GREENVILLE - Firefighters were called to a house fire Wednesday evening on Highway 43 in Greenville. The fire gutted the home.
The fire started around 5:30 p.m. at a mobile home at the corner of Highway 43 and Wesley Lane, near D.H. Conley High School. Firefighters said the fire started in a bedroom, but the cause of the fire is undetermined.
The homeowners were both outside at the time - the husband in the barn and the wife was mowing the lawn. But the couple's three cats were inside the home. A Good Samaritan was able to rescue one of the cats by breaking through the front door and pulling the animal out.
"Austin (the cat) was 3 or 4 feet inside the home. [The man] threw the cat out to me and I grabbed him, [put him on his side] and just started breathing in his mouth like you would a human," owner, Coart Johnson said.
Johnson learned how to perform CPR in high school. It's something he said has stuck with him ever since.
"They're animals with a central nervous system and lungs and a heart why wouldn't it work," he said.
Dr. Anne Eldridge from Firetower Animal Clinic in Greenville said the success rate of CPR for humans is roughly 15 % but for animals, "unfortunately we're looking at 6 to 7 % success rate."
Dr. Eldridge said it's important to know the proper technique. She said for a smaller sized animal "use the palm of your hand to provide compressions to [their] chest area. In a [very small animal] you could just use your fingers and your thumb and in a bigger animal you would have to use both hands. And if we were needing to give [the animal] breaths we would hold a gentle hold on their muzzle and put your mouth over his nose and mouth and you'd probably have to put your whole mouth to push force air into their lungs," she said.
Dr. Eldridge said you should do one hundred compressions and ten breaths per minute. She recommends doing ten compressions and then two breaths per minute and then repeating.
The veterinarian warned that you can sometimes feel for a pulse inside the feet or thighs of an animal. However, be aware of getting bitten or scratched especially if you don't know the animal because it could have rabies. Also, Dr. Eldridge said animals have a lot of bacteria in their mouths so you could get an infection by performing CPR.
Johnson said, though, the risks were worth it to him. He said he knew his cat would survive when he heard him purr early Thursday morning.
"I knew he was back to my Austin Kitty, which I call him my awesome Kitty," Johnson said.
The other two cats died in the fire. No humans were injured in the fire.
Fire investigators said the home is a total loss.