OKOTOKS, Alta. — Momo the cat has been living a quiet life since gaining global celebrity status when he leapt from a submerged pickup truck and swam for his life in floodwaters that hit southern Alberta last June.
Momo and his human, Kevan Yeats, were in Yeats’s truck on a partially submerged street in High River when disaster struck. Yeats had been at work when the flooding started and he went back to his apartment in to pick up Momo.
The truck hit a deep spot on the road and was quickly swamped by water washing through the community from the Highwood River.
Yeats smashed out the back window of the cab and hopped into the truck bed with the then-eight-month-old cat in his arms.
Momo jumped from Yeats’s arms into the water and started paw-paddling to safety, his tiny wet head poking just above the surface.
The moment was captured by a photographer with The Canadian Press and the images garnered international media attention as a symbol of hope amidst the devastating flooding.
“I swam behind Momo and wherever Momo went that’s where I was going. I’m just glad he went for shore,” said Yeats in a recent interview at his parents’ home in Okotoks, south of Calgary.
“It was a deep spot on the street really and it just sucked me under. Looking back on it you kind of think, yeah, that was close.”
Yeats said Momo didn’t seem to suffer any trauma from his swim.
“The next day he was fine and jumped in the shower — same old cat.”
The Yeats family initially thought Momo, who tips the scales at a hefty 7 1/2 kilograms, was a female and it was reported as such at the time. They’ve since found out Momo is male.
Yeats still can’t believe the feline took the initiative and jumped into the raging water.
Reflecting back, he thinks Momo may have actually saved his life since he probably would have stayed with his truck.
“I wouldn’t have got out. I wouldn’t have bailed.”
Yeats said the attention he received at the time has faded.
And some people have questioned the sanity of going back to High River to save his cat.
“Lots of positive and a couple of negative reactions: ’For a cat? Really?’ But it’s a member of the family so what can you do?”
Lori Yeats was initially frantic when she received a call from her son after his close call.
“I just feel like I’m a lucky mom,” she said. “I was angry that he had gone back in to get the cat but, all in all, incredibly proud because he did all the right things for all the right reasons.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way. Momo is my grandkitty. I love the cat and I can’t imagine life without either one of them.”
By Bill Graveland, THE CANADIAN PRESS