TAMPA, Fla. – A calico cat named Ruby, the only surviving pet from a South Tampa house fire that claimed a dog and five cats Monday evening, is being treated at BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital for smoke inhalation and blindness.
The cat’s owner, Florence White, says she lost everything in the blaze, which occurred in the 4700 block of W. Iowa Ave. around 5 p.m. Monday. The only silver lining is knowing her beloved cat will survive.
“She’s a fighter,” said White, who was at home with her 22-year-old daughter and 33-year-old son when the fire erupted. “We’re all so glad she’s okay.”
White brought Ruby to BluePearl, where she was treated by Dr. Melissa Torre. Ruby was immediately put in a special chamber where she received emergency oxygen to counteract any negative effects from the smoke inhalation. She was also given pain medication.
“So far, she seems pretty stable,” said Torre. “She was resting comfortably for most of the night.”
However, Ruby appears to have been blinded during the fire, Torre added. The cat is being examined today by one of BluePearl’s board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists to try to determine the cause of her injury.
“Our hearts go out to the White family, who suffered such a tremendous loss,” said Danielle Martin, Executive Director of Frankie’s Friends. “We’re happy to do what we can to reunite Ruby with the people who love her.”
White said she was making herself some dinner when she walked away from the stove to look for some papers. The next thing she knew, her son was yelling at her to leave the house. The house quickly filled with smoke.
“He said, ‘Mama, mama – you’ve got to leave right now!” she said.
White said she’s devastated by the loss of her pets. She said her dog, Charlie, a lab-pit bull mix, rarely left her side.
“I can’t stop thinking about them,” she said. “I miss them so much.”