A woman is giving thanks to her 20 year old cat for saving her life after his fixation with a spot on her neck led to a cancer diagnosis.
Sue McKenzie, of Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire, UK, says her normally aloof old boy got her attention when he started tapping on the back of her neck with his paw.
When Sue took Tom for a checkup the vet said the cat was fine but might be trying to tell her something. She followed up by having a lump on her neck checked, which resulted in the cancer diagnosis.
Sue said in a SWNS story: “Tom has never been a very loving cat – he doesn’t come to me for cuddles very often.
“He lets me stroke him and he likes to sit next to me but he doesn’t actively seek out human contact and he very rarely comes to pet me.
“So I thought he was behaving very strangely when he suddenly starting coming to sit next to me, very straight, and tapping his paw on the back of my neck while meowing incredibly loudly.
“He did it constantly for about two weeks and he was starting to drive me quite mad to be honest.
“Each time I sat down he was there tap, tap, tapping and it was always on my right shoulder.”
“My cat is never fussy, but he just wouldn’t leave me alone.
“I spoke to the vet and he thought there might be something wrong with his teeth and I started to feel awful that I had been ignoring his cries for help for weeks.
“But when we went to see the vet in person, Tom was thoroughly checked over and the vet couldn’t find anything wrong with him.
“The vet said he might be trying to tell me something.”
“I don’t know why but when I got home I put my hand up to my neck and there was a lump there.
“I had noticed something a few weeks before and hadn’t thought anything about it.
“I had suffered from gland problems when I was youngster and thought it was linked to this.
“But Tom’s strange behaviour made me think twice about it and I was worried it was more serious.
“I was actually going to the doctors for something else but I showed him the lump during the appointment and I was fast-tracked to the hospital where I was eventually diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
“The doctor did say to me, if your cat has been doing that for two weeks then why didn’t you come sooner?
“I actually got a stern telling off from the doctor who told me I should have come to him straight away.
“When I got to the hospital they told me it had reached stage three. Obviously it would had been a lot smaller if they had found it earlier.
“As soon as I went to the hospital Tom just stopped tapping me and I said to him, ‘I’ve been and had it looked at so you can leave me alone now’.
“I had always thought animals had a sixth sense for these sort of things.”
Speaking of how she came to have Tom in her life, Sue said:“He was just a stray that turned up on my doorstep.
“My husband said don’t let him in, but I couldn’t leave him out in the rain.
“I let him in, fed him a tin of corned beef and he’s been here ever since.”
Sue was diagnosed in August 2014 and has just been told she is in the clear, following surgery and six rounds with chemotherapy. She credits Tom with getting her cancer diagnosed in time and says he has returned to his former aloof ways.