Nov 12, 2021 - News

"Mermaid Kitty": Family helps rescue cat that jumped off Mopac Bridge

A photo of a man on a paddleboard holding onto a cat.

A man holds a cat on his paddle board after pulling her out of the water. The cat jumped off the Mopac Bridge Wednesday evening. Photo courtesy of Heather Ford

Heather and John Ford's last night in Austin didn't end up quite how they planned.

The pair, who lived in Austin for two years before moving home to Louisiana, was spending several days in town with their 3-year-old daughter, Olivia. They rented a canoe Wednesday evening, hoping to conclude their trip to Austin with views of the city.

But as they crossed under the Mopac Bridge, Heather turned around just in time to see a black and white cat falling from the overpass.

  • "I couldn't believe what we were seeing," John told Axios on Thursday.

The cat had jumped from the overpass and plunged into the water, struggling to swim. Fortunately, two men on paddle boards also saw the cat's fall and rushed to its side, scooping her out of the water and onto one of the paddle boards.

A photo of a man holding a cat
John Ford carries the cat to safety. Photo courtesy of Heather Ford

The big picture: Her paws were bloody from running across asphalt, but miraculously, the cat had no broken bones or other injuries. Heather and John got her to a vet and then to the Austin Animal Center, where the shelter will keep her for five days in case she has an owner who claims her.

  • After that, "Mermaid Kitty" ā€” as she's been called on animal lost-and-found Facebook groups ā€” can be put up for adoption, and the Fords are ready to take her home.
  • 3-year-old Olivia's take: "She wanted to keep it immediately," John said, adding that the family plans to drive back to Austin next week to pick her up.

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