You can’t deny the many benefits of owning a cat- companionship, entertainment, and friendship are just a few of them. But Sue McKenzie of Scunthorpe, UK, can thank her cat for alerting her to a serious health issue – cancer.
McKenzie’s 24-year-old black and white cat, Tom, was normally the aloof type, but McKenzie became concerned when he began repeatedly tapping the back of her neck. Explained McKenzie, “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.”
When Tom continued this behavior for two weeks, McKenzie worried that there was something wrong with the cat, but a trip to the vet revealed no health issues. The vet did suggest that Tom might be trying to tell McKenzie something, though.
The vet’s words prompted McKenzie to investigate the situation further, and it was then that she found a lump at the base of her neck. After visiting her doctor, McKenzie learned that the lump was Hodgkin lymphoma, a form of cancer which attacks the lymphatic system. McKenzie’s cancer was Stage 3.
“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,” says McKenzie.
McKenzie has since had the lump removed and has undergone six rounds of chemotherapy. Tom has returned to his aloof self. McKenzie took in Tom when he was a kitten almost 20 years ago, giving him a good life. By alerting McKenzie to the cancer’s presence, Tom may have just returned the favor.