As the fire spread through Gatlinburg people grabbed what they could and headed to safety. Many pet owners were able to save their animals while others could not.

One cat used up at least one of his nine lives.

Topper can still run as long as he's on carpet.

"He won't go past the carpet. He can't walk on linoleum. He doesn't like the feel of it," Katrina Pittman explained.

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Her cat is an unlikely survivor of the Gatlinburg wild fires a year ago. The house where he lived with his family burned.

"As soon as I opened the door to start loading the cars that's when Topper bolted out the door. And he was gone within the blink of an eye," Katrina said.

She said her family was at a hotel the day after the fire when she saw a photo on Facebook.

"They had this picture of this orange cat that was burnt and I didn't think it was him. And so I just commented, I am looking for a cat that looks similar to this that I lost off of Wiley Oakley Chalet Village," she said.

Wednesday Katrina got a call that it may be her cat. Thursday she went to see him.

"Thursday I went and it was him and it was the most horrifying experience between me and him. He's always been a really calm, cool, collected cat. He was literally just flailing and screaming and flailing and screaming and flailing as I am trying to hold him. And finally after five or ten minutes he finally calmed down and settled down and he laid himself here and starts to purr and I was like I think he's purring," she said.

Leslie Wereszczak at the University of Tennessee Small Animal Clinic remembers Topper's mood.

"He was quite depressed before she came to see him and reclaim him to see if it was her cat. It was apparent immediately that he recognized her and that she recognized him," she said.

Topper spent two months at the UT Small Animal Intensive Care Unit. Katrina said she visited him almost every day and she is so grateful and thankful for the treatment he received.

He had burns on all his feet and his face but Topper was alive. Leslie Wereszczak was part of the team that provided treatment that included a lot of medicine and bandages and an emotional connection.

"We think that veterinary medicine is all about animals and it is a big component of it. But there's always a human that's attached to that animal. And so to be able to help preserve that human / animal bond and help that animal and their people with that journey is an amazing thing. It's a privilege," Leslie said.

Katrina said Topper's personality hasn't changed but...

"He's about three times the size he was when I first got him."

He's fat and happy.

"He has done way better than I could have expected any animal to do under that situation. He's just completely picked up. And he's like, meh, my life's changed. I'm cool. I'm still here," she said.

A year after Katrina saw him online her cat has his own Facebook page: Topper AKA Gatlinburg Fire Kitty.

"He's thriving! He's doing very, very well."

Of the 19 cats from the fire that UT treated - Topper was the only cat with a microchip - which helped connect him with his owner.