A cat in the city of Toyama has been honored by local police for helping lead to the rescue of an elderly man who had fallen into an irrigation channel.

On June 16, a 77-year-old woman taking a walk around 7:30 p.m. found Koko, a female cat who belongs to a neighbor, staring into the canal and acting strangely. When she followed the cat's gaze, she discovered a man lying on his back in a 60-centimeter-wide and 40-cm-deep canal. The water was about 15 cm deep.

Calling out for help to her 48-year-old daughter who lives nearby, she immediately went to the man's rescue. She was soon joined by Koko's owner, 45-year-old Tomoko Nitta, and her 20-year-old and 18-year-old sons.

The five people managed to lift the man out of the canal. He was found to have sustained only skin abrasions.

The Toyama Minami Police Station honored the five neighbors with certificates of commendation on Saturday, while Koko was presented with cat food for her effort.

Holding Koko in her arms, Nitta said, "I want to tell her well done, as (her discovery of the man) led to his rescue."

Satoshi Nakada, the chief of the police station, said the "bonds among local residents, including the cat, saved a man's life."

But Koko, described by Nitta as being "shy of strangers," appeared not to welcome the police chief's attempt to stroke her head, turning away from him.