A Clever Kitty
Here is an amazing animal story. Most hours of the day, Winnie, 14, can be found curled up on a windowsill in the Keesling master bedroom, fast asleep. One March night, her favorite tradition proved to be a saving grace.
Earlier that day, the New Castle, Indiana, family borrowed a gas-powered water pump for the basement of their ranch home to suction out water after a flood. By nightfall, outside temperatures were below freezing, so every window in the house was closed except for Winnie’s.
Cathy Keesling turned off the gas pump, and by the time she went to bed, around midnight, her husband, Eric, was already asleep. The couple’s 14-year-old son, Michael, was in his bedroom down the hall. None of them could know that carbon monoxide from the pump had built up in their basement—and that when the home’s hot-air heating system switched on, it would begin pushing the toxic gas throughout the house.
The family slept on. “But Winnie jumped from her window perch right onto me, meowing like crazy and scratching at my hair and face,” says Cathy. “She’d never acted like this. I thought, There is something wrong with this cat. I tried to get out of bed, but the moment I sat up, I felt like I’d been hit with a two-by-four. Then I got dizzy.” After Cathy fell back onto the bed, the cat “started carrying on again. She would not leave me alone.”
Fighting grogginess, Cathy unsuccessfully tried to rouse Eric. Weak and nauseated, she grabbed the bedroom phone and staggered into the hallway, where she found her son sprawled on the floor, facedown.
“I don’t know how, but I dialed 911,” she says. “It seemed like just seconds later that people were pounding on the door.” Emergency workers carried her out onto the front porch and went back in for the others, not a moment too soon.
All three were hospitalized overnight for severe carbon monoxide poisoning. “One of our rescuers, a deputy sheriff, said that we could have been dead in five more minutes,” Cathy says.
Winnie was an abandoned farm kitten, only a few days old, when Cathy found her. “We fed her with an eyedropper. Now she’s a wonder cat.”