This article is a part of our Pride of Omlet series, a collection of amazing stories which shine the spotlight on extraordinary pets and share their selflessness, bravery, talent and compassion with the world.
-Written by Anneliese Paul
When you’ve grown up with animals, a home isn’t a home without a pet. Bringing Harry home was life-changing for both him and his humans, Sarah and daughter Sophia. Harry has a special gift. Harry has a unique epilepsy monitor, and he’s saved Sophia’s life countless times.
In March 2017, Harry, a beautiful black kitten, was only a few months old and was trapped in a cupboard, clinging to life. He wasn’t allowed out. He was overfed, caked in dirt, attacked by a dog and discarded as ‘the runt of the litter’.
Sarah heard about the cat in the cupboard through a colleague at work and couldn’t let a kitten suffer. She approached his owner via Facebook and asked, “Can I have him, please.” Harry’s neglectful owner gladly gave him up, and Harry began his recovery.
At first, he would cower in corners. The sound of footsteps petrified him. However, within a week, he was a different cat, running to greet his humans at the door. “The first time he purred with us, he looked around in a panic, thinking, What’s this? but he blossomed from there.”
It’s four years later, 3 pm on a Monday and Harry’s sitting on the window sill of his loving home waiting for his human, Sophia.
Sophia has autism and epilepsy, and Harry’s unique talent has saved her life more times than Sarah, her mom, can tell me.
Before getting Harry, every aspect of Sophia’s life was about cats. She loved going to the shops and looking at things for cats, researching about them online and looking at pictures of cats. So when Harry came into her life, Sophia was overjoyed. Harry became Sophia’s shadow instantly. He follows her wherever she goes in the house. When she eats, he sits next to her. If she’s in bed, he’s sleeping with her. When Sophia gets home from school, Harrys always there, watching, waiting on the windowsill for her. He never wants to be separated from her for too long.
As the bond between Harry and Sophia grew, so did Harry’s voice. Generally a calm cat, he became quite vocal, meowing to be let in or out. Bizarrely he also started to meow at the loft hatch. It can go on for 20 minutes or more. Sarah’s taken him up to have a look, but it’s still something that spooks him. Harry’s sensitive nature and vocal talents became the gift that saved Sophia’s life.
Six months after Harry came to live with them, Sophia started having epileptic seizures. They became more and more severe and frequent. At the same time, Harry began screaming in the night. Sarah went running and found that Sophia was having a seizure in her sleep.
There’s no monitor for the kind of epilepsy Sophia has, nothing you can put on your wrist or bed to sound an alert when a seizure happens. For Sophia, SUDEP (sudden unexpected death of someone with epilepsy) is a real threat. For her parent, Sarah, it’s the worst nightmare she has to live with twenty fours hours a day.
Harry began calling the alert, not just at night but in the daytime too. It’s different from a normal caterwaul, Sarah says. It’s a panicked alert call – a scream mixed with a howl. Whenever Sophia’s up in her room and starts having a seizure, Harry howls and screams until Sarah gets there, he sits, often on her chest, nudging her, rubbing his face on her, trying to get her to wake up.
Before Harry came into their lives, Sophia couldn’t have any independence. She needed to be with Sarah all the time, in case a seizure happened. But now Sophia and Sarah can have more time for themselves, knowing that if somethings wrong, Harry will call.
Harry was the missing member of Sarah and Sophia’s family. With Harry at home, Sophia and Sarah feel safe. “He’s a sweetheart. A lifesaver. A sense of security that very few people can appreciate,” says Sarah. “He means the world to me. I love him,” says Sophia.