If you’re a cat waiting to get adopted, it must help that you look like Baby Yoda. The chances are slim, but we can say for certain that Baby Yoda-looking kittens actually exist. We know of at least one kitten that looks the part, and her story is one that’s full of inspiration and hope. The North Complex Fire in Northern California has doubled in size in just the last day. On Sunday, September 20, the wildfire set 15,000 acres of North California land ablaze, and that size has grown to 40,317 acres with no signs of containment. The fire started out as a vegetation fire, and it has since engulfed residences, structures, and historic buildings alike. The fire has forced thousands of people to evacuate and leave their homes. There are also at least 12 other fires burning on in the rest of Northern California’s wine country and 70 other fires all across the western US. So far, the fire has also taken the lives of 3 North California area residents, and it’s suspected that some animals have lost their lives as well.
One kitten has miraculously escaped the blaze and was found in the middle of the road on September 20. Firefighters rescued this kitten, which is now known endearingly as Baby Yoda, amidst all the smoke and fire. She was estimated to be about 2 to 3 weeks old upon her rescue, and she was covered from head to paw in ash. The kitten was taken to the Cal Oak Animal Shelter, where she received care, a bath, and a veterinary examination. That’s where she received her new name, Baby Yoda, as suggested by the North Valley Animal Disaster Group. With just one look at Baby Yoda the kitten, you’d know exactly how she got her name. As young as she may be, she already has striking features—most specifically when it comes to her ears. They unapologetically stick out from the sides of her head, the way that Baby Yoda the Jedi master’s ears do. Baby Yoda, the kitten now, also has an adorable pink button nose and little round eyes that show a bit of weariness and tiredness. We suspect the kitten rested for a bit after her rescue, especially since she’s been transferred to the care of a foster parent for the meantime.
When the animal shelter created the post about Baby Yoda’s rescue, their inbox was flooded with inquiries about adoption. While the shelter knew right away that adoption wasn’t going to be an issue for this kitten, Baby Yoda’s situation is a little different. Fires are difficult scenarios from every angle. Lives are lost; properties are lost. Pets get lost in the way too. It’s harrowing to how owners and pets lose each other in the chaos, but that’s exactly what happens—and sometimes worse. In Baby Yoda’s case, as with any other pets found during a fire rescue, it’s likely that her owners are still under evacuation or are still just trying to cope with the fire altogether. It’s hard to imagine the worst-case scenario, but that scenario is left to the very end. Animal rescue groups generally wait at least a month to allow displaced fire victims, families, and pet owners to claim pets before they are put up for adoption. Everyone is hopeful that Baby Yoda will soon be reunited with her family, as everyone deserves a chance to get their lives together after such a harrowing event before claiming their pets.
Kittens such as Baby Yoda thrive in family environments. Although kittens will survive and adapt to various environments, the best scenario for young cats would always be under the care of their mothers or caregivers. Kittens have specific and sometimes urgent needs for survival. Newborn kittens need constant feeding, about every 1 to 2 hours. As they get a little older, they’d still need to feed on milk a few times a day. They also need warmth and eventually the development of social skills. In the perfect scenario, all human owners would need to do is monitor a mother cat as she teaches her kittens how to go about life. But the perfect scenario is not always possible just as in the case of Baby Yoda. While she’s with her medical foster care provider, Baby Yoda is receiving the best possible care. She’s receiving the love and attention that she needs, especially during this time. She will stay with this provider until her own pet family finds their way out of the fire. There is no telling at the moment whether Baby Yoda experienced trauma before she was rescued, but it is easy to imagine. Traumatized kittens can be healed emotionally, and living with a traumatized kitten should be carefully considered.
Once Baby Yoda returns to her home, there are a few changes that her pet family will need to do in order to care for the kitten. For kittens that have been traumatized by an event or other extenuating circumstances, simple steps can be taken in order to help kittens recover. First, a safe space might need to be set up for times when the kitten’s trauma stressors are triggered. A safe space is a simple hiding spot where your pet can run to in order to find comfort. Treating the trauma with sensitization or exposure to the stressor in healthy and controlled scenarios could be helpful. With the fires continuously raging in California and endangering lives with no end, the hope is that families find safety as well as their pets. Those caring for her are hopeful that Baby Yoda will be reunited with her family soon, and that hope is a lot to hold on to in such circumstances.