A California cat named Vanilla Bean with a congenital heart defect got a rare chance at another life.

A team of doctors who usually treat humans came together with a veterinarian to operate on the 1-year-old Burmese cat. Blood was pooling in Vanilla Bean's heart, causing a chamber to grow larger. The defect is also found in children.

Untreated, it would lead to congestive heart failure.

A technique to correct the problem in a cat had reportedly been done only once before, by University of California, Davis veterinarian Josh Stern -- the same vet who operated on Vanilla Bean, the Sacramento Bee reports ( http://bit.ly/1PKsLYp ).

"I needed a human cardiology team to help guide me on this case," said Stern in a news release from the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. "It's so uncommon in cats. It's uncommon in children also, but they've certainly seen more cases of this than I have."

Stern teamed up with cardiologists from the UC Davis Medical Center and other vets to open the cat's chest and place catheters and balloons within Vanilla Bean's heart.

The operation was successful. Vanilla Bean lost a lot of blood, but transfusions were ready from the school's large veterinary blood bank.

The blood loss caused kidney injury, but the cat was able to go home eight days after surgery. After a four-month recuperation, an exam showed that the cat is no longer in congestive heart failure.

Stern said he expects Vanilla Bean to make a complete recovery.