Bungled Cat Rescue

The rescue of a stranded kitty goes wrong.

Claim:   Firemen successfully rescue a stranded cat, then run over it as they are leaving.


Example:   [Pile, 1979]

During the firemen’s strike of 1978, the British Army had taken over emergency fire fighting and on 14 January they were called out by an elderly lady in South London to retrieve her cat which had become trapped up a tree. They arrived with impressive haste and soon discharged their duty. So grateful was the lady that she invited them all in for tea. Driving off later, with fond farewells completed, they ran over the cat and killed it.



This legend’s key is the irony that the very people who come to rescue a cat end up inadvertently killing it. Though this story has since entered the realm of legend and is now told as happening in a number of different venues, it might have originated with a real incident that took place in 1978 and was subsequently reported as an “And Now . . .” entry on Britain’s News at Ten by anchorman Reginald Bosanquet.

Barbara “ooh, that run-down feeling” Mikkelson

Last updated:   1 August 2011


    Brunvand, Jan Harold.   Curses! Broiled Again!

    New York: W. W. Norton, 1989.   ISBN 0-393-30711-5   (pp. 163-165).

    Bryson, Bill.   The Blook of Bunders (Bizarre World).

    Great Britain: Sphere Books Ltd., 1982.

    Marsano, William.   Man Suffocated By Potatoes.

    New York: Signet, 1987.   (pp. 215-216).

    Pile, Stephen.   The Book of Heroic Failures.

    London: Penguin, 1979.

    Shannon, Sarah.   “And Finally . . . The Gaffes.”

    The [London] Evening Standard.   3 March 1999   (p. 56).

Also told in:

    Petras, Ross and Kathryn.   The 176 Stupidest Things Ever Done.

    New York: Doubleday, 1996.   ISBN 0-385-48341-4   (p. 144).

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