Cat saves toddler from d*g

May 14, 2014 • 11:30 am

I’m putting this video up now because (probably due to its recency, as it was put on YouTube this morning) I’m getting links to it from elebenty gazillion people.

It’s self-explanatory, but here’s the YouTube caption from Roger Triantafilo, who posted it:

My cat defends my son during a vicious dog attack and runs the dog off before he can do additional damage. Thankfully, my son is fine!

Watch to the end to see the nasty bite inflicted by that bad d*g. Give that bravve cat a medal! Or, better yet, a tuna

Or maybe both:

Screen shot 2014-05-14 at 11.34.40 AM


Question for readers: do you think the cat really was trying to protect the child?

h/t: Matt


UPDATE:  thanks to reader Trophy, we have a picture of the cat and the child he helped:



(According to Yahoo News, the attack happened in Bakersfield, California, and the cat’s name is Tara.)




120 thoughts on “Cat saves toddler from d*g

    1. I saw our cat loooong ago, me in pre-school iirc, bloody the nose of the white German Shepherd that curiously approached her not me.

      Queenie(? – the d*g) walked up sniffing, Mickie waiting patiently until in range.

      Swipe and yipe.

      Tara may have been protecting the boy. Cats can get protective and jealous.

      Some people shouldn’t own d*gs and some breeds are scary.

      I was bitten by a mutt not much larger than our 13lb pup when I was a kid. I never turn my back on strange d*gs anymore.

    2. When I was in high school, I had a cat who absolutely hated dogs. Her MO was attack on sight, didn’t matter what she was up against- she was going to send it home missing several inches of nose.

  1. Woh, when they had said the child was fine I was shocked to see the horrific bite!!
    Blimey, disgusting beast. I’m sickened.

    Yes, I didn’t think I would, but I do think the cat was defending the child.
    Fantastic creature!

  2. OK, the d*g gets executed, because it is clearly a public nuisance (my wife was a Post Office letter carrier -I’ve seen this before!).

    The cat gets whatever it wants. It sure looked to me like it was going to the child’s defense!

  3. I think the cat figured the d*g was trying to take something that belonged to the cat. It was strictly an ownership issue.

  4. I don’t want to take away from the cat but there is something odd about this video. Firstly, it was edited, which in and of itself doesn’t mean anything. But the action was captured from at least three different camera angles. And these angles “help” tell the story or assist the narrative. Kind of odd for a “happenstance” capture of action. I’m not making ANY accusations, I don’t have enough information. But I was suspicious of the camera showing us the d*g coming into the story, and the following the cat. Does this person have a bunch of cameras out on their property shooting random video? Maybe. I don’t know. Seems odd to me.

    1. I’m assuming this is a home surveillance video, hence the steady camera and different perspectives.

        1. Creepy, yeah. Some friends have indoor surveillance too, and use it to settle “who hit first” disputes with their children. Wonder how that will affect their worldview as adults.

          1. As the eldest child who never cried from being hit, I would love to have had that system! I think my younger brother would have benefitted more, though, because he wouldn’t have been such a mama’s boy. Mom would not have coddled him if she’d seen what he was capable of!

          2. “Wonder how that will affect their worldview as adults.”

            That they run a nominally greater risk of being caught lying (about, e.g., who hit whom first)?

            As the Old Preacher Man was wont to say: “Yore sins will find yew out!”

          3. Wonder how that will affect their worldview as adults.

            “Big Brother is watching you” becomes a more literal threat than “God is watching you”?

    2. I don’t know why these people have so many surveillance cameras, but that dog was dragging that child, who was not wearing protective gear. I’d find it hard to believe that was staged.

      (Editing together surveillance videos that are automatically fed to your computer is easy theses days.)

      1. The three camera angles made me suspicious, but the wounded boy photo’s allayed that. Then I thought of a friend who set up motion activated cameras on the side of his house next to a neighbor who has called police on his son more than once (the neighbor may have a mental issue). It’s also possible the neighborhood experiences frequent break-ins or gang harrassment, etc. I served jury duty on a suspected drug dealer trial where the prosecutor presented evidence of two camera locations the defendant installed that prevented any chance of unobserved no-knock entry into his two exterior doors, so long as he was inside in his steel-doored deadlocked room where the monitors were mounted, and paying attention to them.

    3. Considering the time stamps, it would appear they have all been edited together from surveillance cameras. I agree that it is a bit suspicious that they manage to catch all the action in frame, however if it has been set up to fully view the area around the property then that is not too surprising.

      I’ll assume the cat thinks of the boy as one of her kittens, and was protecting it.

  5. I wonder if the cat would have come to the defense of an adult? In other words, does it recognize the helplessness of an infant human compared with a grown human?

    1. Good question.

      I have no problem thinking that when you bring a newborn into a house with a cat, and that cat watches the kid grow, the cat could develop some mothering or parental protective instinct. So I don’t see any need to invoke a cynical ownership or territorial reason for this. The kid is, what, in the age range of 4-6? The cat could easily be a mature pet that grew up with him. This is very easily explained by common mammalian ‘don’t mess with my family’ emotions.

      1. “could develop some mothering or parental protective instinct. ”

        Sure, but it’s interesting that a cat could develop a maternal instinct for a creature so much larger than itself, as if there’s something about being an infant that’s independent of relative size.

        Since there’s no audio, maybe it could have something to do with shrieks of terror or pain that seem to be an instantly recognizable language between species.

        1. When we had both toddlers and cats in the house, we noticed that the cats would put up with mistreatment from the children that they would never countenance from an adult. I suspect that cats recognize children as being different from the other humans they know and requiring more allowances and, perhaps, protection. Whether they see human children as analogous to their own kittens – well, I think you’d have to ask the cat.

          1. I watched Licorice come > < this close to taking her human sister's left eye a coupla years back.

            The cat doesn't take pestering and has scratched both kids.

            Cat was adopted when kids were starting school, so never had the chance to steal the breath of newborns.

            Funny, we baby sat that cat and she was the sweetest pea. She had only been rescued for a week and her family had a previously planned vacation. They didn't want to leave her alone so soon.

            We got the pup a few weeks later and for aboot a month she spent a lot of her time tracking that cat.

        2. ‘it’s interesting that a cat could develop a maternal instinct for a creature so much larger than itself, as if there’s something about being an infant that’s independent of relative size.’


        3. A couple years back I watched a TV show about a park in India where the keeper had rescued and raised a leopard. Keeper also had a small dog (adult bitch at the time he got the leopard). Even after the leopard had fully grown and could have literally eaten the dog in two bites, the dog was alpha/momma, and the leopard would give way. When they went on walks, for instance, the dog would ‘make’ the leopard walk behind her.
          Some instincts aren’t too picky.

    2. When I was growing up, our family cat definitely treated my brother, the youngest of the family and just a toddler when we got the cat, differently from the rest of us. She groomed him a lot, even putting a paw on him to hold him in place, and came running whenever he cried. It’s hard not to think she wasn’t mothering him to some extent.

  6. Poor kid, he will be awhile getting over that.

    I was the same age when it happened to me, but it was my mother who saw it and drove the dog off. I got rabies shots and a lifelong fear of big black canines.

    I think the cat might have been defending its territory, which may or may not have included the child. Or it might have attacked the dog just because it was there.

    My first cat attacked other animals at first sight, leaping on the intruder’s back, biting its neck, and hanging on until she was shaken off. With big dogs, her first action was to smack them on the nose, then attack in the usual way.
    Beautiful, insane Maia…I still miss her, though she’s been gone for ten years.

    Maybe the little boy will grow up to be a “cat man”.

    1. I’m not sure the cat draws a clear distinction between “you’re hurting my child” and “vicious predators on my turf must be repelled”. The instinct to defend its turf is the mechanism by which the cat protects its family.

      1. In this case, it looks like turf and family were the same. But cats appear to vary widely in their concept of territory and what (if anything) they need to defend. Some of mine have been territorial, a couple have been very protective of me, and the rest just run away from anything weird.

        1. Yes, we’re lucky that Rusty ran from Cookie the couple of times the pup was loose.

          The cat is larger than our d*g and was confronted on his own turf. He ran under his porch both times.

          He could easily make a Shih-Tzu stir-fry.

  7. I had the same questions as Ben S. I also wondered who would keep on taking video instead of throwing the camera away to rescue his son. No matter that another human and a cat were performing the rescue, I would not have been able to keep on taping. The probability of a home security system taking the video answers those questions, of course.

    Yes. I think the cat knew exactly what was happening and intentionally rescued the child. Maybe there was some “ownership” involved, too. Who knows? If a parent rescues his or her “own” child, who is to say there is not also a degree of “ownership” involved.

    The point, to me,is that many kinds of mammals and birds are far more intelligent than they often get credit for. And some of them (especially those living with humans) can show genuine caring for their human pack/herd/flock/whatever.

  8. Cat looked very purposeful, and impressive. I’d hazard that yes, it was protecting the child (e.g. a small member of it’s group).

  9. Seems plausible to me that the cat was protecting the child. Not probably because the child was a child, though.

    A dog was brought to my sister’s vet clinic to be put down because of viciousness. As my sister approached the tied up dog, it barked and growl with all appearance of viciousness. The clinic large cat, kept as a blood donor, was very attached to Pam. The cat attacked the larger dog, leaping onto the dogs back and biting and clawing it.

    Feeling she owed something to do cat, my sister took it home, it’s days of donating blood over.

  10. If you rewound the universe to the exact moment before the cat “decided” to attack the dog, and replayed reality, could the cat have chosen any differently? I hope the air quotes don’t give away my answer.

    1. Seems one could no less reasonably ask that same question about the dog.

      I read online that the neighbors/owners of the dog told a reporter that the dog did not like children and bicycles. If so, they knew of the child next door, and why were they therefore letting the bloody cur (Labrador and CHOW! mix) run loose?

      Was the mother of the child also outside but some several feet away? Did she consider checking whether the cur were out and about? Would she have fared as well against the dog as the cat, had the cat not been close at hand?

      1. A lot of d*gs do not like bikes – I have been barked at a good many times when cycling & owners have sometimes apologised & explained it as the bike…

        1. Well, it’s too bad one cannot perform in advance a Vulcan mind meld on a given doggie, so as to determine whether a bicyclist must accommodate its delicate canine sensibilities with a bit of codependent compensatory behavior.

      2. My parents live next door to a vicious dog & the guy actually takes it to a dog park. This is the reason I never go to dog parks. Their dog once tried to fight my dog through the fence so my dog forever wants to get a piece of it.

        Their vicious dog has bitten children before and I’m afraid of it because it is completely nuts.

        1. I was once (a long time ago) a “d*g guy,” but now I am a complete cat convert! I have seen what d*gs can do if they choose to go berserk. If a dog attacks a person, no matter how old, that dog needs to be put down! Any dog that acts this way needs to be destroyed!

          1. We have a Pug who is ten years old and we love him. I never did care much for the two cats my wife had when we got married. That said, I think saying you’re a “dog person” is a much broader statement than saying you’re a “cat person.” There is a very large range in traits among different types of dogs, so to say I’m a “dog person” because I enjoy Pugs and other gentle types of dogs does not equate to, “I love pit bulls.”

            Sadly, for many people this is the case. People will proclaim that utter certainty that there’s no difference between a pit bull and any other type of dog; it’s a matter of how they’re trained and treated. When you then inquire if there’s comparable equality between say a gray wolf and a Pug, they look at you as if you’re nuts.

  11. What a terrible thing to go through. This story is on every news channel. Love that cat,the dog might have to be put down.

  12. It’s telling to me that as soon as the cat felt he’d chased the dog away, he immediately switched gears and did the typical (and prudent) “run under the car” dog-avoidance maneuver.

  13. I’ve seen a cat defend an old dog from another dog like that. The dog and cat were inseparable friends always sleeping together on their porch so I am certain the cat did it intentionally to protect his friend.

    1. I saw this same thing. When I was a child, I had a cat that would protect our dogs from neighbor dogs. Those bad dogs were no match for my cat.

  14. I’m admittedly, a dog person and I always used to say to my cat loving friends that a cat that you’ve raised from a kitten, to the time it is 10 years old will let a complete stranger walk into your house and beat you over the head with a baseball bat. . . apparently I was wrong because with the evidence available it seems pretty clear to me that the cat was absolutely defending that young boy. My sincerest apologies to the family Felidae and their devotees everywhere.

    1. There are stories of attempted rapists who wound up in the ICU after the cat had its way with the attacker. I imagine there’s even a reader familiar enough with one to provide a link….


  15. I really don’t think the cat was acting to defend the child. To me it looked like the instinctive act of invader repelling. I see my own cats doing it and it always looks like “act first, consider the consequences later”

    There is really nothing better than a feline kicking d*g butt!

    1. “act first, consider the consequences later”

      IIRC (from when my kids were young), that pretty much sums up maternal instinct.

  16. I say this as a cat lover–but I am astonished. I would never have expected that reaction out of a cat, and I am quite convinced that the cat was, indeed protecting the boy. And I don’t think it was a general sort of “protect my turf” move, either, for one reason. I had one very territorial cat whom I watched (usually with horror) threaten and attack several dogs and cats. Her attack mimicked what we usually think of–a flurry of claws and teeth, sometimes trying to grab hold of the enemy to claw with the rear legs. I have never seen a cat perform the maneuver in the video, which looks to me like nothing so much as a hip check. It really appears to me that the cat was deliberately (and successfully) trying to knock the dog away from the boy. I wouldn’t have expected it, but I feel even a little bit better about cats today.

  17. Cats are pack animals… and when they have a human family, they don’t understand that humans aren’t cats, they simply think they’re part of the pack. And when one member of the pack is in danger, that instinct will show through.

    It is an interesting question above about whether the cat senses the helplessness of the child, though… I do not know if the cat would intuitively defend an adult in the same fashion. Do they recognize that larger adults can be as helpless? I’d like to think so. But the dog couldn’t have taken down a grown man so easily, so perhaps it was the intensity of the attack that moved the cat to action, and an attack on an adult would appear less intense.

    1. But cats are not pack animals.Indeed it is their (often solitary) individualism which makes them attractive to people who like cats. Lions,exceptionally, do live in social groups:that is an important element of their special appeal.

      1. Domestic cats are solitary hunters, but they are also social animals that frequently form social groups in the wild; see Wikipedia.

      2. Feral members of F. catus regularly form colonies, some of them quite large (dozens of members). And they have fully-developed social structures, complete with communal raising of kittens, division of labor between hunters and sentries, social status hierarchies, the works. They’re at least as social a species as lions and wolves, if not more so. Not naked mole rat social, of course, but….

        It’s worth noting that housecats don’t engage in cooperative hunting strategies…but, then again, they’re such damned effective hunters by themselves that there’s no need. Indeed, pound-for-pound, only humans are better solitary land-based hunters than cats — and humans need tools to match them.



        1. I know it’s anecdotal, but having watched my 3 cats hunt in our backyard, I believe they do sometimes engage in cooperative hunting. I’ve seen them surround and pursue a rabbit, chasing it so it never escaped the circle – and trading off the pursuit as it reached another’s zone (rabbits scream, btw. My cats were a little upset that I interrupted their hunt). More commonly, I see one sit back in the open areas watching & waiting, while another stalks through the woods flushing out mice & chipmunks. While the latter could just be opportunistic, they do seem to switch roles from time to time.

          Not definitive proof by any means, but it certainly looks cooperative to an outside observer.

  18. Not to rain on the parade here, but am I the only one who finds it odd that the father focused the camera on the dog before it had so much as made a move towards the child? Or that a father would leave his wife, young child and cat out there to fend off the dog? Certainly not how I would’ve reacted if it were my family…

  19. Tara absolutely was defending a member of her family. Everything from the pattern of her counterattack, to how far she chased off the d*g, to her beeline back to the boy once the d*g was clearly on the run away from the cat’s territory, to the immediate resumption of an active defensive sentry posture after the boy got up…there’s no question but that Tara was protecting one of her own, and placing herself in harm’s way for that purpose and no other.

    Good to see her charge properly expressing thanks. May the two have many peaceful years to regale each other with songs of that most heroic day.


  20. Cat was definitely attacking the dog. The cat must’ve seen the dog stalking the little boy.

    I’m a d*g person. The dog should be euthanized-any animal that attacks a human child, unprovoked, should be put down.

  21. That cat was definitely defending the child by attacking the dog. No cat would attack a dog like that without a reason, their first impulse would be to run from a dog, attacking it would only be done under dire necessity. This cat is a heroine.

  22. It’s probably significant that this is a female cat [I believe: Tara] Our present cat, a female, is very protective of us [comes flying if anyone sounds hurt, i.a.] as well as territory, in ways that our numerous previous male cats were not.

  23. It’s also interesting that the cat appears to deliberately knock the dog away from the kid, going broadside to bowl over the somewhat larger dog — like a football block. A cat defending territory is usually more about display than action.

  24. I love that cat. It makes me wonder if my cats would protect my daughter from an evil dog. I’m pretty sure the big, fat one would, but the little runt wouldn’t. They might surprise me, though.

  25. I’m more a dog person than a cat person, but that is one bad-ass cat! I love watching that video! If you look in the corner, then you can see the woman spray the dog with a water hose.

  26. What a very disturbing dog attack. Almost predatory rather than just angry, or surprised or provoked.

    1. Definitely a predatory attack, as there was no occasion for or evidence of anger, surprise or provocation, or deluded playfulness.

      1. Exactly. I read somewhere about a child on a bike being attacked by a coyote(s)in a quiet urban street: I wonder if small children on bikes trigger a predatory response. Certainly I have seen captive cheetahs ignore adult humans but instantly crouch and follow a toddler bumbling along the fence line.

  27. I have seen my cats when they have had kittens attack and chase a big dog.
    It was definitely (imho) protecting the kid.
    Did anyone else notice, at the end, the mother got up to go after the dog and the cat came out from under the car and was ready to go again.

  28. The reason I know that the cat was protecting the little boy:a) once the little boy was out of harms’ way, the cat stood sideways and turn its head as if to make sure the boy was okay,and also in field view. I found that to be very interesting. Wow my heart goes out to the little boy, very hard to watch and the injuries horrific.

  29. From the photo, that’s quite a hefty well-built cat but still, the dog was many times her size. But I guess the dog got a faceful of claws, it’s hard to concentrate on chomping your victim when your nose is being shredded. What impresses me is the way the cat doesn’t even slow down, just goes in flat out. That and the way she takes off after the dog ready to have another go. Yes, give that cat a medal!

  30. I would like to suggest the following control experiments. Same dog attacks (1)same bike, but now (a) without child (b) child of the neighbours (c) a child that has mistreated the cat previously; (2) same kid, no or different bike.I admit that the last experiment is a bit far-fetched, but this is how big discoveries are sometimes done.

  31. I grew up with a cat. She never had the opportunity to display that sort of courage, but she did bowl up a few dogs that came in the yard. It was all display, arched back, menacing meow, hair on end. I reckon the cat in the video was in attack mode, she wasn’t putting on a display.

    I remember a couple of incidents with our cat (Rosemary) when I annoyed her. Once she took a swipe at me and got a claw just under my skin. She couldn’t extract it easily without tearing my skin because of the curve of her claw and the angle of her arm, but she waited patiently while I took hold of her paw and extracted the claw. I wasn’t really hurt, she had only just hooked the outermost layer of skin and I don’t think I was even bleeding. She did scratch me on occasion but never anything serious. Cats have quite sharp claws and know how to use them. A smart d*g would know that.

    On another occasion I was doing something that bugged her so she chomped on my hand but without sinking her teeth in to break my skin. Then she let go and licked the spot she had been biting.

    I reckon she cut me some slack. I can’t recall what I had done to annoy her, but I remember her responses, and they impressed me. I often think that the biggest problem we have understanding animals is simply that we can’t talk to them, and that quite probably they might think and feel a lot like we do, but we just can’t tell. After all our (human) reactions came from somewhere, and like our bodies it is unlikely that they were all made new with the advent of humans.

  32. The cat was definitely protecting her adopted litter…

    Zero warning display, a direct & full speed hit, chase from territory then straight back to the hooman kitten (under car was shortest route) while keeping attention on where the threat retreated.

    It would be interesting to know the family dynamic: how old the cat is compared to the child.

    Anyway, as for the d*g, biggest problem for me was why it was running free in the first place?

      1. Because *some* dog owners don’t give a shit. Just like *some* cat owners leave their cats roam about without care to their safety, and I as a cat lover have to worry about idiots who might hurt them.

    1. It would be interesting to know the family dynamic: how old the cat is compared to the child.

      Cat has been with family six years, so is perhaps seven or eight years old. Little boy is (I think) four years old, so cat has known him since he was a baby. And slept in his cot when he was a baby, according to his parents.

  33. Yes, deliberately protecting given that she went straight back to the boy. In a territory skirmish cats make a point of following/watching and intimidating the animal they just saw off.

    It’s not uncommon for spayed female cats to play Mum with humans. My sisters cat is trying to put me through the mouse hunting training program. First she brought me dead mice. Then she started bringing live mice then releasing them and catching them in front of me. Then she started bringing live mice, releasing them and then prodding me to try and catch them.

    1. Haha…

      Our cat likes to bring us gifts, sometimes alive. She never eats her catch. :-/ We always check before we let her back into the house, as she’s tried to bring live mice in.

  34. This has just been featured in the BBC 6 o clock news. Apparently Tara has ” taken care” of the boy ever since he was baby ( after she adopted his parents), curling up next to him in his cot (crib) at night. From this, I think she was exhibiting mummy cat characteristics.

  35. Something I have not seen mentioned is the cat’s unusual method of attack. She did not attack with her claws as one would expect, but threw the weight of her body against the dog to knock it away from the child, much in the manner of a downfield blocker in football(American). I’ve never seen a cat do that before.

    1. I think that a cat’s brain must be pre-programmed by evolution to attack a larger animal like that, especially if protecting her kitten from attack by the animal.

  36. Cats can be very protective. One of our cats would always run to the aid of the smaller one. She was the Bodyguard, and even took on our Rottie who sometimes got into mischief with the smaller cat. D*g grew quite scared of the Bodyguard who sometimes seemed to deliberately block the walkway.

    One of our cats from many years ago was attacked by an off-leash d*g whose owner did nothing to call off his d*g. Our cat had no choice but to defend himself by jumping astride the d*g’s back and digging in his claws. We still remember the yowls of that hapless canine. Poor cat lost some claws too.

  37. The dog escaped from the mother of the child. The CGI cat was added in post-production 😉

  38. Hey, it occurs to me that this is more proof that cats are better than dogs.

    When was the last time you heard of a dog saving someone by successfully chasing away a predator that was that much larger than itself and the dog wasn’t both bred and trained for the role?

      1. But a golden retriever is roughly the same size as a cougar. To keep the same size proportions right, it would need to chase off a polar bear.

  39. Yes, without a doubt the cat was protecting the child. The cat had been close to the little boy all his life and, to the cat was effectively, her kitten.

    Cats who live with a human family bond very readily with a new baby – I think because we share ancestry with cats, babies probably give off similar “I’m your baby, bond with me” pheromones as kitten.

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