Ty, named after boxer Mike Tyson, is an eight-year-old Siamese cat who earned his tough-guy reputation last July when his owner, Myrna Birch, collapsed with heart failure at her home in Trail, B.C.
It was around midnight, and the air conditioner was struggling against a heat wave. Restless, Myrna got out of bed to feed the cats. Suddenly she felt dizzy. Then everything went black. And she hit the floor.
She doesn’t know how long she lay there … maybe two hours … drifting in and out of consciousness. She only remembers that each time she passed out, Ty would yowl in her ear, bat her with his paw, and lick her face until she regained consciousness.
The big Siamese simply would not give up. He kept screaming, licking her with his raspy tongue until he was able to rouse her. Somehow, she managed to grab the phone cord by her side, pull the phone to the floor with a crash and dial 911.
When the paramedics found her, Myrna’s heart rate had plummeted to 20 and her blood pressure was almost nil. She was rushed to Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital where, four hours later, she had a pacemaker implanted in her chest.
For Myrna, there is no question. If it hadn’t been for Ty, she would have quietly slipped away. She owes her life to his loyalty and persistence.
How one cat claimed his way to the Purina Animal Hall of Fame™
If it weren’t for her eight-year-old Siamese hero, Ty, Myrna Birch wouldn’t be alive today.
It was around midnight, during a heat wave in July 2004, that Myrna, restless from the heat, got out of bed to feed her cats. Following a dizzy spell, she collapsed with heart failure, hitting the floor.
She recalls Ty yowling in her ear, batting her with his paw, and licking her face, drawing her back from near unconsciousness time and time again. Finally, she was roused enough to grab the phone cord, pull the phone to the floor and dial 911. Had it not been for Ty, Myrna is certain she would have slipped away.
Ty is one of three pet heroes honoured in 2005 by the Purina Animal Hall of Fame for showing outstanding courage, loyalty and bravery in helping a human life. And he’s one of more than a hundred pet heroes that have been recognized since the program’s inception in 1968.
The stories of animal bravery submitted over the years are remarkable. There’s Indian Red, a Morgan quarterhorse, who, in 1978, drew attention to a 77-year-old woman who had collapsed and fallen into a snow-covered ditch on a country road one winter night.
From 1975, there’s Shep the dog who heard the screams of her owners’ grandson, Lance, and charged a 350-pound black bear that was mauling the boy.
And there’s Napoleon the Siamese cat who, in 1980, scratched and even bit her sleeping owner to awaken her when the woman’s electric blanket and mattress caught fire early one morning.