Cat credited with saving Jones County family’s home from fire

pramati@macon.comFebruary 4, 2013 

The Rinauro family of Jones County is crediting a cat with saving their home.

Sal Rinauro, 30, describes himself as someone who isn’t an animal person. Reluctantly, he and his wife, Kayti, decided to take in a foster cat named Mr. Meowy from animal rescue group Macon Purrs N’ Paws. But their 7-year-old son, Brendon, convinced them.

“(Brendon) really fought for him,” Sal Rinauro said.

“I didn’t fought,” Brendon corrected. “I begged.”

Mr. Meowy was surrendered by a family in Columbus, and without the Rinauros willing to foster him, the fate of the white feline would have been uncertain.

But now, Mr. Meowy is being hailed a hero.

Sunday, he ended up saving the Rinauro home by alerting Kayti to a burning pillow and night light that could have caused the double-wide mobile home that has been in the Rinauro family for three generations to go up in flames.

Kayti Rinauro said Sal and Brendon left their home early Sunday evening for a Super Bowl party. A little later, she and the couple’s 2-year-old son, Jacob, headed to the grocery store.

As she was about to leave their home on Luke Smith Road, Kayti remembered she had forgotten to leave a light on for the cat. So she went back inside and heard meowing coming from Brendon’s bedroom.

Since Mr. Meowy’s arrival the day before, he hadn’t purred or meowed at all. So when Kayti heard the cat, she decided to check on him.

She smelled smoke and found Mr. Meowy in the room where a small pillow had fallen from Brendon’s bunk bed and landed on an Atlanta Braves night light. The pillow had started to burn, and because it was on top of the light, it was trapping the heat, causing the night light to melt.

“The night light was burning into the pillow,” she said. “I grabbed (the pillow) and put it into the sink. It had a burning rubber smell.”

Now, Mr. Meowy -- who began the weekend in the Rinauro home on a trial basis -- has secured permanent status there.

“We were not necessarily looking to adopt, but my son and Mr. Meowy connected immediately,” Kayti said. “We were just going to foster him for a little while. Now, he’s not going anywhere.”

The family members are big collectors. Sal, a former WWE wrestler who now works for TNA Wrestling, has a wall full of wrestling action figures and thousands of baseball cards. Kayti is a huge fan of Harry Potter, and she has her own figures and memorabilia. (She named the family dog “Remus Hagrid” after two popular Potter characters.)

“Everything would have been gone, no question,” Sal Rinauro said of what could have been had Mr. Meowy not alerted his wife to the smoke. “This is literally everything we have. This was my grandmother’s house. ... It makes me rethink my stance on not being an animal person.”

Brendon said Mr. Meowy, who has been de-clawed, sleeps in the same bed with him.

“He doesn’t do very much,” said Brendon, while holding the cat on his bed Monday afternoon. “But I love him.”

Fortunately for the Rinauros, Mr. Meowy did enough.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.

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