The Fire Cats Documentary Tells Stories of Heroic Cat Rescuers


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A full-length documentary called The Fire Cats tells the stories of heroic cat rescuers who devoted their lives to returning lost cats to families after devastating wildfires. The documentary was written and directed by Katharine Parsons and has brought many viewers to tears at witnessing joyful reunions. At the premiere in April, the filmmaker suggested bringing hanky packets.

Images via Facebook/ The Fire Cats.Joy Smith cuddling a fire cat at the FieldHaven Feline Center Transfer Station.” March 2019. Image by Lili Strawbridge.

The Fire Cats Focuses on Heroic Cat Rescuers

In the aftermath of California’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire, the Camp Fire of 2018, we shared many stories about lost cats later reunited with their humans. Those stories kept hope alive at a dark time, and they kept coming years after the fires. For those reunited with their beloved pets, it was a miracle that helped sustain the hope of many others.

The Fire Cats focuses on the rescuers trying to help thousands of lost pets starting a year prior during the Tubbs Fire of 2017, which destroyed whole neighborhoods in Santa Rosa. Six months later, they had to take what they learned to a new level when the Camp Fire struck.

“Four times the devastation of the Santa Rosa fire, the rescuers packed up and dove right in. While they were now more seasoned, fiercely dedicated-and, more complicated-an antagonist appeared in the aftermath of the Camp Fire that no one had planned on,” states IMDb.

One of the rescuers was Officer Shannon Jay, who was determined to help hundreds of cats.

“I knew that there were going to be hundreds of cats that were going to be out there, many of them injured an burned,” she said. Officer Shannon Jay. “It didn’t matter what it was going to take, I was going to save those cats.”

Officer Shannon Jay in documentary about saving cats from wildfires in California

“Shannon Jay setting up for a long night of trapping in the burn zone”. Paradise, California (4.5 months post Camp Fire) Photo L. Strawbridge.” Images via Facebook/ The Fire Cats

Save Something Small

Although many rescuers were willing to do whatever it took to help, there were more unexpected obstacles. According to the trailer description, “a sanctioned NGO tried to stop them.”

As cats were left to survive in the toxic ashes of the burned-out paradise, would-be rescuers were left frustrated. Interesting, they didn’t want to leave the cats behind. As the tagline suggests, all they wanted to do was “Save Something Small.”

Trailer by Ravenshoe Media:

The Fire Cats Screenings Help Rescuers

Since screenings of The Fire Cats began at film festivals and even virtual screenings, it has been gaining a wall of accolades.

The next screening in Sebastopol benefits rescue groups such as the Forgotten Felines of Sonoma and FieldHaven Feline Center of Lincoln, CA. (It will show on August 14, 2022.)

One of the stories features Joy Smith of FieldHaven, who is seen with a rescued cat named Phoenix. The cat suffered singed whiskers after throwing himself over his little brother to protect him from the fire. Thanks to rescuers like Smith, both were later adopted together.

“Joy figures large in the film. She spent the longest period of time in Paradise and, with her team of volunteers rescued the most cats (600+),” states the Fire Cats on Facebook.

Joy Smith of FieldHaven holds cat that survived the fires, The Fire Cats

Accolades for the Documentary

As you can see below, the film poster is covered in Laurels. One represents becoming a finalist at the Cannes World Film Festival. The category: Most Inspirational Film and as announced on July 18, 2022.

“Update on the laurels”. We are (delightfully) running out of room! Any advice on what to do if we get more? I have some ideas…🤔,” they shared on Facebook.

The Fire Cats poster with accolades

In a comment, they say the filmmakers “talked with over 100 people and asked them about their story from that day everyone has there’s and some didn’t want to talk about it.” learning, the stories keep coming.

Meanwhile, people who love cats are talking about The Fire Cats, including the “Let’s Chat About Cats Podcast” with Fiona Shaw in the UK. The podcast showcases “amazing animal heroes around the world” and the cats too! The podcast closely followed the stories about the heroic cat rescuers after the fires, noting that 1 in 4 cats was reunited with their families, but most needed to find new homes as people fled Paradise.

She is crossing her fingers that the documentary wins at Cannes, and so are we! More people need to see this documentary.

Brutus and Cleo cats saved from Camp Fire in California

Brutus and sister Cleo, two cats rescued by Shannon Jay as featured in the film. Image via Let’s Chat About Cats PodcastFacebook.

Heroic Cat Rescuer Helped Make The Documentary

As The Fire Cats’ stories unfold, some involved with the filming are off to save more cats. This time, in war-torn Ukraine. Aerial cinematographer Douglas Thron is risking life and limb to locate lost and missing animals there.

“There aren’t too many animal rescuers who can claim that they are risking their lives in a war-torn country to rescue animals like our cinematographer Douglas Thron and his awesome Assert team mate Ryan Okrant,” shared The Fire Cats.

Along with nonprofit ASSERT Drone Animal Rescue, Thron uses drones to detect trapped animals by infrared heat and get them to safety. It’s just extraordinary. Of the cats he has located, he says the cats there are “especially sweet.”

“They’re really sweet cats, the Ukrainian cats are especially sweet. You’d have four or five adult cats in the same room, and they all get on fine, that wouldn’t happen with American cats.”

Douglas Thron, Doug to the Rescue

Douglas Thron holds pregnant cat which he helped save. Mother and kittens later found homes. Image via Facebook.

Thron is the star of the show”Doug to the Rescue” on Curiosity Stream. In another article, we’ll share more about Thron’s amazing efforts to help cats in Ukraine and other places hit by natural and manmade disasters.


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