27 April 2023

A much-loved kitten who effectively died for 26 minutes following a heart attack is on the road to recovery thanks to the multidisciplinary team here at Willows.

Eleven-month-old Bella was rushed to us with suspected lily toxicity. Lilies are extremely poisonous to cats, including the water they sit in, with lily toxicity causing acute kidney injury.

In Bella’s case, while hospitalised, she suffered a cardiac arrest (heart attack) which required almost 30 minutes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

She was effectively dead for all of that time and has since had to learn to walk and eat again. The severity of the medical emergency had a profound impact on Bella’s health.

Not only did she experience seizures due to the prolonged CPR but the incident also resulted in blindness. However, her owner has praised the skills of our clinicians who saved Bella and gave her a second chance at life.

The beloved kitten’s plight started after coming into contact with lilies following the funeral of a close family member of one of her owners.

At first, it was thought she might have escaped the worst but she subsequently suffered a heart attack.

Dee Flora, Bella’s owner who lives in Solihull, said: “We were absolutely mortified. We had just lost a parent and weren’t prepared to lose Bella, too. We were determined to try our best to get her better and home.

“She has beaten all the odds that were against her. Bella is running, jumping on tops of doors, purring, playing and having a great time. We are so grateful to the team at Willows for saving her life.”

Bella’s recovery has been possible thanks to a multidisciplinary approach here at Willows in the West Midlands, in which we were able to call on the skills of our emergency and critical care, anaesthesia, physiotherapy and neurology teams. Bella was hospitalised with us at Willows for more than two weeks as she made her extraordinary recovery.

Fernanda Camacho, American Specialist in Emergency and Critical Care here at Willows, said: “Surviving prolonged CPR and being discharged from hospital is very rare, as only about one in 20 cases enjoy this outcome.

“Pretty much like a person after such a severe event, Bella has also had to learn some of the basics from scratch, such as eating and walking. She is still recovering but she can currently run, jump and eat well.

Physiotherapy has been key to Bella’s progression, to ensure she would not get a muscle contracture and to also teach her to walk again.

“Bella’s case clearly highlights the dangers that lilies can pose to cats. We would urge any cat owners who think their pet is displaying signs of contact with lilies to seek urgent veterinary attention.”