Cat uses a few lives leaping from burning house

BEND, Ore. (AP) — Kasper the cat is lucky to be alive.

Days after a fire tore through the home where Kasper lived with Beau and Diann Hollowell and their 5-year-old son, Tristan, the cat is recovering at the Animal Emergency Center.

He's undergoing treatment for burns over about 30 percent of his body. The flames burned off nearly all of his hair, and badly blistered the soft tissue on both his paws and ears. Tubes jut from his body — one threaded through a hole sliced in his throat supplies him with food, another provides a morphine drip in a cat-sized dose.

After losing nearly all of their possessions in Monday's fire, trying to keep Kasper alive is a way of hanging on to a piece of their lives, Diann Hollowell said.

The family members were away when the fire began late in the afternoon. By the time they arrived home, the fire had destroyed their back porch and the back side of the house, while the front rooms and everything inside them sustained extensive smoke damage.

A firefighter found Diann and asked for her help with the cat.

Kasper had been seen hopping out a window — located such that he would have had to pass through one of the hotter parts of the fire — and was found cowering behind a refrigerator in their undamaged carport.

Diann coaxed him out of his hiding place and took him straight to the Animal Emergency Center for treatment.

On Thursday, the Hollowells visited their cat for the first time since the fire.

"You're a tough guy, yes you are, you're a tough guy," Diann cooed, gently scratching Kasper behind the ears.

Kasper likely will spend at least another week at the center. The bandages on all four of his legs need to be changed daily, he'll need to stay under sedation, and he will require regular blood tests to monitor his progress.

Dr. Chad Moles, the veterinarian overseeing the treatments, said Kasper could require another month or two of lower-level medical attention, possibly at the home of a clinic employee, before he can go home.

Moles said Kasper's prognosis is good, provided he can avoid respiratory problems over the next few days, but his treatment could still run several thousand dollars.

Bend-based nonprofit 31Paws has teamed up with the Animal Emergency Center to help the Hollowells cover the cost of Kasper's treatment, and will match the first $500 donated on Kasper's behalf.

Beau, 27, is an RV technician, while Diann, 26, works as a receptionist at an optometrist's office. The family had no insurance for the belongings inside their rented house.

Tristan, a kindergartner, has yet to see Kasper or what remains of the family's home. For now, the family is staying in a travel trailer parked at a relative's home, and Diann said Tristan is willing to view living in the trailer as a camping trip for now.

Beau said he and his wife got Kasper as a kitten as a gift for Tristan just over a year ago, and getting him back on his feet should be a big boost for their son's spirits as the family figures out what to do next.

Despite the heavy sedation and his obvious injuries, Beau said he could see a little bit of Kasper's personality peeking through Thursday at the Animal Emergency Center. Before the fire, they'd come to think of him as "a dog trapped in a cat's body," Beau said.

"He's more of a dog than he is a cat, all in all," he said. "He's more prone to being a dog — he'll come to a whistle, he'll fetch stuff, you can throw something and he'll bring it back to you. It's kind of cool."

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Information from: The Bulletin, http://www.bendbulletin.com

 

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.