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Cat Saves Elderly Man Who Fell Into a Canal in Japan

Police thanked her in a ceremony with some cat food.
July 3, 2020, 8:14am
For illustrative purposes only. Photo: Gijs Coolen on Unsplash

This article originally appeared on VICE Asia.

A cat just saved a man’s life in Japan.

At 7 PM on Tuesday, June 16, Yamaguchi Akimi, 77, a woman living in a neighbourhood in the Toyama Prefecture, saw a cat staring into a canal for a very long time. Wondering what the kitty was doing, she looked inside the canal and discovered an elderly man lying face down, unresponsive. She immediately called her daughter to ask for help.

At around the same time, Nitta Tomoko heard noise from outside their house. She ran outside with her two sons and spotted her cat, Coco near the canal. She, along with her sons and neighbours, pulled the man out of the small space. According to Nippon Television News, the canal was 60cm wide and 40cm high.

The man had been lying in nearly 15cm-deep water. The water was coming fast and NHK reported that his life could have been in danger if he was found at a later time. Fortunately, the man had only a few scratches on his arms and legs from the incident.

To thank Coco, the Toyama-Minami police station invited her to an awarding ceremony on Monday, June 27. She was honoured alongside the five people who helped rescue the man — Nitta, Nitta’s two sons, Yamaguchi, and her daughter. They all received letters of thanks from the police station and Coco was gifted her favorite bonito-flavored cat food.

“I am really surprised but I am proud of Coco, and I want to tell her good job for saving a life,” Nitta said during a press conference, smiling. “Thanks to Coco, I've become more aware of being safe around canal drains.”


Netizens can’t get enough of the unlikely hero.

“Her face was so cute that moment she was given the certificate.”

“This is the kind of news I want to see every day.”

“Such a good girl for being so calm and for attending the ceremony.”

Even Toyama-Minami police chief Sou Nakata was all praises.

“The bond between residents in this area, including a cat, saved a person’s life,” he said during the press conference before patting Coco’s head.

But it looks like the kitty isn’t used to all the attention just yet. Coco turned away, prompting Nitta to say that she’s "a bit shy with strangers."

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