TOMS BROOK, Va. (AP)—Janet Batten was perplexed when her 13-pound orange and white tabby took a sudden and persistent interest in her head.
"He was constantly smelling my head on the right side, in the front, and in my eye and in my nose," Batten said. "Sometimes he would really push to get into my head.
"He would do that and then he would sit back and he would give me a look that I had never seen before. After a while, I began to ask him, 'Is there something wrong up there?' He would just make this sound that I had never heard before. I began to get very suspicious."
Batten started having trouble with her eye, and visited her primary care doctor and then an ophthalmologist, and nothing was found.
Last August, about six months after Noah's strange behavior began, Batten suffered a mini-stroke and atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat. A CT scan revealed she had a brain aneurysm.
"So, I now have a platinum wire in my head," Batten said. "Noah doesn't bother (me) anymore. He was trying to tell me that something's wrong up there."
Noah's diagnostic skills were recognized Feb. 25 when he was awarded the Animal Hero Award at the Virginia Veterinary Conference at the Hotel Roanoke.
He was nominated by Dr. Bruce Coston.
Coston said Batten shared the story with him when she brought Noah in for vaccines at his practice, Seven Bends Veterinary Hospital.
When he was on the board of the Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, Coston suggested giving out animal awards after having seen a similar citation in South Carolina.
"Most of the time, these are dogs," he said. "Because Noah the cat had been alerting his mom that something was wrong...she was aggressive in seeking treatment."
Besides some extra treats, Noah's only reward is knowing he helped his owner.
Batten offered some advice to other animal lovers.
"I would hope that other pet owners pay attention when their animals are trying to tell them something," she said.