Our Cats Survived A House Fire!

Our deaf girl Annabelle after the fire. You can see she is covered in soot.

Our deaf girl Annabelle after the fire. You can see she is covered in soot.

Our deaf girl Annabelle after the fire. You can see she is covered in soot. Our

It was this past Thursday around 5 p.m., our cats survived a house fire. The fire started from a stove we don't even use and our smoke detector didn't go off.

My daughter Laura was next door when the fire started and I was in bed asleep after pulling a sixteen hour shift at work. She came into my bedroom screaming "FIRE".

It's a strange feeling to be awakened in a sun-lit bedroom and walk into a room pitch black with smoke. My first thought was "what time is it?" I wandered into the kitchen where Laura was throwing water on the flames. There was a tiny bit of fire under the trash can she was using for something and I was able to smother it.

Laura was in a panic screaming for me to call the fire department. The fire was already out and I knew if I called the fire department, we'd have water damage on top of smoke damage. The fire department would never have allowed us back in to save the cats.

I'm surprised I stayed calm. I told Laura we needed to get the cats out. She already had one in her arms, but I can't remember which cat was the first to get out. I threw the first cat in the car I drive every day.

Next came Sealy, who was under the bathroom sink in a cabinet where he'd been for several days still recovering from his fan blade injury. His story is at Treating a Cat with a Car Fan Blade Injury. I do remember he was the second to get out. Then came Misty, since she's our senior girl.

I saw our neighbor's son outside as I was throwing Misty in the car and called out to him for help. He came, along with two other neighbors and we started pulling whoever we could find. It was still pitch black in the house.

Sometime in the middle of all of this our next door neighbor joined in the rescue. We were able to get 22 out of 24 cats out of the house. Laura was in and out of the smoke for over an hour.

Several of the cats were hiding under the beds and under the chair in my bedroom where my dogs take turns sleeping. Furby, Midnight and Cassie were among the last to be rescued. Miss Kitty never made it out. We found her three hours later hiding behind the washer. She was unharmed, but has since become a bed buddy to me again. Furby has turned into a lap cat. We don't know whether Furby is worried about us or worried about himself.

Renny, our feral, never made it out either. He'd been in my bedroom where there was little smoke and he ran from me when I tried to catch him. He looked unscathed by the ordeal so I let him stay. By this time the windows were all opened and the smoke clearing out.

It was really scary doing a mental count in my head. First I was missing Sammy, but he had been in my car the whole time. By the time we realized Miss Kitty wasn't among the cats in either car, it had become too dangerous to go back inside.

When we ran out of room in the car I drive, we began throwing the cats in a car I plan to put back on the road one of these days. I still can't believe that 22 cats and 2 small dogs didn't get into any type of disagreement while waiting the three hours in the car until it was safe to go back inside.

Tom, Gizzy, Lucky and Garfield all escaped as they were being carried by the neighbors. We were able to round them all back up later that night. Tom was only loose for an hour before Laura found him and put him in my car.

At first we thought we'd lost electricity. We were able to get 75% of it back on. We lost several kitchen appliances and the kitchen and living room were covered in black soot. All of it is fairly well clean except for the ceilings. Laura has worked around the clock getting things back in order.

Laura and I both have had to use a nebulizer for breathing treatments. She's coughing up black soot and I'm blowing it out of my nose. The cats don't appear to have suffered any physically, but they've definitely been affected emotionally.

Furby, who isn't a lap cat, is now laying in my lap more than ususal. Annabelle, our deaf cat, has been lax in following the hand signals we use to call her to us. She stares right through us right now. Sealy, our injured boy, acts as though nothing happened.

My friends have helped more than I ever believed possible by sending donations to replace the appliances. Without them we'd only have a single electric skillet to cook with. I was able to purchased a large toaster oven and a double hot plate burner. Also spent over $100 in cleaning supplies. It will take a few weeks to get the ceiling clean.

I'm thankful we got out and that we were able to get the cats out. While I was at Wal-Mart, I ran into another rescuer I know. He and his wife feed 80 feral cats and we stood around talking about the fire. They couldn't believe we risked our lives to go back inside for our cats. I never though of it that way until they mentioned it. There was no way we could have let them die. It would have been different with a fire. We just kept taking turns going into the smoke and coming out with the cats.

My theory was if I passed out, there were plenty of neighbors around to drag me outside. I still don't know how Laura stayed inside so long hunting for the cats.

Readers, whatever you think you'd do in a situation like this goes out the window once it actually happens. You can have all the drills you want. When you're faced with a pitch black room and the shock and disorientation, well, things change. You see in the movies how people will take a deep breath and rush back into a burning building to save the day. In reality that breath isn't there because your breathing is shallow from inhaling so much smoke. A person who thinks they have a few minutes of breath still inside them may find they can only hold their breath for fifteen seconds. It's scary.

I'd always said if there ever were a fire to just throw all the cats outside and get out. And yes, we were "throwing" them into the cars. There was no time to lose figuring how who would get along with whom.

Our big dogs went outside in our back yard with no problem getting them out. Our husky mix escape artist, Cody, escaped the fence and was running around outside saying hello to everyone. My baby Dreyfuss, who is a boxer with lung cancer, waited patiently on the top of the back porch.

Our small dogs, MuMu Mutt and Chico were put one in each car. I'm not sure who carried Chico, as he's heavy to be such a small dog.

Laura and I worked alone to bring the cats back inside. It was already dark and we had to use a cat carrier. I sat in the car and rolled the window down and handed them out to her one at a time. By the time she'd made more than 20 trips up the front steps she could hardly move.

I made a late night visit to Wal-Mart that night to purchase cleaning supplies. I was so exhausted, the young man who rang up my purchases called for someone to run the register and he helped load the car. Laura and I worked until around 4 a.m. before giving up.

Then it happened.....Darla, our shih-tzu girl, went into labor at 5 a.m. and delivered six puppies. We'd been waiting for days for her to have her babies. Darla was the first dog carried out because of her condition.

We're having a tough time getting the cats clean. Our white cats were gray/black after the fire. I purchased some cat shampoo and some waterless cat shampoo. I can tell everyone from experience that these do NOT work to remove soot. I bought a bottle of Dawn dish detergent, which is used to bathe wildlife caught in oil spills. The Dawn did the trick. Of course the cats aren't too happy with having to take two baths.

This whole event has turned Laura into my mother. She says she'll never own another stove in her life. I casually mentioned a clothes dryer can easily catch on fire. We never run the dryer unless someone is home. At night Laura goes around unplugging EVERYTHING. I've purchase two expensive smoke detectors and I get the feeling I'll be adding to that collection. My mother had seven in her house. I always considered mama a bit paranoid. Now I'm not so sure.

Did we do the right thing going back in for our cats? I didn't think of a single possession I wanted to save. Only our pets. Has this happened to any of you? I didn't consider the risk to us until it was mostly over. All I knew was the cats were inside, they were terrified and they needed us. Laura and I are two crazy cat ladies. I guess this experience is proof of that.

Elisa

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Our Cats Survived A House Fire!

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May 01, 2012
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What a terrifying ordeal for both of you !!
by: Anonymous

Elisa:
I had no idea about this fire, grateful that you & Laura are fine along with furry friends.
It's truly amazing how calm we react in an emergency,the cats did extremely well considering the circumstances.
We own/live in a 97 yr old home, a contractor friend of ours completed updating wiring, in this old house, found out it had original wiring from 1930, home was built 1915. Updated with new appliances just in case, also central heating instead of hole in floor heater.It's very scary to think what might happen in a fire. Sorry about loss but it can be replaced as opposed to lives.
Best wishes to both of you & pets
keenpetite
Southeast Arizona (USA)


Mar 18, 2012
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True Animal Rescuers
by: James Hipsley

It's amazing... The things people do. You & Laura did what is natural for You ~ You both love animals so you "Rescued" them ... Again ~ It is true that people have the fight or flight response in scary situations. The fact that you put the fire out & still wanted to make sure all your animals were safe is like a Mother with her Children 😀

Take care & best wishes for all of You !!


Mar 14, 2012
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i wouldn"t advise this
by: elisa

I agree with the firefighter post that I wouldn't advise this for everyone. My daughter and I both have first responder training. Being in security I've had a lot of hands on fire training as well. So I knew how to handle this. You must remember response time where I live is over 15 minutes. We don't even have cable where I live. Also don't have much of a cell phone signal. And I wasn't going to leave the cats in the 15 minutes waiting on the fire department. They'd have died. I dealt with a storage building fire several years ago and the fire was out when the fire department arrived. Not much damage at all until the firemen sprayed everything down. I lost 95 percent of the stuff inside to water damage. If there had been an actual fire id have called the fire department. The smoke was out within 20 minutes so I don't believe the fire department could have cleared it out faster.


Mar 14, 2012
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glad you are all ok!
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

I was so worried when I read about the fire on Facebook and then you didn't post more right away-- you were busy! But I worried about you guys and all the kitties and I prayed pretty hard that you would all be ok. I think I was most worried about Garfield since he was missing for awhile, and I must admit grateful Garfield is one of my favorites of all your brood, with apologies to Furby.

We use solid metal tubing for venting our clothes dryer. The flexible stuff is dangerous. The metal is better because if some lint in there does catch fire it will just burn out inside the metal tube, contained. In the flexible hose the fire will melt through it in short order. We had somebody deliver and install a new dryer several years ago, and that was his advice, so we've never went back to the cheap stuff. I worry a lot less about the dryer now, but I don't throw a load of clothes in the dryer and leave the house. And I'm like some of your other readers-- running around unplugging everything that's not in use.


Mar 14, 2012
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Firefighters Help Pets!
by: Roze

I'm so happy to read your story and know that you and all your pets made it out safely. I have a plethora of animals in my home and had a scare last year that we were able to manage ourselves, but we didn't have a room so dense with smoke that it seemed dark in the daylight.

However, this isn't an ideal situation and not everyone can do what you did. Worrying about and trying to avoid a little water damage by not calling the local fire company isn't exactly a safe practice.

As a social member of my local volunteer fire company, (meaning, I'm not a first responder, but help the company in other ways, i.e., to raise funds) I can tell you that firefighters are trained to save lives and that means animals as well.

If there were no flames and the fire was out, they'd have been more prepared to help you get your babies out of that smoke-filled house than you were. They wouldn't have rushed in with their hoses spraying down everything in sight.

Using oxygen tanks to breathe, they would have been able to help get the cats out more efficiently without putting themselves or you in danger. They also should have had a source for fans to get the smoke out of the house faster and clear the air so their rescue would work better.

I know you got them all out and cats, being low to the ground have a better chance of survival in a smoke-filled house than a dog or human does, but do remember your fire company has the ability to save lives.

You and your daughter were lucky...very, very lucky. Just know that this isn't a tactic everyone should use and dialing 911 gives a greater chance of survival for all!


Mar 14, 2012
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Well done both of you
by: Ruth

What a terrifying experience Elisa for you and Laura.
WELL DONE in getting all those defenceless creatures out of harm's way.
We can all say we'd risk our own skin to save our pets but it takes great courage to do that and we hope never to be put to that test.
Anyway you've both passed with flying colours.
Take care
xx

Kattaddorra signature Ruth


Mar 14, 2012
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Our cats survived a house fire.
by: Rudolph.A.Furtado

Extremely lucky to survive such a devastating house-fire as the smoke itself is enough to cuase grievious injuries to humans let alone cats which are small animals.Extremely brave to vacate all your cats from the house.


Mar 13, 2012
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extra cat
by: elisa

We even ended up with an extra cat trying to come in our back living room window. I guess the cats went out and made a friend and brought him back. Lucky was loose for almost 6 hours.

I had to go buy plastic bowls for the microwave. The ones we had melted. The whole top of the stove melted. Its unreal.


Mar 13, 2012
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Our Cats Survived a House Fire
by: Bernadette

Elisa, it's my worst nightmare, and I don't even have that many cats! My plan is to just toss them outside too, or into my car if I can, but I hope I never have to see if it works. I'm so glad you're all safe.


Mar 13, 2012
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Oh, my!!
by: Kitty

I am so glad that everyone is okay!! How brave you and Laura are!! Wow!! I hope everything continues to be fine and none of you suffer any ill effects. That being said... Holy Cow, Elisa!! This is the absolute LAST thing you need!! Much love, you fine lady. I'll see if I can come up with something.


Mar 13, 2012
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Thank God that you all are okay!
by: Joan

I am so glad that you are all safe.
God loves you and His tiny creatures that He created.He wanted all of you to survive.Guardian angels were everywhere watching over you.
We have seven cats.We have always said if we should ever have a house fire,the only"possessions' that we would take out with us would be our babies.We couldn't leave without them either.


Mar 13, 2012
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Well done to you both
by: Barbara

Very pleased you and Laura and all the cats and dogs are safe, what a terrifying ordeal that must have been. And oh yes you did right to go back for your furry family, imagine the devastation of losing them in such an awful way. Your neighbours did well by you too.

Barbara avatar


Mar 13, 2012
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terrifying for humans and animals
by: leanne

well done to both you and laura for getting all your animals to safety, and yourselves of course. i have never been in such a terrifying situation, and hope to god i never am. i think we all imagine how we would react in an emergency, but i'm sure the reality of a fire in your home is 1000 times worse than we could imagine. you and laura acted magnificently in rescuing your furry friends, they too must have been out of their heads with fear, the way you both acted efficiently and as calmly as possible i'm sure helped the animals to co-operate in the rescue operation. i'm positive that all animal lovers would say they would'nt hesitate in returning to a burning or smoke filled house to rescue their cats/dogs or whatever the animal, but when faced with the real life danger of it, i wonder how many actually would go back in, and in yours and lauras case, not just once but time after time to make sure all were safe. i have a real fear of fire but i would like to think that in the same situation i'd be as brave as both of you and do the same thing. WELL DONE. you could'nt have had much sleep at all that night with the puppies deciding to arrive when they did. you deserve a medal as big as a dustbin lid for all you have done and continue to do. good on your neighbours for rallying around too.


Mar 13, 2012
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Shocked
by: Michael

Hi Elisa. I am shocked. It makes quite tense reading. It's like a suspense novel! I can joke but this was dangerous.

Smoke inhalation would seem to be the most common cause of death in house fires.

Both you and Laura were amazingly calm and brave. Well done. You behaved admirably.

I am pleased that all the cats and dogs are OK. Thanks to the neighbors too. Great neighbors. A good bonding experience if we look on the bright side!



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