Young, a former Nova Scotia politician who lives in North Sydney, says the cat woke him up Monday at about 5 a.m. to be fed.
Young let the cat outside and drifted off to sleep before waking up to a whooshing sound of flames and the crackling of burning floorboards about an hour or so later.
He says he went downstairs to find a wall of flames before he rushed his wife and son out of the house and called 911 as the fast-moving fire destroyed part of the home.
Young, who served in the Progressive Conservative governments of former premiers John Buchanan and Donald Cameron, credits the cat with getting him up, preventing him from falling back into a deep sleep after that.
He says Berkeley took off after the fire, but returned and is being taken care of by neighbours while the family determines what will happen to their home.