When Gwenn Calderon locked up her home in Edgewood on the night of Jan. 29 she didn’t think she would come back in the morning to find it in ruins after a fire.
What made matters worse was Gwenn’s five animals, four cats and a dog, were inside the home at the time of the fire.
“I could see smoke in the neighbourhood,” she said. “I was fearful that something had happened, especially when the dog ran up to me.”
Calderon called out for her cats, but only one came running out of the bush. Her dog found the body of one of the cats in the house.
Calderon and her friend, Amanda Martens, searched for the other cats for about a week, sometimes wading through waist-deep snow following paw tracks.
They found one cat, Black, on Feb. 5 in a trailer sitting in a chair.
“Her eyes were full of infection, I don’t think she could see at that point,” she said. “She just sat there and cried. It must have been fairly loud because I could hear her, and my hearing is not very good.”
After wrapping Black up to keep her warm, Martens called the Nakusp Veterinary Clinic to see if they could get her in that day.
Once at the vet it was discovered Black’s foot pads were nothing but burned crusts filled with infection. Her nose was so badly burned she couldn’t breathe through it, and her eyelids and ears were burned as well.
“She was getting kind of dehydrated, and that starts the downward spiral for cats,” said Laurie Page, one of the two veterinarians at the clinic. “I don’t know that she ate anything while she was out there.”
Most of the time when a cat comes to the clinic because of a burn it’s because the cat jumped up onto a hot stove. Black is probably the worst burned cat Page has come in contact with.
Black’s first few days at the vet’s were a rough. She had to be rehydrated, and they slowly got her eating solid foods. Once Page felt she was strong enough Black was given a bath to get rid of the smoke and dirt that was on her.
Though she came to the clinic in a bad state she’s been steadily improving. She’s now walking around, and while her feet aren’t completely healed they’re getting close.
“To be so badly burned, and to live for a week outside with no food or water, I think it’s amazing that she did so well, and with the infection on top of everything,” said Page.
The hope is to return Black home some time this week, a great comfort for Calderon, especially since one cat is still unaccounted for.
“Black’s sister is still missing,” she said. “I haven’t found a body, so I’m hoping against hope that Orange is okay, but I fear that Orange is in the front of the building.”
The cause of the fire is currently unknown and is under investigation.