A Christmas Marvel – Feline Third Degree Burns Victim Reunites with Family

Many families lost their homes in severe bushfires that ravaged the Blue Mountains two months ago. David and Kim Bartush from Winmalee also lost everything except what matters the most – their beloved cat, Molly.

The six-year-old Russian feline was severely burned in the fires and spent two months receiving intensive treatment at the Animal Referral Hospital (ARH) in Homebush. How Molly survived is a mystery and the way she was found, amazing. She showed everyone that miracles do happen … with a bit of help from angels along the way.

“The most important thing is that nobody was killed (in the bushfires) and we are so thankful for that,” said Mr Bartush. “We honestly thought Molly burned to death in the fire. It’s a miracle that she survived.”

Molly was trapped inside the Bartush’s home when bushfire swept swiftly through the neighbourhood on October 17 and burned it to the ground. Mr Bartush stayed until the last minute to try to save the house he built 21 years ago, and had just enough time to escape with their dog, Toby. It was only after he got out of the fire’s deadly grip that he realised he forgot Molly locked in the bathroom.

“I tried to go back but the entire street was alight,” he said, remembering the terrible guilt he felt on top of the despair of losing his family home. “We thought she was dead. Several houses on that street burned to the ground. We didn’t think there was any way for her to get out. But she was smarter than I thought. She used eight of her nine lives!”

The next morning, Mr Bartush’s son, who lives in nearby Yellow Rock and lost the front yard of his house to the fires, came across on Facebook a picture of a burned cat that looked just like Molly. Two boys had found her wandering the night before and took her to a local vet.

Molly was severely burned all over her body and had plastic stuck to her fur. It appeared she managed to escape out of the bathroom window when the screen cover melted.

Specialist care at the Animal Referral Hospital


Mr Bartush took her immediately to his vet at Springwood Veterinary Clinic for treatment but three days later, the hospital was evacuated due to approaching bushfires. Molly was transferred to the Animal Referral Hospital for specialist care and received three major surgeries and multiple minor procedures to save what was left of her paws. She was finally well enough to go home on Friday.

“Molly lost all her paw pads and had nasty burns on her hocks or ankle joints,” said Dr Sarah Goldsmid, specialist small animal surgeon at the ARH. “She burned off all her whiskers and the ends of her ears, and her coat was singed all over; her fur felt rough to touch and smelled of bushfire for days.”

Molly was burned so badly that Dr Goldsmid had to remove all of the cat’s lower toe bones and claws, and grafted new skin to all four feet with skin grafts from her body wall. “Molly’s got little mittens now and won’t be able to climb like other cats but she can still have a good quality of life as an indoor cat,” she said.

Despite the nightmare that Molly lived through and the long recovery at the 24-hour emergency and specialist hospital, she was always sweet and a very good patient. “Molly has a lovely personality, she’s gorgeous,” said Dr Goldsmid. “She let us do most of her daily bandage changes while awake. Nobody wants to see her go.”

Whilst the ARH nurses and staff are sad to say goodbye to Molly, the Bartush family are overjoyed to be reunited with their beloved pet

“Molly and Toby are our substitute kids at home (since the children have grown up). The pets become a part of your family and you do miss them,” said Mr Bartush. “The Animal Referral Hospital were absolutely brilliant. I just can’t praise and thank them enough. They called and texted me every day, giving me progress reports about Molly. You can’t ask for better treatment.”

Furthermore, the ARH covered the approximate $19,000 invoice for Molly’s two months of around-the-clock specialist care and treatment. Provet Veterinary Supplies and Idexx Laboratories also provided their services for free to help Molly on the road to recovery.

“The Bartush family lost so much in the fire, we wanted to give back,” said Dr Goldsmid.

This is the first Christmas the Bartush family won’t be spending at home, but having Molly back is certainly the best gift they could ask for.


For a video interview of Dr Sarah Goldsmid and David and Kim Bartush about Molly’s recovery, visit:

VETtalk TV - 'Molly's Secret Angels!'


For more information or media interviews:

Troy James, General Manager

Animal Referral Hospital


W 02 9199 8983/ M 0410 647 974


Dr Sarah Goldsmid

Animal Referral Hospital


M 0407 494 463


David and Kim Bartush are available for interviews.


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