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Last Updated: Friday, 29 December 2006, 11:40 GMT
Cairns cat saves owners from fire
A pet cat came to the rescue when a family home in Australia caught fire - by scratching the face of its sleeping owner, officials say.

The cat's prompt actions meant the family of four escaped before the blaze took hold of the home, in Cairns, north Queensland.

"The cat was probably the best smoke alarm system," fire service spokesman Robert White-MacFarlane said.

He said the home suffered only minor damage as a result.

The fire started after a mattress caught fire, possible from a cigarette, he added.

But before the blaze engulfed the home, the cat sprang into action.

"The occupant was woken by the household cat which was scratching his face, alerting (him) to the ensuing dangers," Mr White-MacFarlane told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The owner was then able to wake the rest of the family, who fled the house and alerted the fire service.

"There were alarms throughout the house, but the smoke saturation hadn't reached a point where they'd activated the alarms in the adjacent room," Mr White-MacFarlane added.

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