Bart the cat was dead: to begin with. There was no doubt whatever about that.

Yep, basically Dickens.

The little guy got hit by a car. And by the looks of Bart’s face, y-i-k-e-s . . . it was just really awful stuff; you probably don’t want to know all the gruesome details.

But stick with me here, because it’s getting good.

Like I said, Bart was dead. And although owner Ellis Hutson was devastated, the fact remained that the 1 ½-year-old cat wasn’t breathing when Hutson found him in the middle of a Tampa road earlier this month.

Hutson said he couldn’t stand to bury Bart, so he asked one of his neighbors to do it, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The neighbor dug a shallow grave, and that was that.

Until a few days later — when Bart clawed his way out.

“At first it blew me away,” Dusty Albritton, a neighbor who found the resurrected cat, told the newspaper this week. “All I knew was this cat was dead and ‘Pet Sematary’ is real.”

“Oh, chill out,” you are probably thinking right about now. ” ‘Pet Sematary is a perfectly fine film-slash-novel, but pets do not return from the grave.”

Except that sometimes they do. Well, at least this one time.

Bart had a broken jaw, a ruptured eye and a torn-up face, but he was alive, dehydrated and hungry. And Hutson wasn’t sure what to do.
“It was unbelievable,” he said, chuckling. “I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

No kidding.

Hutson wrapped Bart in a blanket and put him in a box until the next morning, when he started calling around to get the cat some help, Humane Society of Tampa Bay executive director Sherry Silk told The Washington Post on Wednesday.

Bart underwent surgery at the Humane Society on Tuesday and is doing fine now, obviously, because there is literally nothing this cat cannot take. Bart will be on a feeding tube for a few days, and he’s on a lot of pain medication, Silk said; but, she said, the Humane Society team is feeling pretty good, all things considered.

“He does look like something out of a horror movie today, he really really does,” Silk said. “But his personality hasn’t changed a bit.”

Silk said Bart — who will stay with Hutson, the Times reports — actually looks a little worse today than when he first arrived for his treatment. He lost an eye in the surgery; his jaw is wired shut; and it took vets three hours to clear out all the maggots from his body. But he remains affectionate.

So it’s almost too bad that Bart has earned the nickname “zombie cat.” Guys! He doesn’t want to eat your brains! He just wants to butt your hand with his tiny cat head.

“He’s not the most attractive cat in the world,” Silk said. “But he’s loving and purring; he just has a wonderful spirit about him.”

A Humane Society vet performed the 1 ½-hour surgery, which would have cost thousands of dollars at a private veterinary clinic, Silk said. And others have started to chip in: After Bart became something of a celebrity, the Humane Society started receiving donations from all over to help pay for the treatment.

“Isn’t that great? That people care about a little kitty from Tampa,” Silk said. “I just think that says a lot about the human race. It’s very, very nice.”