By Allen and Linda Anderson
You’ve probably read in the newspapers and seen on television the stories about dogs that do heroic deeds. Rarely does anyone report about cats being heroes who save lives and warn people of danger. Yet we have received many stories over the years from people who have been fortunate to share their homes with courageous cats.
For our online “Angel Animals Story of the Week,” Tia Dawn Jenkins, a disabled twenty-seven-year old woman who lives in Louisville, Kentucky, wrote about her remarkable hero cat, Samantha. We’ll let Tia tell you the story in her own words.
Tia writes, “I suffer from depression and I have a medical condition that has left me with no side vision. This means I can only see the big “E” at the top of the eye chart. I also have seizures. They are complicated by the fact that if I were to hit my head, it would be fatal, because I’ve had four brain surgeries.
“I was living in a studio apartment when one of my neighbors brought me this black cat he had, named Samantha. He told me that if I did not take her, he was going to feed her to a pit bull dog. He was angry, because Samantha had bitten him. I couldn’t let him do such a cruel thing to the cat. So I agreed to take Samantha and find a new home for her.
“At that time I was pending Social Security insurance, so I did not have any money to take care of a cat. My boyfriend, Jason, said that he would buy anything I needed, if I wanted her. I said that I would think about it.
“I decided to keep Samantha for myself when I noticed that she brought me out of my depressed moods. She would make me laugh by playing fetch with me. I started to train her to bring items that I could not find due to my loss of sight and other disabilities. I trained her to alert me to people and dangers. Samantha also learned how to get help for me, if I went into a seizure.
“Jason and I moved into a two-bedroom apartment. It had a faulty stove that the landlord kept putting off fixing. On January 20, 2004, I was at the computer in the living room. Jason called home from work and said that he could hear a clicking sound.
“I went into the kitchen and checked for the noise, but nothing was on. I went back to the kitchen about five minutes later. That’s when I heard Samantha, standing at the kitchen door, making the sickest sounding meow.
“With what little sight I have, I saw a reflection of flames on the kitchen wall. A fire on the stove had caused the George Foreman Grill to burst into flames.
“I reached down the side of the wall and hit the fire with a fire extinguisher. At that point I could not see anything. I didn’t know that smoke was going up the stove hood. And now it was filling the apartment fast.
“I dialed 911 and told them I had a fire. I was confused about how to get out. All I knew was that I wouldn’t leave without Samantha or Shelly (my turtle, and Samantha’s friend). Then I heard Samantha over against the other wall. I managed to get to the pet taxi by following the sound Samantha was making. But she was not there!!
“Then I heard Samantha clawing at the aquarium’s glass. This is where her friend, Shelly, lived. Again, following the sounds Samantha made, I crawled over, lifted the top off the aquarium, and put Shelly in my purse.
“Now that I knew about the fire, her turtle friend was safe, and I had called for help, Samantha opened the door to her pet taxi. She got inside, ready for me to rush her, Shelly, and myself out of there.
“Just as the fire department arrived, I locked Samantha into the pet taxi, grabbed my purse with Shelly in it, and ran from the apartment.
“Later, the firefighters told me that by the time the smoke detector sounded, the whole kitchen would have gone up in flames. If it had not been for Samantha’s warning and bravery, none of us would be here today.
“Ever since Samantha saved my life, I have tried to get my state to recognize her as a service animal. On August 4, 2004, The Epilepsy Foundation of Kentucky paid and sent for a Service Animal Registry of America (SARA) and Therapeutic Animal certification for Samantha. This means no one can ever take my angel kitty from me. Samantha will have the protection under the law that she deserves.
“There is not a day that goes by that Samantha is not helping me with my disabilities. Shelly and I both love and are forever grateful to this little angel kitty.
A Standoff Between a Cat and the Bears
It’s always surprising to find that many cats don’t know they are little. The following story came from Nancy Strand, a professional herbalist and daughter of a pioneer Alaskan family, who lives in a cabin in the Tongass National Forest in southeastern Alaska. It is in our new book, “Angel Cats: Divine Messengers of Comfort.”
Nancy says that she and her chinchilla Persian cat, Feral, were living a happy life in a temperate Alaskan rainforest. Their tiny cabin gave them pristine solitude where they were surrounded by a wooded third-of-an-acre lot. Yet they had access to a nearby small town, a local city park, and neighboring homes. A beach served as Nancy’s front yard with a backyard of verdant foliage.
One day, into this lovely setting, a ragged-looking, hulking cat with a torn ear, broad shoulders, and the look of a tough biker, strode into Nancy and Feral’s yard. Feral, queen of the hill, wasn’t keen on letting the intruder stay. But Nancy reminded the cat that she, too, had once been homeless, cold, and hungry, so Feral relented. Soon, KittyBaby joined them and Feral made peace with the newest family member.
But KittyBaby’s arrival wasn’t the only change in Nancy’s environment. The local municipality had started a new program in which they collected bales of garbage and shipped them to other states for recycling and compost-ing. In addition, a year earlier, the Fish and Game Department had transferred thirty-three tranquilized bears, slung below helicopters, to Kulu Island, disrupting their routines and habitats. For generations, these bears had spent their early summers picking up trash in the city’s neighborhoods. This year, many of the displaced bears were now making their way back to look for the usual free lunch of garbage, which was no longer there.
Nancy writes, “After the bears started passing through our neighborhood, KittyBaby quickly made himself invaluable. One night, as I prepared to go outside, KittyBaby firmly pushed me away from the door. He pressed hard against my leg, redirecting me to another area. The next morning, I discovered that a marauding bear had turned over and ransacked our garbage can during the night. This was the first time I realized that KittyBaby was protecting us from bears. On numerous other occasions, when KittyBaby sensed a bear nearby, he would stand between me and the cat flap on the door and growl as if he were a big dog!”
When Nancy went to her night job and returned from work in the early morning hours, Kitty-Baby would meet her at the road leading to their cabin only if there were no bears around. If KittyBaby wasn’t at his post, Nancy knew to wait in her car because his absence meant that a bear was nearby. Later, KittyBaby would show up and escort Nancy back home. All that summer, Nancy was kept safe from the bears by her brave little kitty.
The Jewish philosopher, Martin Buber, wrote, “Based on the power of faith, the spirit exerts its influence upon the world through its agents, courage and love.” Certainly the cats you’ve just read about have demonstrated that they are, indeed, agents for spirit with the courage and love they have shown for their fellow creatures.
Have you ever known a hero cat? How have cats protected and comforted you?
Allen and Linda Anderson are co-authors of “Angel Cats: Divine Messengers of Comfort” and “God’s Messengers: What Animals Teach Us about the Divine.” You are invited to visit their website at www.angelanimals.net and sign up to receive the free Angel Animals Story of the Week online newsletter. You may send true stories for possible future publication to Angel Animals Network, P.O. Box 26354, Minneapolis, MN 55426 or by e-mail to email@example.com .
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