Rafa wins the 2022 Hambone Award!

Rafa, a Siberian mix cat from Seattle who survived a 45-foot tumble and a long night in the sewer, has won the 14th annual Hambone Award®. Nationwide®, the nation’s first and largest pet insurance provider, presents the award annually to honor the strangest and most hair-raising pet insurance claim of the year. It’s also a way to highlight all the things that can happen—and have happened—to pets, and the importance of being prepared.

Rafa’s escape from home for an outdoor adventure quickly turned frightening when he found himself trapped far down a drainpipe, sitting in neck-high icy water with a storm quickly approaching. When Rafa’s family heard meows coming from the sewer grate, they immediately called for backup and soon had help from the fire department, animal rescue, Seattle Public Utilities, Roto-Rooter and several dedicated neighbors planning, digging and cutting into the pipe. After a successful extraction and reunion with his family, Rafa was treated for severe hypothermia and other complications, spending a week in the ICU before making a full recovery.

Having pet health insurance helped Rafa’s pet parents, Jose and Susan, with decisions regarding the life-saving treatment Rafa required. “If we hadn’t had insurance, we would have had to consider every single measure and weigh it out,” Susan said. “In this case, we could just be like ‘No, throw the whole kitchen sink at this problem. Do whatever has to be done,’” she adds. 

For this fur-ightful time spent in the sewer, Rafa has been awarded the 2022 Hambone Award.

The grand prize winner receives a Hambone trophy, a $1,000 gift card and a $1,000 donation in their name to a pet charity of their choice. Two runners-up each receive a $500 gift card plus a $500 charity donation. Those runners up include:

  • Rex, who swallowed a wishbone whole, then needed surgery to remove it
  • Russell, who cracked several teeth after running full speed into a concrete patio step

The Hambone Award was originally named after a dog who ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while stuck in a refrigerator. Finalists for this year’s award were determined following a review of nearly 3.4 million claims submitted by Nationwide members from across the company’s database of more than 1 million insured pets. All nominated pets have recovered and received reimbursements for eligible veterinary expenses from Nationwide® pet insurance.

To explore pet health insurance coverage for dogs, cats and many other kinds of pets, visit


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