When a fire tore through her New York City apartment building in February, Jacquelyn Gallo’s cat Mr. Mitten jumped into action. “He started kneading me to wake me up. I assume he sensed something was wrong,” she tells PEOPLE Pets. Gallo then headed for a window with the cat in her arms, but, spooked by the smoke and flames, Mr. Mitten ran off and, sadly, perished in the blaze.
“I had a lot of anxiety afterward about it, but I know I might not have made it had I kept looking,” she says of the heartbreaking situation, which was first reported by the Daily News.
A month later, Gallo received an unexpected call. “My landlord phoned saying they had found a cat in the apartment,” she says. “We rushed down, nervous, crying, excited.”
But when she arrived, it wasn’t Mr. Mitten that she found. Instead, Gallo says a female cat “was snuggled in a sweater vest in a drawer. She had been hissing at the insurance men, but as soon as my boyfriend put his hand out she began to nuzzle him.”
The landlord asked if they wanted to keep the orphaned kitty, who they later found out belonged to an elderly woman who had perished in the fire. “We sat on the curb for maybe ten minutes and within that time realized she was now ours,” says Gallo.
The cat’s name was one of the easiest decisions Gallo had to make throughout the ordeal. “We instantly said ‘Miracle’ when we found out her back paws were burnt and she had actually been in the fire and still survived,” she says.
Gallo, a writer and actress, says Miracle (who they also call Milagro in Spanish) is healing now, and will likely need months of costly treatment for her burns. But she’s certain that this cat has a lot of love to give.
“I’ve never met a cat so friendly,” she says. “It’s absolutely astounding how this little tiny angel survived that long in a horrible, haunted-house-like burned out building and still has this amazingly loving, sweet personality.”
Jacquelyn Gallo is accepting donations for Miracle’s treatment. If you want to help, you can contact her at email@example.com.