Russian Community Cat Saves Abandoned Baby. True or False?

The details of the story are fairly straightforward. What is more complicated and what interests me more is what is the mentality of this community cat when she ‘saves’ the baby. The media have used the used the word ‘save’ to describe the cat’s actions.

Masha and local flat-dwelling resident
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Masha and local flat-dwelling resident

A Russian woman abandons her baby boy near the entrance to a block of flats in the town of Obninsk, Kaluga region. This is in the Far East near Europe. It is very cold with subzero temperatures. Although the child was dressed and some provisions had been with him, left alone without assistance the child would have struggled to survive.

The block of flats have a community cat – a cat the residents share and feed between themselves. Her name is Masha and she has a cardboard box, outside, to rest in.

Of course, Masha investigated the baby lying on the cold ground and we are told that she lay next to the baby and licked him. She also cried out and the lady on the ground floor near the entrance heard this and come out to see what was going on as Masha’s cries sounded as if she was in distress.

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Eventually the baby was taken to hospital for a check up and when this happened we are told that initially Masha chased after the ambulance.

Can we say Masha saved the life of the baby? To be perfectly candid, I don’t think we can but I don’t want to spoil to party.

Perhaps Masha wanted to warm herself up by lying against the baby. That is my initial rather commercial thought. I don’t believe Masha viewed the child as a kitten to care for. The circumstances don’t appear to be correct for that.

I’d have thought too that Masha was happy at the unexpected human companionship that had come her way. Domestic cats do like babies once they get to know them. We often see videos of cats next to babies and young children. The old wives tale of a cat taking a child’s breath indicates that cats like to be next to babies.

My personal conclusion, and I’ll accept being corrected of course, is that Masha liked the presence of the baby as a human companion which provided warmth in very cold conditions and so the relationship was mutually beneficial. Her actions helped the baby to survive by keeping him warmer. I don’t believe this was altruistic behavior ‘I must lie next to this baby to save him’ on behalf of Masha. She’s a great cat though and I’d like to see her brought inside, please.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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4 Responses

  1. Michele S. says:

    Anyone who has cared for a cat learns to recognise their different meows and from my own experience, it’s obvious when it’s a distress call. The lady living in the flat obviously knows Masha well enough to know that something was not right and that she was seeking urgent attention. To me that suggests that Masha was trying to raise the alarm.

    Whilst that doesn’t necessarily mean Masha was trying to “save” the baby, I do think she recognised that something was not right. Cats have better intuition and senses than us. They can often tell when women are in the early stages of pregnancy or owners are about to slip into a diabetic coma. I worked with a lady whose cat suddenly began sniffing around her breast/armpit area and then hissing or attempting to gently bite. Tests revealed she had breast cancer and urgently required a mastectomy. She told me even after the consultant gave her the all clear, she didn’t believe it until it was “confirmed” by her cat behaving normally towards her again.

    Maybe Masha could sense the baby’s dropping body temperature or something about their scent was off?

    Whatever the reason, she’s not the first cat whose actions resulted in the life of an abandoned baby being saved. In 2006, a stray cat in Cologne, Germany raised the alarm when he came across a a baby abandoned outside in freezing temperatures. He too meowed so loudly that a householder came outside to investigate what all the fuss was about.

    I’m happy if people believe that Misha’s behaviour was purely altruistic. It’s another nail in the coffin of that old wives tale about it being dangerous to have cats around babies.

    • Whilst that doesn’t necessarily mean Masha was trying to “save” the baby, I do think she recognised that something was not right..

      Your comment, Michele, is very sensible and strikes a nice middle ground that fits in well with a cat’s natural behavior. I struggle with the online media interpretation that a cat saved a human life. I don’t believe cats quite think that way in relation to people although mother cats do extraordinary things to protect and save the lives of their kittens.

      It would be nice (and it is possible) to believe that Masha was concerned for the health of the baby and called out for human help as she was unable to do much herself. That does require a lot of human-like thought processes.

      Perhaps Masha related to the baby as one of her kittens and sought help from a another cat (one of the residents of the block). I believe cats see us as cats – cats who provide. I’d love to understand this behavior better.

  2. Geri says:

    The fact Masha cried out to get someone’s attention tells me she was there to help.She sensed something wrong.Masha did a good job.

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