Sophie Hellyer, 26, Wiltshire, is forever grateful that her clever puss knew exactly what to do in a crisis...
Waking up at 2am, I groaned and made my way into my baby’s room.
As I was breastfeeding, I was the only one who could do the night feeds with little April.
But, even so, I was never alone. As soon as our tabby Pixie heard April cry, she shot up and followed me, then sat by my side until April went back to sleep.
When I first fell pregnant, in December 2014, me and my partner Mike, 25, worried Pixie and our other cat Simba might get jealous. We’d had the cats for three years, and they’d always ruled the roost.
But when April was born in August 2015, the cats took to her straightaway, especially Pixie.
‘We were silly to worry,’ Mike said, watching Pixie sleeping soundly next to April on the sofa.
When April started eating solids, I was determined to give her a healthy diet. She especially loved fruit, munching away on strawberries and bananas.
Last November, when April was 15 months, I gave her a few grapes as an afternoon snack.
I knew they could be a choking hazard for littl’uns, so I sliced each individual grape in half first.
‘They’ll make you big and strong,’ I told April as she polished them off.
That night, I tucked her up in bed as normal. Shattered, I wasn’t far behind her. But then, at 1am, a loud scratching noise woke me up.
‘Simba,’ I yawned. ‘Stop scratching the carpet.’
But seconds later, Pixie jumped onto the bed, started crying and clawing at the sheets.
‘What’s wrong with her?’ Mike groaned sleepily.
‘It’s not like Pixie,’ I said as she carried on jumping all over me. ‘Maybe she needs the toilet.’
I got up and followed Pixie as she ran down the hallway.
I was expecting her to run downstairs, but she immediately darted into April’s room.
‘Pixie,’ I said, switching on the light. ‘What are you doing?’
I looked around for Pixie, but was distracted by April.
She was coughing and spluttering, so I went over to her cot to pick her up. She was floppy…
Then it dawned on me. My baby was choking.
‘Mike!’ I cried. ‘Come here, quick!’
We didn’t have any first-aid training, but instinct kicked in, and I held April while Mike slapped her on the back.
I felt my heart hammering in my chest.
After a few back slaps, four round objects flew out of April’s mouth. Grapes!
Seconds later April seemed fine, and went back to sleep.
Pixie stopped crying and then wandered off, too, as if nothing had happened. But me and Mike were left in complete shock.
‘What just happened?’
I gasped, trying to calm down.
‘It looks like she hasn’t chewed these properly,’ Mike said, holding the grapes in his hand.
‘She probably just gulped them down, and they’ve made her sick,’ I said.
We sat on the floor for a few minutes. Stunned, we could barely talk.
Back in bed, my head was spinning. Had Pixie just saved April’s life?
The following morning, April was fine.
‘You would have made a brilliant mum,’ I told Pixie, stroking her furry head.
She was neutered before we bought her, but that night she proved her maternal instinct is absolutely second to none.
I’ve since been told grapes are hard for children to digest because of the skins. So, for now, I’ve banned them from the house.
Now, I just want to let other parents know about the dangers of these innocent-looking little fruit…
I can’t bear to think what might’ve happened if Pixie hadn’t been there to save the day. She’s our fluffy lifesaver!