Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Cat call

This Boston Globe AP article tells a story that would have been hard to believe, even if it had been about a dog. But a cat, making a 9/11 call to save its owner? And yet that seems to have been just what transpired in the case of one Ohio man and his faithful feline, Tommy.

Police aren't sure how else to explain it. But when an officer walked into an apartment Thursday night to answer a 911 call, an orange-and-tan striped cat was lying by a telephone on the living room floor. The cat's owner, Gary Rosheisen, was on the ground near his bed having fallen out of his wheelchair.

Rosheisen said his cat, Tommy, must have hit the right buttons to call 911.

"I know it sounds kind of weird," Officer Patrick Daugherty said, unsuccessfully searching for some other explanation.

Rosheisen said he couldn't get up because of pain from osteoporosis and ministrokes that disrupt his balance. He also wasn't wearing his medical-alert necklace and couldn't reach a cord above his pillow that alerts paramedics that he needs help.

Daugherty said police received a 911 call from Rosheisen's apartment, but there was no one on the phone. Police called back to make sure everything was OK, and when no one answered, they decided to check things out.

That's when Daugherty found Tommy next to the phone.

I was thinking this was some sort of strange fluky coincidence, trying to picture the chain of circumstances. Let's see: the cat accidentally knocks the receiver off the hook, walks over the phone and by chance happens to press a speed dial that happens to have been programmed to call 9/11.

But then, towards the very end of the text, the article divulges that this was no fluke at all: the owner had originally trained the cat to call 9/11.

I think that this fact is just as astonishing (maybe even more so) as my original assumption that the cat called 9/11 by accident.


At 5:31 PM, January 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FARK headline: "Owner claims cat dialed 911, despite fact that cats are very poor at modern telecommunications and wouldn't lift a paw to save you if their nine little lives depended on it."

At 8:10 PM, January 04, 2006, Anonymous Matt Harris said...

Well, dogs have been known to call 911. Just see this story on Fox.

At 8:24 PM, January 04, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's 911, not 9/11

At 10:08 PM, January 04, 2006, Blogger neo-neocon said...

8:24 PM anonymous, you're right. I've so gotten into the habit of writing 9/11, it's become automatic for me.

At 12:23 PM, January 05, 2006, Anonymous Megan said...

Cats are smarter than most people realize. Mine aren't nearly as snooty as most cats and even come when called...and they know their own names. When I call Jazmyn, she comes. When I call Mischief, he comes. Of course, as smart as they are they have selective hearing as well. :-)

Training a cat isn't THAT least I don't think so. Mine are pretty much well versed in their responsibilities... going into their room at night, using the litter box, knowing the meaning of the word NO. :-) LOL

At 12:13 AM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Wayne said...

I know I'm posting this really late, in BlogTime, but I have been checking back to see if there's any update.

I want this story to be true, even though I'm a dog person. If I had a cat, I'd be hard-pressed to decide between canned catfood (might be an incentive for the cat to get help if I were incapacitated, but it also might lead to "pet dines on owner's extremities" or "cat calls ASPCA to report missing several meals").

If the dog dialed 9-1-1, it would be a non-story. "The emergency operator reports that it took her awhile to realize that one bark=yes, two=no, and longer series were qualified answers to her questions about the victim."

At 6:02 AM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

Why would you assume the cat did it by accident? Animals are quite perfectibly trainable using negative and positive reinforcements.

It would take a lot of time, but I suppose a man in a wheelchair would have a lot of time to spend with his pet. A lot of experimentation and failure perhaps, and not every cat type could do it.

Once we master genetic manipulation, we could even uplift creatures like cats, dogs, and dolphins to full sentience. Make them full citizens of the US of A. A new anti-slavery crusade too.

At 8:46 AM, January 06, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a dog person myself, but cats are very intelligent and dexterous, so I'm not surprised that the cat could learn and do this.

I just can't believe a cat would care enough to actually do it... they always seem so blase.

At 8:52 PM, January 06, 2006, Blogger Taumarunui said...

I saw a cat circus in Key west a decade or so ago. The cats were trained to such uncat-like tricks as jumping through burning hoops. They just did them in a very cat-like manner. They'd nuzzle the equipment and the ringmaster's legs, trying to distract him from the task at hand. then they'd slink up the ramp, casting catty glares back at the ringmaster. Finally, they'd do the tricks while feigning indifference and reluctance.

I recall the animal liberationists tried to close the circus down. Be that as it may, cats can be trained to do tricks. However, they are better at training their owners to meet their evey whim.

At 9:35 PM, January 07, 2006, Blogger PatCA said...

AFter my mother passed away, I inherited her diamond ring. Before I had it sized, it slipped off my finger while I was gardening. After I realized it was gone, my neighbor and I crawled around on all fours on the lawn searching for it. At one point, my cat started to yip and stand nervously in one spot. I finally went over to him, and he was standing right next to my ring! I swear. Either he knew we were looking for something or my mother's spirit was smiling on me that day, but he got a hero's dinner that night for sure.


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