A cat separated from its owner during a major fire in Yellowknife is safely home, six weeks later.
Longtime Yellowknife resident Susan Hunt was evacuated from her apartment in the city’s Rockridge complex when the nearby Rockhill building caught fire in the early hours of October 2.
Hunt slipped and fell on a walkway as she escorted her two cats to safety – breaking open their cage and allowing one, Molly, to get out.
She put up posters but gave up the search after five days, only for a stranger to contact her and report a sighting on Thursday.
By Friday evening, Hunt and Molly – now “skin and bones,” her owner said – were reunited.
The Rockhill fire, which displaced 87 people living in transitional housing, was so strong that the blaze melted siding on neighbouring buildings.
“When burning embers started falling on our balcony and roof, we were evacuated,” recalled Hunt.
“I got to the bottom of the front stairs and the walkway was like a sheet of ice. I was wearing proper winter boots, but I wiped out and the cat cage broke open, and one of the cats took off.
“In the belching black smoke and the raining embers, I’m telling you I had no idea where it went. There was no possible way to try to look for her in that chaos. I was hit in the face with a burning ember and was trying to make sure my hair wasn’t on fire.”
Responding to a text message from a stranger on Thursday, Hunt was unable to track down the cat.
But, a day later, she got a call – from a British man she said was named Jack – reporting the cat had been cornered and was eating from a tin of cat food.
“I jumped in a cab, got there, and immediately laid on the ground and wiggled under this truck. And there was my cat,” she told Cabin Radio.
“I couldn’t believe it. She’s just skin and bones, but she has no frostbite. I think she had somehow gotten under the apartment building, where there is heat from the pipes. Maybe she survived on mice? I’ve never seen anything like it in all my years here.
“When I called her name, she started meowing really loudly. The people standing there said it was the first sound they had heard the cat make. She recognized my voice.”
Molly is now off to the vet for a check-up.
Hunt – who previously, while living in a townhouse, lost more than one cat to foxes and coyotes – said it was ‘unbelievable’ a predator had not claimed her in the past six weeks.
“I’ve lived in Yellowknife for 32 years and I’ve never heard of any animal surviving like that,” she said.
“I mean, we had wolves not too long ago on our road.”