The four small cats trapped on a sinking boat needed a miracle. The abandoned ship, near the Thai island of Koh Adang, was on fire — sending plumes of thick black smoke into the air as the waters of the Andaman sea rose around them. The ship was not just burning: It was sinking. And it would not be long until it disappeared beneath the surface of the sea.
Wide-eyed and panicked, the felines huddled together. When the help they so desperately needed arrived, it came in the form of a 23-year-old sailor and his team of Thai navy officials.
In what can only be described as the purr-fect rescue mission, the sailors said they had approached the capsized vessel in a bid to check for oil spills but soon noticed the animals were on board.
“I used my camera to zoom in to the boat, and I saw one or two cats popping their heads out,” explained First-Class Petty Officer Wichit Pukdeelon of the navy’s air and coastal defense division.
According to local media, crew members of the capsized boat were rescued by a passing ship on Tuesday, but somehow the four felines had been left behind.
Knowing they had to move fast to save the abandoned animals, Thatsaphon Saii jumped into the ocean, battling strong currents to save the cats. After paddling some 50 feet to reach the boat, Saii was captured on camera swimming the animals to safety — with one of the cats perched delicately upon his back as he swam toward his crew, who were on standby with a rope.
“I immediately took off my shirt and put on a life jacket so I could jump into the sea. The flames were at the back of the boat, but it was starting to sink, so I knew I had to be quick,” he recalled, adding that he was “so relieved” that the navy had been able to rescue the animals.
The group were swiftly branded “heroes” after footage of the incident circulated widely on social media, with the young sailor in particular causing a stir among animal lovers online.
Many embraced the pawsitive news amid the bleakness of a global pandemic.
“This made my week,” wrote one user on Twitter. “Good things can happen,” wrote another.
Once back at the navy’s official command post, the cats were wiped down and dried off with towels and fed by their rescuers, who cradled them, played with them and posed for photographs alongside their new furry friends, who now have a very global fan base.