It’s pretty incredible that pets can be specially trained to recognise the signs of specific medical conditions in people. What’s more amazing still, is when a pet takes on the mantel themselves. It shows they not only have the ability to “sniff out” health problems, but the emotional intelligence to want to protect their human family members. Toby the cat is one such gifted and compassionate pet.
The two-year-old lives in
Sheffield, South Yorkshire with his owner Annette and two of her children –
aged nine and fifteen. As a result of meningitis, Annette developed a
functional neurological disorder. It’s affected her memory and mobility, but in
addition causes seizures and blackouts to occur seemingly at random.
Luckily there is one member of
the family who these episodes never take by surprise. Toby has an uncanny
ability to sense when a seizure or blackout is about to hit. And he makes sure
he warns Annette and the rest of the family in good time – “He becomes very
noisy and won’t leave me alone”. It allows the children to call for help and
prepare themselves for what’s coming.
It’s usually Kieran, the
fifteen-year-old who phones his nan or one of his older sisters so they can pop
round and help out. Toby is absolutely invaluable in helping Annette and her
family live as normal a life as possible. His interventions mean they’re not
constantly on edge, dreading the next seizure or blackout. His early warnings
allow them to prepare and react calmly and effectively.
When Tonia, Annette’s eldest
daughter brought home Toby before she headed off to University, he soon became
a beloved family pet. At the time they had no idea he’d become an indispensable
lifeline to boot.