Wildfires and mudslides have ravaged California, and for many families, the difficult process of moving forward has just begun. They’ve lost their entire lives to natural disasters, but local rescue groups are joining together to put at least one piece of the puzzle back in place. As the global force driving positive change for cats, Alley Cat Allies is passing out much-needed grant money to help animal organizations in California do what they do best.
One of those organizations, Outcast Cat Help (OCH), is working to reunite families with lost cats after their homes were destroyed. Families in the path of wildfire had only minutes to escape the flames. For many, their cats ran off and got lost during the panic and chaos. As the fires receded and families were left to sift through the rubble, they were faced with the devastating possibility that their cats were gone forever. Terrified and injured, many pet cats fled to save their lives. They left without evidence of where they were going or if they were even still alive, but OCH is up for the challenge.
OCH is using grant money from Alley Cat Allies to buy and set up night-vision cameras and feeding stations. Volunteers watch the camera footage and compare the cats they see with cats reported missing in the area. When they make a match, they set up humane traps to help lure the fearful cats back toward safety. Many of the cats reported missing have been gone for months. Their families have all but given up, but OCH is determined to bring about more reunions and happy endings.
A family’s cat named Nemo was missing for 87 days after escaping the fire that destroyed his Northern California home in October. The family set up their own traps near their home but had no luck. They contacted OCH hoping for a miracle. Volunteers spotted a cat that looked like Nemo on their cameras, and they set up traps to bring him in. After losing everything to the flames, being reunited with their beloved pet gave the family strength and encouragement to move forward.
Surf can Rescue and Adoptions in Oxnard, Calif. is also using grant money to locate and reunite lost cats with their owners. They found Roni, a four-month-old kitten that barely escaped the fire. She had blisters on her paws, and her fur was singed down to the skin. It took three weeks to bring Roni in, but she’s now recovering with a foster family.
The cats affected by the disasters in California are traumatized, terrified, and injured. They lost their homes and families, and many are too afraid to leave the false security of hiding places. As families start the painful process of picking up the pieces, a reunion with a pet they assumed they’d never see again is a glimmer of hope cutting through the smoke. Alley Cat Allies’ grant money is also being used to support California shelters feeling the strain of so many displaced animals. Together they’re helping rebuild the community and reunite families.