06/22/2013 04:35 EDT | Updated 08/22/2013 05:12 EDT

Alberta Flooding 2013: Kevan Yeats Shocked To See Cat Swim Quickly

OKOTOKS, Alta. - The owner of a cat that gained international fame after leaping from a submerged pickup truck into Alberta floodwaters says he was surprised at how eagerly the feline took to the rushing water.

Kevan Yeats says while Momo would sometimes go for a brief paddle in his bathtub, he had no idea the cat would plunge into the water and nimbly swim across a flooded street to dry land.

Yeats says he and Momo were riding in his truck when it hit a deep spot and was subsumed by the overflowing Highwood River in High River, Alta., on Thursday.

He says he quickly smashed out the back window of the vehicle's cab before hopping into the truck bed with the eight-month-old cat in his arms.

Momo then took the initiative, jumping into the water and paw-paddling to safety.

The moment was captured by a photographer with The Canadian Press in images that went viral and garnered international media attention as a symbol of hope amidst the devastating flooding.

Yeats followed in the cat's wake and they both made it to shore and were pulled to safety, with Momo making a beeline to shelter underneath a tree.

Yeats, a ranch worker, had gone back home just to rescue Momo and said they were making their escape from the flooding when the vehicle was swept away.

He said that when the water finally gushed into the truck's cab one thought rushed into his mind: "Leave everything else behind but save everything that's alive."

Yeats said that despite Momo's playful dips in his bathtub, the cat's swim that day shocked him.

"She's quite the swimmer. She loves water — but I didn't know she could swim that far."

kevan yaets

kevan yaets

Kevan Yaets swims with his cat Momo to safety as the flood waters sweep him downstream after submerging his truck in High River, Alberta.

kevan yaets

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