A resilient cat rescued from a fire in Brooklyn last weekend that claimed the life of her owner is on the road to recovery and has already found a new forever home, thanks to the kindness of neighbors.
When Brigitte Jones, an adult gray and black tabby, arrived at Veterinary Emergency & Referral Group North Emergency Services in Cobble Hill around 2 a.m. on Sunday, she was fighting for her life.
Brigitte had an elevated breathing rate and abnormal audible respiration from apparent smoke inhalation, according to VERG’s veterinary team. The vets gave her oxygen and a medication to open her airways, but Brigitte’s fight was not yet over. An X-ray showed the beginning stages of infection, VERG said, and she’s being treated for that with antibiotics.
Brigitte is lucky to be alive, said Dr. Jillian DiFazio, a board-certified emergency and critical care specialist at VERG.
“Even after escaping from a fire, pets are often prone to developing infection, and even pneumonia. Thankfully, Brigitte has responded well to treatment and we expect her to make a full recovery,” DiFazio said.
Brigitte’s terrifying ordeal began late Saturday when fire broke out in her owner’s third-floor apartment on 94th Street, near Shore Road, in Bay Ridge, just before 11:30 p.m., according to VERG and police.
Brigitte’s owner was found dead inside after firefighters extinguished the blaze, police said. The woman, who has not yet been identified by police, was pronounced dead at the scene, the NYPD said.
Firefighters from Ladder 109 pulled Brigitte out of the apartment to safety, the FDNY said. She was handed off to firefighters from Engine 241 for emergency care.
Neighbor Laura DiPaola said she wasn’t sure the cat would survive.
“When the firefighters brought her out of the building she looked dead. Her mouth was dangling open and she was covered in black soot from the fire,” DiPaola said.
Firefighters gave the cat oxygen with a child-size mask and tried to give her water, she said. When the cat started to show signs of life, DiPaola said she knew it was time to act.
“Once firefighters and EMTs realized she was still alive, I offered to take her to VERG in my car. My partner is a veterinarian and actually performed her internship at VERG, so I knew exactly where she needed to go,” DiPaola said.
DiFazio said the actions of firefighters and DiPaola saved Brigitte’s life.
“We are thankful to the emergency responders and Good Samaritans who were able to rescue Brigitte and get her the help she needed,” DiFazio said.
With Brigitte rehabilitated, the question remained on who would take her in. But instead of going to a shelter, the lucky cat was adopted by another neighbor and close friend of Brigitte’s owner, Michelle Chester.
“It’s the right thing to do,” Chester said by phone as she headed out to pick up the cat on Wednesday.
Positive Tails, a nonprofit that helps animals in need, has stepped up to cover the cat’s medical expenses, according to VERG.
The fire was deemed accidental by the fire marshal, sparked by discarded smoking materials, the FDNY said on Sunday.
A request for comment from the medical examiner on the cause of the woman’s death was not immediately returned.