Edmonton

Purr-fect ending for Fort McMurray evacuee kittens

Some kittens who fled May's wildfire have now been adopted by fellow Fort McMurray evacuees. Their cuteness is like a warming shot of tequila.

'Hope this picture makes people [in Fort McMurray] smile, even just for a second.'

A Fort McMurray evacuee is sharing this photo of her kittens who escaped the fire - and the story behind it - in the hope it will make others smile. (Nose to Nose photography)

A Fort McMurray evacuee has shared an adorable cat photo, with the hope it will cheer up her neighbours — many of whom are struggling with the aftermath of wildfires. 

Marissa Heath's seven kittens were just over three weeks old and awaiting adoption when the fires hit in May. 

In the rush to escape the flames, Heath packed them into a single carrier with mama-cat Lily. The family was among the thousands stranded north of the city. CBC interviewed Heath after she had waited more than 24 hours in her vehicle at the side of the road.

The next morning, the Canadian military led its first convoy of stranded northern evacuees through the still-burning city to safety.

Like hundreds of others, Heath had no idea if her home was all right. Her city was in flames. And she hardly had enough supplies to take care of herself and her husband, let alone her pets.

In a radio interview that day, she described how it felt.

Mama-cat Lily, a long-haired calico, looks out protectively over her tiny litter. (Angela Johnston/CBC)

The Heaths found a place to stay through evacuee services in Edmonton. A volunteer took in her kittens. They all lived a nomadic existence for several weeks. Near the end of May, Heath found out her home had survived. But she was devastated to find out how many other homes were destroyed.

Before the family returned to Fort McMurray on June 3, a special surprise was waiting for them. The volunteer who looked after the kittens in Edmonton had a friend who was a pet photographer and had arranged a too-cute-for-words photo shoot.

A Fort McMurray evacuee is sharing this photo of her kittens who escaped the fire - and the story behind it - in the hope it will make others smile. (Nose to Nose photography)

The volunteer also adopted two kittens. The remaining five were adopted by other Fort McMurray evacuees.

"I call them my little Fort McMurray wildfire mascots," Heath said.

"I'm hoping this picture makes people smile as much as it does me. So many people can't because they lost so much. To make them smile, even just for a second, would be really nice."

Marissa Heath and her kittens, shortly after they left the still-burning Fort McMurray on May 6, 2016. (Angela Johnston/CBC)

RELATED STORIES:

'Like driving through a warzone' Convoy leads evacuees through smoky Fort McMurray

​Fort McMurray food bank will dump about $200K worth of food after 'suspicious' fire

EXCLUSIVE: The untold story of the fight to save Fort McMurray

EXCLUSIVE: ​2 Fort McMurray firefighters say evacuation came too late, put lives at risk

now