Categories: cats in emergencies

Shy cat living with elderly woman forced to approach neighbour to raise the alarm

This is the story of Sylvester. If he is still alive he would be approaching about the age of 20 at the time of this article. In 2007 Patricia Kerr, aged 90, had lived will Sylvester for about five years. Patricia had adopted him as a stray. He is described as a ginger, part-Persian cat. He must have been a cute looking cat because that is a characteristic of Persians. Patricia’s neighbours were Shirley and Monte Mason. They said that Sylvester was too shy to approach them and in fact he refused to be touched by anyone other than his guardian, Patricia.

Cat at front door. Picture for illustrative purposes only. Image in public domain.

It was a surprise, therefore, to Shirley and Monte, to see him on their doorstep meowing loudly one day. They were concerned because Mrs Kerr was at home. Being good neighbours, they decided to try to telephone Mrs Kerr but it was engaged so they assumed that she was all right. They had to attend a funeral that day and on their return they noticed that Mrs Kerr hadn’t put out a rubbish collection. This too was highly unusual so they tried to telephone her again and once again it was engaged. This caused further concern and they decided to take steps to investigate. They tried her front door but still there was no response. They called the police.

The police broke down Mrs Kerr’s front door and discovered that she was trapped in her bath. She was hypothermic. The water was cold indicating that she had been there a long time. Mr & Mrs Mason believed that they had got there in the nick of time to save her. She fully recovered after a short stay in hospital. The Masons also credit Sylvester with helping to save his owner’s life.

Comment: this story is another example of the ability of domestic cats to realise when something is wrong and ask for help. Most of the stories are anecdotal and I’m not sure that there is hard scientific evidence to support them. That doesn’t matter for me. We know that cats form strong bonds with their human guardians. We know that they have the emotional ability to help cats with whom they are friendly. We know that they are observant and we know that they have the ability to ask humans for something, normally food. The elements are in place for a domestic cat to do what Sylvester did. It appears Sylvestor’s behaviour was deliberate.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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