HOUSTON - In honor of National Pet Day, we found a feline with a very special skill.
Its owners say the cat can sense when her diabetic owner’s blood sugar is low.
Michael Opiela, who has Type 1 Diabetes, says it all started a few years ago. The 17-year-old had just gotten home from dinner with his family.
“I was feeling like I had low blood sugar. I just noticed she was on top of my dad’s car. She was meowing at me, trying to get near me," Michael said. "I went inside, and she was standing at the door meowing and meowing. After I got my blood sugar fixed, she just stopped."
The family says the seemingly random outburst turned into a trend.
“It’s probably more than a coincidence, I would think so,” said Mike Opiela, Michael’s father. “It’s incredible. It’s a gift. I think it’s a gift to us all.”
Their pediatrician agrees.
Dr. Michael Yafi is so convinced the cat can detect hypoglycemia, he’s presenting Patches’ story as a case study at an international conference in Turin, Italy, next week.
Michael helped write the case study, which will be published.
“Animals have very advanced olfactory systems. This olfactory system can sense many hormonal changes in the human body,” said Yafi, pediatric endocrinologist at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital. “It’s plausible, it’s possible and it's happening.”
It’s a well-known skill for dogs, but he thinks this may be the first documented cat case.
That being said, there’s no scientific evidence to back up the story yet.
“Just believe,” said the high school junior. “I’ve not been able to find another kind of explanation for it. She and I just have a kind of bond, and it just so happens to extend to my diabetes.”
The conference, called “Babies and Animals: pediatrician meet vets," will be held on April 21-22.
Michael hopes sharing his story there will help other kids with diabetes in the future.
“This is a new field. We are exploring that as we speak. I think the future is very promising,” Dr. Yafi said.
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