READING, Pa. -

Cats may have nine lives, but humans have only one.

Claire Nelson of Reading is crediting her 10-year-old cat, Rusty, with saving her life.

Nelson, a retired nurse, said she was experiencing chest pains on June 8 when Rusty sensed something was wrong.

"Rusty kept following me around, no matter where I was standing or sitting, and jumping up on me with his front paws, letting out these guttural meows," said Nelson.

Nelson, 66, said her 22 pound cat usually has a relaxed and laid back personality, so she knew the way he was acting that morning was not normal.

"Finally, I said, 'Oh darn. Maybe this cat knows something I don't,'" said Nelson, who added that Rusty's behavior prompted her to take the bus to visit her doctor.

As time passed, Nelson said her condition grew worse. While at the bus terminal in downtown Reading, Nelson called 911 and was rushed to St. Joseph Medical Center.

Nelson said results of an EKG prompted doctors to rush her to the operating room because she was having a heart attack. Surgeons opened a blocked coronary artery.

"After the whole thing was over, I found out my right coronary artery was completely occluded. They also had to put two stents in," said Nelson, who spent three days in the hospital.

A friend took care of Rusty while Nelson was hospitalized.

Nelson adopted Rusty two years ago from the Humane Society of Berks County.

"I thought I was rescuing him," said Nelson. "I didn't know that he would be rescuing me in the long run."