Burned Cat Reunited with Family Following Separation During Camp Fire

Mayson, a gray tabby cat
Mayson was lost and burned in the Camp Fire and later reunited with his family while being treated at UC Davis.

“Case of the Month” – January 2019

Pet parent Laci Ping had just 15 minutes to pack up her life—which included six cats, six chickens, three dogs, and three reptiles—as the Camp Fire approached her home in Paradise, California. She managed to secure all but one of her animals – 5-month-old Mayson, a male gray tabby cat. Scared of what was happening, Mayson escaped at the last minute. Ping tried frantically to catch him, but he ran away too quickly. Heartbroken, Ping was forced to leave without him.

“As I was walking down my street looking for him, a firefighter said, ‘What are you doing here? You need to leave now,’” said Ping. “He told me to leave him behind,” she continued, her voice breaking. “So that’s what I had to do,” she concluded, her voice full of emotion and heartbreak.

That heartbreak would turn to jubilation a week later when she saw Mayson on the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine’s Facebook page, along with dozens of other cats burned in the fire that were brought to the school’s veterinary hospital.

“I found my baby,” Ping said instantly upon seeing Mayson’s picture. “I knew that was him. I recognized his cute little face right away.”

First responders and search and rescue teams—including faculty and student members of UC Davis’ Veterinary Emergency Response Team—found hundreds of burned animals that were unable to escape the swift-moving blaze. Nearly 70 of those animals were brought to the UC Davis veterinary hospital.

Mayson was brought to UC Davis on November 12, four days after Paradise was destroyed. While he suffered third degree burns on all four paws, he escaped damage to any other part of his body and was systemically healthy. Luckily for Mayson, UC Davis has multiple critical care specialists who are trained to treat burns.

Students also played a major role in Mayson’s care, as he required daily burn treatments and bandage changes over the course of his two weeks at the hospital. His injuries helped many students learn an asset that will serve them well in their future careers. While an unfortunate situation, the fire provided a tremendous learning opportunity for the students. Treating burns is not a common occurrence at veterinary teaching hospitals, so students were exposed to patients that many other students over the years never experienced.

In addition to treating his burns, clinicians also immunized, neutered and microchipped Mayson while he was hospitalized.

As Mayson healed, healthy granulation tissue progressively formed over his wounds. At the time of his discharge on November 28, bandages were no longer required.

“He healed very quickly,” Ping said, excitedly describing Mayson’s current state. “His singed whiskers grew back and the fur on his paws is back, too.”

Ping and her family are currently residing in Crescent City. They plan to return to their property in Paradise soon to reassess their future, be it rebuilding in Paradise or elsewhere.

“The one thing I’m most thankful for is that we’re all ok,” Ping said. “These babies are like my children.”

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