If not for the timely actions of a cat named Theo, U.K. woman Charlotte Dixon might have ended up losing her life after suffering a blood clot. Because he made sure that his owner remained awake during her medical episode, Theo won National Cat of the Year honors, but in a tragic twist, the 8-year-old feline died just one week before the awarding ceremony, making him a posthumous winner of the annual award.
According to a report from BBC News, Theo won the top prize at the Cats Protection League’s National Cat Awards, which were held on Thursday at the Savoy Hotel in London. No cause of death was mentioned for Theo, whose life-saving act took place in January, 2015, as Dixon woke up after less than an hour’s sleep, feeling worse than she did when she decided to head to bed earlier than usual on account of tiredness. That was when Theo came to the rescue, possibly returning the favor years after Dixon nursed him back to health as a kitten following a bout with cat flu.
“I went upstairs to sleep and I hadn’t been asleep for an hour when I felt very, very unwell and I went downstairs. I was shaking,” said the 39-year-old Dixon, as she recalled the events of three years ago in a June interview with Metro.
“I thought to myself I should call an ambulance but I talked myself out of it. Theo then kept waking me up – he was getting in my face and sitting on my head, pawing at me to keep me awake.”
For the rest of the night, Theo did what he could to keep his owner awake, but with Dixon’s condition having deteriorated in the morning, she was finally taken to the hospital after her mother called an ambulance. Dixon was then informed by a paramedic that she might have died if she had gone to sleep, as she had a blood clot in her knee that traveled up to her pelvis. The Worcestershire resident spent one week in the high dependency unit and underwent surgery before heading back home and recovering completely from her episode.
A cat from Redditch that saved its owner’s life by keeping her awake during a blood clot episode has been posthumously crowned National Cat of the Year. Eight-year-old Theo died just one week before he was due to receive the award.
— ITV News Central (@ITVCentral) August 2, 2018
At the time of Charlotte Dixon’s interview with Metro, Theo was among the candidates in the National Cat Awards’ Purina Better Together category, which he also won, but was not mentioned by the publication as an overall National Cat of the Year candidate. Dixon further described Theo as a “very intuitive” cat who always knows if she’s upset or not feeling well, and always stays with her during those times of physical illness.
“It was Charlotte’s devotion to Theo that ensured he was able to survive against the odds after being so poorly as a kitten,” said Cats Protection awards organizer Kate Bunting.
“That makes it all the more touching that he was able to show the same devotion to her a few years later by taking action which probably saved her life.”
When asked by BBC News for comment following Theo’s National Cat of the Year victory, Charlotte Dixon said she was “devastated” by the death of her cat, but proud of him for posthumously taking home the coveted prize.