Pet of the Day: Floyd, the miracle earthquake cat

Last updated 05:00 12/05/2017

Floyd spent 10 days under a crumbled building, but now he's made a miraculous recovery.

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Floyd is a genuine wonder cat. His story is extraordinary. I first read about Floyd on Stuff, soon after the September 2010 earthquake when Stuff ran a community service of matching lost and found animals with their owners.

I already had two rescue cats and wasn’t looking for another. But Floyd caught my attention and I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I um-ed and ah-ed for days before finally giving in and calling the vets.

"I’m happy to make a donation," I said. "He really needs a forever home," they said.

And they told me his story.

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A young and strapping Maine Coon cat, he was known by another name on that fateful morning, when he went for his morning constitutional in the wee hours of the frosty morning. As he prowled the street in Shirley, the ground suddenly heaved and roared for 43 seconds. He tried to bolt to safety but luck was not on his side and a building came tumbling down upon him.

Pinned under the rubble and critically injured, the orange cat lay in a semi-conscious state. For 10 days the earth continually shook and grumbled, and the debris constantly shifted on and around him. He grew weaker and weaker and his life began to ebb away.

Workmen were clearing the rubble away when they came across the inert and bloodied body of a cat and as they bent down to look at him, he meowed weakly at them. Suddenly, there was a great call to arms. The SPCA was called and he was whisked away to the emergency vet.

A Canadian locum was standing by to receive him and he was struck by how similar this cat looked to his own back in Canada. He felt a bond and gave him the same name: Floyd.

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Floyd’s skull had been crushed. An acorn had been wedged between his brain and his skull. Dirt and debris were intermingled with blood, fur and bone. Floyd was anaesthetised and given fluids whilst the vet spent hours cleaning the wound. Eventually it was apparent he was cleaning away brain tissue. It was time to stop cleaning and to begin patching. There wasn’t enough bone to cover Floyd’s brain, and barely enough skin, but with skill and patience, the vet and his assistants managed to close the wound.

All they could do now was keep infection at bay. The rest was up to Floyd.

He clearly wanted to live and slowly - ever so slowly - he came back to life.

The surgery was his home for now. He was too fragile to re-home. His owners had been found through the feature on Stuff - but they took one look at his disfigured face and abandoned him.

It took weeks for Floyd to regain any notion of being a cat. The vets and staff took turns caring for him 24 hours a day. He had to be taught how to "cat", re-learning how to walk, eat, drink, pee and poo. 

His injuries are life-long - a disfigured face, a right eye that can barely close, left-sided weakness, unsteady on his feet and a slight intellectual disability and most striking of all, no skull between his right eye and ear.

I first met Floyd about two months after his fateful day. He was dossing down at the vet’s home; he greeted me at the door and talked to me. I was hooked.


Fast forward six-and-a-half years and I can report that Floyd is alive and well and the most wonderful companion. He’s a hefty 8 kilos – slightly on the small side for a Maine Coon male but huge compared to Lucy, his housemate. His paws are nearly the size of my palm, he sheds like crazy, talks non-stop and sticks to me like glue when I’m home. He’s well-known in the neighbourhood and everyone looks out for him. He greets everyone I talk to.

Floyd is a complete clown and makes me laugh every day. He goes for evening walks with me and my partner. He drinks from the tap. He follows me around when I mow the lawns and he can never give me enough cuddles. He demands his biscuit treats at 9.30 every night. He waits patiently outside the shower door for me to emerge.

He openly adores me, gazing at me for long periods when we are having a quiet time together. He loves to sleep in Lucy’s basket, even though he is far too big for it!

He has some limitations, mainly in body strength, but it's not too much of a big deal as he's very much a house cat. I live on the edge of farmland which my other cat, Lucy, cherishes. But for Floyd, the couch is the best place.

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He sleeps on my left side every night and every morning when I wake up, he moves around the bed covers to my right side and sits purring whilst I read the news before getting up. He loves his routines.

He’s nine now and going strong. He’s full of life - I think he knows he’s been given a second shot.

Lasting 10 days in those awful conditions and with such grievous wounds, Floyd has shown me that no matter how bad things can get, good times will come around again. You just need patience and inner strength.

Floyd’s rescue and survival under the gentle hands of caring men and women is also a wonderful story. When he was completely unable to help himself, kind strangers stepped in and gave him a hand up towards life again. There were several points where his life could have been ended but instead, every decision made for him was a choice to help him live. And he’s still here as testimony to the belief those strangers had in him.

On his behalf, I thank all those who were involved in his rescue and care.

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