INDEPENDENCE - A 97-year-old woman says her cat's early morning yowling saved her from a house fire.
Grace George, of Independence, said her cat Boo Boo's yowling from an open bedroom window early Wednesday woke her up from a sound sleep.
"I got so aggravated," George said. "I didn't know why she was doing that."
George picked up the black and gold brindle, a stray she had taken in about 15 years earlier, and felt her way through the dark house until she reached the kitchen.
It was just 4 a.m., and she wanted more sleep. So she started to put the cat outside.
Then she smelled smoke.
"I knew I had to get out of the house," said George, seated Thursday on a sofa in her daughter's house, just down the block.
George ran toward the street in the rain and flagged down the third car she saw.
"Thank God it was a lady," she said. "All I had on was bikini underwear and a tank top."
Firefighters got Boo Boo out of the house safely and administered oxygen.
For now, George and her heroic cat are staying with George's daughter. George said she plans to have the house repaired, though it's not clear how she will pay for the damage. She canceled her home insurance four years ago after paying 50 years of premiums.
The Independence Fire Department, which believes lightning caused the fire, estimates the damage at $75,000 to the house and $40,000 to possessions.
But George and her daughter were less concerned with the costs, and more thankful for George's survival - and for the cat's role.
George told her daughter, "I'm going to get her a special treat, a can of salmon. That's $2."
"No," Patty Young said. "It's up to five."