Cat lost in California wildfires reunited with family in Missouri

ST. LOUIS — A pet cat who ran from his home to escape the wildfires in northern California last year was reunited with his family in St. Louis Friday.

Paul Ritchie and his wife Sandra had a chauffeur-like sign to make sure the rescue organization representative accompanying Dexter wouldn’t miss them.

High anticipation turned to tender emotion when they finally got Dexter out of his personalized carrier.

“Oh Dexter baby,” Sandra Ritchie said as she cried  when she held the cat in her arms. The Ritchies haven’t seen Dexter since November 8 when they had to leave their home in Paradise, California because of the wildfires.

They left with three cats, but they couldn’t find Dexter.

“How he got out I don’t know. How he managed to not get burned I don’t know because when we left our property was totally in flames,” said Paul Ritchie.

The cat spent 103 days fending for himself in the debris of the campfire. He rose from the ashes, healthy and happy, and was taken in by the Field Haven Feline Rescue Center. The family did micro-chip the cat.

Dexter is now back in the loving arms of his owners who moved to Defiance, Missouri after losing their Paradise, California home.

“He knew my voice, and when I said ‘do you want a treat?’ he perked up,” Sandra said.

The Field Haven Rescue Center that found Dexter said their volunteers are still on that mountain in Paradise looking for more lost pets.

“There are still a thousand cats out there. This is going to be at least a year or two long project,” said volunteer Leslie Zaletel.

Dexter has some special treats waiting for him and another reunion with his brother and two other cats at home.

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