A 19-year-old man has been arrested after allegedly pouring gasoline on a cat and setting the animal on fire in an Indiana field this week.
The female cat was bound with a rope and burned in a cornfield near the Crawfordsville Municipal Airport, about 60 miles northwest of Indianapolis, KTLA sister station WXIN reported. She was found Wednesday night, and Noah Riley was arrested Thursday night by deputies with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
Riley turned himself in after seeing social media posts about the cat's plight, WXIN reported. An unidentified juvenile was also interviewed in connection with the case, authorities said.
The cat, meanwhile, may be placed on a feeding tube and is getting 24-hour care at a local animal hospital, according to the organization that first helped her.
Retired firefighter Steve Wright told WXIN he was at home in Crawfordsville watching TV when he noticed a 3-to-4-foot flame shoot up from a nearby field on Wednesday. He said he thought it was a car fire.
The cat’s paws were tied with rope, she was drenched in gasoline, and a type of firecracker had been laid on her, but it didn’t go off, Wright said. Animal care workers think the cat survived because she was dropped in a puddle, which probably helped put out the fire.
Wright described the cat's condition: “Very, very quiet. And it was moving slightly but being bound it couldn’t move much."
The was taken to Purdue Animal Hospital for treatment, and remained there Friday.
"Her ears are shriveled. Her fur is gone down to the skin," said Misha Anderson, director of the Animal Welfare League of Montgomery County. “She landed in a mud puddle, so I think that slowed down the fire or at least dampened her fur. ... All the fur is mostly singed.”
A worker with the league wrote on Facebook Friday morning that though the cat remains ill, she was "purring and loving on us."
The league is paying for the cat's medical expenses, which are nearing $1,000. Donations are being accepted at the league's website, and updates on the cat's recovery are being posted on the league's Facebook page.
"Hate caused this act but we at AWL do not encourage hate toward any individual, human or animal," the league wrote after an arrest was made. "We believe justice will be served and are very proud of local authorities for their hard work."
Anderson said Wright's neighbor, who also helped rescue the cat, has already requested to adopt the cat.