Firefighter fights to save kitten using oxygen mask

This is a powerful story of an attempted cat rescue that sadly failed but which succeeded in leaving a legacy: pet oxygen masks donated to the Fresno firefighters by a generous person after reading the story.

Back in June 2013, a kitten lost it’s life to a fire, despite the desperate attempts by Fresno, California firefighter Cory Kalanick and his fellow firefighters to save it. The video taken by Cory’s helmet camera on June 8 to show his kids how he did his job has resulted in a major donation to the Fresno fire department.

Here are stills from the video, which you can see below. I am sorry they are a bit disturbing.


Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats
housefire-kitten1 housefire-kitten2 housefire-kitten3

The video shows Cory as he finds the kitten in a smoke filled room and then administers oxygen outside the home after responding to a residential cooking fire call. The rescue caught on webcam soon went viral, and has now resulted in both an equipment donation and a monetary donation by a volunteer with the departments Community Emergency Response Team.

Cory says he’s still getting calls after the video showing him trying to revive a kitten using a pet oxygen mask. Unfortunately the kitten died during the night due to smoke damage to its small lungs. At the time of the fire the Fresno fire department only had two small pet masks. Thanks to a local cat lover, animals in the Fresno area now have a greater chance of surviving a fire.

Susan Disney, who volunteers with the emergency response team, saw the video and was moved by the effort put into trying to save the small kitten. Susan told reporters that if she had a fire in her home, she’d want firefighters to be equipped to save her cat. The story moved her so much that she donated 42 pet oxygen masks to the city, along with a cash donation to an animal hospital. The pet oxygen masks, purchased through the Emma Zen Foundation, cost more than $3,000 and come in three sizes. Now each of the fire departments 24 stations will have the masks on their trucks.

A short video update on the donation of the masks is below

Cory has gotten an amazing response from the video as far away as Germany and Russia. A few people sent him care packages at the headquarters where he works. Cory also made $900 from the video and is donating that money to an animal hospital.

Pet sized oxygen masks are becoming a must-have for many fire departments. More and more families now consider their cats and dogs as family, and firefighters now realize just how important pets have become. Many families consider their dogs and cats as their children. To not offer life saving equipment geared toward pets would be tragic.

While the kitten Cory saved didn’t survive, many victims of fire, including their pets, owe their lives to the bravery and compassion shown by these firefighters.



15 thoughts on “Firefighter fights to save kitten using oxygen mask”

  1. I see. Well, I suppose at some point sudden heart failure would be a blessing. Horrible not expecting it though. And yes, I see how silly my comment was. Bigfoot, poor little guy. Seems I’m his whole world right now. I think I’ll poke away at it. Even if I just get two nails a day…and one snip of the feathers, eventually it will get done. If I do it while cooing and massaging, he might not get too mad. He will give me a good bite though, if he doesn’t like it. I know him so well now I can usually dodge it. Then we kiss and make up….then I’ll give it a go again. Wish me luck. Thanks Dee.

    • Not silly Dorothy, just loving your boy and being very brave. He might choose his own time, I hope he does. Thinking about you and a X for his furry head (If he will allow it)

    • Ofcourse you’re not silly, DW.
      You’re well grounded and an optomist.
      I am that way about my cats too. Unless I see suffering, I’m in the battle with them all the way.
      I like your method of doing his grooming. I clean my house that way. One room today, another tommorrow… and so forth.

  2. Yes, I found your comment, DW.
    I can’t say for sure, but I believe what happened was a sudden heart failure as opposed to his CKD, which is a slow process. Most murmurs are benign, but grade 4 is the highest grade and means quite a bit of regurgitation (backward blood flow) within the heart. Fluid balance is very important in order to minimize a backup of fluid, especially into the lungs. I know it sounds technical. I could better explain with a diagram, but I don’t have that ability.
    With Bigfoot, his copious water consumption is a common symptom of his CKD.
    I can’t remember how to put a quote here, so I’ll just copy and paste what you wrote:

    “Bigfoot seems fine these days, except for the tons of water, lack of grooming, incontinence and voice changingโ€ฆ.it is hard to know what to expect next.”

    Please read that. He’s not “fine”, sweet Dorothy, but he’s holding his own right now.
    For his comfort, he really needs to have his nails trimmed as well as his bottom. I would forego a whole grooming, because he will hate it so. You’ll just have to do the best you can with that. If he can’t stand to have it done, forget it. A few knots aren’t harming him. It’s all about HIM right now.

  3. I’m going to talk about Chester the cat. It may be lengthy, so feel free to edit.
    Chester was the third and last animal CPR I performed.
    Chester came to me as a stray about 4 years ago. He was huge (around 15 lb). all black except for a small patch of white on his neck, large polydactyl front paws. and semi-feral. I made him an inside cat although he didn’t really care for other cats. However, he tolerated them, and that’s pretty much all I expect from the clan I have.
    After almost a year, he and I were pretty good pals, but he didn’t trust other people, especially my vet. As all of us do with our cats, I knew him well…well enough to see that he wasn’t “right” one day. It was nothing real specific, but I just knew it wasn’t good. All POCers know what I mean. So, we went to the vet and his labs showed kidney failure, possibly end-stage. On top of that he had a grade IV heart murmur. It was decision time. Dr. Kramar was exceptional in explaining what would be involved if I chose an attempt to save him. I opted to try. Now, my only choice was to have him treated in the hospital or treat him at home. So many things were discussed:
    The hospital couldn’t provide round-the-clock .care.
    Chester required intensive care, subcutaneous fluid administration that was risky as a fluid overload would put him into congestive heart failure, and he would be so frightened in the hospital that he would have to be sedated the entire time.
    Well, I was not a vet nurse. I was a people nurse with a specialty in intensive care. I felt that I could handle what was required and Chester would not have to go through the traumas of being alone (and, maybe dying alone at night in the hospital), he wouldn’t have to be sedated, I would have the time to give him 24/7 attention if my daughter would agree to come and stay a short while to take over the rest of my crazy cat life (which she did). So, armed with antibiotics, bags of IV fluid, tubings, needles, and a schedule of the whens and how much stuff to give, Chester and I went home.
    After 3 days, he seemed to be improving. He was eating and drinking some, peeing fair amounts, and even groomed himself a little. I was becoming hopeful.
    Then, after his first fluid therapy that third morning, I picked him up to love on him some because I hated sticking him with needles as much as he hated being stuck. And, he suddenly went limp and lifeless in my arms.

    This was my third CPR occasion so I was more comfortable than previously. I learned the technique from the internet. There are many sites and videos. It is very different from CPR on a human.

    I followed the steps as I remembered them:

    I laid him on his right side.
    I could see that he wasn’t breathing, so I made a tight seal around his nose and mouth with my mouth and gave him 4 quick, short breaths.
    I checked for a heart beat by moving his arm and putting my fingers in the place where his “elbow” had rested. I couldn’t feel anything.
    I placed my right hand underneath him opposite the place where I checked for a heartbeat and my left hand on top at the heartbeat spot. I compressed with 3 fingers of each hand (sort of like a squeeze) at a depth of about 1/2 inch as fast as I could for about one minute (the compressions are supposed to be 100-120 per minute). Then, 2 quick breaths and repeat over and over.

    I tried for at least 15 minutes with no response. I wept the whole time. There wasn’t anything else to do at that point. It was over.

    My two previous CPR occasions were with a cat and a dog. The dog was strictly a respiratory arrest and he survived. The cat didn’t respond.

    • Hi Dee, I found this comment. It mostly made me sad, but at the same time I learned a little about one of my favorite comment writers here at POC. I’m sorry about Chester. Do you think it was his heart that gave out? My Bigfoot also as a heart murmur, along with renal disease. I don’t know what the murmur you mentioned above, means. Bigfoot seems fine these days, except for the tons of water, lack of grooming, incontinence and voice changing….it is hard to know what to expect next. He hates it when I brush out his knots. I do sneak attacks with gentle preparation. Sometimes I get lucky with the scissors. Also, his polydactyl toes….they really need trimming. They don’t contract well any more and he gets stuck on the carpet, stuck on his blankets, stuck on my shirts……he will NOT let me trim them. My vets office has a groomer. They are five minutes away, and fast. I was thinking about having them trim his skirt a little so his wet bottom doesn’t bother him. But I just don’t know. He gets so angry going in the car.

      Anyway, I hope you find this comment. Thanks for all you do.

      • Will the vets groomer come out to Bigfoot Dorothy? He would probably be a very good boy in his own home with you there alongside him while she did a quick trim of his skirt and nails to make him more comfy x

          • Oh, what a lovely idea and how nice it would be. Heck, I’d bake you a whole cake if you would trim his nails. I’m going to hunt for a mobile groomer. Wish me luck.

            • Good luck. Do you know any of the nurses at your vets practice? I used to do a little bit on the side for local people who hated bringing cats (and dogs and budgies) in, not for money, just for the pleasure of helping but if yours are as poorly paid as we were they might be glad of a few extra dollars ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. This is so touching. What a guy to perform heroics on a tiny kitten.
    I wonder how many of us on POC have ever performed CPR (or any portion of it) on an animal.
    I know I have.

    • Dee, I’d like you to write a comment about CPR (Cardiopulmonary resuscitation) on cats. Not many people have done that. If you tell us what happened, your experiences on cat CPR, I’ll make it a post if that is OK with you. If not, I will understand.

      Cory, the fireman, is one of us ๐Ÿ˜‰ They are out there and we like ’em.


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