Fire fighters are always ready. At any given moment, they must respond quickly. When a fire erupted on October 30, 2019, in a residential neighborhood of Long Beach, California, they were at the scene immediately. Ensuring that no one would succumb to the blaze, they also attended to Phoenix, a tiny kitten no more than six months old, who was fighting for every breath he took. Fearing smoke inhalation, fire fighters gave him oxygen until the ER vet from the Long Beach Animal Care Services (LBACS) arrived.
Phoenix was transported to the Primary Care Animal Hospital until a local rescue, Jellicle Cats Rescue Foundation, agreed to take him into their rescue. While at the hospital, vets discovered a broken rib and diaphragmatic hernia, not smoke inhalation, as the cause of his distressed breathing. A diaphragmatic hernia is a condition where the intestines, liver and spleen are pushed into the chest cavity, preventing the lungs from expanding, making it nearly impossible to breathe. Vets felt this was not a congenital defect, but likely the result of trauma such as something falling on him during the fire or being hit by a car as he was fleeing the fire and responders. Doctors would need to act quickly to save his life.
After the Ian Somerhalder Foundation provided a grant to assist little Phoenix with his medical expenses, emergency surgery was performed on November 1, 2019 at the Primary Care Animal Hospital. Dr. Nguyen carefully rearranged the organs in his tiny body successfully. He was then kept on cage rest to heal his broken rib and large incision while antibiotics did their job to clear his lungs from infection. Even his struggle to breathe could not damper Phoenix’s spirit to live. Staff at the hospital were so happy to see this tiny kitten purring and looking forward to his next meal.
Follow up x-rays gave the doctors encouragement to have him placed in foster care. After arriving at his foster home, his behavior remained bright and friendly as he explored his new surroundings and got to know the other kittens.
On December 24, 2019, Phoenix was officially welcomed into his forever home by a family who had adopted from Jellicle Cats Rescue Foundation before. Settling in with his other brother and sister cats, he showed no signs of the traumatic injuries which almost took his life.
Phoenix: A mythical bird of great beauty, fabled to burn itself on a funeral pyre, only to rise again from its ashes in the freshness of youth. Such a fitting name for this tiny kitten who braved the flames to become his new family’s treasure.
Written by Judy Paolercio
Edited by Bob Stone
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