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Home   Canterbury   News   Article

Whitstable family claims sixth sense of RSPCA rescue cat Pippa saved diabetic daughter's life

25 March 2014
by Jamie Bullen

A dumped cat has proved the purrfect pet for a Whitstable family by raising the alarm when a diabetic eight-year-old comes close to falling into a coma.

Pippa was adopted by the Jansa family from the RSPCA Canterbury and Dover Animal Centre last August after she was found abandoned in a box in Dartford.

But little did they know the black and white puss would prove to be a potential lifesaver.

Parents Laura and Karl are convinced Pippa can detect when their diabetic daughter Mia is about to suffer a hypoglycemic episode, which could lead to a coma.

Mia has formed a close bond with cat Pippa since she was adopted last year

Mia has formed a close bond with cat Pippa since she was adopted last year

The eight-year-old was diagnosed with type one diabetes two years ago. She has managed her condition by regularly testing blood sugar levels and injecting herself with insulin. 

They say Pippa crept into the schoolgirl’s room during the night and woke her up prompting her to check her blood sugar levels which were dangerously low.

If the four-legged feline is unable to rouse Mia she then wakes up mum Laura instead.

The mum-of-two says Pippa has alerted her about 20 times since October when Mia was in the early stages of having an episode and appears to have developed a sense when her sugar levels are dropping.

Laura said: “We quickly realised she was warning us.

“If Mia didn’t wake up, then she would come to my door and miaow. She comes onto the bed, walks onto my pillow and across me until I wake up.

“She really makes her presence felt, she won’t take no for an answer. She knows it’s important that I get up and help Mia.“

"I think it must be something to do with her sense of smell, something to do with the chemistry of her blood changing..." - cat's owner Laura Jansa

“I think it must be something to do with her sense of smell, something to do with the chemistry of her blood changing.

“Pippa hasn’t been trained to do this but obviously senses that there is something wrong and raises the alarm.

“I know there is a charity that trains dogs to detect hypos for diabetics but I’ve never heard of a cat doing it.

“Pippa is amazing, because she does it of her own accord and without training.

“We don’t reward her with treats or food because we don’t want to encourage false alarms but she gets plenty of cuddles instead.”

“We are working with the doctors to stop Mia’s night hypos, but in the meantime I sleep a bit easier knowing that Pippa is around.

“It is so nice to have that back-up, it’s really reassuring and certainly a bonus we were not expecting.

“It give me extra peace of mind to know someone else is keeping an eye on Mia. It’s helped me sleep better at night.”

Pet scientists at the RSPCA say Pippa’s unusual nursing skills could lead to new research into whether cats are able to alert medical conditions.

The RSPCA logo

The RSPCA logo

Alice Potter said: “Although dogs alerting their owners to medical problems such as epilepsy, cancer and dangerously low blood pressure is well known, the RSPCA is not aware of any evidence in cats.

“Perhaps Pippa will be the cat to inspire new research in this area.”

Beth Hixson, manager of the RSPCA Canterbury and Dover Animal Centre. said: “Pippa was dumped in a box outside a shop in Dartford.

“She has a such a sweet nature but I couldn’t believe it when I heard how she is helping Mia, I got goosebumps, it’s so amazing.

“She is one very special cat, she obviously has a very close bond with Mia.”

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