Feline 999: The lucky black cat who can sense when her young owner's heart is about to stop and raises the alarmMaria Gillon, 13, is particularly vulnerable to attack while sleeping Her black cat Perla sense when she is in trouble and quickly raises the alarmThe family believe she is a 'life-saver'
18:23 GMT, 28 November 2012
A schoolgirl who suffers from a potentially deadly heart condition believes her beloved pet cat is responsible for saving her life.
Maria Gillon, 13, suffers dozens of crippling chest pain attacks which stop her moving or talking due to ventricular tachycardia, which more than doubles her heart rate.
She is often at risk of her heart stopping and is particularly vulnerable while sleeping in her room alone at night.
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Maria Gillon, 13, from Gorebridge, Midlothian suffers potentially fatal heart seizures. She says she owes her life to her lucky black cat Perla who raises the alarm
But Maria and her family are convinced her life has been saved several times by her black cat Perla, who recognises her attacks and nibbles the toes of her mother Adele, who jumps into action and calls 999.
Ms Gillon, 32, from Midlothian, Scotland, said: 'Perla and Maria are inseparable. She 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.'
Maria suffers dozens of crippling chest pains which prevent her from moving or talking because of a condition called ventricular tachycardia
Maria was given Perla when she was an eight -week old kitten and Ms Gillon say, now three, she is very much part of the family.
Adele adopted Perla as an eight-week-old kitten and she quickly became part of the family.
But Maria’s life-saving relationship was put in jeopardy this summer when Perla came home bleeding from the mouth and with a swollen eye after being hit by a car.
The pet was rushed to PDSA Edinburgh PetAid hospital where she was successfully treated and is now back at home with the family – and keeping watch over Maria.
PDSA Edinburgh PetAid hospital veterinary surgeon Andrew Hogg carried out the operation in which broken parts of Perla’s jaw were surgically wired together, some teeth were removed and her split palate was repaired.
He said: 'Perla looked a real mess when she came to see me, she had multiple head injuries.
'While Perla was staying with us she became a real favourite with the staff, despite her injuries she remained bright and won people over with her personality.
'What Perla does for Maria is wonderful. 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.'
Maria was booked in to have an operation to fix her heart defect, which causes signals in her heart to misfire and speed up the rate of her heart to up to 200bpm.
Adele added: 'I am so grateful to PDSA for everything they’ve done for us.
'I had prepared Maria for the worst, but when PDSA called to say they had operated successfully we were overjoyed. We’re convinced PDSA worked miracles to save her that night.
Perla, who recognises the attacks and raises the alarm with Maria's mum Adele, 32, who jumps into action and calls 999. The cat was recently run over but survived much to the family's relief
'Perla is a lucky cat and we’re lucky to have her.'
It is not the first time pets have been credited with saving the lives of their owners.
Dogs have been said to be able to 'sniff out cancer' and alerting their owner something is wrong by repeatedly licking them.
Rick and Jennifer Chap, claim that if it was not for their cat Buddy, adopted from their neighbourhood in Orlando, Mr Chap would be dead.
While working in her home office earlier this year, Mrs Chap says the cat's unusual behaviour after entering her room, alerted her to her husband's heart attack.
VIDEO: What is Ventricular Tachycardia