They were once domesticated, but now they’re fending for themselves.
Volunteers call them the missing “Fire Cats” of Santa Rosa. They’re house cats displaced by the wildfires in October.
Hundreds of cats have been reported missing, but for the past four months a group of volunteers have been trapping and reuniting the pets with their owners. It’s a painstaking process that has to be done at night and Santa Rosa native Jennifer Petruska was one of the first to start the search.
“It kind of snowballed.," said Petruska. “More and more people started asking how to help and now a bunch of us spend all night out here.”
An organized network of more than 40 volunteers look for the cats every night and in the last four months volunteers have helped Sonoma County Animal Service reunite more than 250 cats with their owners.
"You catch that first cat and you realize this is a huge thing. What we are doing is a huge thing," said Petruska.
However, the search is getting tougher. There's more than a dozen communities with missing cats and the scared cats only come out at night.
To make their job easier volunteers are putting out motion sensing cameras in hopes to catch a glimpse of a cat.
"This helps us with our searching strategy when we trap," said one volunteer.
Cats aren't the only ones looking for food. There are skunks, coyotes and all sorts of wildlife are drawn in by the food; and often times scaring the cats away.
The videos of the cats are posted on Facebook in hopes that owners will recognize them. There’s also a more primitive search method as volunteers set up a covered bulletin board of cat pictures in the fire revenged community of Coffey Park.
"These are all cats that we have not found owners for yet and all the cats in red are ones we have reunited," said Petruska.
The cats that Jennifer and other volunteers are looking for want to come home.
“After the fire they were scared. Traumatized. They had nowhere to go. Once we trap them they are not wild anymore," said Petruska.
The house these cats called home may be gone, but Petruska says the cats real home is in their owner’s arm.
For more information, visit the Sonoma fire cat Facebook page.