Swimming sensation Momo the cat escapes Alberta flood

An eight-month-old cat's swimming prowess was put to the test this week during a dramatic escape from a truck sinking in Alberta floodwaters.

Cat's swimming prowess put to the test during a dramatic escape from sinking truck

Experts say most cats are capable swimmers, and Momo the cat was put to the test after the Highwood River began sweeping away the truck she and her guardian were in. (Jordan Verlage/Canadian Press)

An eight-month-old cat's swimming prowess was put to the test this week during a dramatic escape from a truck sinking in Alberta floodwaters.

Momo the cat and her guardian, Kevan Yeats, have been in the spotlight since they were photographed Thursday by The Canadian Press swimming to safety as Yeats's pickup truck was swept downstream in High River, Alta., after the Highwood River overflowed its banks.

The images captured international attention and the pair was even deemed "a symbol of hope" amid the flood devastation by the British newspaper The Times.

Yeats's mother, Lori Yeats, said her son was caught off-guard when the truck suddenly went underwater. The windows wouldn't open, trapping him and his pet inside, and the windshield began to crack.

"He couldn't get out, so he had to smash out the back window with his elbow and, of course, the cat was trying to beat him out," she said.

Kevan Yeats crawls out the back window of his truck with his cat Momo as the floodwaters sweep him downstream and submerge the cab in High River, Alta., on Thursday. (Jordan Verlage/Canadian Press)
Yeats and Momo stand in the back of the truck, which is drifting downstream. (Jordan Verlage/Canadian Press)

Momo's plunge into the muddy flow moments later was to be expected, she said, noting the indoor cat has a longtime fascination with water.

"She will crawl in the tub with [Kevan] or crawl in the shower with him, so that was probably a good thing that she's been around water a little bit," she said.

There was no doubt her son would jump in after his beloved pet, she said.

"Kevan and that cat are tight. In fact, I was giving him heck for going back and rescuing his cat, he says 'Mom, it's like my baby, you know, I couldn't live with myself if something happened,"' she said.

Yeats begins swimming after Momo. (Jordan Verlage/Canadian Press)

Cats can swim, if they must

Experts say most cats are capable swimmers, though the average feline will do almost anything to avoid getting wet.

In spending so much time in and around the tub, however, it appears Momo — who is believed to be part Maine Coon — may have developed a distinctive swimming style.

Lori Yeats said her son noticed his cat was "using her tail like an alligator does" during their watery escape.

"Their tail kind of wiggles back and forth when they're swimming and they use it as a rudder, and she was using her tail like that when he was swimming behind her. He said he couldn't keep up with her, she was doing so well swimming in the water," she said.

Lori Yeats said her son noticed Momo had a distinctive swimming style. (Jordan Verlage/Canadian Press)
Momo was reportedly swinging her tail back-and-forth and using it as a rudder, as an alligator does. (Jordan Verlage/CP)

Both her son and "grandkitty" are safe and sound after their ordeal, though they were shaken Thursday night, she said.

"[Kevan] is doing OK. He was a little emotional yesterday, I think, when it finally hit," she said.

"When he was getting out of that truck, he lost everything. He lost his cell, he lost his wallet, his work keys — that was a work truck — he's got nothing," she said.

"I had to actually take him in to Wal-Mart in bare feet last night to get him shoes and underwear and socks so that he would have something to wear," she added.

Rescuers come to the aid of man and cat. (Jordan Verlage/CP)
Momo appeared to be less than impressed with the ordeal, but was reportedly back to her usual self on Friday. (Jordan Verlage/CP)

By Friday morning, things were mostly back to normal for Kevan, who insisted on going to his job as a jack-of-all-trades and working late to make up for his absence the previous day, his mother said.

Yet word of the pair's adventure continued to spread on social media, with many expressing concern for the cat's well-being.

"Is anyone else dying to know if Momo the cat is ok?" one tweet read.

"Alberta flooding — And all I can think of is poor kitty!" read another.

Without a phone or other means of communication, Kevan Yeats has remained largely unaware of his newfound fame, his mother said.

Momo, too, is staying humble, Lori Yeats said.

"She's just running around being herself today. You know, it took her a few hours yesterday, she was pretty scared and stressed and out of her home situation because she's an indoor cat. ... But she's making herself quite at home now."

Kevan Yeats is pictured with Momo the cat at his parent's house near Okotoks, Alta. on June 21. Yeats and Momo leapt from Yeats' truck in flowing flood waters in High River, Alberta Thursday. (Jordan Verlage/CP)


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