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Courageous pet cat saves the day
Courageous pet cat saves the day

A newly adopted pet cat is being praised for saving a family's home in Melbourne's east from burning down.

Tilly the tabby used her keen sense of smell to alert her owners to the danger, and firefighters say without her, the building would have gone up in flames.

Matt Clayton is happy to admit he wanted a dog instead, but Tilly has proven herself to be man's best friend.

With his wife already at work and children at school, Matt was leaving his Blackburn home later than normal, but Tilly would not budge.

"She was looking up at me and the roof," Matt told 7News.

Matt said he could not smell or see smoke, but Tilly's persistent purring compelled him to touch the ceiling.

"I gave the down-light a gentle tug and smoke came pouring out," he recalled.

Box Hill fire chief Ken Campbell says this is a first for him - he cannot recall a cat stepping up to save the day.

"If Tilly wasn't there, it would have been a catastrophe for sure," he said.

Within 20 minutes, the compressed straw insulation would have engulfed and destroyed the entire home, he insisted.

While dogs are well known for their sense of smell, cats are known for excellent hearing and eyesight, but it seems Tilly also had a survival instinct.

The family adopted Tilly from the RSPCA three weeks ago.

She was a stray - covered in fleas and scratches from fighting - and a new mum to four kittens.

RSPCA spokesman Ryan Anderson said: "They're always prowling around and checking their environments."

There will be a lot of love heading Tilly's way after this morning's heroics, and perhaps even a name change.

"We should maybe call her smokey," Matt joked.


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