Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, is faced with an emergency case that brings a particular challenge. Beautiful fluffy Persian cat Simba has been hit by a car, and has suffered huge skin loss on his front left leg and the bones on his right leg have been crushed. Simba’s family is distraught, but especially 11 year old Kian who is severely autistic and has a special bond with Simba. Kian explains to Noel how Simba acts as a therapy cat for him, comforting him when no one else can. Noel tells Kian: ‘I want you to be strong for him, as he needs you now as much as you’ve needed him.’

Noel calls upon Fitzpatrick Referral’s soft tissue specialist Jonathan Bray to graft skin on to Simba’s injured left leg. While the team waits to see if the graft takes, Noel must come up with a way to pin back together the crushed bones in Simba’s right paw. ‘Now have you ever seen the movie Wolverine?’ Noel asks Kian. ‘If we were able to put Wolverine’s pegs up along the bones we could skewer it into position.’ But with bones so tiny and fragile this is no easy task. Meanwhile Kian is struggling at home without his constant companion...

Their Story

Simba is not an ordinary cat. Simba plays the vital role as young autistic Kian’s therapy cat, and serves as a constant companion to him.

The Problem

Simba was involved in a car accident and as a result he badly injured his front legs, fracturing them in multiple places and losing a large amount of skin. The family were told by their vets there was nothing they could do and referred him to Fitzpatrick Referrals Soft Tissue centre as their last hope. Soft Tissue and reconstruction specialist Dr Jonathan Bray examined him and found optimistic signs that they could in fact salvage the legs but there would be a long journey ahead.
Professor Noel Fitzpatrick examined Simba also, to see how badly fractured Simba’s right paw was. Noel explained that he could reconstruct Simba’s paw using stainless steel rods threaded through his toes, much like the character ‘Wolverine’ from the Marvel films.


Simba benefited from the expertise and skills of both Fitzpatrick Referrals centres. He had his first surgery at the soft tissue centre, where Jonathan underwent a skin graft to replace the skin that had been torn away in the accident. This involved taking some skin from Simba’s chest, and wrapping it around the damaged leg. After four days of recovery, Simba was then transferred to Fitzpatrick Referrals Orthopaedic centre for the next part of his surgery. Noel operated on Simba to repair the fractured metacarpal bones using pins threaded through the bone to realign them back in place. Noel also used another new technique, using a newly developed gel with a bone protein suspended in it that would help slowly heal the fracture. Finally, Noel builds a frame to take the weight off the foot while it heals.

Simba remained a long term patient of the practice, which is not surprising considering the extent of the injuries he suffered. The separation was difficult for Kian, and Noel wanted the pair to see each other as much as was possible without disrupting Simba’s recovery.


Two months after his accident, Simba was finally able to go home to continue his recovery with his best friend Kian by his side. Progress has been positive and after seven months, Simba’s resilience has seen him back to everyday life.