A TEENAGER who suffers potentially fatal heart seizures owes her life to a lucky black cat which raises the alarm and sits with her until ambulance crews arrive.
Maria Gillon, 13, has ventricular tachycardia, a potentially life-threatening condition which causes severe chest pain, impaired vision and loss of hearing.
But the teen, who can suffer more than a dozen attacks a day, can always count on one security mechanism with a difference – her three-year-old lucky black pet cat, Perla.
Whenever Maria suffers one of her terrifying attacks, Perla runs to raise the alarm before returning to comfort Maria until paramedics arrive.
The seemingly intuitive behaviour has baffled Maria’s mum Adele, 32, who lives in Gorebridge, Midlothian, whose just feline glad the mystic moggy is there to help.
She said: “Perla and Maria are inseparable. Perla even sleeps in Maria’s bed and stays with her through the night. If Maria has an attack, which can last up to 40 minutes, where she will be in such severe pain that she can’t speak or move, Perla will come into my bedroom and jump on me and bite my toes until I wake up.
“Perla then stays with Maria until she finishes the attack or until the ambulance crew arrive.”
However, the pair’s close bond was almost shattered when Perla was hit by a car, suffering horrific injuries. The family rushed Perla to the PDSA Edinburgh PetAid hospital, where Veterinary Surgeon Andrew Hogg battled to keep her alive. He said: “Perla looked a real mess when she came to see me, she had multiple head injuries.”
The whiskered wonder soon made a full recovery to the delight of Mr Hogg, who is amazed at the cat’s life-saving skills.
“What she does for Maria is wonderful,” he added. “We don’t often get the chance to meet such clever cats and it’s wonderful that we were able to reunite them so that Perla can continue to be an inseparable companion for her.”
All Adele knows is they’re delighted to have their furry early-warning pal back home. “Perla is a lucky cat and we’re lucky to have her,” she said.
Heart of the matter
VENTRICULAR tachycardia causes the heart to beat too fast, usually at a rate of around 120 to 200 beats per minute. It is a type of arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) caused by faulty electrical signals in the heart’s muscle fibres. Ventricular tachycardia can be life-threatening, especially if other heart problems already exist, such as heart disease or a history of heart attacks. Symptoms during an attack may include palpitations, chest pain, and shortness of breath.