Lucky fire cat’s nine lives

Rebecca Wiffen with kitten Kwaazi which survived a house fire on New Renwick Rd last week. Photo: Matt Brown.

She survived an encounter with a washing machine, being shut in a fridge and now a fire which destroyed her family’s home.

Kwaazi the kitten is back in the arms of her relieved family who feared she had died in a house fire last week.

Scared and smelling of smoke, Kwaazi was discovered hiding under the deck of the Marlborough homestead which burnt to the ground last week.

Her family, Rebecca Wiffen, husband Andy Fitzpatrick and children Sophia, 5, and Sam, 3, say the lucky cat is quickly “using up her nine lives.”

“Our very good friend Tim Abraham managed to find her.

“We’re very lucky to have her back, she’s only a kitten and she’s used many of her nine lives already.”

A fire gutted the Wiffen family home last week. Photo: Matt Brown.
A fire gutted the Wiffen family home last week. Photo: Matt Brown.

She’s been eight minutes in a front loader, she’s been locked in a fridge, originally, she came through from Nelson in the bonnet of a car.

“Kwaazi, named after a character in children’s cartoon show Octonaut was initially nowhere to be seen.

Her family feared the worst but apart from “smelling a bit smoky” Kwaazi escaped unscathed.

The Lawson’s wine maker watched in horror from the side lines as fire engulfed the home, called St Claire, which has been in her family for six generations.

She was at work when the call came through from the family’s American au pair, affectionately known as Big Sam, that the house was on fire.

They think Kwaazi was in the house when the fire began.

The family are staying with Andy’s parents in Blenheim, alongside Kwaazi and two dogs.

“To be honest, I think I’m over the shock. It’s about settling children, to be fair. It’s about having somewhere to be.

“I’m in the next mode, trying to get my life back on track,” Rebecca says.

The family have lived at the house for about 20 years, continuing a family tradition that goes back to 1907.

The cause of the fire is not yet known.

A new home is a top priority and Rebecca says they are “incredibly lucky” to be able to buy.

She says the family have a lot to be thankful for.

“The generosity from people has been incredible and overwhelming.

“It’s been a little bit heart-wrenching how lovely people have been to us.

Wither Hills were incredible during the fire. They bought us blankets, they bought us cups of tea and coffee, they bought us chairs to sit down.

“It’s been overwhelming”.

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