WARNING: Graphic images below
A grandmother was left in a coma after contracting a flesh-eating disease when her ‘spiteful’ Siamese cat scratched her.
Shirley Hair, 65, almost died after she developed sepsis, septic shock, organ failure, pneumonia and the flesh-eating infection Necrotising fasciitis.
The retired carer was rushed to Southmead Hospital in Bristol in April 2018 when the scratch from her cat turned bright red and a rash spread from her hand up to her arm.
Scientists have previously warned of the dangers of getting too close to cats, and it follows a case earlier this year in which a teenager reportedly developed schizophrenia-like symptoms after being scratched by a cat.
Doctors performed emergency surgery to remove the infected tissue from Mrs Hair’s hand before she was placed in a medically-induced coma for five days to allow her body to rest while she recovered.
Mrs Hair spent six weeks in hospital and had a series of operations and skin grafts. She has since returned to her home in Winterbourne, Bristol, and re-homed her £400 pedigree cat, Chan.
Mrs Hair, who lives with her husband, Bob, 69, said: “That cat had always been spiteful, he was very expensive though.
“The day he scratched me I’d been gardening, I tried to pick him up for a cuddle but he wasn’t having it.
“The scratch was quite deep, but I didn’t think much of it until I started to get flu-like symptoms and totally lost my appetite.
“A doctor came out to see me and prescribed antibiotics, but after a few days I was feeling worse than ever. Then my arm began to get red and started swelling up really fast. It was scary.
“The medics were amazing, but even after the emergency surgery to remove the tissue, I just carried on deteriorating. I felt like I was going to die.
“I couldn’t believe this could all happen from a simple scratch.”
Surgeons performed a skin graft from the top of her leg to cover up the wound on her arm, which had become so deep her tendons were exposed.
Mrs Hair said that after more than eight operations her hand is “almost as good as it was”.
Her cat Chan now lives with her daughter Zoe.
Mrs Hair bought the cat from a breeder in South Gloucestershire, in July 2016 after spotting an advert on Gumtree, brining him home as a 10-week-old kitten.
She said he became “quite savage” as he got older, “often leaving us with bites and scratches”.
She said: “I feel like the luckiest woman alive. After all that happened I decided I really couldn't face Chan the cat anymore so my daughter Zoe volunteered to have him.”