ANDOVER— Gumbo is out of the hospital, back on the farm.
The 6-year-old cat, burned in a barn fire six weeks ago, went home with his owner Saturday to New Hampshire.
“He’s always been a tough kitty. He’s been a tough kitty since the day he was born,” Harriet Finks said, stroking Gumbo during their reunion at Andover Animal Hospital.
Finks and daughter Elissa drove from their Perry Hill Farm in Bedford to Andover on Saturday afternoon to pick up Gumbo.
He’s doing just fine.
“Gumbo is doing really well,” veterinary technician Kristen Ingersoll said. “He should be going home with just minimal care. He needs to have some cream applied to one remaining sore on his back left leg.”
Gumbo is wearing a special cone collar that keeps him from getting at the sore and his tail. “He will still need to wear his (protective collar), but other than that he should have a speedy recovery at home,” she said.
Burn care was important for Gumbo. “He received daily bandage changes up until about a week ago. His paws were severely burned. Most of his paw pads had been burned and were falling off. He needed daily cleaning and changes to make sure they stayed clean and infection free,” Ingersoll said.
“We also applied creams to his ear tips. They were also burnt. They have since healed up and are looking pretty good,” she said.
His tail is a concern but is still a part of him.
“The tail, we suspect it should be fine. He’s started to try and bite on it a little bit. So we’re just wondering if it’s because he can finally reach it. It has since healed over and the fur is growing back,” Ingersoll said.
Gumbo seemed pleased by both the reunion and the attention.
He was purring loudly and responding favorably when the collar was temporarily removed and Finks stroked his neck.
He may be a tough kitty, but he’s got a big, soft heart when you approach him the right way.
“He greets you, you don’t greet him,” Elissa Finks said.
Gumbo was born in a wall, literally.
“We had to take down the wall to get him out,” Harriett Finks recalled.
Life on the farm has agreed with Gumbo. “He never lived outdoors, even though he was a barn cat. Every evening at 7 o’clock they all come in,” his owner said of the family cats.
His sister, Gidget, also was burned in the fire, but not as bad.
The family’s 1,000-pound pig, Miss Colby, helped lead them to Gumbo, found in a pile of rocks after the fire.
Amid the devastation of the fire that destroyed the barn and claimed 14 horses, the survival of the cats meant a lot to the family. “We were very upset thinking we lost him and Gidget,” Harriett Finks said.
The return of Gumbo will help with the family’s recovery process. Gumbo’s bills totaled $4,000 and the family still needs help, including someone to bring in heavy equipment to help remove debris.
To help Gumbo, checks can be sent to The Shawdow Fund, c/o Massachusetts School of Law at Andover, 233 Lowell St., Andover, MA 01810.
Those who wish to aid the Perry Hill Farm can visit www.gofundme.com/Perry-Hill-Farm-Fire-Fund or www.wishlist.com/PerryHillFarmFire. Donations are being handled by TD Bank.