BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB)– The old saying cats have nine lives rings true for the Salty Cats of St. Andrews Rescue Group in Panama City.

“Smoke was just rolling in,” said Salty Cats of St. Andrews Rescue President, Jackie Mihal

On Friday, flames from the Adkins Avenue fire came dangerously close to her home in Panama City where the cats are kept in several buildings on her property.

Within minutes Mihal had to evacuate her home, and while packing an entire life in a matter of seconds due to a natural disaster is difficult for anyone, she said the task is much harder when you have animals to think about.

Mihal had 86 cats and one bunny to board up and get out of harm’s way. Some of the cats the group cares for are feral and some are sickly.

She also faced another challenge: limited cages to contain the animals.

Brian Salmon, Scott Morris, and Scott Trunzo just happened to be in the area and offered to help Mihal in her time of need.

“It’s definitely a miracle. I don’t know how I got them in their cages, and I don’t know where those guys came from but they were placed there for a reason,” she said.

Like many in the area, Mihal stayed behind during category 5 Hurricane Michael in 2018, but she said experiencing the wildfire has been more traumatic.

“Fire moves so quickly, and the smoke was just engulfing the building…I don’t sleep anymore, it just keeps flashing back,” she said.

She said the cats have also felt the trauma, some are not eating and are pulling their hair out due to the stress caused by the fire.

As of now, the buildings for the St. Andrews Salty Cat Rescue are still intact, but with the fire raging on, that may not be the case for long. Mihal said she’s still looking at thousands of dollars in damage to supplies that are no longer useable due to permeated smoke toxins.

The Salty Cats of St. Andrews is collecting items for their animals. They can be dropped off at American Legion Post 392 located at 535 Oak Avenue in Panama City.

Some of the items they are looking for are:

  • Horse bedding pellets
  • Cat Litter
  • Small litter pans and cat litter scoopers
  • Bunny Food
  • Small cat food dishes
  • House Breaking pads for pets
  • Canned cat food
  • Gift Cards for local pet supplies or to tractor supply stores to help rebuild cat condos
  • Large Garbage Bags
  • Disinfectant Wipes
  • Bleach
  • Metal Pet Crates
  • Laundry Soap or Dishwashing soap
  • Saline Eyedrops

They are also looking for a potential storage unit and assistance from a local laundromat to help them wash dirty cat towels.

If you would like to give a monetary donation, you can do so here.

All 86 cats are available for adoption, you can find more about the rescue group here.