Cats Provide Companionship and Inspiration to Cancer Patients

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The extraordinary bond between humans and cats can be amplified when a life-threatening illness enters the picture.  Chuck and Luke each have a story that clearly demonstrates the ability of our feline companions to inspire us and sometimes just help us get through a day.

Chuck’s lucky day came when volunteers from United Paws of Tillamook found him wandering with a feral colony.  They noticed a large tumor on his neck and immediately brought him to a veterinarian for care.

The tumor was removed and the volunteers, finding Chuck’s demeanor more house cat and less feral, moved him to a foster home. In addition to cancer, 6-7 year-old Chuck experienced arthritis and was bow-legged. Although they hoped he’d find a forever home, the volunteers knew senior cats — especially ones with health issues — were difficult to place.

Chuck’s luck continued when a couple saw him at a United Paws adoptathon and fell in love with him. Both cancer survivors themselves, they felt an immediate connection with the the cat and his struggles.

Once a stray with a certain death sentence, Chuck is now a survivor and an inspiration. In fact, tonight he is the official mascot at the Neahkahnie High School Relay for Life Rally. Chuck’s adopters will be wearing “Chuck” buttons and lighting a luminaria for him. That’s one Lucky Chuck.

Sometimes friends enter our lives just when we need them most. This is the case with Karen Corey and her cat Luke (pictured above). In June of 2009, Karen was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and underwent two surgeries and her first chemotherapy treatment. In August she met a stray cat wandering around her apartment complex. She took him in, gave him a home, and named him Luke.

During the difficult times of Karen’s ongoing treatment, the faithful Luke stayed by her side as a constant companion. No matter how she was feeling, he purred, helped her stay calm, and made the hard days go by more quickly. He never asked anything of her — he only gave.

According to a study by Purina, 84% of women with breast cancer say their cat companion had a calming effect on them and 73% said they thought their cat knew they were sick. Dr. Liz O’Brien, veterinarian and feline specialist, concurs with the findings and says that cats are emotionally attached to their human family members — if a family member is sick, the cat has an innate sense that there is something wrong.

Stories like Karen’s have inspired Purina to donate to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation for every purchase of a specially marked bag of food, with a donation goal is $100,000. For more information about Purina’s efforts, please visit their website.

0 thoughts on “Cats Provide Companionship and Inspiration to Cancer Patients”

  1. It is so true that cats cuddling with you make you feel better. Cats are good medicine.

  2. Our little female Abby “Arianna” started taking up residence on my lap in the evenings this last January after years of preferring my wife or daughters lap. She is a constant companion now when I get home for work and claims my lap for as long as she can purring the entire time. Two weeks ago I was diagnosed with prostrate cancer (early stage and curable) I am going to forever wonder if she knew before my Doctor did.

  3. Hi Gene,
    I wonder. It seems they can sense things, or respond to very subtle signs. Best wishes to you on your treatment and recovery.

  4. I had a similar experience Gene. Our cat “Spooky” was a wild kitten and was given to us about 10 yrs ago. She was always partial to my husband. She would never get in my lap. In April of 2012 I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. “Spooky” never left my side, during the recovery of my mastectomy, the chemo, the radiation, the hysterectomy , all of it. I am well now. Spooky , will get in bed with me every now and again. It was almost like she knew I was really sick and now she knows I am well. It was quite something , my son even wants to write a research paper about pets and cancer patients.

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