Nineteen years ago, a brown tabby was tossed from a car in Palo Alto, California, and ended up on death row at the Humane Society.
A woman named Leslie showed up, looking for a year-old cat to adopt. After looking at the inventory of very old cats and kittens, she was about to leave empty handed when a volunteer suggested that she look under a pile of kittens. There she found a big pre-neutered male tabby who was serving as a surrogate mother. “How could I resist?” she laughs. She took him home and named him Ozboz.
Later, when her boyfriend, Phil, first visited her in her apartment, Oz leaped into Phil’s lap, curled up and went to sleep. Leslie took that as Oz’s purrsonal stamp of approval. Leslie and Phil later married.
When their daughter Sarah was born, Oz’s surrogate mother experience proved valuable. He stuck by Sarah’s side until she was able to walk on her own.
Once, the infant Sarah, lying on her back in her crib, spit up — a lot. Knowing something was wrong, Oz raced to Leslie and Phil in the living room, and yowled and ran back and forth between the two rooms to get their attention.
Sarah recalls, “My parents knew something had happened, so they followed Ozboz into my room,” Sarah said. “If Oz had not reacted, I might have aspirated and developed pneumonia.
“Instead, all my parents had to do was clean up a big mess.”
Sarah is now thirteen years old, and thinks she might be a marine paleontologist when she grows up. Ozboz died in November at age 18.
The family won’t soon forget Oz and his heroics. “I know this story can seem very funny and gross to some people, but to me it is very special,” Sarah said. “I will never forget what a special cat he was, nor how he saved my life when I was too young to get help for myself.”