A cat in Colombia has been hailed a hero for saving a 1-year-old boy from a potentially nasty fall down a flight of stairs.
The incident happened on Halloween in Bogota. Samuel, the toddler, had escaped his play pen and had nearly made it to the stairs on all fours when Gatubela, a Siamese mix, leaped into action.
The cat dragged little Samuel back from the brink, then put herself between the toddler and the stairs, pushing him to safety:
“The cat has been part of our family practically since birth, we had her here when she was a month, a month and a few days old, and she has become familiar with my children,” Samuel’s father, Jesid Leon, told a reporter. “She is two months older than my son.”
As for the rest of it, I have no idea what’s going on here. Why does the floor look like a demilitarized zone? Where are the parents? And does Gatubela — whose name means Catwoman — get paid for babysitting? At the very least she deserves some treats…
Whenever I look at photos of Baby Buddy, I try to remind myself there was a whole lot of crazy that came with the cute.
The surreptitious pooping underneath my bed. The relentless nightly war waged against my ankles and feet. The incessant meowing as if he’d reconciled classical and quantum physics and needed to tell me all about it right this very instant.
Actually he hasn’t quite given up that last hobby. He still tackles weighty subjects in minutes-long soliloquies delivered in meow, but he’s generally less insistent unless the topic involves food.
One of my fondest memories of Baby Bud involves that hyper talkativeness combined with boundless kitten energy and Buddy’s unique brand of crazy.
It started with bedtime. I was settling in for sleep and Bud was making it clear he would have none of it. So I sighed, making sure my feet were fully wrapped in the armor of a blanket to render kitten claws and teeth ineffective.
One of his favorite moves as a kitten was to wait until I was falling asleep, my heart rate slowing, before going kamikaze on my feet. He’d listen for the first snore, chomp down on my toes and gleefully flee before I realized what was happening, happily trilling and chirping after another successful ambush.
This time Buddy had something else in mind. As soon as the lights were off and I was settled in bed, he took off like the Roadrunner, ricocheting off the walls and yelling out “BRRRRRRUUUPPP!!!! BRRRRRRUUUPPP!!!” as he pinballed around the room.
This went on for several minutes until, without warning, Buddy skidded to a halt on my back, meowed the kitten equivalent of “OH YEAH!” and collapsed on top of me with an epic sigh of contentment. He was asleep within seconds.
I can’t do justice in words to how funny it was, except to say I was laying there belly-laughing with my kitten on top of me, afraid I was going to wake him up.
At the time it was also validation. This kitten was my first-ever pet, and he was clearly a happy little dude. That made me happy too.
I miss Baby Buddy, but I love adult Buddy even more precisely because I have more memories like this one to fondly look back on…and because adult Buddy mercifully doesn’t treat my feet like scratching posts when I’m asleep!
Mikey, a tabby from California, escaped from his human’s living room and got himself stuck in a 90-foot palm tree on Sept. 25. We don’t care what kind of plump, juicy bird he was chasing, 90 feet ain’t no joke.
His dutiful human servant, Christine Lopez, tried everything she could to get the little dude to come down. She cracked open cans of the kitty crack. She waved tuna. She spoke soft words to reassure him.
She even called the local fire department, which tried to help but didn’t have a ladder long enough to get to Mikey.
Running out of options, Christine called animal control, and they suggested the ultimate weapon: KFC.
Now I don’t know about you, but Buddy would find his way down from a skyscraper to get his paws on that crispy fried goodness. It is, after all, finger lickin’ good.
Here’s where the story gets weird: Mikey didn’t go for it. He wouldn’t come down, not even for KFC! What kind of cat turns down KFC?
By that point Mikey had been in the tree for a week, and he’d attracted an audience according to the Whittier Daily News:
The neighbors’ dogs would sit in the yard, looking concerned; the neighborhood cats would sit at the base of the tree, staring and caterwauling, with Mikey responding with meows, she said.
Yep. They were probably telling Mikey they were gonna eat his tuna and his KFC if he didn’t get his butt down from the tree.
By Monday morning Mikey was still up there. Drone footage confirmed the terrified tabby was still huddled amid the fronds. Almost two weeks had passed. Mikey was meowing for help and Christine was getting desperate.
She called PETA for assistance and the group found a heroic, cat-loving order of chivalric knights who call themselves The Crane Guys of La Mirada led by Sir Miles of Burkhart.
Sir Miles reached the top of the palm and began negotiations with the terrified Mikey.
Just when it seemed this ghastly ordeal would be over, Mikey jumped, activating Kitty Flight Mode, and upon landing immediately dashed under a neighbor’s porch, probably because of all the human, canine and feline onlookers milling around. Poor Mikey was embarrassed.
Thankfully, the story has a happy ending: Christine was finally able to reach Mikey when he chose a new hiding spot underneath a car. A relieved and famished Mikey tucked into a can of the good stuff and lapped up a whole bowl of water.
The little criminal has now lost his freedom.
“He’s doing life inside the house now,” Lopez told the paper. “After he decides to get paroled, he might walk on a leash.”
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.
The mirror test has been the de facto gauge of animal self-awareness since it was invented in 1970 by psychologist Gordon Gallup Jr., mostly because no one’s figured out a better way to determine if animals understand who they are.
The procedure is simple: When the animal is asleep or sedated researchers will add a smudge of red paint, a sticker or some other visible mark on the animal’s face. Then they place a mirror nearby.
If the animal wakes up, looks in the mirror and tries to probe or wipe away the new mark, it passes the self-awareness test. It means the animal understands the image in the mirror is a reflection of itself and not another animal, according to researchers.
Cats, who are notoriously difficult to work with in controlled studies, have never passed the mirror test. Dubbed “the world’s most uncooperative research subject,” cats are a challenge even for the most seasoned animal cognition experts.
“I can assure you it’s easier to work with fish than cats,” one scientist told Slate magazine. “It’s incredible.”
It’s not clear if cats don’t recognize themselves or simply can’t be bothered. Indeed, one of the primary criticisms of the mirror test is that, like most measures of animal cognition, it employs a human perspective to gauge non-human intelligence. It assumes that animals use vision as their primary source of information, as humans do, and it assumes that animals will be immediately driven to touch or remove an unfamiliar mark.
Buddy has a long and tumultuous history with mirrors. As a tiny kitten he once pulled down a thick, heavy wood-framed mirror from a wall, smashing the glass on impact. Thankfully he avoided injury.
As he got older, Buddy graduated to his boxing phase: He’d stand in front of a mirror, put his weight on his back legs and “box” the Buddy in the mirror with a series of quick jabs. Even from another room I knew instantly when he was boxing his reflection thanks to his high-pitched trills and the THWAP-THWAP-THWAP!! of his little paws against the glass.
The boxing phase eventually gave way to the narcissism phase, when Buddy would park himself in front of the mirror and stare at his reflection, occasionally raising a paw to the glass or waving at himself.
Was this evidence of self-awareness? Did little Bud now realize he was staring at his own reflection? After all, even humans don’t pass the mirror test until they’re two years old, so it’s entirely possible a cat can come to understand what it’s seeing in the mirror just like kids can.
Then one day I was shaving with the bathroom door open when Buddy padded up behind me and meowed to get my attention. Instead of turning to face him, I kept shaving, locked eyes with him in the mirror and gave him a slow-blink of recognition. He blinked back.
Finally, yesterday the roles were reversed: Buddy was sitting in front of the mirror while I was reading a few feet away.
“Hi, Bud!” I said, putting my tablet down.
Buddy, still staring into the mirror, met my gaze and blinked at me. Then in a moment that might have been confusion or dawning comprehension, he turned from the mirror-me to the real me, then turned back to the mirror. He blinked at me again.
Is that evidence of self-awareness? If Buddy still thought that the images in the mirror were different animals, wouldn’t he freak out upon realizing there are now two Big Buddies? Or would he meow with joy at the serendipitous development of a second Big Buddy to do his bidding?
He didn’t do any of those things. He took it in stride and reacted to mirror-me the same way he always reacts to regular me.
Skeptics will say this little anecdote proves nothing. It is, after all, just an anecdote, and it’s a far cry from a well-designed, controlled study with a few dozen feline participants.
That’s all true. But maybe we’re onto something here. Maybe instead of the traditional mirror test, which cats don’t seem to be interested in, a new mirror test could gauge how cats react to their owners as seen in a mirror.
Cats are never satisfied with doing things the “normal” way. Why should the mirror test be any different?
Gather round, kids, and listen to another tale of how cats always win.
My cousin has been married to her husband, Rob, for more than 25 years, and on one of their early dates he took her to the Bronx Zoo.
These were the days before the famously large tiger enclosure was remodeled into Tiger Mountain. Nowadays a series of huge fiberglass panels separates the tigers from the visitors, meaning there’s no open air between them.
You can probably thank Rob for that.
Back then only a reinforced fence separated the Earth’s biggest cats from people who’d come to gawk at them, and Rob decided he’d get my cousin to laugh by goofing off in front of a tiger.
He started off making a few faces, and the other visitors — kids, their parents, other couples looking at the tiger — found it funny. (At least according to Rob they did.)
Encouraged, Rob stepped up his act, dancing and waving until one tiger in particular took interest.
“What are you going to do, tiger?” he taunted. “That’s right! Nothing! You can’t do anything!”
The tiger roared, and Rob roared back. The huge cat was clearly not amused by a human dancing like a clown, making stupid faces and taunting it with an insulting approximation of a roar.
So the tiger turned around.
“That’s right!” Rob said, declaring premature victory. “Walk away! You can’t do nothin’!”
Oh, but the tiger could.
The annoyed cat raised its tail, backed up a stride and let loose a projectile — “a wad” is how Rob described it — of thick, gooey urine, hitting Rob square in the face.
The tiger had impeccable aim.
“It was enough to fill that,” Rob said, pointing to a large soda bottle. “It was all over me. It was in my mouth!”
Rob staggered back and lost his footing, taking one of the young bystanders with him as he fell. The angry mother stared daggers at him as she yanked her kid away, realizing with horror that he’d suffered collateral damage from the gooey salvo.
As for the tiger, it chuffed and, having proved its point, sauntered away.
Miraculously, my cousin agreed to continue dating Rob. Not that she found the episode flattering.
“That should have been the big warning sign,” she joked.
Today they have two adult daughters. As for Rob, he’s an executive at one of the country’s largest telecommunications companies, but says he has no illusions about his level of maturity.
“The way I was back then is the way I am now,” he told me. “I’m still an idiot.”
He may be an idiot, but he’s not going to mess with any more tigers.
Chronicling the adventures of Buddy the Cat and his various criminal enterprises.