We hear animal rescue stories every day, but the human rescues behind those tales often go unexamined.
It’s not unusual that the addition of a furry friend to the family could prompt some serious life changes. In the case of a young boy living with autism and other health issues, the cat companion he made 7 years ago has on more than one occasion saved his life.
When his cat faced life-threatening injuries, the boy wanted to return the favor.
Kian was born prematurely to his family in the UK, Love Meow reports. Among his health concerns were “autism, secondary immunodeficiency syndrome, and degenerative bones and soft tissues,” said Becky Green, Kian’s mother.
Early on in life, Kian had difficulties breathing and would stop without warning. His parents tried to monitor him constantly, but even they couldn’t predict when the next episode would occur.
If not for the boy’s feline friend, Simba, he could have suffocated to death a number of times.
“He once was walking along and just fell, like a lead weight, to the floor unconscious,” Green said. “At the time, Kian spent most of his life screaming and self harming—the world was scary for him, as he was so often in hospital, but Simba was his safe place. He would sit with Kian and calm him, sit on the sofa next to his head, go on his head if he was banging it on the floor, or place his paws on Kian’s hands if he was hitting or pinching himself.”
Simba has become Kian’s constant companion, laying by him at night as the boy sleeps, and ever-vigilant in alerting his parents at the first sign of a loss of breath. The comforting cat has stood and snuggled his boy for years, helping him grow and thrive. Sadly, feline lifespans are rarely as long as we would hope them to be.
Simba escaped from home on October 9 as Green readied Kian for school. The family was unsure what had happened to their cat, as it wasn’t responding when they called its name.
A few hours later, Green got a message from a neighbor on Facebook. Simba had been hit by a car and was seriously injured.
“I drove home as fast as I could, and, when I called him, he tried to run to me, but his legs were so mashed up, facing the wrong way,” Green said. “I picked him straight up and ran to my car. My mum sat in the passenger seat holding him and he purred and purred like a lion.”
Green rushed Simba to the local veterinarian, who was unsure if anything could be done to help.
“Simba was purring and giving us the love look deep into our eyes,” Green said. “When they said he had no internal injuries, we knew we had to try for him. The vets knew they couldn’t help, as he needed specialists, so we took him to Queens in Cambridge the next day.”
The news they received in Cambridge would be no better. Doctors suggested Simba be euthanized out of compassion, but Green and Kian knew there should be another option.
“Kian was with us and hysterical,” Green said. “He laid on the floor begging the vet to try. She said she’d look at him under anesthesia but she thought he should be put to sleep, as it was a big job.”
Kian was distraught when Simba was brought in to say goodbye. Even in his weakened state, the cat mustered the strength to crawl over to his life-long friend and console him.
“With only his back legs working, he used them to push himself across the floor,” Green continued. “I stopped him, and he looked up at me and tried to meow—he wanted Kian.”
It was obvious Simba didn’t want to leave Kian any more than Kian could bear to see him go. The two best friends held each other close in that final, heartbreaking moment, which was too much for Green to ignore. She called orthopaedic-neuro veterinary surgeon Professor Noel Fitzpatrick the next day.
While Fitzpatrick’s was several hours away, there was no question to Kian that taking Simba to see the world-renowned doctor was the right thing to do.
“He said ‘it’s my body, my choice, and my best friend needs me, and I’m going to see him!'” Green said. “We try to visit 4 – 5 days a week. It’s a 260-mile round trip that should take 7 – 9 hours.”
Now, Simba’s limbs have been bandaged up, and Kian is desperately awaiting his return.
“He will have to remain in a crate, but it will be so nice to have him home for a while so he can relax and recharge,” Green says. “Every day we have an in-depth conversation amongst ourselves and with his medical staff on whether we should continue to do this, and every day he sits up and says, ‘Hey I’m still here, still fighting. Don’t give up.’ He never ever hisses, bites, scratches, or anything.”
Kian’s life is much better with a special cat like Simba. Sadly, shelter animals throughout the U.S. are also in need of help this season. Click the link below to do show your own pet how much you care, and help other shelter animals everywhere!
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.