With her family homeless from a middle-of-the-night fire, the biggest worry for 14-year-old Amber McDougal was her cat, Fluffy.

Amber raised the alarm last weekend at their Onekawa home, running outside uninjured with her mother, sister and brother.

"I started yelling and screaming that there was a fire," she said. "As soon as I was running out of the house I was thinking of Fluffy."

The bedroom fire had spread to the lounge.


"We tried to put it out with the hose but it didn't work because it was too big, but the fire people were there.

"We went and stayed at my aunty's house but each day I looked for Fluffy.

"We had three cats and I had seen two were in my neighbour's house. I looked under her house and couldn't see Fluffy and I had a quick look under the deck but couldn't see him there either.

"I was worried but we carried on clearing stuff out of the house. I thought Fluffy might have run away."

Four days after the fire while still clearing their damaged belongings, they had heard Fluffy crying from beneath the burned deck.

"I ran over to the deck and looked under.

"He looked bad. He was burned and couldn't walk - he was just meowing and shaking."

She had lain on a skateboard and wheeled herself under.

"He stopped meowing as soon as I got to him."

She had wrapped him in a blanket and her brother and sister had pulled them out.

CareVet staff said Fluffy suffered severe burns to his eyes, face and all four paws. His right eye was shut by a burned piece of plastic. Polystyrene and plastic had melted into him and he was wet from sitting in urine because he could not move.

Amber's mum Alison said CareVet had been wonderful, not asking for money up front despite their difficult situation.

It would be six months before they could move back into their home.

"I don't know how big the bill will be at the end of it. We are saving the cat - we don't think about the money."

CareVet has launched an appeal to help pay for Fluffy's recovery. Donations are being accepted at Carevet's Napier branch or phone them on 842 2033.