Jinx the barn cat nursed back to health after Scamman Farm barn fire

Lara Bricker
| Portsmouth Herald

STRATHAM – The three barn cats on Scamman Farm have always been more than just moulting for Sue Fernholz.

“We spend so much time up here so we see them, we hold them, they were very friendly stable cats,” said Sue, who is married to Kirk Scamman.

When she arrived at the site of the massive barn fire on the farm in early May of this year, Sue immediately called for her cats Kittylou, Loki and Jinx. Jinx, a 2-year-old black woman, staggered towards her in a heartbreaking scene.

“Her tongue was literally hanging on the ground. It was completely scorched, “said Sue. “I picked her up; I didn’t know if she would make it. ”

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She wrapped Jinx in Kirk’s Carhartt and called a friend to fetch the goats that had luckily escaped thanks to a North Hampton fireman who opened the barn’s back door. Loki and Kittylou got away unharmed and she wonders why Jinx was the one with the injuries.

“Something made her go back in,” she said. She suspects that Jinx went to the rabbits in the barn, a place where she once lived.

“She was scorched”

Kirk admits he didn’t think the cat would survive. “She’s a black cat in the dark and you know it’s bad, but you can’t tell how bad.”

They quickly took Jinx to the emergency vet. “It was scorched. It looked like a melted soft toy, “said Sue.

Jinx was stabilized and taken to her regular veterinarian, Mitchell Animal Hospital, where the couple had an honest conversation about whether rescuing the cat was the right decision given the severity of her injuries. They decided to do what they could for her and took her to Stratham.

“The tips of her ears are gone. You were lucky enough to save most of your ears, ”said Kirk. “Her hair was singed, her nails were gone, the whiskers were gone and the balls of her feet were gone.”

Keeping Jinx healthy

For the first two and a half weeks, they gave the burned cat water with a dropper every two hours. Sue put ointment on her burns and went to Mitchell Animal Hospital every other day so they could change their bandages. Sue is grateful to the Working Dog Foundation for paying the vet bills for Jinx.

As the family faced the daunting task of recovering from the fire, the little cat became a source of hope. “It gave us something to work on at night; it gave us something to focus on, ”said Kirk. “Sue went to a lot of trouble cleaning her paws and ears.”

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Jinx was a troop during her treatment, but she didn’t like taking the pain reliever, so they gradually reduced it. She seemed fine, but they were also worried about her eyes. “We weren’t sure she’d see,” Kirk said. “Fortunately she wasn’t blind.”

Her hair grew back, although there are white spots where she was most severely burned.

Sue has always loved animals and wanted to be a vet when she was a child. So taking care of the cat was a matter of course. “My mother didn’t let me become a vet because she was afraid that I would be a crazy cat lady and not give her grandchildren,” said Sue. “So I became a teacher instead.”

From the stable cat to the house queen

Jinx and her brother Loki joined the barn cat family two years ago. Kittylou, the barn’s matriarch, took her in immediately. “She taught them how to hunt, how to do everything,” said Sue. “We would come tomorrow morning and they would greet us.”

Kittylou has had kittens of her own in the past, and Sue felt that this helped her teach Jinx and Loki. “She is an avid hunter and she was a fantastic mother. When she had her kittens, she brought home prey and taught them to hunt. It was cool to see, ”she said.

In the months since the fire, Jinx has become a house cat with Kirk and Sue, where she made friends with her dog Lila. “I think the dog is jealous,” Kirk said of the cat, who now prefer to sit at the table with the family over dinner.

Sue now calls her the “cat dog” because she wags her tail like the dog and walks the dog in the garden. “She definitely became the queen of the house,” she said. Jinx is sleeping on the bed and has made herself comfortable in Lila’s dog bed.

As the couple ponders the little cat’s recovery, they are impressed with her resilience. “She just has a mind like no other,” said Sue. “She is a miracle. I wonder how many of her nine lives she used up. ”

Lara Bricker is a former Exeter News Letter contributor, author of the Piper Greene Exeter Mysteries, and Exeter resident. She can be reached at larabricker@hotmail.com. An audio podcast version of Exeter Life is available on most podcast platforms and in a video format on EX-TV.