Cats and boats have a long, symbiotic relationship that dates back centuries. They have served as vermin eliminators, companions and good luck talismans for sailors. But a tuxedo cat named Major Tom, who lived with his owner on a yacht named The Osprey, proved to be a lot more than that in September of 2015. (See my article on Orlando the Guide Dog.)
Major Tom senses disaster and sounds his cat alarm
Positioned about 40 miles off Shark Bay on Western Australia's Gascoyne Coast, the boat began to take on water, and at 5 am the cat warned a sleeping McDonald about impending danger by continuously head-butting him. McDonald awakened and jumped to his feet at the sight of the flooded yacht. He made the immediate decision to abandon ship via the life raft with his most precious cargo, Major Tom, and nothing else. (See my article on Sassy the Chihuahua.)
A few hours later, a Chinese merchant vessel named the Shia Dai 8 rescued the pair and returned them to safe ground where thy were then flown to the hospital where McDonald was treated for dehydration and arrhythmia. It was not reported if the cat received any treatment, but the two were quickly reunited. McDonald felt that his condition was brought about by the severe stress of losing everything he ever owned except for Major Tom (who probably owns him anyway). (See my article on the Cat Who Dialed 911.)
In McDonald's own words: "The cat kept head-butting me and got me up, and eventually after checking the wind and doing the normal course check, I noticed the bow heavy, heavy in the water...The whole boat was flooded. It was too dark and too dangerous to enter and try to find the leak. I had to make the quick decision to get the cat and scramble onto the life raft as quickly as possible."
The yacht had been home for six years
McDonald told the press that salvage operations for The Osprey were impossible because recovery costs were estimated to be in the millions. He told the press: "I've lost everything. I haven't got any clothes, nothing, so I've got to start again." He managed a smile however, because he did survive and when he was out there on that flimsy raft in the middle of the ocean, he wasn't sure that he and Major Tom would ever see land again.
McDonald's love of the water is certain to lure him out on the ocean blue again, but not for a while. He and Major Tom would have to live on land for a while and find their own special, separate peace there. With the help of each other and propelled by plans for the future, they are destined to fulfill their hopes and dreams...man and cat together.