A woman who has filled her home with celebrity-named cats has praised her ‘extraordinary’ pet Ricky Gervais after he repeatedly saved her mother’s life.
Mary Nesbitt-Larking, 30, from Hertford, Hertfordshire, lives with her mum Carrie Nesbitt-Larking, 56, and their six cats – Ricky Gervais, 11, Nana Osaki, 10, Kristen Stewart, 10, Julia Roberts, nine, Linda Hamilton, two and Bree Van de Kamp, two.
Mary’s mum Carrie suffers from multiple health conditions, including COPD, osteoarthritis, sleep apnoea and chronic fatigue syndrome. She lived in fear that she would stop breathing in her sleep.
However, when a little stray feline called Ricky appeared at their door in 2012, everything changed.
Ricky was taken in by the mother and daughter after ‘wandering’ in via their cat-flap. Carries says the cat started to wake her when she stopped breathing as soon as he arrived by meowing to alert them to the danger.
The mother-daughter duo are now celebrating Ricky’s achievements and so are others.
Ricky was recently announced as a finalist in the PetPlan Rescue Pet Awards in August 2022 for the medical help he has given to Carrie.
‘Ricky just wants to give love,’ Mary explained.
‘He was infatuated with mum as soon as he saw her. It’s amazing he’ll make a noise or tap to alert us that mum needs to be woken up. I have no idea how he knows.
‘He’s just extraordinary.’
Adopting their first cat in June 2010, Mary and Carrie named the pet after their favourite musician, Michael Jackson.
They soon became cat fanatics and continued to adopt while naming each new addition after a celebrity.
‘Whenever we adopt a cat we just think of celebrities or characters we really like,’ Mary added.
‘Our cat Michael Jackson really started it, as the musician was our biggest hero so we named our first cat after him.’
When Ricky Gervais wandered into their home in December 2012, the pair were overjoyed to welcome their new family member.
‘Ricky started wandering in our cat flap one day,’ Mary recalled. ‘He used to live with a neighbour but made our home his home.
‘He was basically neglected, he hadn’t had a very nice life and had been picked on a lot. He was shouted at and forced to sleep outside in the freezing cold.
‘He started wandering in during the winter, we tried to discourage him at first but he just kept coming in – he was so gentle.
‘It breaks my heart when I think of all he had been through.’
She added: ‘From the day he moved in his brother joined him, so we felt it was perfect to name them Ricky Gervais and Karl Pilkington.
‘I love Ricky Gervais, the human. I love his humour, his tenacity, but most of all, we love how much he stands up for animals, and how full of compassion he is.’
Ricky and Karl were nicknamed the ‘brothers’ by Carrie but sadly, Karl passed away in February 2021.
Carrie’s health conditions mean she risks compromising her breathing if she falls asleep in the wrong position. This leaves her feeling anxious that she will nod off unexpectedly.
Amazingly, Ricky almost immediately started waking Carrie up when her breathing was compromised.
‘I don’t know how he knows,’ Mary said. ‘Mum has mobility issues so she spends a lot of her time in bed.
‘Ricky loves mum. He just looks at her with love in his eyes. He’s so cuddly and gives mum that reassurance.
‘As soon as he arrived he seemed to just know when mum was struggling to breathe in her sleep.’
‘He started letting out a particular meow to alert us. It’s a meow he only uses for waking mum up, it means danger. He even taps her to wake her up.
‘You would think that after his life experience he would be aggressive but he’s not.
‘We feel so much safer knowing that Ricky is watching over mum.’
Overwhelmed with pride at their moggy’s super senses, Mary nominated Ricky in May 2022 for the PetPlan awards.
‘I saw the awards online and thought of Ricky,’ Mary said.
‘I just thought I’d nominate him. I couldn’t believe it when in August he was a finalist. I was so happy when I saw his picture online.’
The pair are overjoyed with Ricky’s nomination but Carrie says it is much deserved.
‘I’m meant to use a machine every night but when I drift off during the day I don’t have it, so I do get worried about falling asleep,’ Carrie explains.
‘But from the moment Ricky arrived, he started waking me up. He’s so persistent but so gentle.
‘If I don’t wake up, he’ll even go and get Mary to get me up.
‘He’s a beautiful cat, though a bit grey now so maybe he looks more like George Clooney.’