Hero cat doesn't surprise feline lovers

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Cat lovers were beaming with pride as the world learned of the heroic act by a family cat named Tara.

The feline put her own life at risk when she rescued 4-year-old Jeremy Triantifilo from a dog attack.

The family posted video of their cat's heroics on YouTube, and the video went viral.

"I've seen a lot of comments today from cat lovers going, 'Yeah! Cats! I told you!' It's kind of empowering for cats," said Courtney Clerico.

She is a volunteer with The Cat People, a nonprofit group started in Bakersfield in 1990 that advocates for the proper treatment of domestic and feral cats.

Dogs are usually the animals considered to be the loyal protectors who put their lives on the line for their masters. Clerico notes that cats have been been doing the same for humans, and also help other animals.

"Cats have woken up family members when their owner is having a seizure, and it saved their life, because they got to the hospital," said Clerico. "There's many accounts of cats waking up their families in the case of a house burning down."

Jeremy was attacked Tuesday afternoon as he rode his tricycle in the driveway of his home on Eagle Vista Drive. An unleashed neighbor's dog approached the boy and then bit his leg and pulled him to the ground.

That's when the family cat, Tara, bolted to the child's defense. The cat directly attacked the dog, which let go of the boy and fled back toward its home.

Bakersfield police public information officer Sgt. Joe Grubbs said he spent a good deal of the day fielding calls from media outlets all over the country.

"I've had calls literally from all over North America. I don't think Mexico, but I have had at least one from Canada and then all over the U.S.," said Grubbs.

Police also released the 911 call immediately after the attack in which a woman's voice asks for assistance. The call appears to have been made by the owner of the dog.

"My dog bite a kid, he's right here next to him," the caller told the 911 operator.

Jeremy and Tara are doing better after all the excitement and international attention.

Cat lovers hope this can be a lesson about what cats can do.

"I hope that it reminds people what loving animals, cats can be," said Clerico. "When you really need them, they really can come through."