Phoenix Is Severely Burned but Still Manages to Save One of Her Kittens from the Humboldt Fire
Despite sustaining severe burns to her paws, a courageous cat named Phoenix was able to rescue one of her kittens from a deadly wildfire that swept through the northern California town of Paradise last month. (See photo above.) She was unable, however, to rescue her other kittens.
Phoenix and her one surviving offspring, Blaze, are now on the road to recovery and soon will be put up for adoption. She also has graciously consented to nurse six other kittens that were robbed of their mothers by the conflagration. (See the Mercury-Register of Oroville, June 28, 2008, "Humboldt Fire Cats Need Good Home.")
The blaze, which started in neighboring Humboldt County before spreading to Butte, scorched tens of thousands of acres along the way and destroyed at least sixty-six houses. In Paradise, seventeen homes were damaged and nine-thousand-five-hundred residents had to be evacuated. (See San Francisco Chronicle, June 15, 2008, "Paradise Fire Evacuees Starting to Return Home.")
Phoenix's heroics are reminiscent of those of a black and white Brooklyn cat named Scarlett who during the spring of 1996 made five separate trips inside a burning building in order to carry to safety her five, four-week-old kittens. (See photo below.)
During the daring rescue, she received severe burns to her eyes and paws and her fur was badly singed. She still has scars and her eyes must be medicated several times throughout the day in order to keep them moist.
Although one of her kittens died shortly after the fire, the remaining four survived and at last report are all doing well. (See Cat Defender post of September 15, 2005 entitled "Scarlett, the Cat Who Saved Her Kittens from a Burning Building in 1996, Is Still Alive on Long Island.")
Three-hundred-twelve kilometers to the south of Paradise in Santa Cruz, Naomi and Frank Bloss received a pleasant surprise on June 26th when their black cat, Tip-Two, unexpectedly showed up at their back door. (See photo below.) Given up for dead, the cat had been missing for six days after the Trabing Fire had destroyed much of the Blosses' property but, strangely enough, not their house.
"He just showed up on the back patio, where the cats eat, and we couldn't recognize him at first," Naomi told the Santa Cruz Sentinel on June 27th. (See "Family Cat Returns Home Six Days after Trabing Fire, Burned but Not Broken.") "I was amazed he even made it home, in the condition he was in."
Tip-Two suffered severe burns to his face, ears, eyelids, paws, and fur. The tips of his ears in fact were so badly burned that they had to be surgically removed. The same fate may be in store for the white tip on his tail, which supplied the rationale for his odd name.
The cat, who was forced to go without regular meals during his separation from his family, is being fed intravenously at the East Lake Animal Hospital in Watsonville. If all goes well, he should be back home in about three weeks.
"...animals have a great will to survive," attending veterinarian Dave Carroll told the Sentinel in the article cited supra. "That's what is really amazing: they're tough, in some cases, they're tougher than we are."
In a profession known more for its bloodsuckers than animal-lovers, Carroll is an exception to the rule in that he is not charging the Blosses for a good portion of the services that he has rendered to Tip-Two. United Animal Nations of Sacramento also is making a financial contribution towards the cat's care.
The Trabing Fire began on June 20th when sparks from an exhaust pipe ignited dry grass along the side of a highway. It went on to destroy six-hundred-forty acres of land, twenty structures, and to kill at least forty domestic animals. (See Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 25, 2008, "Cal Fire: Trabing Fire an Accident Not Arson; Summit and Martin Fires Remain Under Investigation.")
Natural disasters, wars, and economic downturns are hard enough on people but it is always the animals and Mother Earth that suffer the most.
Photos: Susan Doyle (Phoenix), Moggies (Scarlett), and Sophie Borazanian of the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Tip-Two).