The UK’s ‘bravest cat’ that cost a family £25,000 – and their summer holiday


A couple whose cat has repeatedly cheated death after being brutally attacked by four dogs and surviving coronavirus have described him as “the bravest and most expensive cat in the UK” after his medical bills soared to £25,000.

The pet has now cost them their summer holiday.

Katie Courts, 47, a yoga instructor and her husband Paul Giller, 51, a computer programmer, from Dovercourt, Essex, were leaving their house on May 6 2024, when the dogs they said appeared to be “bullies” attacked their ragdoll cat Billie.

Paul tried to keep Billie away from the off-lead dogs by picking him up, but the cat wrestled free and one of the dogs bit down on his head, leaving him with an almost severed tongue and crushed jaw..

Billie spent three weeks in a specialist animal hospital where he came close to dying several times after developing sepsis and anaemia before being discharged, leaving Katie and Paul with a £14,000 bill – half of which was covered by their insurance.

The couple, who have two children, Myla, 10, and Aidan, six, are now facing another £6,000 bill for surgery after Billie managed to remove his cone collar during the night and gnaw his leg, which may have to be amputated.

Katie described Billie as the ‘UK’s bravest and most expensive cat’
Katie described Billie as the ‘UK’s bravest and most expensive cat’ (PA)

Katie and Paul decided to sacrifice their savings for their beloved cat and have now been forced to cancel their summer holiday to Ohio in America as they cannot afford it or to leave him alone.

This is not the first time Billie has used up one of his nine lives. He cheated death a few years ago when he contracted cat Covid, a disease which at the time usually proved fatal, but survived after Paul paid for a £4,000 trial treatment.

The couple say in total they will have spent £25,000 on Billie’s vet bills.

“Basically, all our savings are now gone and we’ve just had to cancel our holiday to America in a couple of the weeks,” Katie, who also has a pet cockapoo called Sula and another cat called Lillie, told PA Real Life.

“Billie is the bravest and most expensive cat. I can’t believe he survived everything life has thrown at him and as long as he wants to live we will keep finding the funding.

“If you have a dog that can cause damage to any other living creature, whether it’s a cat, human or another dog, they should just be on a leash and under control at all times.”

When Katie and Paul got Billie four and half years ago they were living in a 600-year-old farm house surrounded by fields in Wrabness, Essex.

Katie and Billie before the attack (Collect/PA Real Life)
Katie and Billie before the attack (Collect/PA Real Life) (PA)

They found Billie “behaved more like a dog”, accompanying them on country walks during lockdown.

“It was just something he always did, he would come with us and trot at our heels around the fields, almost like he thought he was a dog, it was so sweet,” said Katie.

The couple moved to Dovercourt on the coast in May 2021 and Billie soon became “quite famous” among locals who were surprised to see a cat going for walks with them on the beach.

“People would always stop us and say, ‘Gosh, you taking your cat for a walk?’ and we would have a laugh about it, everyone loved him,” Katie said.

On May 6 Paul headed out for an morning stroll and true to form, Billie was right behind him.

They barely made it through the garden back gate when a woman suddenly appeared with four dogs off the lead, which Paul said appeared to be “bullies”.

Instinctively, Paul immediately picked up Billie to protect him – a decision he now regrets.

Paul after Billie was attacked had gashes on his face(Collect/PA Real Life)
Paul after Billie was attacked had gashes on his face(Collect/PA Real Life) (PA)

“All the dogs rushed up and started jumping up at Paul and scratching him to try and get at Billie,” said Katie.

“Of course, Billie was going mad and scratching Paul too, and he ended up with gashes down his face and all over his arms.”

Paul tried to walk away and defuse the situation, but Billie managed to break free and leaped onto the ground.

“My husband dived in and saw the jaws of the biggest dog just close around Billie’s head and at that point he thought Billie was lost,” she added.

By some “miracle” the dog loosened its grip and Paul was able to scoop Billie up before rushing back into the house.

Katie immediately took Billie to an emergency vet in Colchester and was told he might not make it through the night.

The next morning, he was rushed to the DWR Veterinary Specialists in Newmarket, a two-hour drive away, where Billie spent the next three weeks.

“The dental team, under the leadership of surgeon Gerrard Putter, and the ICU nurses worked tirelessly to save his life and literally performed miracles on his mouth,” said Katie.

“The overall bill for those three weeks including the first night of emergency care was £15,000 and our insurance covered the first seven.

Billie on the final day of treatment for FIP, at the vets with his certificate in 2021 (Collect/PA Real Life)
Billie on the final day of treatment for FIP, at the vets with his certificate in 2021 (Collect/PA Real Life) (PA)

A CT scan revealed Billie’s tongue had almost been severed at the root and his jaws had been “completely crushed” on both sides.

Billie underwent two surgeries, first to re-attach his tongue and then wire his jaws back together but then developed sepsis from a untreated wound on his leg, concealed under his fur.

Katie was told to “say her goodbyes” but after having a blood transfusion, Billie bounced back and he was able to return home a week later.

His recovery was going well when one evening after Katie and Paul had gone to bed Billie managed to remove his protective cone and began chewing his wounded leg.

“By the next morning, he had chewed through the ligaments of his leg,” said Katie.

The couple will find out on Wednesday whether vets can operate or if Billie’s leg will have to be amputated.

The procedure costs another £6,000, money which Katie and Paul do not have.

To help raise funds, Katie has launched a fundraiser on GoFundMe asking for people to sponsor her to complete 108 sun salutations – a popular yoga sequence.

But this is not the first time Billie has used one of his nine lives.

After Katie and Paul moved to Dovercourt, Billie became “very quiet and lost weight” to the point where Katie took him to see the vet.

He was diagnosed with feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), an uncommon but serious disease caused by feline coronavirus, according to vet charity the PDSA.

“I was told that it’s quite common in breed cats under two years old and it was always fatal,” said Katie.

“He was put in an oxygen tent and (it was) basically said, we can drain his lungs but we can’t cure this.

“I was obviously devastated.”

Not wanting to give up hope, Paul began researching online and learned the University of Edinburgh was trialling a treatment called Remdesivir which had been used to treat Covid in humans.

Their vet called the university which agreed for Billie to receive the treatment, involving a daily injection for three months.

“Three months later he had beaten it,” she said.

“He was one of the first cats in the country to do this drug and the vets gave us a little certificate.

“He wasn’t insured at the time and that treatment cost us £4,000.

“He had already survived all that and then (the dog attack) has happened.”

Katie hopes Billie’s experience will encourage people to keep aggressive dogs on a leash, as she fears her children could also be at risk.

Paul with Myla, 10, Aidan, 6 and his mother mum Lynne(Collect/PA Real Life)
Paul with Myla, 10, Aidan, 6 and his mother mum Lynne(Collect/PA Real Life) (PA)

The couple are waiting to find out whether Billie’s leg can be fixed and the public have already helped them raise more than £1,450 for the operation.

“I have been overwhelmed by the support,” Katie said.

“After what happened, I was feeling quite upset about how some people can be really horrible and this GoFundMe has restored my faith in how amazing people can be.”

Essex Police have said the attack on Billie is not a police matter and Katie has now reported the incident to the dog warden.

To support Katie and Paul visit:


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