A local house cat has cheated death for the second time.

  • Maggie the cat survived Hurricane Katrina at barely a year old
  • Cat survived house fire while owner away on vacation

Charles Merrell adopted Maggie more than 10 years ago. The cat survived Hurricane Katrina when she was barely a year old.
“She’s tougher than I am,” said Merrell.
Merrell and his girlfriend were away on vacation when neighbors called him and told him his Oldsmar home was on fire.
“They told me my home was on fire and of course my first thought was that we had six cats trapped inside,” Merrell said.
Helpless and hundreds of miles away, his girlfriend called their friend Sherri Smitty to go check on his cats. When Smitty arrived, Maggie was already outside receiving oxygen.
“My heart really sunk because I just expected I was going to be grabbing four or five of his cats and bringing them to stay with us until this was all straightened out,” said Smitty.
Four of Merrell's cats – Baxter, Hermes, Rocky and Ricky – did not survive the fire. His male cat, Jim, survived unscathed, but Maggie had inhaled a lot of smoke.
“We weren’t at all sure about her prognosis immediately after the situation,” Merrell said. “Not able to stand or walk on her own, and she spent a few days in an incubator.”
Gradually, Maggie got better. She’s home with her owner, who is staying in his neighbor’s home across the street from his house for the summer.
“We’re taking it day by day and seeing small steps each day,” he said.
Maggie wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the quick thinking by his neighbors and paramedics.

Photo courtesy of Sherri Smitty
“They gave Maggie mouth to mouth until firefighters could provide an oxygen mask,” said Merrell, who went on to say he's overwhelmed by the outpouring of support he's received since the fire.
“Just seeing the amount of support and compassion so many people have showed us has really helped get us through this,” he said.
Merrell hopes to be back in his home with Maggie and Jim within a year. A fundraising page has been set up to help Merrell with Maggie’s vet bills.

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