Born in Hong Kong in 1947, Simon got his first taste of adventure when 17-year-old British seaman George Hickinbottom smuggled him onboardHMS Amethyst. Simon soon won the hearts of the ship’s crew and captain with his feline charm and razor-sharp rat-catching skills. In 1949, however, Chinese communist forces fired on theAmethyst as it sailed up the Yangtze River. Simon suffered burns and shrapnel wounds. Four days later, seamen found Simon hiding, and the ship’s surgeon tended to the cat’s injuries.
For 101 days, Chinese communists prevented the ship from leaving. Simon remained on board, and eventually, theAmethyst made a daring run out to sea. Soon,newsreels around the world told Simon’s story. Officials nominated him for theDickin Award, which honors gallantry and devotion by animals. Sadly, Simon died in quarantine the day before his award ceremony. To date, he is the only cat among the 65-plus animals to receive the Dickin Award.
Jeremy Triantafilo, a four-year-old charmer with autism, was playing in front of his family’s California home when the neighbor’s dog attacked him for no clear reason. Three seconds after the dog grabbed Jeremy, his cat Tara launched herself at the marauding animal. Tara chased the dog off the property before returning to see about Jeremy.Video footage of Tara the cat body slamming a neighborhood dog took two days to earn five million views.
At the hospital the preschool boy received 10 stitches, which he proudly showed the camera. For her part, Tara got a whole lot of thanks from the Triantafilo family who had adopted her six years earlier. Cat guruJackson Galaxy even interviewed Tara’s people. Jackson said about Tara’s heroism, “That is a maternal instinct if I’ve ever seen one.”
An orange-and-tan tabby cat named Tommy saved his human friend’s life by calling 9-1-1. Tommy lived with GaryRosheisen in Columbus, OH. Gary had osteoporosis and mini-strokes. Knowing a medical emergency could incapacitate him, Gary tried to train Tommy to call 9-1-1 using a speed-dial button in case something went wrong. One December day, something did. Gary had a seizure and fell out of his wheelchair in the bedroom. Unable to stand or walk, Gary only hoped Tommy’s training had paid off.
It had. Tommy used the phone’s speed-dial button to contact emergency personnel. Hearing no one on the other end of the line, the dispatcher sent police to the apartment. They found Tommy lying beside the phone in the living room and Gary on the floor of his bedroom. Later, Gary remarked about Tommy, “He’s my hero.”
Few cats’ lives have transformed as much as Homer’s did the day Gwen Cooper adopted him. Abandoned, blind, and three weeks old, Homer didn’t seem to have much going for him. Gwen, however, thought he was remarkable. And Homer rose to the occasion. Despite being 100% blind, Homer never let his disability affect his life. He cavorted around Cooper’s New York apartment with all the relish of a sighted cat.
Homer’s human believed other people needed to know about her cat’s appetite for life. So she wrote a book calledHomer’s Odyssey.It hit theNew York Times Best Seller list and was republished in 22 languages. In the book, Cooper recalls Homer’s exploits like catching flies in mid-air, surviving 9-11 from near Ground Zero, and chasing off a burglar. Although Homer died at age 16, his legacy lives on through Cooper’s book and her work on behalf of special needs cats.
A friendly foster cat on Staten Island, Herbie’s insistent jumping woke his new human mom from a sound sleep. She followed the cat into her daughter’s bedroom where she discovered that the little girl had accidentally wrapped the bed’s blankets around her neck. Herbie’s mom said, “I knew at that point … I’m not fostering. He’s my family.”
Cats of all shapes, sizes, colors, and personalities have become family to us, too. Do you have an amazing but true story about heroic cats in history or today? Share it with us onFacebook,Instagram, orTwitter.
Congratulations on acquiring a new cat! To help you get started, we’ve compiled the ultimate guide to new cat ownership.
Adopting a cat can be one of the best choices you ever make. Not only do you gain an entertaining companion who will (probably) be glad to see you at the end of a long day, but you'll be saving a life, too.