The months following the fire were a blur. I had almost given up hope that Cleo had survived the fire, as she had been locked in the house when I left. When I saw the pictures of what was left of my cottage, I didn’t see how in the world she could have survived.
However, I continued to monitor the Facebook groups that were posting about found animals. I found several that looked like Cleo, but one particular cat caught my eye. This kitty had been transferred to a vet in Natomas, a town just north of Sacrament and about an hour from my place of employment.
On December 1, 2018, I drove down to Natomas and identified Cleo. It was heartbreaking, as she was severely injured, with third degree burns to her nose, ears, and paws. She had been found on November 18th, so she had somehow, miraculously, survived for 10 days after the fire.
Cleo spent two months at the vet hospital. I was grateful that the SPCA was picking up the vet bills for all animals injured in the Camp Fire. Finally, on January 17, 2019, she was released to go home with me, and I promised to bring her for weekly follow up visits.
She had injured her “ankles” (the joint in a cat’s leg is their ankle) in the fire, and while the burns healed everywhere else, the skin over that joint is very thin, and refused to heal. Cleo also hadn’t been able to use her legs very much, and her skin around those joints was painful. She limped for a long time. The vet said it was due to her ligaments not being used much, and that it probably hurt to move the ankle joints because of her wounds. She said it might be permanent, but we wouldn’t know until she felt comfortable using those joints.
We’ve been in our own apartment for about a month now, following nearly five months of uncertainty and temporary housing. Cleo began to make a drastic recovery once we moved into our apartment. She stopped limping, she began to jump and showed an interest and energy I hadn’t seen in her since the fire. Both of her ankles are healed on their own.
It’s been nearly six months after the fire, and I feel that we are on a forward path to recovery, both physically (for Cleo) and emotionally (for both of us).