What could have been a tragedy on the morning of Wednesday, April 26 for a family in Holly Springs, North Carolina, turned out to be nothing short of a miracle, and it was all thanks to their cat.
According to local news affiliate ABC 11, a mother and her two children were rushed to the hospital in the early hours after one of the kids noticed their family pet was making strange noises. As it turned out, a car in the garage was accidentally left on and the feline woke them to the danger.
Without the cat's reaction to the leak, there could have been fatal consequences for the family who survived the terrifying ordeal. "Carbon monoxide is equally lethal to all mammals, so if the level in the environment was high enough, the pets and people would have died," said Dr. Rachel Hack of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.
While the cat likely didn't sense danger (Hack said that felines will usually run or hide in threatening situations), the pet likely smelled the gas burning and may have had trouble breathing as a result.
"Cats have five to 10 times more olfactory epithelium than humans," Hack explained. "Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas, but humans and animals can sometimes smell other products, such as gas, when it burns."
In addition to having carbon monoxide detectors in your household, pet owners should keep an eye on their animals if something seems off, Hack urged. "Monitor your cat for abnormal behavior, as it may be uncomfortable as an indication of the effect of something like a carbon monoxide leak or an indicator of a health problem more specific to that pet.”
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