His Grace Buddy, King of All Cats, First of His Name, the Most Handsome and Totally Not Scared of Anything, is pleased to issue a Commendation of Bravery to Shelly, a rescue cat who saved her human from a venomous snake.
Shelly’s human, Jimmie Nelson, heard strange noises one night last week and chalked it up to Shelly burning off some energy with a late play session. Nelson went to sleep, oblivious to the danger he was in until the next day when he saw a dead copperhead under his kitchen table.
“On the side of the snake’s neck and head there were claw marks and one big slash, so we knew right then that the cat had definitely killed the snake and then brought it out a few days later to show it to her little dad,” Nelson’s daughter, Teresa Seals, told NBC affiliate WBIR in Tennessee.
Copperhead snakes are pit vipers, ambush predators that rely on hemotoxic venom to paralyze and injure their prey. They’re common in the southeastern U.S., though it’s unusual for the snakes to seek out humans or enter homes.
Copperheads don’t provide warnings before they bite and “strike almost immediately when they feel threatened,” according to LiveScience. Although their venom is not as potent as their deadlier cousins in the pit viper family, children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable. Copperhead bite victims are usually treated with antivenin and painkillers, and recovery can take months.
Nelson, who is 81 and a stroke victim, doesn’t like admitting his affection for his feline master, but Seals knows it’s just an act.
“He loves her, he doesn’t wanna act like he pays attention but I’ve caught him actually petting and loving on her,” she said.
She doesn’t think it’s an accident that Shelly ended up with her father.
“I think the Lord sent the cat to us to save my dad,” she told WBIR.
His Grace King Buddy said he’s honored to award Shelly with the King Buddy Commendation for Feline Bravery, an honor created in 2014 after His Grace defeated a vicious mosquito in single combat. The award itself is a bronze statue of Buddy striking a heroic pose at the moment of victory, paw raised after slaying the insect, muscles rippling from the effort of delivering the death blow.