Northern Ontario cat gets international attention for saving trapped man

A northern Ontario cat is receiving international attention for her role in the rescue of a trapped man.

'Cats have much better hearing than humans ... she heard these sounds of distress and it bothered her'

Ivy's owner Mary Johnston says she wouldn't have heard her neighbour's calls for help if her cat hadn't gotten her attention. Johnston says Ivy continued to bother her until she went outside to figure out what was going on. (Provided by Mary Johnston)

A cat on Manitoulin Island, Ont. is receiving international attention for alerting her owner to calls for help from a neighbour.

The "hero cat" named Ivy, who was adopted from a shelter by 72-year-old Mary Johnston, has been featured in the magazine Woman's World and the local newspaper wants to get her nominated for the Purina Animal Hall of Fame.

In October, Johnston, who lives in the tiny community of Tehkummah (its population is 400), said she was sitting in her living room reading when her two-year-old cat Ivy started making a fuss.

"Ivy will usually lay on my couch next to my chair," she said.

"She got antsy, and was back and forth between the window and the couch several times, which wasn't her habit."

Johnston said Ivy finally became frustrated and jumped into her lap.

That's when Johnston noticed a sound coming from outside.

"I heard what I thought was a cat in distress, that deep growl sort of noise they make."

Johnston went outside and followed the sound to her neighbour Eric Russell's barn. When she entered, she found him stuck four metres in the air.

Russell had been standing on a ladder fixing his garage door when a spring let go, trapping his arm.

Sounds of distress 'bothered' Ivy

Johnston rushed to get Russell's wife.

"Betty called 911 and the first alert fellows came along. They got Eric out of there. He had quite a bit of damage to his arm and nerves," she said.

Johnston said doctors told Russell if he hadn't gotten out when he did, he could have lost his arm.

"Cats have much better hearing than humans. I think she heard these sounds of distress and it bothered her. So she figured I should do something about it."

To thank Ivy for saving him, Russell has showered the cat with gifts, including a new cat tree and a basket of cat goodies at Christmas.

"I've had a lot of ribbing about it, that's for sure," Johnston said. "The joke is we're going to erect a statue to Ivy downtown."

"She's quite famous," Johnston said.

Click here to hear Johnston tell her story to CBC's northern Ontario afternoon show Up North.


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