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It is the classic and often told tale of a firefighter feline rescue.
While this eight- to 10-weekold brown tabby kitten was not plucked to safety from a tree, she is not out of the woods yet.
Following her rescue from a metal rubbish bin in Clyde late last month, she remains at Vetlife in Wanaka having not escaped the incident unscathed.
She was found trapped in the bin near the Clyde Fire Station by an Alexandra firefighter.
Clyde Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Steve Gee said it was the distressed-sounding meows that caught the firefighter’s attention.
The kitten’s right rear leg was caught between two slats in the side of the bin and she was badly injured.
‘‘He called me and said ‘what do I do?’ I told him to call 111 to activate a turnout.’’
A crew mobilised, went to the scene and prised the slats of the bin open with bolt cutters, freeing the kitten since named ‘‘Fire’’ by her rescuers.
Wanaka-based Central Otago SPCA operations co-ordinator Emily Kerr was dispatched to pick up Fire and transport her to Cromwell Vetlife before moving her to the SPCA affiliated Vetlife clinic in Wanaka.
“Cromwell Vetlife does not have weekend care; we knew from the extent of Fire’s injuries she was going to need long-term care.”
Vet John Neskudla said as Fire was a very young cat they had hoped her bones would heal and she would “come right”, but infection developed in her foot and had been spreading.
To save her life they had to amputate.
Vetlife Wanaka vet John Neskudla treated tabby kitten ‘‘Fire’’ this week after the cat was found trapped in
a metal rubbish bin and was rescued by firefighters. PHOTO: KERRIE WATERWORTH
Provided there was no arthritis or any problems in other joints, cats and dogs could do fantastically well on three legs, Mr Neskudla said.
“They don’t have the same kind of anxieties a human would have going through similar surgery and Fire is already up and walking around. She will be able to jump, run, and probably hunt mice like the best of them.’’
Fire’s stitches were due to come out at the end of the week and she would probably be discharged into the care of the SPCA in a fortnight, Mr Neskudla said.
“Fire has come along in leaps and bounds from the first day I saw her and she was terrified, hissing at me, whereas now she does a kind of little dance when you go in to see her and meows and purrs.”
Fire had a dedicated kennel in the hospital and staff visited her constantly giving her hugs and pats.
Fire was not microchipped when firefighters found her but Mr Gee did not believe she was a feral cat as she was gentle and friendly when they approached her.
Fellow firefighters suggested Mr Gee take her when she had recovered because he already had a three-legged cat.
 
‘‘They think she would complete a set.’’
Posters would goup in Vetlife clinics and on the SPCA website when Fire was ready for adoption, Ms Kerr said.
Vetlife business manager Rebecca Aitken said the cost of Fire’s treatment was covered partly by the ongoing agreement and partnership between Vetlife and SPCA.
A “very generous” donation from Wanaka Primary School Year 8 pupils was also much appreciated. To contribute go to: www.spca.nz/donate/givetofire.