8 Heroic Cats
The internet is abuzz with the story of Tara, the family house cat who bravely took on a dog that attacked a little boy on Tuesday. Along with Tara’s story, here are other cats who went above and beyond the call of duty to help others in time of need.
Four-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo was playing in front of his home when a neighbor’s dog came up and bit him and pulled him off his bike. The first to come to his rescue was the family cat, Tara, who body-slammed the dog, followed closely by Erica Triantafilo. Tara is one brave cat! Erica tried to chase the dog off, and she was bitten, too.
Jeremy was taken to a hospital where he received ten stitches. The dog has been quarantined, and will be put down. The original video, which was re-edited from several security cameras, was viewed 5 million times on YouTube in less than two days, before it was replaced with a version that does not show Jeremy’s raw wounds. The family appeared on The Today Show this morning.
The heroics displayed by Tara, a stray adopted by the family six years ago, surprised everyone.
“Every once in a while she puts our dog back into her place, but for the most part, she’s just the most mellow cat you’ve ever met,” Erica Triantafilo said. “All our boys love her and pick on her occasionally. She just loves them right back anyway.”
Jeremy is recovering well from the incident. If any cat ever has, Tara has certainly earned a seafood dinner.
Photograph from the Door County Humane Society.
This past February, Amy Jung went down to the Door County (Wisconsin) Humane Society shelter to play with the cats. Jung was not planning to adopt one, but went home with two. Pudding, a 21-pound cat, stood out and seem drawn to Jung. She took him and another cat named Wimsy home with her. Later that night, Jung suffered a diabetic seizure in her sleep. Pudding jumped up on her and woke her up enough to call out to her son Ethan, but he was asleep. So Pudding ran to Ethan’s room and jumped on him to wake him up. Ethan was able to get his mother medical attention, but she might have sunk into a coma without intervention. Since the incident, Jung has registered Pudding as a therapy animal.
Claire Nelson of Reading, Pennsylvania, adopted Rusty as an adult cat from the Humane Society. Two years later, in June of 2011, Nelson wanted to lay down because she wasn’t feeling well, but Rusty kept bothering her, which was out of character for him. The 66-year-old former nurse took inventory and decided to visit her doctor’s office, but Nelson began feeling much worse at the bus stop and called 911. Doctors at the hospital found that she had suffered a heart attack! Surgery followed and Nelson had two stents implanted. When she returned home, Rusty was back to his normal self, but would not leave her side. Nelson credits him with saving her life.
As Terfel, a dog who lives in Wales, aged, his eyes became blurred by cataracts. Eventually he became completely blind. Terfel's owner, Judy Godfrey-Brown, said he had a hard time adjusting; he walked into walls and became afraid to move around the house. When Godfrey-Brown invited a stray cat into her home, it was like the answer to a prayer. The new cat, named Pwditat (this is in Wales, remember) immediately became a guide for Terfel. The cat uses her paws to guide Terfel around the house and into the garden for some fresh air. The two animals became inseparable, and even sleep together. Watch Pwditat in action in a video.
Photograph from Jessi-Cat at Twitter.
Lorcan Dillon is affected by Selective Mutism, which makes it difficult for him to express himself. The condition is often confused with autism. But Lorcan received the most valuable therapy from his pet cat, Jessi-cat. The cat accepts Lorcan unconditionally and gives him a patient ear. For her loyalty and devotion, Jessi-Cat was named the UK’s National Cat of the Year 2012. Lorcan’s mother, Jayne Dillon, said,
“He does not express his emotions, he would not say 'I love you Mummy', he just doesn't do it. But with the cat he can cuddle her, he can stroke her, he can talk to her and he can say 'I love you Jessi-Cat.'
“She is without a doubt the best friend a boy could have and has had a huge positive impact on his life. We’ve had her for a couple of years and in the last year alone he seems to be making excellent progress at school. In the past two weeks he’s started communicating with people he doesn’t know very well and even reads to one of the teachers now – something he’s never done before.”
Jessi-Cat’s story has since been published as a book.
In 1996, a fire broke out in a suspected crack house in Brooklyn. A cat later named Scarlett was observed carrying her kittens out of the building one by one. She was severely burned, and blinded by blisters. She touched each kitten with her nose to make sure they were all safe from the fire, then collapsed. Firefighter David Giannelli took the cat and kittens to the North Shore Animal League clinic. The League received 7000 applications to adopt Scarlett and her kittens! Three families were selected, and Scarlett made a full recovery, albeit with damaged eyelids and ears. The hero cat was taken by Karen Wellen, who cared for her until her death 11 years later. Scarlett's story was made into a book, Scarlett Saves her Family, and a children's book, The Bravest Cat. The North Shore Animal League created an honor in her name, the Scarlett Award, for animal heroism.
Simon was born in 1947 in Hong Kong. As a half-grown cat, he was taken aboard the HMS Amethyst to control rats. In 1949, the ship was attacked on the Yangtze River in China by communists. Simon was wounded, but not found for days. The injured sailors had been evacuated, so the ship's doctor nursed Simon's facial burns and shrapnel wounds. As Simon recovered he resumed rat catching, but also added the duty of visiting sick and wounded sailors.
Upon his return to Hong Kong, Simon was presented with a campaign ribbon and news that he would receive a Dicken Medal, an award for animal gallantry. When the Amethyst reached England, Simon had to go into quarantine. He developed an infection and died just before his planned formal medal ceremony. The veterinarian believed the young cat would have recovered if his war wounds hadn't weakened him. Simon was buried in a specially-made casket with full naval honors. See more pictures of Simon.
A stray cat wandered into St Augustine's and St. Faith's Church in London in 1936. She was named Faith and adopted by the rector and parishioners. She would sit at the pulpit while Father Henry Ross preached. In 1940, Faith gave birth to a single kitten named Panda. On September 6, Faith demanded access to the church basement. When a door was opened for her, she carried her kitten down to the dark cellar. Father Ross retrieved the kitten twice, but Faith carried him back downstairs—twice. She even missed a church service, which was unusual.
The next day, air raids began in the Battle of London, and by September 9, 400 people had been killed and eight churches were destroyed by bombs. Father Ross returned to the church to find it ruined. He called for Faith and heard faint meowing in return. He retrieved both Faith and Panda from the rubble just before the roof collapsed. Faith was nominated for a Dickin Medal, for which she was not eligible as a civilian, but she was awarded a special medal for bravery anyway. Faith was presented with the medal in a special ceremony in 1945 attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury. When Faith died peacefully at the age of 14, the church was again packed for her funeral.
See also: 7 Heroic Dogs