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Woman, 65, left in coma after her 'spiteful' Siamese cat scratched her

A grandmother had to spend over six weeks in hospital due to a scratch from her pet cat.

Shirley Hair, 65, almost died when she developed sepsis, septic shock, organ failure, pneumonia and the flesh-eating bug Necrotizing fasciitis.

The grandmother-of-five didn’t connect her symptoms to the scratch from Chan, her ‘spiteful’ Siamese, at first.

She felt dizzy, had muscle aches and had lost her appetite but thought it could be due to the flu.

When the gash turned bright red and a rash spread from her hand up to her arm, she realised what started the problems.

She was rushed to Southmead Hospital in Bristol, where doctors performed emergency surgery to remove the infected tissue.




Shirley was put into a medically induced coma to allow her body to rest while she recovered.

She was in the coma for five days, and it was over a month before she was well enough to come home to Winterbourne, Bristol.

The retired carer, who lives with her husband, Bob, 69, a former betting shop manager, 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.’

Once she was well enough, doctors performed a skin graft from the top of her leg in order to cover the ‘gaping wound’ on her arm – which was so deep her tendons were exposed.

After over eight operations Shirley is now home and well, with her hand ‘almost as good as it was’.

However, Chan, who she bought as a kitten for £400, has now been rehomed and lives with her daughter Zoe.

How Shirley’s illness unfolded

  • April 8: She was scratched by her cat Chan
  • April 11: Admitted to hospital and placed in an induced coma
  • April 12: Diagnosed with necrosis/sepsis and had an emergency operation to remove the infection
  • April 15: Began waking from coma
  • April 18: Operation to remove infection and had two cardiac arrests, sedated again
  • April 20: Woke from being sedated
  • April 26: First skin graft on her hand
  • May 2: Transferred to plastic surgery ward
  • May 3: Realised skin graft hadn’t taken
  • May 7: Another unsuccessful attempt made to skin graft
  • May 18: Sent home from hospital
  • July 21: Third skin graft attempted, this time successfully

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