Update on Baby, the Cat Who Saved Her Family from a Fiery Death

 |  Feb 18th 2009  |   7 Contributions


A month ago we reported on a tragic fire in Iowa, in which Baby (right) --appropriately enough, a flame point Siamese cat--bravely alerted her owners that their home was in flames, saving the lives of three people as well as the family dogs, cats and goats. At that time, the fate of our heroine, Baby, was unknown. After saving the family, she disappeared into the frozen Iowa snowscape.

I'm happy to report that Baby is safe and sound, and in an exclusive Cat's Meow interview, we talked with Baby's owner (John Hadley) about the fire and the fate of the family's other animals.

Cat's Meow: What did Baby do to alert your family to the fire?
John Hadley: Baby jumped from the dresser to the bed to wake me. Several times, over and over and over again, she went from the dresser and sprang three feet through the air to land on me to alert me of danger. I finally was awake enough to smell smoke. Thanks to Baby I was able to get my mother and the rest of the family out in time.

Cat's Meow: You have 4 cats and 3 dogs. What are their names?
John Hadley: My family includes Mom, Jim, Baby (Flame point Siamese), Oscar (golden striped, Large Cat), Apopphis (gray calico Cat), Meiko (gray striped Cat), Ricky (black Toy Poodle), Lucy (mostly white Jack Russell ), Prince (Black with white JackaPoo), Rick and Lucy's pup and the two goats: Cindy (brown with spots, pictured in news article) and Nanny, an all-white female.














Cat's Meow: Was it difficult to make sure they all got out of the burning house okay? Were any of them injured?
John Hadley: It was kind of hard to make sure everybody was out. The dogs are always ready to run out the front door, so they went right out quick. The cats live inside and had to be gathered and accounted for. With the smoke and commotion it was a miracle that it did go so smoothly. The goats being nearest and first to know of the danger ran free to their safety in the back yard. The only injury to any of us was some singed hair on Cindy's back and some minor smoke inhalation. Thank our hero Baby for getting us up in time.

Cat's Meow: Has either of the goats fessed up to who started the fire?
John Hadley: Neither of the goats have admitted guilt, but knowing how Cindy is the oldest and bossy, I believe she was bullying Nanny for a spot closer to the heat lamp and pulled it down from its hanger.

Cat's Meow:Baby was missing after the fire. How long was it before she returned home?
John Hadley: The Red Cross was very helpful to us in this time of need. The Fire chief called them and they were on the location within one hour. We were on the way to board the animals at the kennel and they waited for us to return from getting our animals boarded and out of the subzero weather. That took a couple of hours, and when we were done we went back to the house and Baby was there waiting for our return. The fire was still smouldering, with firemen putting out the hot spots.

Cat's Meow:Was it difficult to find housing for your family and all of your animals after the fire?
John Hadley: Baby, Meecko and I are staying with friends. Jim and Mom are with her cousin, and the goats were given to a local goat farmer equipped to keep them permanently. The three dogs and other two cats are still being boarded at a kennel. Unfortunately, this is going to be quite expensive for the 40+ days they will have to be there.

Cat's Meow:How are your cats and dogs coping after the fire? Were they traumatized, or is it business as usual?
John Hadley: They all seen to be adapting to their surroundings quite well considering being uprooted so quickly and traumatically in the freezing weather. We are very anxious to get into a new home in town and all be back together.

Cat's Meow:Did your family lose everything in the blaze?
John Hadley: Yes, everything is gone. The fire burned the house completely to the ground. We were all in complete shock for a week or more after this. Each day we think of something we need and had that was lost. Jim had let the Homeowners Insurance lapse when he had been unemployed and working at a part time job. When he was rehired full time he just never got the Insurance reinstated. What a lessen for ALL to learn by. Have INSURANCE or you will lose everything.

Cat's Meow:Is there any advice you could give to our readers on evacuating animals from a burning home, based on your experience?
John Hadley: Yes, Stay calm which is very hard to do. Do a head count and make sure the animals don't run back into their familiar home to hide. Make sure everyone is safe and don't risk your safety, let professionals do their job with the proper equipment.

Thanks, John, for taking the time to give us an update on Baby and your family. We sincerely hope you will all be back together beneath the same roof soon.

If any of our readers would like to help, a fund was set up by the community to help the family get back on their feet and to pay for boarding the animals until they are relocated into a new home. The Fire Relief Fund was set up for "James Giles and Family" at:

Bank of The West
211 East Boston Ave.
Indianola, IA 50125
(515) 961-7411


As this story proves, no one can predict when disaster will strike. But you can increase your chances of making it out alive with your pets by planning ahead:

  • Get a window sticker to alert firefighters that there are pets in your home. Some companies and shelters give these away for free.
  • Microchip and tag your pets. Together Tags help ensure that even if your house burns down and you can't be reached by phone, you and your pet can be reunited. You can upload photos of your pets to Together Tag so that you will have a photo from which to make a lost pet flyer, even if your home and computer are destroyed.
  • Have one carrier for each of your pets. We keep extra cardboard folding carriers upstairs and downstairs. This ensures that if you're able to get your cats into carriers as you evacuate that they won't sneak back into the home or wander off.
  • Keep copies of your pets' medical information in more than one place. Scan it and email it to yourself, keep a copy at work, give a copy to relatives.



Click here for more tips on emergency preparedness for your pets.


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