Ruby Clark wasn’t home when a friend phoned her with the news that the Bloomington, MN apartment building in which Ruby lived was engulfed in flames. Ruby’s thoughts immediately focused on one thing: getting her two cats out alive.
When she arrived at the scene, she asked crews to go into her apartment to retrieve two cats. Her gray tabby “Mama” (photo, above) was found hiding in a closet. They could not locate her second cat, which belonged to her son.
The blaze in the 11-unit building forced residents to drop half a dozen children from the second- and third-story windows and sent several people to the hospital.
Residents picking up belongings the next afternoon found that walls and the ceiling in the stairwell were blistered and black. Stairs were caked with frozen piles of ashes and ice. Ruby’s apartment was searched again, and this time her son’s cat was found in the smoke-damaged unit.
“This is horrible, unbearable,” Clark said. “I’ve never seen nothing like this.” She plans to stay with a sister in Bloomington.
Stories like this point out the necessity of microchipping indoor cats and keeping ID tags on them. It’s not unusual for cats to escape a burning building, only to become disoriented and lost. A frightened, traumatized cat’s demeanor is indistinguishable from that of a feral cat’s. At some shelters, cats deemed to be feral (no chip, no tags, and scared to death) are put in the express line for the gas chamber.
Another fire/emergency safety tip: Keep fold-up cardboard cat carriers in your bedroom closet – one for each cat. If a fire breaks out in your home, it will be chaos, and your cats will become all claws and teeth. Evacuation will be much easier with cats in carriers, and you’re less likely to be injured.
For more information, check out The Cat’s Meow’s Fire Safety Tips.