A courageous cat who survived a powerful house fire and lived in the charred remains for more than three weeks has found a new home. Bernie the ginger tom was discovered covered in soot in the burnt out eighth-floor flat, in Kilburn, after it was gutted by flames in November.
He only survived by ripping open boxes of cat biscuits and even made himself a litter tray from charred bits of newspaper he found roaming trapped, in the dark property.
The petrified feline was rescued by animal welfare officers from the Mayhew Animal Home and treated for tongue ulcerations caused by the thick, black smoke.
He was put up for adoption and doting cat-lovers Micheal and Charlotte Foster took him in as soon as they heard about his moving story.
Graphic designer Micheal, 31, said: "We got married in the summer and have been wanting a cat for ages so looked on the Mayhew website to find information about adopting one.
"We saw Bernie and his story was so sad that we couldn't not have him.
"I loved the fact that he got into the cupboard and fed himself - it is such an amazing story and how he survived was beyond belief."
Bernie has been living in the couples' Stoke Newington home for the past fortnight and is settling in well.
"The first day he hid and we only saw his tail hanging out from behind a cushion, but he is getting braver and braver every day.
"He is perplexed by mirrors and stairs but is really friendly and sleeps on the end of our bed on top of our feet."
Bernie did not venture outside the confines of his old flat before the fire, which has left his original owner confined to hospital, but at is new home he is being given the freedom of the great outdoors.
"We have had a cat flap put in so he can roam around the garden and had been crying by the door to go out," said Micheal.
"We are also right next to a park so he can explore.
"Bernie is such a curious cat. If you open a cupboard door he will be in there instanly and he had already got in our wardrobe and managed to shut himself in."
Animal welfare officer Claire Harper said it was a miracle Bernie survived.
"After seeing the remains of the flat it is unbelievable that he escaped injury and was able to survive so resiliently after the firefigters put the blaze out," she said.
"He was well hydrated because of the water in the property from the fire hoses and his body weight was ok, but he had a heart murmour because of his stress levels and was very shaken up.
"However, I am glad he is recovering well."