Rescue of cats displaced by forest fires

Momma Kitty may look disheveled and angry in the post-wildfire photo that was circulated – but miraculously, the popular cat that lived under a California shop survived.

Cressman’s general store and gas station, which had been near the town of Shaver Lake since 1904, burned to rubble in the Creek Fire near Fresno on September 7, 2020. But the cat that felt at home about four years ago and had a few kittens that staff adopted escaped the flames and returned to the ruins. There the grateful owners Ty and Tara Gillett provide their food and water and plan to bring her a small pet house.

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Momma Kitty, who has since been neutered, was half-wild, elusive, and not very friendly. She lived mostly in a toddler room under the Cressman’s building. But the Gilletts took care of her, and customers enjoyed catching a glimpse of the sleeping light gray and orange shop cat.
When the fire burned down their store, the Gilletts worried that Momma Kitty was dead.

They tried to get her to safety before the fire struck, but they couldn’t find her. Then, a month later, Ty Gillett discovered an online photo of her cat in the woods.

“He woke me up and said,” I found a picture of Momma Kitty, “says Tara Gillett.” I said, ‘Oh my god, I wonder if she’s still okay!’ Sure enough, we saw her that night.

“She looked shocked and angry,” says Tara. “It’s the perfect overview of how everyone is feeling up there.”

The Gilletts plan to rebuild Cressman’s using a GoFundMe account and they have planted seedling trees on the property.

Featured photo: Kent Nishimura | Getty Images

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