Stray cat gets adopted by fire department and thanks firefighters with unconditional love (Gallery)
The tiny orange and white kitten was in rough shape when he strayed into the Belmont Fire House malnourished and too small to even be vaccinated.
After lapping up some fried chicken and lots of attention from the firefighters on shift, the weeks-old kitty grew stronger. (Scroll down for video)
“I came in one day and I saw the guys playing with this kitten,” Fire Chief Anthony Segars said of Flame’s arrival at the firehouse.
“Now we’ve had dogs and cats wander up here before but they’re always gone in a day or so,” he told The Greenville News. “But a few days later ... the cat was sleeping in the bay. So I asked the guys, ‘Why is the cat here?’
“And they told me, ‘He lives here now.' ”
Since his arrival, Flame has come to be not only a companion for the firefighters, who can spend many hours away from home, but a kind of therapy cat for them as well.
“We see a lot of bad stuff,” Segars said. “And it’s like he knows, he can sense, that maybe they aren’t having a good day. And he will just rub up on them and sit in their lap, and be like, I’m here for you.”
And two short years later, Flame, as the guys in the firehouse call him, is an Instagram star who was featured in a recent segment of the popular Animal Planet show “My Cat From Hell.”
"Everybody knows that the simple act of touching an animal brings down your heart rate and blood pressure. It seems nobody needs the benefit of this contact more than a building full of firefighters," Galaxy told The News about why Flame was chosen for the show.
"For most firefighters, their station is their home away from home," he added. "Their shifts are often 48 hours and they are without their family and loved ones. Every firefighter in the station agrees, coming back ... after fighting a fire and spending time with Flame — simply holding him or playing ball — they instantly feel better."
“All the loud noise we make ... it doesn’t phase him,” Segars said. “He owns the domain.”
Thanks to his Instagram fans, Flame, who boasts more than 12,000 followers, has a little cat firehouse complete with a fire station slide pole scratching post.
“From the time he got his first few thousand followers on Instagram, we’d get cat items — break-away collars, bow ties —— people who are truly cat lovers would send gift cards for us to buy him food. So someone built that fire house for him,” Segars said.
“At Christmastime, he gets more gifts and cards than the firefighters do. We seldom go a week and something is not in the mail for him,” he added. “This fraternal order of cat lovers out there are very generous and awesome people.”
Flame sleeps on, in and under the fire trucks, he said. When the fire alarm sounds, he simply moves out of the way as the firefighters scramble. And he’s always sitting at the door waiting for them when they return.
“When we have those bad times, my guys can sit in the rocking chairs out front and hold him and talk to him and it’s a form of therapy, I truly believe that,” Segars said. “It’s amazing how he interacts with the guys like that. It’s like he knows, ‘They need me today.’ ”
As he wraps up the segment, Galaxy marvels at Flame’s story.
“That was amazing,” he said. “Flame gives new meaning to the concept of a working cat. Sometimes it’s not about catching mice. It’s about unconditional love and support. And these guys have got plenty of that now.”
Watch the video below!
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You can follow Flame on Instagram here!
via USA Today
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