Kerry Idemoto, 50, said he first heard "meows" Thursday night and attempted to climb in through his fireplace, but he was unable to reach the cat, the San Jose Mercury News reported Monday.
Idemoto said animal control officers and chimney sweepers also tried to reach the cat without success.
The homeowner said he and his father visited nearby fire stations until they were able to enlist the services of a four-man rescue team led by Capt. Jeffrey Riley.
The firefighters lowered a specialized camera and discovered the feline cowering in a pocket about 10 feet down the chimney.
The rescue team attached a clothes hanger and a flashlight to a pole and were able to lift the cat out by its collar.
Idemoto said he was impressed by the firefighters.
"I got the feeling that even though this was a cat," he said, "the way they approach things [is the same as if] a house was on fire."