Nemo the world’s luckiest goldfish was saved after it escaped the jaws of a cat and survived 20 minutes out of water on a doorstep – close to a vets.
The 12cm-long fish is thought to have been snatched from a garden pond by a cat who fancied it for its supper and left it outside a house.
But he was found still barely damp and carried in a shoebox to a nearby branch of City Vets in Exeter, Devon by rescuers who thought he was dead.
He had suffered damage to his fins and scales and staff gave him antibiotics and an X-ray to see if there were any internal injuries.
It showed he had remarkably suffered no broken bones during his ordeal.
Staff named him Nemo and said he was ‘a little fighter’ who was well on the way to recovery – although they plan to keep him another week to make sure he is fully fit.
They have issued a Facebook appeal to find his original owner – or someone who is prepared to give him a new home.
Livia Benato, the exotic animal specialist at the vets, said Nemo could have been out the water for as long as 20 minutes before he was found in the St Thomas area of Exeter last Wednesday.
She said: “It’s lucky that he was still quite wet. The moisture was probably enough to keep him alive for long enough before we got him back into water.
“We took an x-ray and it showed no signs of fractures which is quite remarkable.
“The fish is very cute and will definitely be re-homed, although he will stay here for at least another week until we can make sure it can swim with no difficulties.”
Veterinary nurse Claire Smith who has been caring for Nemo since his arrival said: “Nemo was brought in by people who live walking distance from us.
“They weren’t clients and didn’t have any animals of their own.
“They brought him to us in a shoe box because there were no signs of life from Nemo – they thought he was dead at the time.
“I think he had been out of water for about 15 minutes. I’ve never seen anything like it. We’ve never had a stray fish before – and one that has had a happy ending like this.
“His injuries show he was played with by a cat. He had a couple of puncture wounds and his fins were torn.
“He is doing really well. He is having salt baths to treat his wounds and an injection of antibiotics once a day.”
She added: “He’s a proper little fighter and doing really well.
“We suspect a cat took it from a pond and left it on the doorstep as that is typical of cat behaviour.
“He should make a good recovery. His scales won’t grow back and his fins will always be torn but we think it makes him more special.”
The surgery has taken to social media in a quest to reunite Nemo with his owner.
Claire added: “We’d really like the owner to come forward if they are missing a fish.
“But if that’s not possible then a colleague has offered to give it a new home in his pond.
“We’re all very fond of him, he’s such a little fighter. He refuses to give up so we won’t give up either.
“He’s not going to let a cat and being out of water for who knows how long, get him down.
“He’ll being having treatment while we search for his owner. If we’re not successful one of our vets has a pond he can retire in.
“We’ve all grown quite attached to the little guy.”
On Facebook Pippa Lunberg asked: “Wonder if it was a heron taking it from a pond?
But the surgery replied: “We think it’s more likely to have been a cat due to the type of injuries and the fact he was left on a door step.”