Thoughts for Thursday – Cats That Detect Illness in Humans

You’ve heard of the rare dog who has alerted his person to a tumor or some other illness. Well, evidently cats are just as capable of detecting cancer, diabetes, and even pending death. How can that be? It’s all in the nose. Animals have a much greater sense of smell than we do. And, when the body chemistry changes due to an illness, the animals can detect this. Not all cats and dogs will react to it and those who react might do so in different way. But there are some incredible stories out there.

One cat in Canada kept pawing at the left side of his owner. It was later discovered that the man had a large tumor in his left lung. A woman in Tennessee reported that her cat seemed overly concerned with a spot on her breast. Turns out there was a cancer in that area.

I think we’ve all heard about cats in nursing homes who seem to predict death. The cat will hover over someone and soon that person will die. The theory behind this, say the experts, is that there’s a scent emitted when the body begins to shut down—so a cat knows when the patient is about to die through the scent. And some cats will react by staying close to that person or avoiding him, perhaps.

It may not be unusual for a cat to sense death or illness. I think the difference between the illness-sniffing dog and the illness-sniffing cat is in the training. While a dog can be trained to react in some predictable way at the onset of a seizure, for example, or the scent of someone with cancer or low-blood sugar, a cat’s reaction to the same ailment might go unnoticed. In case you’re interested in more information on this topic, here are a few links:

Comment if you know of a cat who has detected disease in a human or another animal. I’m also interested in your stories of healing cats or comforting cats. In our household, for example, one of our cats seems to detect and sooth pain. Sometimes when Dennis’s chronic pain is exceptional, Sophie will jump on his lap and sit and stare for a while. Dennis says that within minutes, the pain will ease.

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