Adopted from a Shelter Only Hours Previously, Pudding Saves His Rescuer's Life by Awakening Her from a Diabetic Seizure
|Pudding and Amy Jung|
"He just really took right over. Really second nature. Anything he could to pull me out of it (the seizure). If something or someone hadn't pulled me out of that, I wouldn't be here."
-- Amy Jung
There is arguably nothing sadder and more unjust about the lot of cats than their inability to either speak or write. As a consequence, all but a handful of them live out their brief sojourns on this earth in obscurity and die unheralded and unknown except to perhaps an occasional appreciative owner. Even then very few owners ever really get much beyond a superficial acquaintance with their beloved companions.
That is a shame because underneath their glossy coats beat long-suffering hearts that are noble, magnanimous, and truly beautiful. "These intelligent, peace-loving, four-footed friends -- who are without prejudice, without hate, without greed -- may someday teach us something," Lilian Jackson Braun once predicted.
One such great soul belongs to a nine-year-old orange and white cat named Pudding who lives with thirty-six-year-old Amy Jung and her son, Ethan, in the city of Sturgeon Bay in Wisconsin. Life has not always been kind to him but throughout all the trials and tribulations he never once has either soured on life or become jaded.
Burn in July of 2003, he apparently had a home until February of 2008 when his owner dumped him at the Door County Humane Society (DCHS) because of an alleged allergic reaction to him. It does seem odd, however, that it would have taken that long for this condition to have manifested itself. The record is unclear but it is conceivable that he had more than one owner during this period of his life.
He was adopted again in April of 2008 but his new lease on life all but expired when his latest owner died in January of this year. So, it was back to DCHS where he was forced to bide his time by, inter alia, lounging on Executive Director Carrie Counihan's desk.
On February 8th, he was granted another reprieve when Jung and Ethan visited the shelter in order to play with the cats. Although they had not planned on bringing one home, they ultimately changed their minds and not only adopted Pudding but his pal, Wimsy, as well. Although Jung never has publicly stated what it was that prompted her abrupt change of heart, it was precisely that decision that ended up saving her life.
At around 11 p.m. that very evening she was fast asleep when she, a diabetic since age four, went into insulin shock. Unprompted, Pudding raced into her bedroom and jumped on top of her chest in a desperate attempt to awaken her.
When that failed to rouse her, he began swatting her in the face with his paw and biting her on the nose. That did the trick but Pudding's heroics for the evening were far from being finished.
Once the convulsions eased, Jung attempted to summon Ethan but he, like her only moments earlier, still was firmly enveloped in the Sandman's grasp. Without a moment to spare, the twenty-one-pound cat took it upon himself to race into Ethan's room where he soon awakened the young man by jumping in bed on top of him.
The chain of events that followed has not been explicitly detailed but suffice it to say that Jung belatedly received the emergency care that she needed and is alive today thanks to Pudding's heroics.
"He just really took right over. Really second nature," she told the Green Bay Press-Gazette on February 19th. (See "Sturgeon Bay Cat Saves Owner's Life.") "Anything he could to pull me out of it. If something or someone hadn't pulled me out of that I wouldn't be here."
Upon the advice of her attending physician, Jung plans to register Pudding as therapy cat. Not having a scintilla of regard for bureaucratic red tape, Pudding already has assumed that post and now sits at Jung's feet in order to warn her whenever her blood sugar level is about to get out of kilter.
Whether or not his heroics and newfound importance in Jung's life ultimately will be sufficient in order to put an end to his being bandied about like the Flying Dutchman remains to be seen. It is difficult on a cat to be shunted between various homes and shelters and for this story to have a happy ending that stands the test of both time and morality Pudding's needs must take center stage.
Some individuals heap all sorts of praise on their cats and utter declarations of undying love only to turn around and initial their death warrants by surrendering them to shelters as soon as they become superfluous in their lives. Others kill off their companions without so much as a second thought once they become either elderly or sickly.
Even if Jung's gratitude should turn out to be as short-lived as yesterday's headlines, hopefully DCHS will continue to watch out for Pudding and see to it that his life is held to be sacrosanct and that he never wants for any of the necessities of life. Of immediate concern is his obesity and there could not be any better way for Jung to demonstrate her appreciation to him than by putting him on a healthy diet and ensuring that he gets more exercise.
In spite of what many veterinarians and so-called feline experts profess, sterilizing cats, feeding them load after load of kibble, and imprisoning them indoors all of the time in horribly polluted environments hardly contributes to a healthy lifestyle. Responsible cat care involves considerably more than ensuring that veterinarians and cat food purveyors continue to make a mint.
In addition to saving his owner's life, Pudding's heroics have proven to be a boom for DCHS. Once his story went viral on the World Wide Web, donations poured in from as far afield as Singapore and Brazil and Halo, Purely for Pets, Incorporated of Tampa donated five-thousand meals for cats and dogs through Mimi Ausland's web site, http://www.freekibble.com/.
"It's been a crazy month but one that has unfolded in such an unexpectedly happy way," DCHS stated in the winter issue of its in-house publication, Door Animals Quarterly. (See "Donations from Around the World Flow to Sturgeon Bay Honoring 'Pudding'.") "In extraordinary instances, an animal actually saves a life. Most often, our pets open more subtle doors to a better, fuller, healthier, funnier life."
That is just one more reason why Pudding is richly entitled to spend what is left of his golden years in a stable home environment. His uncanny ability to anticipate and to respond to diabetic seizures coupled with the way in which he has been able to touch so many people all over the globe are two additional reasons that both individuals and institutions should think long and hard before extinguishing the life of any cat.
Although both Jung's unidentified physician and Counihan expressed surprise at Pudding's heroics, it long has been known that cats are capable of anticipating sugar imbalances in diabetics. Some of these cats have been specifically trained for that task but in Tampa a now five-year-old orange and white one named Elijah apparently trained himself.
In an early history that mirrors that of Pudding, he used to reside with a woman who suffered from both diabetes and sleep apnea but when she died he wound up at the SPCA's notorious killing factory in Lakeland. (See Cat Defender post of May 11, 2006 entitled "Mass Murderers at SPCA Are Operating an Auschwitz for Cats and Dogs in Lakeland, Florida.")
|Blackie and Charles Bennett|
"I know that if I run into trouble that he is going to do something," Shute said in 2009. "He's got a job. He knows what he is doing and he does it."
Not only is it preferable to prevent diabetic seizures as opposed to being forced to react to them, but cats like Elijah and Pudding have the potential to greatly reduce the necessity for frequent blood tests. "I may not be stabbing my finger anymore," Shute added. "I may just have Elijah come up and tell me I'm okay."
Since cats are somewhat easier to care for than dogs, employing them in order to detect blood sugar problems is perhaps a better alternative for the elderly and disabled. Their expertise in this area also might prompt some shelters to spare a few more of their lives. (See Cat Defender post of May 18, 2009 entitled "Elijah Teaches Himself How to Detect Low Blood Sugar Levels in His Guardians and Others.")
Furthermore, the ability of cats to anticipate seizures is by no means limited to diabetic attacks. For instance, in Albany, Oregon, a former stray named Blackie lies awake at night monitoring the breathing patterns of his guardian, Charles Bennett, for emphysema attacks.
"I don't know if he's helped save my life or not, but he's saved me from some full-blown breathing attacks," Bennett declared in 2009. (See Cat Defender post of April 18, 2009 entitled "Blackie Stays Up Nights Monitoring His Guardian's Breath for Emphysema Attacks.")
"Cats have many gifts that are denied humans, and yet we tend to rate them by human standards," Braun wrote in 1966 in her first novel, The Cat Who Could Read Backwards. "To understand a cat, you must realize that he has his own gifts, his own viewpoint, even his own morality. A cat's lack of speech does not make him a lower animal. Cats have a contempt of speech. Why should they talk when they can communicate without words? They manage very well among themselves, and they patiently try to make their thoughts known to humans. But in order to read a cat, you must be relaxed and receptive."
Taking into consideration all the abuse and misuse that man makes of language, it could be argued that he would be less domineering and imperialistic if he lacked the faculty of speech. In Plato's Phaedrus, Socrates relates a story about the ancient Egyptian god Theuth who is said to have invented, inter alia, arithmetic, calculus, geometry, astronomy, draughts, dice and, most importantly of all, letters.
He then brought these inventions to the attention of the god Thamus who also served as king of Egypt. The wise Thamus praised some of them but was especially critical of letters. "For this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to external written characters and not remember of themselves," he said. "The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality."
When his interlocutors scoffed at this tale, Socrates added: "He would be a very simple person, and quite a stranger to the oracles of Thamus and Ammon, who should leave in writing or receive in writing any art under the idea that the written word would be intelligible or certain; or who deemed that writing was at all better than knowledge and recollection of the same matters?" (Benjamin Jowett's translation.)
As civilization has evolved, Thamus's concerns have been more than amply borne out by both history and experience. "Language was our (man's) secret weapon, and as soon as we got language we became a really dangerous species," biologist Mark Pagel of the University of Reading told The New York Times on April 15, 2011. (See "Ancient Clicks Hint Language Is African-Born.")
Be that as it may, since cats and other animals cannot speak for themselves, someone must do so not only in order to give them some chance, no matter how small, of surviving but also to level the playing field. It would be far better still if mankind could be prevailed upon to appreciate them and Mother Earth more so than they do money and television but that is not about to happen anytime soon and the sand is fast running out of the hourglass.
Photos: Tina M. Gohr of the Green Bay Presse-Gazette (Pudding and Jung), John McQuiston of Zootoo (Elijah), and David Patton of the Democrat-Herald of Albany (Blackie and Bennett).