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Hero cat's family tells story behind boy's rescue: 'Dog did not even know what hit him'

May 15, 2014 at 7:51 AM ET

The story, and the video that captured it, is enough to convert even the most hard-core dog lover into a cat person.

It’s how one family cat saved a 4-year-old California boy from a vicious and unprovoked dog attack – and all captured in a one-minute surveillance clip.

“It’s honestly just a blur,” Erica Triantafilo said Thursday on TODAY, describing the attack she witnessed on her son, Jeremy. “I just remember hearing him and the next thing I know, I see my cat flying out of nowhere, onto this dog, and just remember trying to get my son and get the dog away and back in its yard, away from both of us that it was trying to attack.”

Jeremy had been on his bike, walking it up the family driveway when the next door neighbor’s dog trotted around a parked car and tore into the boy’s leg, dragging him off the bike.

That’s when Tara appeared on the scene, leaping on top of the dog, scaring it away. The kitty then went after the dog long enough to make sure it stayed away. The startling scene was captured in a one-minute clip compiled by Jeremy’s dad, Roger Triantafilo. The video went viral Wednesday, seen more than five million times on YouTube alone.

Triantafilo said he was surprised to see the rescue unfold. He knew only the basics of the story told to him by his wife and emergency responders before he turned to home surveillance video to help fill in the blanks.

“I was like, ‘Well, you know, I’m going to check the tape and see if we got anything, and see if it even caught what happened,’” he said. “And sure enough, it was pretty amazing to see just a cat take on a dog and so selflessly just put herself out there and not worry about if she was going to get bit or injured herself. 

"I think that dog did not know what hit him.”

The heroics displayed by Tara, a stray adopted by the family six years ago, surprised everyone.

“Every once in a while she puts our dog back into her place, but for the most part, she’s just the most mellow cat you’ve ever met,” Erica Triantafilo said. “All our boys love her and pick on her occasionally. She just loves them right back anyway.”

Jeremy, who was sleeping on his mom’s chest during the interview, received 10 stitches for two lacerations to his calf.

“He’s just bouncing back from this,” his mom said. “He tells us it feels better. And he’s just ready to get out there and run around and play with the other kids again.”

The dog who attacked the boy may be euthanized, she said, based on the conversation she had Wednesday with an animal control official.

“The animal can be rehabilitated by the family possibly but from what I understand, that’s a long and difficult procedure to get the dog back in their (the owner’s) custody,” she said. “Otherwise it will be put to sleep, unfortunately.”

Follow TODAY.com writer Eun Kyung Kim on Google+ or on Twitter.

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