Wildfires can rage across regions and change directions quickly, giving families little time to evacuate or return for their pets if they’re not home when the evacuation order comes. Thankfully, two cats not only managed to survive the California Tubbs Fire, but then both attracted the attention of firefighters so they could receive necessary medical treatment and thrive.
One cat in Sonoma County was found by the CAL FIRE Deputy State Fire Marshal, Jose Duenas. Jose had been conducting damage assessment inspections in areas hit by the fire when he saw a badly injured cat. According to the CAL FIRE Facebook page, Jose “tended to the cat until animal care could arrive to rescue” the injured animal. They reported that animal control cared for him, the cat was “in good spirits” and that they hoped to reunite the cat with his family.
Commenters on the post showing Jose with the rescued cat carefully wrapped in Jose’s jacket expressed gratitude for the hardworking firefighters who not only saved people, but beloved pets. One, Wendy Conteras, wrote, “…it makes my heart happy that this firefighter saved him [the cat]. I hope the little kitty recovers and is reunited with his family.” Another commenter, Joyce Baer Schiller was particularly touched by Jose’s actions, writing “Giving the cat your jacket and tending to it is such a humane act….Stay safe, and thank you for going above and beyond!”
Another cat took refuge under a car in Santa Rosa. According to The Tribune, Sonoma County Sheriff’s deputies noticed the cat while doing a sweep of a completely destroyed neighborhood. They realized the poor feline needed help. Their body cam footage, seen below, shows the officers on their hands and knees gently reassuring the cat and letting her sniff their fingers. The officers even offered food to the cat, though she was too stressed to eat.
Once the cat was out, they carefully put a slip lead on her to reduce the risk that she might run away from fear and hurt herself more. They noticed that her paws were bleeding and badly burned. One officer can be heard commenting sympathetically, “Oh, poor girl.” The deputies grabbed water for the cat, but wisely decided to leave treatment to animal control to avoid accidentally causing more damage. The officer assures the cat, “you’re safe now” before they carry the cat to their vehicle.
The department shared the video on their YouTube channel which turned out to be a great idea. KTVU News reported that Ed Ratliff lived in the neighborhood shown in the video. Ed had lost everything in the fire. When flames appeared, his cherished Siberian cat, Milo, ran away and Ed was unable to find her before he needed to evacuate.
The video that the sheriff’s department had shared had started to go viral (it now has over 24,000 views) which led to relatives of Ed’s spotting the video, according to SFGate.com. They noticed that the cat looked like Milo and told Ed. Ed was “stoked” to learn that his cat was alive and seemed to only have minor injuries. The two were happily reunited – one family back together and able to face the future.