Cats that save the day.
Winner - Pixie
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare: a toddler choking in their cot during the night. Yet thanks to quick-thinking Pixie, a tragedy was avoided when 15-month-old April became unwell and coughed up fruit she’d eaten earlier in the day as parents Sophie Hellyer and Mike Sawyer slept.
Jumping onto their bed, Pixie woke the couple before frantically running to and from April’s room to raise the alarm. Sophie said: “I was confused and couldn’t understand what Pixie was doing so followed her, and as soon as I saw April I could see she was choking. I yelled for Mike who patted her hard on the back and dislodged the fruit. It was incredible, and we are just so thankful that Pixie was there. She’s our hero.”
Sophie received her award at The Savoy Hotel in London from Sky News presenter and category judge Stephen Dixon. She said: “We’re so excited to have won this. Pixie deserves this so much as, if it hadn’t been for her warnings, we don’t think April would be here today.”
“She’s a much-loved cat anyway and April adores her. But what she did that night was incredible and we really do believe she is something very special.”
Stephen Dixon said: “It was very hard to judge this category as all three cats deserved to win but Pixie has demonstrated her love for her family in a way that we can all relate to. Clearly distressed at April choking, she alerted the family with her own distressed behaviour. It's the perfect demonstration of how cats integrate into our lives and understand when things are going wrong.”
As 16-year-old diabetic Liam Simpson slept one night in February, he was oblivious to the danger he was in. With his blood sugar running dangerously low, he was moments away from lapsing into a diabetic coma – a serious medical emergency. Fortunately, family puss Phoenix sprang into action, pawing at his chest until he came round and realised the danger he was in.
It wasn’t the first time 11-month-old Phoenix has been able to detect when Liam’s blood sugar runs outside of safe levels, despite having no training as a medical alert animal. Mum Jo said: “Phoenix has woken Liam a few times when his blood sugar has been too high or low, but on this occasion, it was at a particularly low level. Any longer and Liam may have fallen into a coma, which could have had serious consequences. She’s a real star, and we’re so lucky to have her.”
Falling asleep on the sofa or nodding off in front of the TV can be deadly for Jackie Kennedy, who suffers from severe sleep apnoea. The condition means Jackie can stop breathing up to 65 times an hour in her sleep if she doesn’t wear special breathing equipment. So when Jackie began to drift off in an armchair one evening in February 2017, her life hung in the balance.
Luckily for her, six-year-old puss Lily came to the rescue, pawing at her face to wake her. Jackie says: “When I fell asleep in the armchair, she must have noticed my breathing stop. I was woken by her paw tapping at my face and pulling down my lips. Without her, I don’t think I’d be here today.”