We know how fiercely loyal dogs can be, jumping into action if their human companions find themselves in an emergency. But it doesn’t necessarily take a canine to save lives when the chips are down. Check out seven furry—and feathery—friends who made sure their owners lived to see another day.
1. THE PARROT AND THE POP TART
Willie, a Quaker parrot hailing from Denver, Colorado, earned his babysitting wings in 2009: His owner, Megan Howard, was out of the room when the 2-year-old she was caring for began to choke on a Pop Tart. Willie became hysterical, squawking “Mama baby” to alert Megan to the crisis. Running back in the room to find the child turning blue, she was able to perform the Heimlich in time. Willie was given an Animal Lifesaver Award from the local Red Cross for his efforts.
2. THE CAT IN THE WINDOW
Cats are often forced to endure a reputation for being aloof and disinterested. This stems from cats being aloof and disinterested. But Slinky Malinki, a tomcat hailing from Todmorden, West Yorkshire, helped beat that rap in 2014 when he made headlines for rescuing his owner from a potentially fatal situation. After Janet Rawlinson suffered an adverse reaction to the morphine she was taking for chronic back pain that left her in a semi-comatose state, Slinky—named after a children’s book character Janet was fond of—trotted over to a neighbor’s house and began tapping on the window with his paw to draw their attention.
The feline Morse code worked: They came out to investigate and called for medical attention. Slinky’s bravado earned him a nomination as Hero Cat of the Year at the National Cat Awards. (He lost to Cleo, a cat who began pacing when his owner was having a heart attack, prompting a call for help.)
3. THE RABBIT WHO DETECTED A DIABETIC EMERGENCY
Dory the rabbit knew something was amiss when her owner, Simon Steggall of Warboys, England, was slumped over in his seat while watching television in January 2004. Simon’s wife, Victoria, thought her husband was just tired and napping—but Dory’s strange behavior led her to take another look. As the rabbit jumped up and down on his chest, Victoria noticed Simon couldn’t be roused and called for an ambulance. It turned out that he had fallen into a diabetic coma and needed a quick boost of glucose. The biggest hint? Dory wasn't typically allowed on the furniture.
4. THE PARROT WHO FENDED OFF A RANDOM ATTACKER
African grey parrot Wunsy and her owner enjoyed going for strolls in parks near their north London home. One day, the two were walking along when an unnamed attacker emerged and began assaulting Wunsy’s owner. After she was pushed to the ground, Wunsy sprang into action, raining beaked blows upon the criminal until he fled. Owner Rachel Mancino told the BBC in 2014 that Wunsy was both a “companion” and a “weapon.”
5. THE CAT WHO DETECTED A GAS LEAK
Trudy Guy was surprised to wake up to her 6-month-old kitten, Schnautzie, sitting on top of her chest one night. The feline kept putting a paw on her nose and tapping it. Curious, Trudy got out of bed and found a broken gas pipe outside her bathroom. Firefighters later told her that if Schnautzie hadn’t alerted her, the entire house could have gone up in flames.
6. THE PIG WHO FLAGGED DOWN A CAR
Jack and Jo Ann Altsman hadn’t planned on owning a pot-bellied pig, but when their daughter left LuLu in their care in 1997, they quickly grew attached to her snorting charms. It would prove to be a fateful adoption: In 1998, when Jack was away fishing, Jo Ann suffered a heart attack in their Beaver Falls, Pennylsvania home. Frantic, Jo Ann tried to toss an alarm clock out of a window to attract the attention of passing traffic. When that didn’t work, LuLu squeezed through the home’s doggy door and proceeded to lay down in the middle of the road. A driver stopped and followed the pig to Jo Ann, who was quickly flown to a hospital for open-heart surgery; doctors later said another 15 minutes would have proved fatal.
7. TWO BUNNIES AVOID A FIRE
It was shortly before Christmas 2013 when Tucson, Arizona resident Nicole Ochotorena was roused from bed by a strange thumping noise. Walking into her kitchen to investigate, she saw her family’s two pet rabbits, Bun Bun and Promise, drumming on the hardwood floor with their hind legs. Nearby was a crock pot that had smoke coming from its cord. The home’s smoke alarms had not gone off—the steady percussion of their rabbit feet had averted disaster.