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Whether it’s a police dog busting bad guys, a Saint Bernard rescuing skiers from the snowy Swiss Alps, or Lassie running for help when Timmy falls down the well, dogs seem to get all the hero cred.
But there have been several cats throughout history who have saved the day, and in typical cat fashion, they did it coolly, calmly, and without much fanfare.
But these heroic cats should not go unrecognized. Here are three amazing cats who went about and beyond the call of duty. Their stories are sure to delight and surprise you.
1. Simon, The Navy Cat
In 1948, a young crew member of the British ship HMS Amethyst named George Hickinbottom found a sickly, malnourished one-year-old cat wandering around the dockyards of Hong Kong. Feeling sympathy for the kitty, Hickinbottom smuggled the cat onboard. The secret didn’t last long, and soon Simon was a loved and revered member of the crew, catching rats and lifting sailors’ spirits.
Lieutenant Commander Bernard Skinner took a particular liking to Simon, and the cat was often by his side. So much so that when the captain’s cabin was attacked during the Yangtze Incident of the Chinese Civil War and Skinner was killed, Simon suffered shrapnel wounds as well. Simon’s wounds were treated and, much to the ship’s medical crew’s surprise, he survived and returned to his rat-killing and morale-boosting duties.
After the Yangtze Incident, Simon became a world-renowned celebrity, and was awarded the “Animal Victoria Cross,” the Dickin Medal, a Blue Cross medal, the Amethyst campaign medal, and the rank of “Able Seacat.” When he returned to the United Kingdom, however, he was subject to quarantine regulations and was sent to an animal care center. In 1949, he sadly passed away from complications of a viral infection caused by his war wounds. To this day, Simon is remembered, and the book, Simon Ships Out:How One Brave, Stray Cat Became a Worldwide Hero was written in his honor.
2. Tara, The Hero Cat
On May 13, 2014, a four-year-old boy named Jeremy Triantafilo was playing in front of his family’s home in Bakersfield, CA, when suddenly a Labrador and Chow mix from the neighborhood darted around the family vehicle parked in the driveway and went after the boy’s leg, dragging him off of his bicycle and onto the ground. That’s when Tara stepped in.
With laser-focused precision, Tara launched herself at the dog, knocking him aside. After chasing the assailant away, she returned to the side of Jeremy, who escaped the attack only needing 10 stitches.
Word of Tara’s heroic deed quickly spread through the neighborhood, and she became a local star — throwing out the first pitch at a minor league baseball game and serving as the first non-human grand marshal in the Bakersfield Christmas parade. She also was awarded the Blue Tiger Award — an award only awarded to Military service dogs — and the Los Angeles SPCA’s Hero Dog award. She’s Internet-famous too; surveillance footage documenting the whole scene set a record for the most views within two days on YouTube.
3. Faith, The Church Cat
In London, around the start of World War II, a stray tabby cat kept trying to get into St. Augustine’s church. After being turned away several times, the stray finally found a home when Father Henry Ross allowed the cat, now named Faith, into the church.
Faith quickly became ingrained in the church, catching mice and attending every mass. If Father Ross was conducting the service, she would lay at his feet, seemingly hanging on every word. Eventually, Faith would give birth to a single male kitten, which the church named Panda due to his black and white fur. Both kitties enjoyed church life and delighted all the parishioners and staff members.
One day, Faith kept begging Father Ross to open the basement door. Once he relented, Faith carried Panda down into the dark and dingy basement. When Father Ross retrieved him, Faith immediately took him right back down. Conceding to Faith, Father Ross moved both cats’ beds into the basement to stay. Days later, the church was bombed by Nazi Germany in an attack known as “The Blitz.” Despite much of the church being damaged, Faith and Panda survived the attack, safe and sound in the basement. Faith was awarded a PDSA medal for bravery and lived out her days at the church, eventually being buried in the churchyard.