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Has Your Cat Saved You From Doing Something Catastrophic?

San Francisco police last week used a man's cat to talk him out of a suicide attempt. Has your cat been a reason for you to save yourself?

Keith Bowers  |  Oct 12th 2015


Keep passing the open windows.

That’s from John Irving’s book, The Hotel New Hampshire. The parents in the book said it to their kids, who picked it up and repeated it to each other throughout their lives. It’s another way of saying, “Don’t give up,” “Persevere,” or perhaps Illegitimi non carborundum.

Someone in San Francisco late last week, though, couldn’t resist the lure of an open window. A man who got pulled over Thursday in a stolen car entered a building, went three floors up, found a window, and threatened to jump — and held police negotiators for three hours without a resolution, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Things got particularly drastic. At certain points the man sat precariously on the window ledge and even hung out sideways, about to drop.

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Then the cops did something extraordinary: They produced the man’s cat — a beautiful orange tabby or similar shorthair breed that had been brought by the man’s family — and used the cat to help talk him down. They employed the love of a cat to help a man who was in a lot of trouble, internal as well as external.

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“Using the cat was ingenious,” police spokesman Albie Esparza told the Chronicle. “Never underestimate the power of the love between people and their pets.”

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On Friday, KTVU-TV identified the man as Dion Stamper of San Francisco. The 47-year-old Stamper was booked on suspicion of auto theft and resisting arrest, among other things, KTVU reported. Suicidal feelings are always a serious matter, but the fact that Stamper faced the added difficulty of criminal charges underscores the power his cat had in the situation.

Cats saving humans in this way is not new. Here’s another example. Last year, shortly after the suicide of actor Robin Williams, Catster writer JaneA Kelley revealed that her cats had, during very dark times, been the difference between life and death for her. It’s an incredibly powerful bond, and it was just as incredible for JaneA to be so open about it.

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Here’s JaneA with Thomas (background) and Siouxsie, who has since crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

I’ve not faced situations quite as dire, but cats throughout my life have reminded me during difficult times that I’m loved. During intense physical illness or after great personal losses, cats (including my current cat, Thomas) have dropped their normal routines and expectations to sit with me and give me comfort. They obviously knew something was wrong, and helping me was their priority.

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Thomas is part of my family, and he helps me make good decisions. I consider him in the same way I consider my wife, Daphne, when making choices that affect my physical or mental well being. Thomas is not a child, yet he depends on me for care and love. I need to take care of myself and make good decisions for the long term as well as the short term so I can be there for him. I need to bring my full self to this existence not only for myself, but also for my cat.

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So, Thomas, for me and for you, I’ll keep passing those open windows.

How about you? Does your cat figure into how you approach life? Has a cat ever helped you during a difficult time? Maybe even saved your life? Tell me in the comments.

Read more by Keith Bowers:

About Keith Bowers: This broad-shouldered, bald-headed, leather-clad motorcyclist also has passions for sharp clothing, silver accessories, great writing, the arts, and cats. This career journalist loves painting, sculpting, photographing, and getting on stage. He once was called “a high-powered mutant,” which also describes his cat, Thomas. He is senior editor at Catster.