Lumpi Is Unforgivably Left to Die in a Burning Apartment by the Ingrates Whose Lives He Saved
"Die Katzen haben geschrien. Wir wollten nach ihnen schauen, aber wir sahen kaum noch etwas und konnten nicht mehr atmen."
-- Susi S.
Scarcely a week passes without at least one cat somewhere in the world saving the lives of its guardians by alerting them to either a fire or some other impending disaster. (See Cat Defender posts of November 30, 2007, October 31, 2007, and April 23, 2007 entitled, respectively, "Cuddles Saves Saskatchewan Family from a Blaze in a Faulty Fireplace That Destroys Their Home," "Bacon Shows His Appreciation and Love for His Rescuer by Awakening Her from a Burning Apartment," and "Winnie Saves Indiana Family of Three from Dying of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.")
Despite the volume of these tales of feline derring-do, they still pale in comparison with the far greater number of cats who die unheralded while saving the lives of their often unworthy guardians. Nine-month-old Lumpi from the Swabian town of Altshausen in Baden Wuerttemberg was one of these unfortunate heroes. (See photo above.)
The deadly drama unfolded at 4 a.m. last New Year's eve when fire engulfed the newly renovated second floor apartment that Lumpi and his sister, Sissi, shared with their guardians, forty-four-year-old Susi S. and forty-six-year-old Edgar K. (The German press rarely discloses the surnames of purely private individuals.) It is believed that the conflagration started in a defective television set.
Susi and Edgar were sound asleep in their bedroom and oblivious to what was going on until they were rudely awakened by Lumpi and Sissi. "Ploetzlich kratzte und miaute es an unserer Schlafzimmertuer," Edgar later told Bild on January 3rd. (See "Kater rettet Familie aus brennendem Haus -- und stirbt.") "Als ich oeffnete, stuermten unser Kater Lumpi und unsere Katze Sissi ins Zimmer. Ich sah Qualm auf dem Flur, aus dem Wohnzimmer schlug mir eine beissende Rauchwolke entgegen."
Clad only in pajamas, Susi and Edgar fled their burning apartment and left their saviors to fend for themselves. "Die Katzen haben geschrien," Susi told Bild. "Wir wollten nach ihnen schauen, aber wir sahen kaum noch etwas und konnten nicht mehr atmen."
Afterwards, firemen found Lumpi's lifeless body wedged between the mattresses on the couple's bed. He had died of smoke inhalation. Sissi, on the other hand, survived by hiding underneath the bed.
The apartment was completely destroyed thus forcing the couple to temporarily move in with Susi's parents. (See photo below of them inside their burned out abode.)
"Er war ein ganz verschmuster Kater," Susi eulogized Lumpi to Bild. "Er kuschelte sich oft auf dem Sofa an uns. Jetzt verdanken wir ihm unser Leben."
Although she survived the inferno, the loss of her brother has left Sissi traumatized. "Sie ist verwirrt, miaut herzzerreissend," Susi told Bild. "Sie sucht den ganzen Tag nach ihrem Bruder."
Whether or not the couple did all that they could in order to have saved Lumpi is a debatable point. Moreover, it is they who are going to have to live with whatever choices that were made in that burning apartment.
Based exclusively upon their statements to Bild, however, it thus would appear that they did absolutely nothing to save Lumpi; im Gegenteil, their only concern was saving their own skins and to hell with the cats. At the very least they could have tried to save him. After all, their bedroom was not filled with smoke and they could hear both Lumpi and Sissi shrieking.
Each of them therefore could have grabbed a cat and carried it to safety. If that was not possible, they could have ventilated the bedroom by throwing a chair or two through the windows. That alone might have been sufficient to have saved Lumpi's life.
Once the firefighters arrived the couple should have immediately buttonholed them and explained to them that two cats were trapped in the blaze. Most fire brigades nowadays are equipped with pet oxygen masks and all firefighters are trained to administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to stricken animals as well as to adults. (See Cat Defender post of September 29, 2008 entitled "Kiki Is Healthy Again but in Legal Limbo as Her Rescuer, Firefighter Al Machado, Basks in the Glory of His Heroics.")
House fires are not any different from anything else in that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In this case, the apparent absence of both a smoke detector and a sprinkler system is inexcusable.
Much more importantly, apartment dwellers with cats should keep cages, leashes, and harnesses handy and in good condition for just such emergencies. Large towels that can be soaked in water and used for both covering and protection are another essential.
If these precautions are followed, it should be possible in most instances to save domesticated cats from buildings that turn into deathtraps. New arrivals, such as strays and ferals, are an entirely different matter because a cat must trust its guardian implicitly before it will cooperate in an emergency.
Zum Beispiel, on March 31st a bomb that the Royal Air Force dropped on Aachen during the second world war was unearthed on Bendstrasse. Four-thousand area residents were evacuated so that the bomb could be safely detonated. (See Aachener-Zeitung, March 31, 2010, "Bombenfund: Viertausend Aachener aus den Haeusern geholt.")
An unidentified elderly resident of the neighborhood was prepared, however, and escaped with his cat in a carrier to the Eurogress concert and exhibition hall which had been set up as a temporary shelter. (See photo above.)
It is painful to contemplate what Lumpi must have endured during the final moments of his all-too-brief existence. No matter how this this unfortunate incident is analyzed, this brave and heroic cat should not have been abandoned in his hour of greatest need, especially after all that he had done for his caretakers.
Whether it is abandonments, the en masse exterminations carried out by shelters and Animal Control, the blatant lies and slaughters committed against the species by birders and wildlife biologists, random acts of feline cruelty, or the black crimes of vivisectors, in the end cats always seem to get shortchanged in spite the myriad of contributions that they have made to mankind and civilization down through the millenniums.
Photos: Bild (Lumpi and Susi and Edgar) and Aachener-Zeitung (evacuees from Bendstrasse and vicinity).