By Kelly Werthmann

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Without a doubt, Boots the tabby cat has nine lives… well, maybe eight now. He survived the most devastating fire in Colorado history.

Yet, that’s not what separated the 7-year-old feline from his family. In fact, the flames are what actually brought him back.

(credit: CBS)

“You’re a silly boy,” Jules Lieb says, holding Boots in her lap.

Jules adopted her “silly boy” about four years ago. He may look a little silly to most, but the fact he’s even alive is incredible.

“It’s a miracle,” Jules told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.

About this time last year, Boots disappeared from his home in Boulder County.

“We lived near a ravine and aggressive coyotes were always roaming,” Jules said. “I figured that’s what happened, but I thought Boots was smarter than that. I was devastated.”

(credit: Jules Lieb)

The cat also wandered off just as Colorado was getting walloped by a major snowstorm.

“What was going through his mind when he couldn’t find his way home, and it snowed four feet?” Jules wondered. “That makes me so sad.”

Ten months passed with no sign of Boots. His human moved to Lafayette, but wasn’t about to give up hope on her beloved cat.

“You prepare yourself for the worst because your heart is so involved in it,” Jules said.

And the worst arrived just as 2021 was leaving. On Dec. 30, the Marshall Fire ripped through Boulder County destroying just about everything in its path. In the days that followed, crews sifted through what was left.

As an Xcel Energy worker was surveying the damage, he found a charred cat hiding in a storm drain. Right away, he brought the badly burned animal to the Humane Society of Boulder Valley where the cat received weeks of treatment.

As the unknown cat began to heal, HSBV shared pictures on social media and with CBS4 in hopes of finding his family. One of Jules’ friends saw the coverage and immediately told her the furry face looked familiar.

(credit: CBS)

“I mean, he’s got really striking green eyes,” Jules said.

It took a couple visits to HSBV for Jules to be sure, but in the end, she knew the miracle cat was her silly boy.

“I can’t believe he’s back,” she said, wiping away a tear from her eyes.

Much like Boulder County, Boots is on a long road to recovery. Jules said he is slowly growing more fur back on his ears, but his eyes may never be the same.

Still, she’s so happy to have him home and he’s settling back in with his family just fine. As a thanks for all the incredible care Boots received, Jules made a kind donation to the HSBV and she’s asking others to do the same as the nonprofit continues to support animals impacted by the Marshall Fire.

Kelly Werthmann