Video of the rescue went viral on Twitter, receiving at least 3.3 million plays. Now, this feline defender is using his internet fame to raise money to rebuild his destroyed home, with half of the proceeds earmarked for the local humane society to aid even more furry friends in need.
Mike Ross was forced to evacuate his home as Hurricane Ian approached Florida, bringing massive flooding and 250 km/h winds. The Category 4 hurricane had left Ross’ Bonita Springs home “10 feet underwater,” the 29-year-old told The Washington Post, so he decided to weather the storm at his parents’ place, which was built to withstand hurricanes.
On Wednesday afternoon around 2 p.m., just before Ian made landfall in southwest Florida, Ross peered out the window and was shocked to see a terrified, sopping wet cat sitting alone on his parents’ neighbour’s air conditioning unit.
Ross told The Washington Post that “the storm surge had rushed up quite a bit at that point,” and video of the incident shows rapidly moving, knee-deep water crashing against the home.
In a T-shirt and shorts, Ross trudged toward the cat, pushing against the powerful current. He climbed up onto the side of the air conditioner and scooped up the terrified tabby. Once in his arms, the cat clung tightly to Ross’ chest as he carried it to safety.
Ross’ mother Marybeth filmed the rescue and can be heard saying in the background of the video: “Look at Michael saving the kitty! Aww.”
— Megan Cruz Scavo (@MeganScavo) September 28, 2022
Ross’ girlfriend Megan Scavo shared the video on Twitter and users were quick to praise him for the good deed.
“Absolute hero. Marry that man. Hope you all stay safe,” one person commented. Another added, “I’m sorry, Megan, but he is everyone’s boyfriend now.”
Ross told The Washington Post that the cat “looks healthy” and that he’s planning on keeping the feline if they can’t locate its owners.
According to a GoFundMe page created by Ross’ girlfriend, they have named the cat Ian, after the storm which brought them together.
Scavo writes that she and Ross are “a young couple in Naples, FL raising money to help restore our home — which suffered terrible damage — and the homes of others after the devastation seen from Hurricane Ian.”
“In honour of Ian (the cat), and all people and pets affected, we are donating half of the proceeds raised by this to the Naples Humane Society,” the description reads.
The campaign’s goal is set at US$20,000 and raised around $1,500 within three hours of being created.
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