Beloved Cat Survives Fireplace

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

Cressman’s General Store and Gas Station, which had stood near the town of Shaver Lake since 1904, burned to rubble in the Creek Fire near Fresno on September 7, 2020. But the cat, who made herself at home about four years ago and had a few kittens that employees adopted, escaped the flames and returned to the ruins. There, thankful owners Ty and Tara Gillett are providing her food and water, and plan to bring her a mini pet house.

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Momma Kitty, who has since been spayed, was semi-feral, elusive and not very friendly. She lived mostly in a crawl space under the Cressman’s building. But the Gilletts cared for her, and customers enjoyed catching glimpses of the sleeping light gray-and-orange shop cat.
When the fire burned down their store, the Gilletts were worried that Momma Kitty was dead.

They had tried to remove her to safety before the fire hit, but they couldn’t find her. Then, a month later, Ty Gillett discovered an online photo showing their cat in the woods.

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

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

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

Featured photo: Kent Nishimura | Getty Images

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