, the family paid for hospitalisation at the vets after the operation to allow them to assist with this. Throughout this time with the additional cost of him being kept under veterinary care, an unexpected part of the original plan for him, meant the family’s funds became increasing lower and were running out.

Daniel says:
“We weren’t keen on the idea of crowd funding at first, but after being touched by Meatball’s plight, friends came forward keen to help him and persuaded us to setup a GoFundMe page.”

“We were frustrated that Meatball had been so brave and come so far, yet may still have to be put to sleep, just for the sake of a few weeks to allow him to heal. After posting his page on social media, Meatball’s story went viral with hundreds of shares. Donations came in from friends and strangers around the globe. Within no time at all we had raised enough to fund Meatball for three weeks of hospitalisation, catheterisation and medication. I visited him every night at the vets and he was always very pleased to see me and the staff would comment how these visits lifted his spirits. I on the other hand would often leave saddened, as each day passed without him being able to pee. Every time the vet phoned we hoped and prayed that it would be the good news we were waiting for, but alas it never came.”

“Knowing Meatball was a wild free spirit and with his best interests at heart, we knew there was only so long that we could keep him catheterised in a cage. This was no life for him and it was beginning to take its toll. After discussion with the vet we made the heart breaking decision to set a date of three weeks away as a deadline after which point we would be with him as he made his final journey across Rainbow Bridge. On the eve of the deadline, after exhausting all other options, we decided to bring him home and give him a special night with the family and one last try to pee. We gave him all his favourite foods, a nice new comfy bed and I lay on the living room floor beside him all night. Unfortunately he still did not pee. In the morning we took him out into the garden on a harness to try again but still nothing.”

“With his final vet’s appointment looming in two hours and with a very heavy heart I went to fetch the shed key, in order to dig a grave in the garden. Just as I opened the drawer, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that he had climbed onto his cat litter and then to my absolute astonishment and delight he proceeded to do the biggest pee I have ever known a cat to do! We couldn’t believe it, our family had experienced a roller coaster of emotions over the previous month and he had kept us in suspense until the very end. When we announced the amazing news, all of Meatballs fans on the internet went wild! The vet’s appointment to put him to sleep turned into a routine check-up and we were able to bring him home afterwards to his forever home. Meatball’s story had gotten the happy ending it truly deserved.”

“Since that day Meatball has gone from strength to strength, he has provided comfort, inspiration and motivation to my family and friends through many difficult times and has gone on to raise almost £900 for Cat’s Protection to help fellow stray cats, through a virtual running challenge, in which his face appeared on the medals. He is a very loving family cat, a true survivor and a beacon of hope to many in these difficult times. Love can conquer adversity.”

Westport Veterinary Clinic say:
“Meatball is an incredible cat who has beaten all odds in survival. He has brought, and still continues to bring, so much happiness. A real symbol of hope and a wonderful example of what kindness and love can do when life can feel impossible, in the most difficult of times. A true hero.”

“We would like to thank Meatball’s wonderful owners, Clare, Daniel, Sophie and Jack, for inspiring others and for sharing Meatballs incredible journey. The patience, devotion and love you have for Meatball is immeasurable. He is lucky to have such an amazing family!”

“We also pass on a heartfelt thank you to Hugo’s family for their involvement and support in honouring Hugo, a truly incredible dog.”