Hero Cats are Nothing New

I’m sure you’ve seen the video of a boy being attack by a neighbor’s dog. The boy is making his way up the driveway when the neighbor’s dog sees him, stalks him, and then pulls him from his bicycle by the leg, and begins shaking him.  But then something unlikely happens – the family cat storms in and scares the dog away.  A hero cat?

When I was young, we always had outdoor cats, and since they weren’t spayed and neutered, we usually had kittens as well. Our “mother cat”, Kiwi, was the one from which all our other cats were spawned.  She was a Manx tuxedo cat, and normally pretty sweet , but also had an ornary side and was very smart. Our cats were supposed to stay outside, and she knew it. When I occasionally let her in, or when she sneaked past someone’s ankles through the closing door, she ran into a part of the house that was unoccupied. If she happened to venture out and someone saw her, and then said the word “out,” she disappeared down the stairs to the basement, and jumped on top of the air conditioning ductwork. She could sense the word “out.” Even if you only mouthed the word, she could recognize the air passing over your lips as being that word, and she disappeared.

Our neighbor just across the street had two White Shepherds. They were confined to a fenced-in backyard, but they would get out of their fence from time to time, and they loved to get after our cats. They killed more than one or two of them – kittens, usually. The dogs weren’t mean to me (just my cats), but I was mean to them. I would haul them back across the street by their collars and make them go back into their yard through the hole they had dug under the fence. Then I would patch the hole as best I could. They would either get that hole “undug” or simply dig a new one. It was a never-ending process.

One day, I was outside when one of the dogs came walking by.  Bruno, that big, stupid a-hole of a dog saw a kitten in our side yard and took off after it.  He caught up with the kitten before I could catch up with him. I was running and yelling and waving my arms, clapping to get his attention or scare him, but his attention was fixed on his small target. When I reached him, he had the kitten pinned to the ground. He wasn’t really biting it, but sort of mouthing it, trying to make it get up and run. I got hold of the dog, but since he was as big as I was and busy trying to kill the cat, I wasn’t able to budge him.

Suddenly, from out of nowhere roared our feline matriarch, Kiwi. She lunged onto the dog’s back in shitstorm of screams, claws, spits, and hisses. In my mind, everything slowed down so much that it seemed like a scene from The Matrix, where Neo is dodging bullets that you can see;  only the dog wasn’t fast enough to dodge those sharpened claws that glinted briefly in the sunlight before digging into flesh.  I was as surprised as the dog, but my response was only to yell louder, because at that point, I had two cats to defend. I was trying to swat Kiwi away, but she just wouldn’t go.  It wasn’t her kitten, and it wasn’t her fight, but Bruno was in her territory, and I guess she was defending me too. I didn’t even have to tag her in to the fight – she was just there. And there, on Bruno’s head, and there, on Bruno’s back, and there, biting his eyelids and ears and who knows what else.  The dog was so shocked that he ran home, and I finished it by making him enter his backyard through his exit hole. That wasn’t the last incident with Bruno, but it was the last one where Kiwi participated.

I can imagine other cats I’ve known becoming unexpected heroes. Sweet cats, but the kind that you don’t put your face too close to or else your nose will be bitten or swatted. Too much petting of a cat of this kind will get your hand promptly popped, with claws out, too. I’ve read other stories about hero cats, but I’ve never seen a cat besides Kiwi come to the rescue until the news story this week describing a little tabby that saved her owner from a dog attack. Heroes often come in unlikely forms, and can surprise us all with their bravery, or willingness to insert themselves into dangerous situations. That cat wasn’t being threatened, but cats take ownership over those who call them pets, so that cat was likely defending what she thought of as her property. I wouldn’t mind being owned by a cat like that.

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