Tiger Saves His Owner's Life by Alerting Him to a Cancerous Growth on His Left Lung
"He (Tiger) would climb into bed and take his paw and drag it down my left side. He was adamant there was something there. And it was right where the cancer was."
-- Lionel Adams
Fifty-nine-year-old Lionel Adams of Calgary and his eight-year-old orange cat, Tiger, had never been particularly close. "He's never had that much to do with me except to come over for a pet," he confessed to the Edmonton Sun on February 16th. (See "Cat Tips Off Owner to Lung Cancer.")
All of that radically changed about nine months ago when the normally standoffish feline began to take a peculiar interest in his guardian's left side. "He would climb into bed and take his paw and drag it down my left side. He was adamant something was there," Adams recalled. "And it was right where the cancer was." (See photo above of Tiger.)
A trip to the doctor's office and an X-ray confirmed Adams's worst suspicions: he had stage one lung cancer. Surgeons then operated and removed a corroded portion of his lung about the size of a soda can.
Although Adams's long-term prognosis is unclear, he certainly would have been in considerably worse shape if it had not been for Tiger's heroics. "I think if he hadn't done the pawing part it could have gone on for another five, six months undetected," he speculated to the Sun in the article cited supra. "I feel like it could have been a lot worse if the cat hadn't tuned us in to something there, to something he felt was wrong."
That is especially true in light of the fact that although Adams suffers from bronchitis, asthma, and emphysema, he had not experienced any of the symptoms associated with lung caner. "I get a little emotional when I think about it," he admitted to CTV of Scarborough, Ontario, on February 17th. (See "Owner Says Cat Saved His Life.") "As far as I'm concerned, he saved my life." (See photo of him below.)
Although dogs are famous for sniffing out cancers and anticipating seizures in people, anecdotal evidence strongly suggests that cats also possess this life-saving ability. Like dogs, they too possess a keen sense of smell and are acutely attuned to subtle bodily changes in their guardians.
"If they spend a lot of time with you, they learn a whole lot about you, your body language," Barbara Walmer of the Calgary Humane Society told the Sun. "When things change because of illness they pick up on it, so whether they know if it is cancer or something is changed, we don't know."
The important thing to remember is that because of Tiger's interest, Adams is alive today and has a head start on fighting this deadly disease. It is just one more bit of data in a growing body of knowledge that strongly suggests that there are huge health benefits associated with owning a cat.
Perhaps almost as importantly, Tiger's good deed helps to dispel the age-old prejudice that because of their independence and aloofness cats do not care very much about their guardians. As most cats owner already know, they can be every bit as affectionate as dogs.