OMAHA — A little more than a month after being seriously burned in a house fire, King, the Omaha cat treated with tilapia fish skins, has returned to his family to continue his recovery.
Veterinarians at the Nebraska Humane Society used the fish skins, sourced from a local market, as a kind of organic bandage to help speed King’s healing and provide some pain relief.
Now King, who’s had several surgeries to close wounds, has recovered to the point where it’s safe for him to leave the organization’s medical center, said Pam Wiese, a Humane Society spokeswoman.
It’s also important to get the 10-month-old feline out of a kennel so he can stretch and move like a cat, putting his muscles to use and keeping his skin from contracting and forming scar tissue.
Shane and Blaze Martinez were out of their home near 28th Street and Titus Avenue for a short time Dec. 21 when the fire broke out. Father and son got the call about the fire from Humane Society officers while on their way home. In addition to losing their belongings, they lost their Great Dane, Chico, to smoke inhalation. While he was the family’s cat, King was particularly close to Blaze Martinez.
The Humane Society veterinarians believed King could have a good life if they could find a way to help him heal. They decided to try the tilapia skin technique, which had been used to treat both wild and domestic animals burned in California wildfires.
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Early the second week of January, the vets removed the skin bandages to find that a significant amount of healing tissue had formed underneath. Shane Martinez said during a visit at the time that King was already a bit of a miracle, a remnant of what the family had lost.
Wiese said King still looks a bit rough. He’ll still need additional medical checks, removal of stitches and at least one more surgery. The Humane Society will continue to work with the family until he’s cleared medically.
But for now, she said, “He’s healing, and he’s on the mend.”