PETA Commentary

PETA Commentary (Dreamstime/TNS)

Recently, an Ohio man was feeling ill. Thinking a nap might help, he lay down. But soon, he was awakened by a scratchy tongue licking his face and paws pressing against his chest: It was Bear, the feisty longhaired black cat he had adopted from an animal shelter just over a year earlier.

According to a post by the shelter, "Bear knew something was wrong and sprang into action." When the man woke up, he was dizzy and his vision was blurry, so he called 911. Paramedics found that his blood sugar was dangerously high - over 900 - and a doctor at the hospital where the man was admitted said that if he'd stayed asleep, he would have died. But now, the man is back home and on the mend, thanks to his feline guardian angel.

Shelters across the country are overflowing with cats like Bear who would love to be someone's devoted - and possibly even lifesaving - companion. If you're prepared to care for a cat for life, June - "Adopt a Cat" Month - might be the purrfect time to welcome a feline friend into your family.

Bear isn't the only rescued feline who has returned the favor: In April, a Newfoundland man was awakened by his cat, Joey, standing on his chest and pawing at his cheek. Smelling smoke, the man hurried to the kitchen, where the slow cooker he had set hours earlier was burning. Thanks to Joey, disaster was averted and everyone in the house was safe - including the family's dog, who had snoozed through the whole incident.

Adopted cats often form deep bonds with their rescuers - Joey's guardian says that his feline firefighter likes to play fetch and follows him from room to room. And as a Canadian woman who rescued a cross-eyed cat named Mervin discovered, taking the time to understand your cat's body language not only strengthens your connection, it could save the day.

When Mervin was unusually insistent about going for his daily stroll, meowing and scratching at the door, his guardian suspected that something was up. After she put his harness and leash on him, he led her straight to the problem: An electrical wire that was crackling and sparking near a pile of dried leaves, just inches away from her wooden deck. "He's always seemed very smart and observant," Mervin's guardian remarked. "Always listen to your animals if you think they're trying to tell you something."

Some rescued cats have even gone on to help their guardians save other lives. After being awakened by her rescued cat, Kitty, a New York woman escaped an apartment complex blaze and helped the family in the unit above her get out safely, too, by catching their small children as they were dropped into her arms.

But amid the smoke and chaos, she became separated from Kitty, and the flames were too intense to go back inside and look for her. The next morning, the woman returned, insisting that Kitty was still alive inside the apartment. And she was. A firefighter emerged from the charred building, carrying Kitty in his arms. "She is a true miracle," the woman said. "I saved her, and then she saved me."

Could your miracle be waiting in a shelter? With "kitten season" in full swing, shelters everywhere are full of playful youngsters as well as affectionate adult cats of all personalities who need loving homes. Adoption fees are usually hundreds less than what pet stores and breeders charge and include spaying or neutering, microchipping, deworming and vaccinations for your new friend.

Best of all, when you adopt, you become a lifesaver. And if you ask Bear, Joey, Mervin and Kitty, that's the greatest miracle of all.



Lindsay Pollard-Post is a senior writer for the PETA Foundation, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510;

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