Running onto the field in the middle of a professional soccer game is probably the best thing Topsey the cat ever did.
The nine-year-old tortoiseshell went missing in June of 2021 when her human, Alison Jubb of Sheffield (UK) was going on vacation and taking Topsey to a cattery. Topsey got spooked, bolted from her carrier, and after months of fruitless efforts to find her, Jubb thought she’d never see her cat again.
Then in the 94th minute of a Feb. 8 match between Sheffield and Wigan Athletic, a familiar-looking tortoiseshell dashed onto the field. Wigan’s Jason Kerr risked a penalty to catch and calm the clearly distressed cat while the crowd erupted in cheers.
“My daughter-in-law rang me last night and said, ‘Are you watching the football match?'” Jubb said. “I said ‘No,’ and she said ‘There’s a cat that ran on the football pitch and it just looks like Topsey.’ And I sort of laughed it off because I thought it won’t be.”
But the veterinarian rang the next day and, to Jubb’s surprise and delight, said the Sheffield woman’s cat had been identified via a microchip scan.
One of Sheffield’s season ticket holders happened to be a veterinarian, and when he offered to examine the terrified feline at the stadium, he realized she had serious injuries and brought her to a nearby clinic.
Topsey had survived her harrowing eight-months away and her bloodwork was okay, but the veterinarian said the tough little kitty had endured an attack by a dog or another larger animal, who picked her by her neck and shook her in its jaws. Topsey suffered broken bones, a damaged spine and had teeth marks on her neck.
The veterinary bill is hefty: Jubb was told she’s looking at about £10,000, or more than $13,000 in US dollars, to cover the exams, scans, surgeries and other necessities to relieve Topsey’s pain and mend her little body.
Generous cat lovers and soccer fans helped Jubb and Topsey reach that goal in just a few days. The campaign’s donations sit at £11,585 as of Feb. 19, and any money left over from Topsey’s veterinary care will be donated to a local rescue.
Topsey can’t walk properly because of her injuries, and in the 11 days since she was rescued, she’s been in veterinary care, recovering and scarfing down food after so many lean months left her malnourished.
Despite the severity of her injuries, Topsey is “very comfy and she’s doing really well,” Jubb told the BBC.
Jubb says Topsey is constantly purring and is no doubt thrilled to be reunited with her humans and on the mend.
“Everybody has been brilliant, – my phone’s not stopped all day, it’s amazing,” Jubb said after Topsey was recovered. “And the players, I’d just like to say ‘thank you’ for being so gentle and kind with her and everybody who looked after her [on Feb. 8] because they’ve all been so nice with her and that’s lovely.”