NEWPORT, Ore. – Family members are breathing a sigh of relief after learning firefighters rescued their cat after a fire destroyed their home on Wednesday. But it is the way that the cat survived that makes one wonder if felines really have nine lives.
Psycho, a three-year-old Calico cat, is Cheryl and Mark Anderson’s “baby.”
“She’s like one of our kids,” Mark Anderson said. “We would do anything we could to save her.”
It is their affection for their cat that triggered a sense of panic on Wednesday when the Andersons both received calls at work saying their Newport apartment was on fire. Both knew the other person was at safe.
“The first thing I thought was: Is my cat ok?” Mark said.
Meanwhile, firefighters pinpointed the cause of the fire: a faulty toaster. Mark says he put a pop-tart in the toaster in the morning and forgot about it. The lever got stuck and never popped back up.
“Neighbors said they saw a cat by the window,” said Assistant Fire Chief Robert Murphy with Newport Fire. “We found her but she wasn’t breathing and was not responsive at all.”
Firefighters moved the cat around to see if she would respond. Nothing. They tried a few times. Nothing.
“When they walked away, they actually heard the cat meow,” Murphy said.
But Psycho’s breathing was slow, her mouth was full of soot, and firefighters knew they needed to do something to keep her alive.
“We started off with an oxygen mask device and put it over the snout,” Murphy said. “It’s one we would usually use for a child but were able to fit it over the cat’s face.”
The Andersons immediately took their cat to the Grove Veterinary Clinic, which is where Psycho is still receiving treatment.
“All this stuff is replaceable but the cat’s not,” Mark said. “She’s part of the family.”
Though the family has potentially lost all their valuables – they keep smiling.
“I’m definitely relieved,” Cheryl said. “I know that if anything would have happened to her, this man (Mark) would have been devastated.”
Mark says a few years ago he underwent chemotherapy treatment. While recovering, he developed a special bond with the cat.
“I was with her 24 hours a day,” he said. “She’s family.”
The apartment is currently closed off, while the Andersons say an insurance company is looking at the damage.
“I went in to get some clothing but it reeks of smoke,” Mark said. “The only clothes I have are the ones on my back. I don’t know if anything is going to be salvageable.”
The Andersons are staying with their son in Salem, who was in the process of moving back to Newport with them.
“Now that we know the cat’s okay we just have to deal with getting our lives back together,” Mark said. “Because now we’re homeless.”
The family is looking for a new place to live in Newport, but in the meantime will be staying in motels. Psycho is still under veterinary care, but her owners say she is recovering well.
Firefighters say they are happy that the cat is doing well, but at the same time, say the fire serves as a good reminder for any home owner or renter.
“Make sure you have a working smoke alarm,” Murphy said. “Because in this case, it was the smoke alarm that alerted neighbors who were able to call 911.”
But Murphy says it is also important to always keep an eye on kitchen appliances that are in use.
“Don’t leave the kitchen. Even if you’re using a toaster. They can be faulty, so we would encourage everyone to unplug them if you’re not using them.”