Hero cat who saved autistic boy from dog attack hits TV: Family tell how they adopted Tara when feline followed them home and became best friends with baby

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Tara the cat, who saved her family’s four-year-old son from a vicious dog attack that was caught on camera, has been best friends with the boy since he was born, his parents have said.

She followed Erica and Roger Triantafilo home from a park in Bakersfield, California about six years ago and has been a member of the family ever since, they said.

On Wednesday, she became the nation’s most beloved cat when surveillance footage emerged showing her saving their son Jeremy by pouncing on the neighbor’s dog as it attacked him.

On Thursday, Jeremy snoozed his way through his first live interview on the Today show as his parents described their shock at Tara’s act of bravery.

Scroll down for video – WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

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Safe: Erica and Roger Triantafilo sit with their sleeping four-year-old son Jeremy and Tara the cat, who saved him from a vicious dog attack outside their California home on Tuesday

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Firm friends: Tara and Jeremy, pictured in an interview on Wednesday, formed a close bond

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Loved: The cat happily lets the little boy kiss her as he calls her a hero who saved him from a ‘mean dog’

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Lurking: Jeremy Triantafilo was outside his family’s home when a neighbor’s dog escaped and ran towards him

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To the rescue! Tara the cat can be seen running towards her beloved owner as the dog shakes him

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Feline brave: The cat launches herself at the startled dog and knocks it away from Jeremy

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And don’t come back! Tara follows the dog to make sure it has left, before returning to check on Jeremy

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Relief: Jeremy’s parents, Erica and Roger, pictured, said they were relieved his injuries were not worse

‘I’d never seen a dog just shake a child like that so violently,’ she said. ‘I just remember hearing him and the next thing I know, I see my cat flying out of nowhere and getting to this dog.’

After the attack, Tara can be seen chasing the dog away before returning to Jeremy’s side.

In an interview with the Bakersfield Californian, his family said she had always been protective over their oldest child and slept in his crib when he was a baby. They also have younger twin boys.

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Firm friends: Tara and Jeremy, pictured in an interview on Wednesday, formed a close bond

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Loved: The cat happily lets the little boy kiss her as he calls her a hero who saved him from a ‘mean dog’

They added that Tara became part of the family in 2008 when she followed them home from a nearby park – and they accepted her into their home, even though Erica is allergic to cats.

She ‘really just adopted us from there,’ Mrs Triantafilo said.

They named her Tara after ‘Zatara’, which was the name given to Edmond Dantes in The Count of Monte Cristo by smugglers. They told him it means driftwood.

‘We named her driftwood because she’s our little cat that followed us home,’ Triantafilo said. ‘She’s our little driftwood. She’s amazing.’

She said that even though her three boys tug at Tara, she sits there and takes it.

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The neighbor, who had been pulling out of their gated driveway when the dog escaped, called 911 for the boy and his mother, KERO reported.

The boy, who has mild autism, needed 1- stitches to the deep wounds on his legs but is otherwise fine.

‘He’s just bouncing back from this,’ she told Today. ‘He tells us it feels better.’

Speaking to Kero, he said: ‘Tara is my hero!’

The dog was taken by Bakersfield Animal Control and could be rehabilitated at the neighbors’ but home but also faces being euthanized.

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Injuries: Jeremy needed stitches to the wounds on his leg, pictured, but is otherwise fine, his mother said

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Relief: Jeremy’s parents, Erica and Roger, pictured, said they were relieved his injuries were not worse

The encounter was caught on surveillance cameras outside the home and uploaded to YouTube by the boy’s father, Roger Triantafilo, on Wednesday.

‘My cat defends my son during a vicious dog attack and runs the dog off before he can do additional damage,’ Triantafilo wrote beneath the video. ‘Thankfully, my son is fine!’

The boy’s mother said on Facebook: ‘We aren’t upset with our neighbors, we’re just thankful our son wasn’t injured more… Our cat is my hero!’

‘Whoever said cats don’t love their owners!’ one YouTube viewer said.

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Source:Dailymail/NBCNews.com/ViralNovelty.com

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