A Californian woman is now attempting to round up dozens of cats that went missing during the state’s wildfires and reunite them with their owners.
The wildfires in the last three months of 2017 alone were the most destructive in the state’s history, with 43 people killed and thousands of homes destroyed.
During the blazes, literally hundreds of cats fled from their homes in fear and many have been missing ever since.
Animal lover Jennifer Petruska has spent almost every single night since the fires tracking and trapping the ‘fire cats’ in order to reunite them with their families.
So far Ms Petruska and her team of volunteers have caught in upwards of 70 but they believe dozens more are still missing.
The volunteers, who are calling themselves Pet Rescue & Reunification, have set up a sophisticated system including a network of night-vision cameras in storm drains and other locations where many cats went into hiding.
Each and every evening they set traps with tuna and mackerel and check them hourly until dawn.
Ms Petruska has been focusing primarily on the northern Californian neighbourhood of Coffey Park, where over 1,000 homes were destroyed.
Ms Petruska, whose own home and pet were lucky enough to be spared, told the New York Times she realized that her efforts is “ancillary” to losses many incurred and the intensive reconstruction effort taking place.
But families who have since been reunited with their feline companions have expressed their gratitude to the team.
“I just wanted my cat – that was the only thing I wanted back,” one local resident, Kelly Stinson, said to the paper.
“I spent hours every single day looking for her.”
Local veterinarians who have treated the rescued cats have explained that unlike dogs, cats actually have an instinct to flee when they sense danger.
A number of the rescued cats have been found with burned paws, singed whiskers and some have lost a lot of weight.
The Pet Rescue & Reunification team are very eager to catch and return as many of the cats before Winter temperatures drop further.
Around ten ‘fire cats’ which have been found without any identification to enable volunteers to contact their owners are being safely kept at Sonoma County’s animal services department.
Authorities are recommending that owners who have lost an animal during the fires check local shelters’ social media pages.The shelters often update their social channels with new pictures of found pets.
Members of the public who happen to find a lost animal are advised to take it to a center in the same county in which it was found for the best chance for reunification with its owner.