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Full recovery expected for Tampa 'zombie cat'

Bart the "zombie cat" is expected to make a full recovery.  [Humane Society Tampa]
Bart the "zombie cat" is expected to make a full recovery. [Humane Society Tampa]
Published Jan. 28, 2015

TAMPA -- Bart the "zombie cat" is expected to make a full recovery.

"He's doing well," said Sherry Silk, executive director of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, which is caring for the cat after a nearly two-hour operation Tuesday.

Nash McCutchen, the organization's marketing coordinator, said Bart will recover with rest following a blood transfusion Wednesday afternoon.

"He's been through a lot," said McCutchen, who said a shelter cat will be donating the blood to get Bart back up to speed.

Bart was hit by a car eleven days ago. The 1 1/2-year-old cat's owner, Ellis Hutson, found him lying in the middle of E 113th Avenue, about a block away from Hutson's 822 E 112th Ave house.

Hutson, 52, said he couldn't stand to bury the cat, which he had raised since birth. So he asked his neighbor Dave to dig Bart a shallow grave next to the street.

"He was very dead," said Dusty Albritton, Hutson's 42-year-old neighbor. "He was stiff. He was cold."

But five days later, as Albritton fed her neighborhood's stray cats from her porch, Bart was back. Hair matted and jaw broken, he meowed for food.

"It shocked me," said Albritton, who mentioned Stephen King's Pet Sematary as her first thought. "I went and knocked on Mr. Ellis' door."

After Hutson contacted a few area vets, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay offered to treat Bart with the help of its Save-A-Pet Medical Fund. Bart's procedures cost more than $1,000.

"I'm just really glad we were able to help the cat," Silk said.

Bart had an eye removed and both his palate and jaw were wired shut. Right now, Silk said, he is eating with a feeding tube. But if he is able to eat on his own by Monday, the Humane Society will send him home.

"I have every indication that his owner is going to be able to come back and forth for follow-up care," Silk said. "The main thing is we want him to stay inside, safe and sound."

Contact Rachel Crosby at rcrosby@tampabay.com or 813-226-3400. Follow @rachelacrosby.