A CAT found with horrific injuries may have ripped its own face off.
That's the conclusion of a Lochgelly charity called to help Wattie, who was close to using up all of his nine lives when he was found with the flesh from his chin and lower jaw area hanging off.
Sunny Harbour Cat and Kitten Rescue, on Bank Street, sprang into action and discovered that while the jaw was still in place and functioning, the flesh had been "degloved" – where skin is removed from underlying tissue, severing the blood supply.
Sarah Ross, who runs the rescue with husband Paul, ruled out foul play and said: "How he did it we've no idea; we asked around but nobody knows.
"Our vets said they had never seen anything like it before. There was no mark on this cat and he had no other injuries, so that takes out the option of a car injuring him.
"If it had been done by someone, there would be tears and cut wounds, but it's almost like the flesh has been glued on and fell off. The bone was clean and have no chips, so whatever it has been, it has been ripped off cleanly."
The drama unfolded on Saturday February 4 when a member of the public called Sunny Harbour after finding the distressed cat in the Paul Street and Small Street area.
She said: "Degloving is very common with cats who live on farms, or in rural areas where, for example, there's barbed wire or they've got stuck in a fence and they've started chewing to get away. By taking a bit off you're left with the underlying bone and flesh and happens with cats who are hit by cars.
"But this is very unusual. He was 2kg underweight, so I don't think he was getting food regularly, so he may have been scavenging for food and he's caught on something.
"We had to get him in to emergency surgery because there was a risk of infection if left open to heal. His chances had that happened would've been about five per cent."
Wattie underwent two rounds of surgery lasting six hours after the charity's army of supporters paid for an op through online donations to re-attach the flesh.
Sarah said it could take up to a year for the cat to make a full recovery.
After the out-of-hours vet cleaned up the wound and desperately tried to reattach the flesh back on to Wattie's jaw, the next day one side of it began showing signs of coming away.
Wattie was referred to Norman Johnston's Dental Vets in North Berwick, who previously performed surgery on celebrity cat Mr Norris, whose remarkable recovery from major surgery to repair a damaged palate previously appeared in the Times.
Sarah continued: "Because we'd used Norman's team in North Berwick with Mr Norris, we know they are the best team to go to so we sent him pictures of Wattie's injury and the surgery. He phoned us to get him straight to him first thing on Monday morning and he was on the operating table for four hours to have it stitched back on.
"They had to drill through the bone to reattach and there are seven layers of stitches to hold things in place. He was also found to have damaged canine tooth which was given root canal work while he was sedated.
"He's on morphine based medication for the pain and probably in two weeks he'll be able to start coming off them and on to normal pain relief. In 3-4 weeks he should then be off it completely."
Sarah said Wattie was purring again and making progress and paid tribute to the charity's supporters who helped saved the brave kitty's life.
She added: "He was lucky he ended up with us because we give cats every possible chance. We've not got massive reserves in terms of funds and the only way we can raise money is by an appeal. We are thankful to everyone who has supported us.
"It was upsetting to see but we are remaining cautiously optimistic. He's a wee fighter but we're amazed how he's come through it; when he came back last Tuesday, he walked up to Paul and head bumped him as if to say thank you!
"When we found him, the vets reckoned he'd been like that for a couple of days. He's a young cat and he should go on to live a reasonably normal life without pain."
If you have been moved by Wattie's story and want to help him and felines like him, you can donate to the charity by visiting www.sunnyharbour.org.uk and click on the 'donate' button.