Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pet Sematary revisited: Cat loses life but lives to purr another day!

By James Tozer
Mail Online News

They say cats have nine lives - but no one seriously expects them to come back from the dead.

Yet that is what Alfie the ginger tom appeared to have done nine months after apparently being killed by a car.

Owner Angelo Petrillo buried what he believed to be his pet's battered body after a friend spotted it on the side of a road near his home.

Soon afterwards Mr Petrillo, 39, and his wife Katy moved house, along with their other cat Freddie, also a ginger tom. But a few days ago, they received a phone call from their former neighbour.

'They said a ginger cat had been trying to get into our old home, going up to the front and back doors, and they thought it was ours,' said Mr Petrillo, who works for an energy company.

'But we said Freddie was asleep with us so there must have been a mistake.

'Then they said the cat was climbing on to the conservatory and trying to get in the bedroom window, which is exactly what our two did.

'My wife and I looked at each other, and she said "Are you totally sure it was Alfie that you buried?", and I said "Yes, 100 per cent".'

The next day, however, the neighbours said the cat had remained outside all night, meowing pitifully.

Mrs Petrillo, 35, a manager for a wine company, returned to the couple's old home a mile away - and immediately recognised the cat as Alfie.

The three-year-old had lost the collar he used to wear and had put on weight, suggesting someone else had been looking after him while he was being mistakenly mourned.

Mr Petrillo said: 'It was just unbelievable - the cat I had buried nine months earlier, the cat we spent about a month grieving over, was back, and my wife just couldn't believe what she was seeing.'

Just one mystery remains: Who was the ginger tom killed last summer and where is the family that looked after it?

Mr Petrillo had examined the body of the cat found beside a sliproad on the M62 near their home in Milnrow, Greater Manchester, last June and was convinced it was Alfie.

But nine months on, the family are overjoyed that he was wrong - everyone, that is, apart from their other cat, five-year-old Freddie. 'They're not getting on very well at the moment, but hopefully he'll settle in again,' said Mr Petrillo.

The couple are having both cats microchipped to ensure there is no confusion if either goes missing again.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Furry imPAWtant to read: Cats attracted to ADHD drug, a FELINE POISON

Today we don't have any cute pictures or funny stories. Today we want to call attention to a furry imPAWtant scientific writing about us kitties and something that can make us furry sick. ~ The fambly kittens

SALT LAKE CITY Since 2004, drugs designed for use by people have been the leading source of poisonings among companion animals, according to the national Animal Poison Control Center in Urbana, Ill. And among cats, Adderall – a combination of mixed amphetamine salts used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – has quickly risen to become one of the most common and dangerous of these pharmaceutical threats.

Or so reported Aiyasami Salem Sreenivasan of the poison control center and his colleagues, this week, here at the Society of Toxicology annual meeting.

In the United States, Adderall is currently “the most widely prescribed medicine for ADHD in children, with almost 23 percent market share,” Salem Sreenivasan notes. This probably explains, he says, why the incidence of accidental consumption by pets has also been steadily rising.

But what really sets this drug apart as a veterinary risk is that unlike most human meds, Adderall apparently appeals to the finicky feline palate, explains Sharon Gwaltney-Brant, a board certified veterinary toxicologist who encountered the problem while working at the poison control center. She and Salem Sreenivasan described 152 cases of feline intoxication with the drug that had been called into the center between January 2002 and June 2009. Almost 80 percent of these involved Adderall XR, the drug’s extended release formulation.

That number may not sound that high, but Gwaltney-Brant points out that this is the tip of the proverbial iceberg because “we are won’t hear about all of the cases.”

Once part of the University of Illinois, the center’s round-the-clock poison hotline is now run by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. It learns about intoxications when vets call into the crisis center to inquire about any risks posed by ingestion of a particular substance – and, when it’s a poison, how to treat it.

Most poisonings cases that the ASPCA's center learns about involve dogs, Gwaltney-Brant says, because they’re fairly indiscriminate about what they’ll eat. Not cats. Out of curiosity, they might sample a pill or capsule – but seldom finish it, she says. As soon as they bite in and discover its bland or even objectionable flavor, they tend to walk away.

Except when it comes to Adderall XR. Cats not only bite in but readily finish every bit. This suggests, she says, that there’s something about it that cats find unusually enticing.

And that’s bad, because a single 20 milligram capsule could kill the average size cat.

Why would doctors provide amphetamines – uppers, in the vernacular – to help settle down hyperactive kids? It does sound a bit counterintuitive, Gwaltney-Brant acknowledges. But at low doses, at least in animals, these central-nervous-system stimulants can actually have a calming effect, she notes. Unfortunately, the amounts prescribed to people – even youngsters – do not constitute low doses for a 7- to 15-pound puss.

Owners may initially discover a cat’s intoxication by its distressed vocalizing. Then they may pick up on its anxiety, agitation, pacing, disorientation – even tremors. Cats can quickly become overheated and unusually disturbed by any type of sensory stimulation – sound, light, even physical touch. Vets will typically notice the poisoned pet’s excessively rapid heart rate and elevated blood pressure.

With quick, aggressive treatment, many cats recover, Salem Sreenivasan says. If an owner calls in the problem before symptoms develop (usually that means within 30 minutes), he or she will be instructed to induce vomiting to bring up the drug. “And then take the cat to the vet,” he says, because with the extended release formulation, controlled-release beads in each capsule could elicit a second wave of intoxication within several hours. In some cases, a vet will administer activated carbon to sop up and hold the drug until it’s excreted. And this treatment may need to be repeated if significant symptoms develop within the next 8 hours, he notes.

If a cat comes in with symptoms of amphetamine poisoning, the docs will have to begin a more aggressive treatment, starting with sedatives (to control agitation and possible seizures), a cooling bath, and possibly medication to block one of the three neurotransmitters (serotonin) whose activity is enhanced by Adderall.

Currently, Salem Sreenivasan points out, the poison control center has data on how only 19 of the 152 cases fared. Three cats were treated before they developed any symptoms. Fifteen more symptomatic cats were treated and recovered. One died.

Why report this at SOT? “There’s almost no information about amphetamines in cats out there in the [scientific] literature,” Gwaltney-Brant says. Reporting the data in this venue also highlights the role of the poison control center, she says. “We have 30 years worth of [toxicology] data available,” but no time to write most of it up. Presenting a glimpse of what the center has learned about this drug could advertise what other information might be mined by toxicologists interested in companion-animal poisonings.

Does Adderall’s manufacturer, Shire US Inc., of Wayne, Penn., know about the drug’s risk to cats? “I’m sure the company has no clue,” Gwaltney-Brant said.

To check, I phoned Shire today and spoke with Matt Cabrey, its director of corporate communications. He confirmed that indeed, the company was unaware of Adderall’s palatability to cats. So there are naturally no plans to add any warning to the drug’s label, he says.

Maybe pediatricians should become another target audience for these tox data. They prescribe the drug. And they interact directly with the people who bring it into their homes. Then again, doctors should probably mention something periodically to their patients about just generally safeguarding all drugs from pets.

Right now, Adderall is probably one of the top three human drugs that the poison control center gets calls about for cats, Gwaltney-Brant says. But add in the crisis queries for dogs – about 80 percent of those overall – and the picture changes. For them, she says, “Ibuprofen is the number one call we get, because that’s what dogs get into most.”

It can cause kidney failure and ulcers in the digestive tract. “And unlike Adderall, where cats will develop symptoms within hours, ibuprofen’s damage can take two to three days before it becomes clinically apparent,” she notes. “So if we wait for symptoms, some pretty bad stuff may already have occurred.”

So how much would it take to kill a dog or cat? “For anything under 10 pounds, perhaps as little as a single 200 milligram pill,” she says. Of course, she adds, unlike cats, dogs seldom stop at a single pill. If they get access to a bottle with a 100 or more, she says, dogs will eat them all.

Naproxen, another pain reliever, is even more toxic to dogs and cats, she says. “So just one tablet in a smallish dog could be potentially life threatening.”

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mark your calendar! April 30th - NEW USPS SHELTER PET AWARENESS stamp The following things are guaranteed to make you feel good about life: Getting a letter in the mail with cute stamps on it, adopting a pet from a shelter, feeding shelter animals. Now, thanks to the U.S. Postal Service, Ellen Degeneres and Halo pet food, you can do all three!

Starting April 30, the USPS will be offering special commemorative stamps around the theme of adopting shelter pets as part of their annual social awareness campaign.

"This is a subject that I am extremely passionate about. By working together, we can find good homes for millions of adoptable, homeless and abandoned pets," DeGeneres said in a press release. "And until they get adopted, I'm happy to say that Halo and I are giving one million meals to shelter pets that are waiting for you."

The 44-cent stamps feature portraits by photographer Sally Anderson-Bruce of five cats and five dogs, all of whom have been adopted.

They include gray kitten Peaches, who was born under a porch; golden retriever Buddy, who was a pet-store puppy with really bad hips; Australian terrier Bindu Su, who now visits a local nursing home every week; and Frankie, a kitten that lost his mother and two kitten siblings, but who's now thriving at his new forever home.

The stamps, in panes of 20, are available for pre-order at

Monday, March 15, 2010

Frosty the Cat Survives a Month in Refrigerated Warehouse

Courtesy of Steve Sellers/RSPCA
Frosty the cat made it out of a deep-freeze alive after two days in –28-degree temps, but he lost both his ears, his tail and his "little boy things" to frostbite.

For four to five weeks, the 1-year-old black-and-white tabby had been spotted wandering in and out of a refrigerated warehouse that stores frozen food for a large supermarket chain in the U.K. It's believed he first got to the warehouse from the bed of a freight truck, and fed off of frozen peas to sustain himself.

Warehouse workers had tried to catch Frosty, but couldn't until the cat found his way into the deep-freeze section last month, where he remained for somewhere between 24 and 48 hours.

Because he was half-frozen and unable to move as quickly, Frosty was picked up by an animal collection officer and whisked off to the RSPCA. Due to his severe frostbite, one of his ears fell off on its own, and a vet decided to remove Frosty's other ear and tail, as they would have fallen off eventually.

"Since then, he's been on the mend, and has had lots of attention, as you can imagine," RSPCA officer Steve Sellers tells "He's livening up a little bit, and more of his personality is coming out every day."

The RSPCA has received over a hundred calls from people interested in adopting Frosty, eight of whom claimed Frosty was their cat. So far, none of those claims have matched up, but the good news is that Frosty already has a likely new home with warehouse employee Danny Brown.

"He's been up to visit almost every other day," Sellers says. "Frosty certainly reacts better to the ladies than the men, but he's getting used to Danny now."

Brown, who is contemplating a name change for Frosty, had considered calling the cat Shrink Wrap Tiger Brown in honor of the shrink wrapping department at the warehouse, "but he may be rethinking that now."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sometimes you need to shine light on the ugly to make a difference

Mimi's note: This isn't a cute story. Nothing adorable this time BUT very, very relevant and important. China sells dogs and cats at their outside meat markets. They serve up dogs and cats in the restaurants. I am not going to get into their treatment, on the whole, of animals which is abhorrent; however, to read that they are taking one of their national treasures and treating the species so horribly makes me cry, literally. 

I don't want to hear arguments about 'it is their culture'. Here in the US we used to have slaves and we used to burn witches and we used to hang people - culture can change for the better or - ignorance can stop cultural practices from changing right in their tracks.

We need to bring light to the Chinese 'culture atrocities' that assail the senses of most civilized nations. China wanted to join us with respect to trade and industrialization - they had better not whine about the rest of the world seeing them as barbarian. After all, they invited us in and we were astounded at what we found. If China wants trade and money from the rest of the civilized world then they - all of them - need to 'man up' and face the music. Quite frankly, China is playing a tune that makes me vomit.

God help the Pandas if some farmer starts the rumor that eating Panda meat grows hair.

BEIJING — Eleven rare Siberian tigers have died at a wildlife park in a startling case that activists say hints at unsavory practices among some zoos and animal farms in China: They are overbreeding endangered animals in the hopes of making illicit profit on their carcasses.

The deaths of the tigers occurred in the past three months at the zoo in China's frigid northeast, officials and state media said Friday. Reports said the tigers starved to death, having been fed nothing but chicken bones, while a zoo manager said unspecified diseases killed the animals.

Either way, the animals had been ill-kept and ill-fed. The Shenyang Forest Wild Animal Zoo has struggled financially, even withholding pay from staff, said a woman in charge of corporate planning for the zoo who would only give her surname, Wang. The zoo had been up for auction for some time without any bidders, she said.

"You can do the math: one tiger eats 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of beef per day and there are at least 30 of them now, and there are lions, elephants and other animals too," Wang said. "The zoo has been taking money from the staffers' salaries to feed the animals."

The food bill for the tigers ran to about $1,320 (9,000 yuan) a day – nearly half the food allowance the zoo gets from the local government to care for all the animals, Wang said.

The deaths underscore conflicting signals in China's attempts to save its dwindling number of tigers. While extensive conservation efforts are under way, animal protection groups say zoos and wildlife parks may be deliberately breeding more animals than they can afford, hoping to sell off the carcasses onto a black market where tiger parts fetch a high price for use in traditional medicines and liquor.

"We've seen cases where tiger farms have steeped the bones from their deceased tigers in liquor to sell to visitors," said Hua Ning, project director for the China branch of the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Other animal rights groups like the Washington, D.C.-based National Fish and Wildlife Foundation have documented stockpiled pelts and the sale of tiger wine at the Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Mountain village in south China's Guangxi region.

Hua said she didn't have any specific information about illicit sales of tiger parts by the Shenyang zoo but she and other activists said Chinese tiger farms in particular were breeding too aggressively.

"Some of these farms are raising the tigers precisely because they hope that there will be some relaxation of the ban on tiger parts and they can sell the parts and derivatives," Hua said.

Tiger parts are still available on the black market as well, probably sourced from farms or zoos since there are so few wild tigers left in China, she said.

Siberian tigers are one of the world's rarest species, with an estimated 300 left in the wild, 50 in China. But more than 5,000 are held captive on farms and wildlife parks across China.

Xie Yan, China director for the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, said she expects the overbreeding of captive tigers in China to come up at a meeting of signatories to CITES – the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species – that begins Saturday in Doha, Qatar.

Xie's group wants China to make animal sanctuaries use birth control to "reduce the number of tigers in captivity to make sure they are well-treated."

The goal should be to boost China's wild Siberian tiger population and restore habitats that have been destroyed by industrialization, she said.

The Shenyang Forest Wild Animal Zoo, where the latest deaths occurred, is a long-troubled tourist spot also known as the Glacier Animal Zoo. In November 2007, three tigers killed a fourth during a fight over food. At the end of last year, two hungry tigers there were shot and killed by police after they mauled a zookeeper.

In the latest deaths, the state-run China Daily newspaper quoted Liu Xiaoqiang of the Shenyang Wild Animal Protection Station as saying that the tigers had been kept in cold, cramped metal cages and were fed nothing but chicken bones.

Zoo spokesman Wu Xi said, however, that the animals died from "various diseases" that were hard for them to endure because of this year's unusually harsh winter. He said the tigers were kept in cages indoors because of the bitter cold.

Wu wouldn't specify what diseases the animals had. He said 30 tigers now remain at the zoo but some remain at risk of illness.

"Some of the physically strong ones might survive the current difficulty, including the cold weather and the diseases," Wu said.

Wang, the zoo executive, said the bodies of the 11 tigers have been put into a storage freezer but denied plans to sell them. "China has regulations on tiger skins and bones, which are barred from going into the market," she said.

China banned the sale of tiger parts and the use of tiger parts in Chinese medicine in 1993, imposing stiff sentences on offenders, but tiger bone, penis, pelts and other parts are still sold illegally to consumers – some who believe the products increase potency or can cure ailments from convulsions to skin disease.

China's laws against poaching are tough – killing an endangered tiger can be punishable by death – but the legislation doesn't address irresponsible zoo keepers who abuse or neglect captive tigers.

"Because there is no legal standard, facilities like these apply their own," said Hua, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare. "Some take good care of the animals but there are also a lot of abuse cases."

From the New York Times
China’s Tiger Farms

One of the most intractable problems in species protection is the Chinese appetite for traditional medicines. That appetite has only grown as China has grown more prosperous. Despite bans — by China’s government and international agreements — on the sales of some materials and the near extinction of many of the animals used in traditional medicine, prices for animal parts continue to rise, and so do the incentives for poachers and sellers.

As The Times reported recently, one particularly horrifying practice is Chinese tiger farms, which supply pelts, worth up to $20,000 apiece, and tiger bones used in medicines and aphrodisiacs. These farms are thinly masked as efforts at tiger conservation. In reality, their purpose is to raise tigers to be butchered and consumed.

The tiger farms also do nothing to take pressure off the dwindling population of wild tigers. Chinese consumers believe parts from wild tigers have greater medicinal potency. In China, there are only some 20 wild tigers left. And Chinese demand — heightened by the farms and the beginning of the Year of the Tiger — has caused sharply increased poaching in India, which has only about 1,400 wild tigers left.

The Chinese government seems to be doing little or nothing to shut down tiger farms or punish those who buy or sell tiger parts. And it has made no attempt to persuade Chinese consumers that tiger parts have no real medicinal value.

Unless China does both — shuts down the tiger trade and finds a way to alter consumers’ tastes — the wild tiger is almost surely doomed.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

♥Sweet kitty saved from pond by her little Pug FURend♥

Bob Zellar/AP Amanda Bjelland's early morning stroll turned scary on Feb. 25.

The Montana resident usually starts each day with a walk to the mailbox at the end of her property accompanied by her two best friends: Chloe, 6, a female pug, and Willow, 1, an indoor Siamese mix cat.

"We do this around 6 am while it is still dark outside," Bjelland, a receptionist in the radiation dept. of a Billings health care facility, tells But something was off that day when came back inside the house, "Chloe walked to the back door and started crying," she recalls.

Bjelland quickly opened the door so Chloe could run outside. Soon the pug started barking and circling around in a banner of excitement -- a sign that something was definitely wrong.

Bjelland, whose husband Ron, was just waking up, noticed that Willow was not in the house and ran down the steps behind the house to find Chloe circling around their koi pond, which is 12 by 22-ft. The 3-ft. deep pond normally attracts birds, rabbits, raccoon and deer.

"I was horrified to see that Willow had fallen through the ice and was struggling to get out," Bjelland tells "Chloe was telling us that her sister was stuck on ice chunks."

Instantly, Bjelland, crying and frightened, grabbed little Willow, who is declawed on the front paws, and pulled her out of the pond that had partially thawed from a couple of unusual 40 degree days.

Warming her little kitten in towels, Bjelland held Willow in her arms, but the cat was not interested in cuddling. She was freezing cold.

On most winter mornings, Willow could walk on the ice covering the pond because it was frozen solid. So when she chased a rabbit after their mailbox walk, she immediately fell through the melted ice.

"Finally, Willow shook her paws to get rid of the excess water and I could tell she was feeling better," says Bjelland. "For the next two days she was lethargic, but by the third day she was feeling fine."

Chloe was elated that her sister was alive and well. She ran around excited and barking in a happy frenzy.

"Chloe was as happy as we were that everything turned out alright," Bjelland says. "She is a good dog. And she loves to sleep with Willow each night. They absolutely adore each other."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

No matter what size the cat - they ALL need l♥ve and a good home

Paul Hart will never forget the first time he met Ares. It was at an airport in South Africa, and Ares—a 2-and-a-half-year-old lion—had just been flown in from France. Hart peered inside the animal's travelling crate and was shocked by what he saw.

"He was only about a third the size a lion his age should be," says Hart, 36, founder of Drakenstein Lion Park, a sanctuary for captive born predators in the Cape Winelands region of South Africa. "He had extensive old facial lacerations and a number of old wounds on his legs. And his eyes were so swollen that he couldn't see out of one and only had about 10 percent vision in the other."

Ares had been rescued from a French circus, where he'd been severely malnourished and kept in a cage with barely any room to move. He'd developed an eye infection that went untreated, causing glands in his eyes to swell and block his sight. Most likely, he had been beaten as well. "To be honest, my first reaction when I saw him was how a lion in his condition could have survived at all," says Hart. But Hart also knew that lions are fierce and proud creatures, and that Ares had not yet lost his will to live. And so Hart loaded up the travelling crate and went to work.

Hart, who grew up surrounded by pets and later worked at a zoo, founded Drakenstein in 1998; since then he has provided care and sanctuary for dozens of abused lions, letting them live out their years on the park's lush 50-acre grounds. Ares, though, was a special case. He had been brutally declawed, which affected his gait, and he was so weak he could not even get up to eat. "For the first week I had to take his food to him every day," says Hart. "I'd go into his enclosure and place the food very close to him. But even though he was small for his age, he is still a lion. And as soon as I became unsure that I could outrun him, the room-service meals stopped."

Born Again
Hart had hoped to let Ares gain strength before operating on his eyes, but his condition was so bad that a veterinarian was brought in right away. In a one-hour procedure, the vet removed the lion's prolapsed eye glands and treated his facial wounds. "Taking out the glands immediately restored his vision," says Hart. "And now we’re hopeful that Ares won't even need any more surgery."

Suddenly Ares was bombarded by stimuli—light, movement, color—and it took him a while to adjust. After all, "he'd lived most of his life in the dark," says Hart. But then Ares started to come around. He gained strength, ate more, got up and roamed about. "This was the first time he had ever walked on grass or sand," says Hart. "The first time he had ever seen a tree. The first time he had ever had so much space."

Hart and other staffers could see that Ares was, in essence, being born again. And that earned him a special place in their hearts. "I go out of my way to bond with new rescues, but sometimes that takes years," says Hart. "With Ares, it was almost instantaneous."

Hart lives at the park with his wife, a radiologist, and their son Shane, 7, who, like his dad, loves lions and sometimes sleeps with a cub in his bed. Hart keeps the park running largely through donations—the cost of lifetime care for Ares alone will add up to around $60,000—but generally falls short of raising all the money he needs, and depends greatly on donors who "adopt" his lions.

Right now, he has 15 lions living at the park, which is all he can handle. "Sadly, we have to turn away 90 percent of the rescued lions that are offered to us," he says. "The message of Ares' story is very simple: do not support circuses with performing animals."

Long Road Ahead
Three weeks into his stay at Drakenstein, Ares is doing well. "Hopefully one day he can be introduced to a young, non-threatening lioness, but he still has a long road ahead of him before this can happen," says Hart. "It's not just the physical aspects involved in his rehabilitation, but also the psychological aspects." While he is non-aggressive in comparison to other rescues, "Ares exhibits a whole range of behavioral problems common to rescues," says Hart, "and those might take months or even years to rectify."

The good news is that Ares now has a safe—and roomy—place to get better. He has, for the first time, a real home. He is far more active than when he first arrived, and far more confident in his new habitat. The other day he wandered toward his enclosure's fence, and began to engage one of his lion neighbors. It was a small gesture—and one that, with a healthy lion, wouldn't even be noticed—but for Ares it was a step toward normalcy. "Ares being in this sanctuary is my wish for him come true," says Hart. "Now he can live out his life here, free from abuse. And he can grow stronger every day."

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hero cat, Baby, rescues mother pregnant with twins from house fire

Mimi's note: Cats may be the strong and silent type but underneath that fuzzy exterior beats the heart of a lion! Never underestimate your cat, or dog. When push comes to shove - they've got what it takes to get the job done!
Baby the cat was never known for her outgoing personality, but when her family's suburban Chicago house caught fire late Sunday night the 13-year-old tabby made herself the center of attention when it counted most. She is credited with saving the lives of owners Josh Ornberg and girlfriend Letitia Kovalovsky, who is seven months pregnant with twins.

"She’s a hero," Ornberg tells "It’s kind of embarrassing that I needed my cat to wake me up, but she was my fire detector."

Ornberg says he and his girlfriend had fallen asleep on the living room couch inside their Wonder Lake, Ill., home Sunday night, when he awoke, startled by Baby.

"She's usually not a very social cat, but she jumped on my lap and was jumping around I assume to wake me up," recalls Ornberg. "And when I did wake up I noticed the house was filling with smoke."

He discovered the source of the blaze in the back bedroom, and although he tried to extinguish the flames, the fire was already too big for him to handle alone. Instead, Kovalovsky called 911 and they fled the house until help arrived.

Wonder Lake Fire Protection Assistant Chief Mike Weber was first on the scene to see "flames at the back window going about 10 feet up in the air." Firefighters put out the blaze, but the house was declared temporarily uninhabitable, and nearly all their possessions — including the twin cribs they had just assembled — were destroyed. Weber says the fire is "not suspicious, but under investigation."

Weber points out that if not for Baby's swift action, the circumstances could have become much worse. "She was definitely the hero in this situation. We don’t know what the outcome would have been if not for the cat," he says.

Despite her hero status, Baby was MIA after the blaze, and her family worried about her safety. "She was the first one out the door. I saw her run away," says Ornberg.

For a day and a half there was no sign of Baby, but she re-emerged Tuesday afternoon, lured by one of her favorite foods: tuna fish. Ornberg had set a live trap near the house with some tuna inside; a friend called Tuesday afternoon to say Baby was safe and sound inside.

Now, Baby is resting comfortably with her family — including fellow pet Blackjack, a Bernese mountain dog — in a local hotel as they figure out where they will stay as their home undergoes extensive repairs.

Ornberg says they bought Baby several kitty treats to thank her for her good deed, and he's noticed a bit of spring in her step since the fire.

"She was in the hotel jumping on the bed and playing last night," says Ornberg. "She has a different attitude now."