Adopted Cat Saves Family from a Gas Leak

Thanks to Lilly Mismittens’ playful pounces and discerning whiskers, Sandi was able to head off a crisis and keep their family safe.

Sandi + Lilly Missmittens

During the isolation of the COVID-19 lockdown, a foster cat named Lilly brought Sandi and Mike joy and comfort. Not long after Lilly became a part of their family, she sniffed out a gas leak in their home—alerting her pet parents to the danger. 

"Only two months after adopting Lilly, our state was experiencing a severe ice storm. I was on the floor playing with Lilly when she stopped suddenly, padded over to the fireplace gas valve, and sniffed it. I crawled over to see what she might be smelling. To my surprise, the distinct odor of rotten eggs, the smell of natural gas, wafted into my nose."

Each morning Lilly climbs onto my chest and wakes me by rubbing her chin on mine. With tiny chirps, she lets me know she’s hungry and it’s time for me to get up.

As a foster family for the Cat Adoption Team in Sherwood, Oregon, we had fostered a handful of special-needs cats. In November of 2020, that included a kitty named Lilly. Lilly is positive for feline leukemia virus (FeLV), so being in foster care was better for her than staying at the shelter. Like all our previous foster cats, we weren’t planning to adopt her ourselves. We intended to help Lilly find a new home.

At that time, well into the COVID-19 pandemic, I was beyond grief after the recent death of my mother. I couldn’t be with my own adult daughters and granddaughter during the holidays, and that made things even harder. Though we’d only had Lilly a couple of weeks, my husband Mike could see the impact this sweet polydactyl was having on me. Thinking it might help bring me out of my blues, he suggested, “Why don’t we officially adopt her?”

Of course, I thought it was the best Christmas gift ever! The next day we contacted the shelter to arrange for Lilly to live with us for good. Her constant sweet mews and cuddles helped raise my spirits and brought some joy into those dark winter days.

Lilly loves her wand toys, doing fantastic flips trying to snatch them. Only two months after adopting her, our state was experiencing a severe ice storm. I was on the floor in the family room playing with a wand toy with her when Lilly stopped suddenly, padded over to the fireplace gas valve, and sniffed it. I crawled over to see what she might be smelling. To my surprise, the distinct odor of rotten eggs, the smell of natural gas, wafted into my nose. I told Mike, who came over to sniff the valve too. There was no doubt we could smell natural gas.

Mike called the gas company. The person on the line told us to turn off all electrical devices, open all the doors, and leave the house immediately. We found it hard to believe that it could be all that serious, but we soon learned that it was!

The emergency worker from the gas company arrived quickly. They confirmed that there was a potentially dangerous gas leak. After checking the levels of gas present throughout the house, they went outside and cut off the gas pipe that fed to the fireplace to make it safe for us to remain in our home.

Without Lilly showing us the leaky valve, we might never have known we were in danger. She’s our little hero kitty! Lilly saved me once from dark days, and again from a potentially lethal gas leak. So did we rescue Lilly, or did she save us?

Each year, Petco Love Stories invites adopters to share how their pets have changed their lives to give the organizations that they’ve adopted from the chance to receive grant awards. This story by Sandi won Cat Adoption Team in Sherwood, Oregon a 2021 Love Stories award.