CAPE MAY - More than 30 cats being treated by animal-outreach groups died in trailers that caught fire early Friday, officials said.

The blaze killed cats in one trailer used by Cape May Animal Control and in one owned by Animal Outreach of Cape May County, a nonprofit group.

The groups work together to treat, spay and neuter feral cats.

"I look at it as a life, whether it's animal or human," said John Queenan, an animal-control officer.

The fire was reported shortly after 1 a.m., and response came not only from firefighters but also those who were caring for the cats, said Cape May Fire Chief Jerry Inderwies Jr., who added that some Animal Outreach volunteers were "overwhelmed and crying."

"To employees and volunteers there every day, it felt like their pets," said Tina Giaimo, who has volunteered there. "They bond with them."

The fire likely began in an electrical panel on the city's trailer and then spread to the other trailer, Inderwies said. He added that arson did not seem likely.