Cat burned in house fire nears recovery

BEND, Ore. (AP) One month after the house fire that nearly killed him, Kasper the cat is "movin' and groovin'," in the words of veterinarian Dr. Chad Moles.

Kasper was burned over roughly 30 percent of his body in the Sept. 10 fire that destroyed the Deschutes River Woods home where he lived with Beau and Diann Hollowell. Since then, the cat has been living at the Animal Emergency Center in Bend, where Moles and other veterinarians have been nursing him back to health.

After undergoing multiple plasma transfusions, laser treatment to accelerate the healing of his feet and surgery to clip off the heavily burned tips of his ears, Kasper is now 80 to 90 percent of the way to being ready to go home with the Hollowells.

The incubator where he spent his first few weeks hooked up to IVs and a feeding tube inserted into his neck is now in the past, and Kasper has the run of his own small room. He has a few pieces of furniture to sit on, blankets on the floor to protect his still scabbed-over feet and enough energy to make a run for it should any unsuspecting clinic staff open the door.

To keep everyone aware of the patient inside, a yellow sticky note is stuck to the door "Kasper is in the House."

In late September, Kasper pulled out his feeding tube, Moles said. Clinic staff took it as a sign he was ready to start eating on his own again. While his weight is less than it should be, he's been eagerly dining on pureed chicken baby food.

Moles said clinic staff have become fond of Kasper, and he's reciprocated, nuzzling with anyone who visits him in his new home and purring loudly.

"He's definitely shown a lot more spirit, and who he is," Moles said.

The Hollowells lost nearly all of their belongings in the fire, and have been living in a travel trailer with their 5-year-old son, Tristan, while they look for a new place to live.

In a setback, Beau Hollowell, 27, said someone stole tools and a four-wheeler that survived the blaze and had been sitting outside the house while he and his wife were trying to figure out where to store the items.

"There's always somebody to kick you when you're down," he said.

He said things have calmed down for his family since the fire. His wife and son are reasonably comfortable living in the trailer as a temporary solution, and Kasper's medical progress has been encouraging.

The family got Kasper as a pet for Tristan, and Beau Hollowell has been to the clinic to see the cat once. Despite his rough appearance Kasper's hair is only now starting to grow back, and heavy scabs cover his legs, face, and belly Tristan said he is comfortable visiting the cat and understands it will still be a while before Kasper is back to his old self.

Now that he's off the powerful sedatives he was taking for the first several days after the fire, Kasper's personality seems to be returning.

"He's definitely turning back into himself again," he said.

All of Kasper's medical expenses have been funded by 31 Paws, a Tumalo-based charity that provides financial assistance to pet owners in distress.

Hollowell said his family has a lot of people to thank for their kindness since the fire, both for Kasper's treatment and other assistance to help them get back on their feet. Thank-you letters are forthcoming, he said, but after losing his computer in the fire, he hasn't really had a place to sit down and find the right words.

"Trying to type on my phone is not really working to say what I want to say," Hollowell said.


Information from: The Bulletin,

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press