A couple of weeks ago, a 4-year-old boy playing with a lighter started a fire that gutted an apartment building in Tauranga, New Zealand.
His parents and the rest of the building’s tenants barely managed to escape with their lives. Unfortunately, their pets weren’t so fortunate — and they all perished in the blaze.
Or so they thought.
But the next day, a contractor sent to work on the building spotted a small gray tabby, obviously injured and sick, sitting on the grass. The contractor called the Tauranga SPCA for help, and an officer rushed the cat to the closest vet.
It turned out that the forlorn feline was Snowey, one of the burned-out tenants’ pets.
At the vet clinic, the cat was given pain relief and IV fluids to rehydrate her. Hospital staff also began the long process of treating the burns on her paw pads and ear tips.
The SPCA got ahold of Snowey’s owner, who couldn’t believe the news. She said her heroic tabby must have jumped out a second-story window to save herself from the fire.
The fact that Snowey is still alive is a small light in the darkness. “Her remarkable survival offers some comfort to her owner during what has amounted to a tragedy for her and her whanau,” said Tauranga SPCA animal welfare officer Jason Blair. (For those of you who don’t live in New Zealand, “wahanau” is a Maori word that roughly translates to “family.”)
Snowey is being fostered at the home of a veterinary nurse, who is providing 24-hour care and monitoring for the frazzled feline as she recovers from her injuries. She has weeks of recovery ahead, possibly including surgery to remove burned skin tissue from her paw pads. The SPCA is covering the cost of her treatment, which the vet clinic is providing at a discounted price.
When the family is settled again, the SPCA plans to return Snowey to her owners. Hopefully by that time, the kid will have learned his lesson — and his parents will have learned theirs: Keep lighters and matches out of the reach of small children!