Courageous Cat Alerts Owners to Deadly Carbon Monoxide Fumes

Oct. 26, 2017

The feline is being called a hero after notifying her owners of the odorless gas when a safety detector failed.

Image via Facebook/Annette Shanahan

It was a quiet evening in the Shanahan household. The kids were on the way out for the night and Kevin Shanahan along with his wife, Annette, were headed off to bed.

But in the witching hour, around 1 a.m., Annette woke up and felt extremely ill, like she was having a heart attack, according to

“I was hanging onto the arm of the chair, and I thought I was dying,” Annette told WREG Memphis.

What came next is nothing short of a miracle.

A few minutes after waking, Annette and Kevin, still in bed, heard a thumping sound. One of the Shanahans’ three cats, Gracie, was frantically pounding her paw against their bedroom door.

“All of the sudden Gracie, I heard she was pounding, knocking, knocking, knocking at the door,” Kevin told WREG Memphis. “And so I got out of bed ... to stop her from pounding at the door, and I looked to my left and Annette was there in the chair.”

Annette breathlessly called 911, thanks to the quick-thinking cat that got her owners’ attention.

When firefighters arrived to the Shanahan home, they discovered deadly amounts of carbon monoxide in the air as a result of a hot-water-heater malfunction, according to WREG Memphis.

Carbon monoxide is an “odorless, colorless gas, which can cause sudden illness and death, is produced any time a fossil fuel is burned” and is responsible for an average of 430 deaths a year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The deadly gas sends 50,000 people a year to the emergency room, including Kevin and Annette. After an overnight stay at a nearby hospital, the couple are feeling much better and are incredibly grateful for Gracie’s heroic efforts.

“Very lucky. If it wasn’t for the cat, I don’t know how much she was saving our lives, but she wanted to get out of there, and she knew enough to know something was wrong, and she was pounding on the door,” Kevin said.

While the Shanahan’s did have a carbon monoxide detector installed, it was not working properly. The CDC recommends checking your carbon monoxide devices twice a year, along with six other preventative measures to ensure your household’s safety. 

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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