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How a ‘frozen’ cat survived being buried under a heap of snow

A true cat hero (and other inspirational animal tales)

Harvey Day
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A cat found “essentially frozen and unresponsive” after being buried under an enormous snow bank in the American north west has made an incredible recovery.

When Fluffy the frozen feline was rescued by her owners from underneath a mound of snow outside their house on 31 January, her fur was matted with thick ice after temperatures in Montana had plummeted to around -12C (and vets took some pretty distressing photos of the poor animal to document her condition). 

Fluffy’s owners rushed her to an animal clinic and, amazingly, three-year-old Fluffy appears to have made a full recovery.

The following week, the clinic posted a distressing image of Fluffy covered in ice, along with some heartwarming snaps of the pet looking much healthier, on Facebook.

The clinic said in the post, which has been shared more than 2,500 times: “Amazing success and survival story from this week. Some clients found their injured cat buried in snow.

“They brought her to us essentially frozen and unresponsive. Her temperature was very low but after many hours she recovered and is now completely normal.

“Fluffy is amazing!”

Dr Jevon Clark and his associate Dr China Corum used towels, cage warmers and intravenous fluids to revive the cat and, eventually, Fluffy started to show some signs of life.

“I’ve never seen this. I’ve been in practice for almost 24 years and she was actually caked in ice... all the way around her,” Dr Clark told KTMF.

“Her temperature was so low our thermometer wouldn’t read it, so we know it was less than 90 [32C].”

Fluffy has now made a full recovery and is back at home, safe and sound, with her owners. She’ll also remain indoors for the foreseeable future.

Speaking to BBC Three about the incredible recovery, veterinary surgeon and TV host Dr Rory Cowlam (aka Rory The Vet) said he’d never seen anything on this scale before.

“I’ve never seen a case as severe as that, the photos are incredible - we just don’t get those temperatures over here,” he said.

“A cat’s normal body temperature is 37-39 degrees - the lowest I’ve seen is an animal at 31 and with the right treatment they can survive.”

Dr Rory says Fluffy’s owners did exactly the right thing - and even offered some tips in case anyone finds themselves in a similar tricky situation with their own animal.

“The problem with temperatures dropping that low is that essential bodily functions slow down and the body starts to go into shut down,” he said.

“The temptation is to try and warm them up ASAP but in reality you have to do this much slower than you would like as you can cause more damage if you go too fast.

“These owners did exactly the right thing in getting straight to the nearest vet - if you’re a little way away, you can start warming the animal up slowly on the way to the vets with blankets and such.”

But animals have proved, time and time again, just how hardy they can be.

George the terrier spent more than three days trapped in caves near Merthyr Tydfil after getting stuck in a hole earlier this week.

The animal's owner, Alex Barrett, was walking with all his dogs when George ran off and got himself stuck.

Dog being rescued from caveSouth & Mid Wales cave rescue

"I could hear him, so I thought he was really close to the surface. I spent about eight hours trying to dig him out before I called the fire brigade," Mr Barrett earlier told the BBC.

"The hole was too small, so they got in touch with the cave rescue team who were there for about three days trying to get him out.

"They eventually managed to get through and start feeding him with food on the end of a stick and water with the top of a bottle before they got him out.”

Last month, armed police helped rescue a gerbil in Allestree, Derby, after it had been abandoned went its owner went to jail. 

Derby City Police Safer Neighbourhood Team said the animal was "thankfully still alive but very hungry" after being left alone for a week.

And, last December, two lambs were rescued from a 20ft (6m) well in a valley known as Mrs Bean's Bottom. 

Farmer Charles Mortimer said the two sheep were "doing fine" after his son discovered the missing pair while inspecting the flock.

"We got a couple of long poles and tied a noose to the pole and managed to put a noose round the lambs' necks and pull them up," he said.

Charles said the lambs were not injured while they were being pulled out of the well due to their strong neck muscles.

Frankly, this is exactly the good news story we were all looking for today.