Joy the tuxedo cat has been rescued alive by Italian firefighters after spending six days trapped in the rubble of a collapsed house.
In a rare piece of good news in another otherwise grim tragedy, the cat was found weak and dehydrated but conscious.
Joy's human, Daniela Tursini, had kept up a constant vigil in the town of Amatrice, which was all but destroyed by the quake, asking firefighters to help find her girl.
"I beg you, find my cat, she's all I have left. My house has gone, I've lost everything," she told firemen, who have worked tirelessly to excavate the rubble in the hope of finding someone alive.
Those hopes have come to nothing – no one has been pulled alive from the wreckage of the towns and villages flattened by the quake since Wednesday.
But firefighters on Monday did at least manage to find the grey and white cat, trapped beneath a great mass of masonry, floor boards and twisted metal.
"We were working with bulldozers to move away the rubble," Andrea, the firefighter who rescued Joy, told the Telegraph. "I went into what was left of the house – there was one room that remained intact."
Gently extricating the exhausted cat, he then gave her to volunteer vets who have set up a tent in the town for the treatment of injured animals.
Dozens of cats and animals, and even a pair of turtles, have been rescued in the quake zone but none of them had survived as long as Joy.
Ms Tursini said that her house was badly damaged when the quake hit at 3.36am on Wednesday.
She grabbed Joy, but the cat jumped out of her arms just as she was being rescued. The next morning, a powerful aftershock struck the area, further damaging her house and trapping the animal.
Andrea, the firefighter who found Joy, is from L'Aquila, the nearby city that was badly damaged by an earthquake in 2009 which killed more than 300 people. "I know what it's like to be hit by a quake and what it feels like when you lose everything," he said.
If you'd like to be a Homer's Hero and support additional animal-rescue efforts in Italy's quake zone, please consider donating to the International Fund for Animal Welfare.