Newsmaker: Momo the swimming cat — Nine lives, 15 minutes of fame?

Every picture tells a story — especially this one

(Jordan Verlage, CP)

DE WINTON, Alta. – The saga of Momo the cat and her owner Kevan Yeats — who swam to safety when his pickup truck was swept away in Alberta floodwaters — has captured worldwide attention. The Canadian Press spoke to Kevan Yeats’ mother, Lori Yeats, on Friday. Here is the conversation:

What is Kevan up to today?

LY: I had to drive him to work this morning because yesterday when he was getting out of that truck he lost everything. He lost his cell, his wallet, his work keys, that was his work truck. He’s got nothing so we’re trying to get him set up. I had to actually take him into Wal-Mart in bare feet last night to get him shoes and underwear and socks so he had something to wear.

What does Kevan do?

LY: He’s a jack-of-all-trades. He works at a ranch. He does landscape work down there, he welds, he does whatever he needs to do.

And he went to work a day after being nearly washed away?

And when I took him there … he said I’m going to be here late because I missed work yesterday afternoon and I have to be there late today to make up for it.

How is he doing?

LY: He’s doing okay. He was a little emotional when it finally hit. It was difficult because he was stuck in the truck and all the electrical had given out. The windows wouldn’t go down. He must have hit a sink hole or something because he was on the road and all of a sudden the truck just went under water. The front windshield was cracking and he couldn’t get out.

He had to smash out the back window with his elbow and of course the cat was trying to beat him out, which was good. And actually his cat just loves water. She will crawl in the tub with him or crawl in the shower with him. It was probably a good thing that she’s been around water a little bit.

She decided to jump and swim and he took out after her. He thought it was funny because she was using her tail like an alligator does. They wiggle their tail back and forth and they use it like a rudder. She was using her tail like that when he was swimming behind her. He said he couldn’t keep up with her she was swimming so well.

Momo loves water?

LY: She loves the water. She’ll climb into the tub with you. This morning when he was here, he went to get into the shower and she had her paws up there wanting to get in there with him.

We were quite surprised because we thought after yesterday’s ordeal she would maybe not want to be around water. She seems happy. She’s adjusting well.

That’s good news, because people seem to be very worried about Momo.

LY: Momo is doing really well. She’s the best little grandkitty ever. She’s just running around being herself today. It took her a few hours yesterday, she was pretty scared and stressed and out of her home situation. She’s an indoor cat. She has been here, she comes for Sunday dinners whenever the kids come for Sunday dinners. She’s making herself quite at home now.

For an indoor cat, she’s very outdoorsy.

LY: She just loves to be with her people. She’s a very affectionate cat, loves to come and get her snuggles. She loves the water which is really bizarre.

She’s only eight-months-old. She’s a big cat actually. They figure she’s got some Maine Coon in her and Maine Coon cats love water.

It sounds like they’re pretty tight, the two of them.

LY: Kevan and that cat are tight. I was giving him heck for going back and rescuing that cat. He says, “Mom, it’s like my baby. I couldn’t live with myself if something happened.” That was another emotional thing he had yesterday in the car, he said what if he got out of the truck and she didn’t? He could have never lived with himself if something bad had happened. But I’m just thankful everybody is safe.

He was actually going and picking up kids for the neighbours from the daycare and driving them. That’s probably why he spent too long in High River yesterday. He went and picked up his neighbours’ kids for them because they couldn’t get to their kids.

What does he make about all this fame now? What do you make of it?

LY: Well, he was very upset about losing his boss’s truck. He feels horrible about that. He wishes he could maybe turn back the clock. He would not do anything differently about rescuing his kitty or collecting those kids from the daycare but he just wishes the bad things wouldn’t happen. I’m just so thankful both my kids are okay. It has been a long 24 hours.

He is a selfless kid. He’s got an amazingly huge heart and I wouldn’t trade that for the world. He’s an amazing kid. I’m so lucky, with both my kids actually. But Kevan is selfless and would do that for anybody.

Do you think he knows how famous he is?

LY: No. No, he doesn’t. I don’t think that would sink in for him… . He doesn’t see himself as a hero, he sees himself as doing what he needed to do.

Given what they went through, are they getting any special treatment?

LY: I got up this morning at 6 a.m. and made him breakfast before I had him at work at 7 a.m. And I made him lunch, which I said I wasn’t going to do, but I did. (laughs)

I made him eggs and toast and orange juice. Sent him on his way with something in his belly. He said he wasn’t going to make lunch … I said “You’re going with lunch today.” Where he works is rural, I said “You have no car to buy something. You have to take lunch.” He has a triple-decker peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

–by Paola Loriggio in Toronto

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