POLSON — We’ve seen tragedy play out right before our eyes the last few days in Polson, but amid the chaos we’ve also seen some incredible stories emerge.
After running away during his family’s evacuation, Astro, a Polson family's pet cat, reunited with his owner on Tuesday afternoon. Burnt and bruised with damaged lungs, swollen paws and missing whiskers Astro survived the ordeal.
After a terrifying weekend, the luckiest cat in western Montana finally came home. But home doesn’t have an address anymore, it’s in the arms of Alia Tavenner.
Holding down the fort for her dad this summer, Alia’s been living on Finley Point, taking care of the family vineyard and keeping her little brothers’ cat Astro company in the house she’s spent every summer.
“I used to live there with my grandmother. She played piano a lot, so she's pretty upset one of the pianos got burnt, but yeah, that house was pretty special for sure,” Alia said.
After this weekend, only the bones of a wobbly structure still stand. The house is gone. “There’s nothing, the chimney, maybe the washing machine.
Like the rest of Polson, Alia now has quite the story to tell when remembering the summer of 2021.
"The night started getting darker around 9. “I stepped out of the house and I smelled the smoke and there was a bit of ash in the air, and it was so unusually warm for that time of night. So, I started to get worried even though I knew the firefighters would call me. Then a little bit of time went by and I decided that I should get ready.” - Alia Tavenner
Somewhere between the packing and panicking, Astro disappeared.
“Right before he was about to get into the pickup truck he dashed out. We were all like “The cat ran off...Astro, Astro, where’s Astro?” Alia said.
In a scene straight out of a movie, Astro was forced onto a cliff, and as the fire came closer and closer, he finally reached the edge of the cliff and used one of his nine lives and jumped.
From where he landed in a tree, to a firefighter, to the sheriff, to the animal rescue, to the vet— Astro made it back to his family through a chain of community kindness.
“He’s gonna be fine,” Alia told MTN News.
The house may be gone, but Astro serves as a beacon of hope for the family as they pick up the pieces and move on.
“After some time of thinking you realize that it's just a chance to rebuild, make a better house, and make new memories,” Alia said.
“You can't hold onto material things. As long as we’re okay, as long as everybody makes it out and little kitty is fine, there isn’t that much loss,” she concluded.
Alia says there are too many people to thank for getting her out of the house safely and saving Astro. In fact, South Shore Veterinary Service is even covering Astro’s medical expenses.
Once he’s fully recovered, Astro is gonna try the “indoor cat” lifestyle for a while.
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