Elvis left the building and Smokey was, well… a little smoky, but the cats came back
Having nine lives comes in handy for fire-threatened felines
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A Winnipeg woman whose cats were trapped inside a burning apartment building has been reunited with her feline friends, days after fearing they were killed in the blaze.
“I was just feeling loss. I didn’t know what to do or where to go,” Kayla McKay said, describing the moment she watched her home burn with her cats, Elvis and Smokey, still inside.
The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service responded to the blaze at 240 Quail Ridge Rd. around 7 p.m. on May 19. The fire caused significant damage to the property, and McKay was certain her cats were dead.
Two days after the fire, Colleen Day watched Elvis jump from the building’s top floor.
“I was walking by the building, and I noticed these little arms reaching down,” said Day, who lives in a neighbouring apartment building.
Day tried calling the non-emergency line and the City of Winnipeg’s animal services department, but neither could offer immediate help. A few minutes later, Elvis jumped. The cat fell four storeys and landed on its paws, she said.
“It was so desperate to get out of there, after the fire and being sprayed with cold water and starving,” she said. “It crawled onto the grass, curled up in a ball… It was crying and shaking. I wasn’t sure if it was in a lot of pain or not.”
Day rushed Elvis to a veterinary hospital and set to work finding its owner.
She posted photos of the cat in a community Facebook group and connected with McKay within a few hours.
The women have been in contact every day since, she said, with McKay providing updates on Elvis’s health.
Elvis got a cursory examination at the vet, but a full assessment will require X-rays and blood work, which could cost more than $1,000, McKay said.
He appears to be physically OK, but has been acting strangely since the fire, she said.
“Usually, he doesn’t cuddle with me… but he’s been very attached,” she said. “He’s been sleeping with me and my daughter.”
Day organized an online fundraiser in an effort to help cover McKay’s veterinary costs. In four days it has raised about $1,100.
“I felt responsible after finding the cat and taking him to the emergency and after everything the family had been through I said I could try help raise some money,” she said.
McKay is grateful for the help; the losses and resulting expenses from the fire have already been overwhelming for her.
On Wednesday night, the apartment’s resident manager called McKay to deliver more good news: her other cat, Smokey was recovered from the burned building after somebody heard it inside, McKay said. Like Elvis, Smokey appears to be OK, but may need further examination.
The cats, who are both roughly 15 years old, are now back in McKay’s care.
Weidner Property Management, which oversees the Quail Ridge apartment, issued a statement Wednesday saying the building is a complete loss.
“A structural engineer was on site over the weekend to assess the building.… It has been determined that the building is no longer habitable as portions of the structure have been deemed unsafe,” Weidner said.
Residents are not permitted to re-enter the building until temporary repairs can be made.
“We are hoping to allow limited entry to our residents that lived on the first or second floor to collect some of their belongings by the end of this week — pending approval from the engineer and local officials,” it said.
A portion of rent from May is being refunded to tenants, along with full security deposits. The cheques will be “hand-delivered” to all residents, Weidner said.