Let’s get this out of the way first shall we … Our new (6 month old) kitten was called Fireball when I got him (or, to be more precise, HE selected me) from the Cats Protection people but it was my wife who gave him his new name of … wait for it … Professor Brian Cox!

Professor Brian Cox comparisonHis sisters; Cleopatra and Lyra; were named after two of my wife’s passions namely Egyptology and Astronomy (Lyra is a constellation if you’re in the remotest bit interested!) and so, apparently, it ‘stood to reason’ that the new arrival would be named after one of the key people to influence her in both. The erstwhile Professor!

I am only glad she wasn’t in to Sumo Wrestling and Origami!

Anyway, BRIAN had been with us for a couple of months and, apart from the usual hisses and the occasional left paw from Cleo, he’d settled in very nicely and had claimed the corner spot in the bedroom where the wife left her PJ’s as his own and he curled up pretty much every night there awaiting (or more often than not causing) our awakening for the morning feeding ritual when, one day, I got up and Brian … Well he just laid there looking at me.

Even though we’d only had him a while this was obviously out of character so I walked over to him and, after some gentle prompting he did slowly struggle to his feet but it was blatantly evident that he had something seriously wrong with one of his back legs which he was unable to stand on and which it was obvious was causing him a great deal of pain.

Off to the vets with him!

‘Erm, PROFESSOR BRIAN COX!!!’ they SHOUTED! ‘I just call him BRIAN’ I said. Unfortunately though it was too late and the room was now full of sniggering people (I could have sworn I even heard one of the other cats laugh too!).

The vet hauled the little fella out of the basket and it didn’t take her long to spot what appeared to be bite marks under the skin and scratches along the paw. Upon further examination the bottom of his foot was also caked in blood.

‘I think we’d better do an x-ray’ she said as I think his leg may be broken and so Brian was checked in and I was off to check out the small print on the Pet Insurance!

Later that night we got a call to come and collect him and were told that his back leg was fractured and that several of his weight bearing toe bones had been crushed presumably by another animal, possibly a fox! If that wasn’t bad (and expensive) enough they then told us that they did not have the ‘proper facilities’ to repair the damage properly and that we’d have to take him to an orthopaedic specialist based in Surrey! Given the deafening (and very disheartening) wailing the poor little thing had done during the 5 minute journey from home I was, as you can imagine, REALLY not looking forward to the 2 hour trip that now awaited us!

We took Brian home to await the call from the specialist (Fitzpatrick Referrals or the ‘Bionic Vets’ as some people knew them as (a name that we had hitherto not heard of but, apparently, they’d filmed a documentary there that had been on TV a few months back (now I KNEW this was going to end up being VERY expensive (the figure $6,000,000 came to mind for some reason!).

The call came around 7PM but it wasn’t exactly what we were expecting. ‘Hello, this is Hannah from Channel 5. We’re filming a new episode of the Bionic Vet at the moment and, whilst we’ve pretty much got all the animals we need, with a name like Professor Brian Cox, we just HAVE to include your cat!’

Oh well, maybe we could earn enough out of his TV slot to pay for the surgery I thought!

Unfortunately (or should that be fortunately) there were a few ‘snags’…

Firstly they estimated that the likely cost of repairing Brian’s leg was going to be £5,000-£6000! Secondly, whilst this ‘should’ be covered by the Pet Insurance, they would require 50% of the costs UP FRONT!

None of this was a huge problem (even if it had come to $6,000,000 we’d have somehow come up with the money (we don’t just like cats, we love them - especially when the cat in question was now part of our family!) but we could have certainly done without it having just paid out £650 for the initial x-rays and tests too!

Then came the next ‘hurdle’…

We obviously didn’t want to prolong Brian’s pain and anguish any longer than we had to (besides, we’d also been told that the longer we left things, the more likely it was that the fractured bones could fuse together or the fracture could get worse. Of course, despite the pain Brian still insisted on trying to walk and even occasionally trying - and failing! - to run) and so we got the earliest date that we could BUT this also happened to be the day that we were both due to travel up to Yorkshire for my brothers 60th Birthday party.

Well … it was MY brother (and you’re only 60 once!) and so, a little reluctantly, I headed off to Yorkshire and my wife accompanied by her mum for moral (and if needed financial!) support made the journey off to Fitzpatrick Referrals and Professor Brian Cox’s (well, at least the ‘furry version’s!) first ever TV interview!

Prof Brian Cox with plastered legSo I’m told the day went something like – A quick interview with mum and grandma, a few questions (the most probing of which I suspect was ‘why the #@%^ did you call your cat Professor Brian Cox), then they filmed Brian going for the x-ray and tests, then filmed the vet telling everyone (cat and all) that the fracture wasn’t quite as bad as they’d expected so they were going to try putting it in plaster to start with and not pinning it to see how it went (this was then ONLY going to cost us around £2000 instead) before filming leg being plastered, money being extracted and our trio of weary travellers departing for the long journey home.

OK so, as stories go, even one based on a cat, it’s now in danger of becoming a moggy version of War and Peace and so, in a nutshell, I have attempted to condense what followed below (sorry, it’s a bit of an anti-climax but that’s often the way with reality TV!)…

We had ‘no end of fun’ turning the house in to a latter day Catty Kolditz in order to keep The Prof isolated and relatively safe as well as away from Lyra and Cleo. Lyra missed him terribly and took to lying outside the bedroom door mewing every night (though, in typical cat irony, on the few occasions that we did let him out to say hello, she just hissed at him and ran away!). The missus and I also took it in turns to keep him company as much as we could to stop him going totally stir crazy!

Anyway … This house arrest went on for no less than 14 weeks during which we had to develop a ‘system’ for moving around the house ensuring that Lyra and Cleo had free roam of all rooms except the one Brian was in and that only they also had access to the cat-flap whilst, at the same time, having to feed and empty the litter tray in Brian’s ‘cell’ and keeping everyone where they were supposed to be!

We likened this how it must feel to spend 3 months on the international space station having to opening one door, step inside, close the door behind you, open the door in front of you to step inside then close this and so on and so on air-lock style.

On top of this, every 4 weeks we had to take Brian for the 2 hour round trip (excluding time spent at the clinic) so that they could check his leg and re-plaster it (which, of course, Brian then spent the next few days scratching and tearing at) and, of course, extract a little more money from us before FINALLY… the plaster was removed (his poor leg looked like it had been in a blender).

Even then his leg was very weak so we had to keep him in for a couple more weeks before he was finally allowed back out (more catty irony – he’d been tearing his fur out trying to get out but, when we finally opened the cat-flap he took one look/step outside and then turned back around and came back in again!)

Anyway that’s pretty much it except to say that the final irony was that, because he ended up with a boring old leg in plaster and not the ‘we can rebuild him’ pins and overdraft scenario they’d predicted even the great Professor Brian Cox appears to have been dropped from the TV series (it was due to be aired in April and so, as we haven’t heard a thing from Channel 5 since his visit, we assume that he just wasn’t interesting enough in the end!).

However, we have got most of the money back which means that we can now get married again but we’re keeping a little money aside in case he decides to pick a fight with another fox or whatever it was that caused all of this in the first place!

Cats huh!

Paul Seymour March 2014


A Cats Prayer

Lead me down all the right paths,
Keep me from fleas, bees, and baths.
Let me in should it storm,
Keep me safe, fed, and warm.


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