Grateful for Being Provided with a Loving Home, Fidge in Turn Saves Her Mistress's Life by Alerting Her to a Malignant Growth on Her Breast
|Fidge and Wendy Humphreys|
"She (Fidge) saved my life, definitely. No hesitation at all. I was told that if I hadn't been diagnosed when I was I could have died because of the hormones in the menopause. I am so glad I got her."When fifty-two-year-old Wendy Humphreys of Wroughton, six kilometers south of Swindon in Wiltshire, acquired an eight-week-old black and white kitten named Fidge in May of last year little did she suspect that such a simple act of compassion would turn out to be the principal reason that she is alive today.
-- Wendy Humphreys
"She kept coming and sitting on my right breast when I was lying on the settee. She would jump onto it every night for a fortnight," Humphreys related to the Swindon Advertiser on January 23rd. (See "My Cat Saved My Life.") "I went to see my GP (general practitioner) because I thought it was bruised. It just hurt and I didn't think anything else could be wrong."
Tragically, her physician discovered a pea-sized lump in her breast that was diagnosed in September to be malignant. Since then she has undergone chemotherapy and was scheduled to have had the breast removed at the end of March.
Although her long-term prognosis has not been publicly disclosed, her illness certainly has not in any way diminished her will to live. "The chemo is hard and I'm dreading having my breast removed," she admitted to the Swindon Advertiser. "But I am going to beat it, definitely."
As if she needed any additional incentives, her daughter has learning difficulties and therefore needs her to stick around for a while. She also has another child and her husband of thirty-two years, David, to consider.
Regardless of what the future holds in store for her, a little part of her heart forever will belong to Fidge. "She saved my life, definitely. No hesitation at all," she declared to the Swindon Advertiser in the article cited supra. "I was told that if I hadn't been diagnosed when I was I could have died because of the hormones in the menopause. I am so glad I got her."
Despite having once saved her mistress's life, Fidge instinctively knows that she must remain vigilant. "She goes around on your shoulder and on your back and none of the other cats have done that," Humphreys told the Swindon Advertiser. "She never leaves me alone. Every morning she jumps up and makes sure I'm all right."
|Sumo and Judy Danchura|
Eternally grateful, Humphreys strives to make Fidge's life as comfortable as possible. "We have given her plenty of food and toys and everything," she told the Swindon Advertiser. "(But) giving them (cats) love and loyalty is enough. Not all animals have that."
Despite her appreciation for what Fidge has done for her, Humphreys nonetheless remains flummoxed. "I just couldn't believe it because I didn't think cats were capable of that," she admitted. "I thought it was only dogs."
First of all, no one ever should underestimate a cat. Secondly, there is a substantial body of anecdotal evidence that cats indeed are capable of detecting cancer in individuals that they are in close contact with on a daily basis.
For example, in June of 2009 Judy Danchura of Winnipeg opened up her heart and home to an orange and white vagabond named Sumo. Hours later, he stepped on her bosom while climbing into the sack with her.
Besides making himself right at home, his pussyfooting unleashed a sharp pain in her bosom and when she examined it the next morning she found a lump. Although the growth turned out to be malignant, her physicians have given her a ninety-five per cent chance of surviving.
"I don't know what my chances of survival would have been without him," she said later in 2010. "I know I'd certainly be far worse off." Like Humphreys, she too is forever indebted to the cat that she now refers to as her furry, four-footed angel. "I sometimes feel overwhelmed because I feel humbled," she confessed. "I can't understand why this animal turned up for me." (See Cat Defender post of March 27, 2010 entitled "Taken In Off the Street by a Compassionate Woman, Sumo Returns the Favor by Alerting Her to Cancerous Growth on Her Bosom.")
Women long have been known to dote on cats whereas men have not always been anywhere near quite so favorably disposed toward them. Cats do not harbor either grudges or prejudices in their magnanimous souls and as a result they do not restrict their life-saving heroics to the tender gender.
Doubters need only to ask fifty-nine-year-old Lionel Adams of Calgary who for some time had resided with an eight-year-old orange cat named Tiger. Their relationship, however, was not an especially close one.
"He never had that much to do with me except to come over for a pat," is how he characterized their relationship. All of that abruptly changed in 2009 when Tiger alerted him to the presence of a large tumor on one of his lungs.
"He would climb into bed and take his paw and drag it down my left side," Adams explained. "He was adamant there was something there. And it was right where the cancer was."
Since that terrible time, Adams and Tiger have become a much closer couple. "I get a little emotional when I think about it," he later confessed. "As far as I am concerned, he saved my life. I think if he hadn't done that pawing part it could have gone on for another five, six months undetected." (See Cat Defender post of April 11, 2009 entitled "Tiger Saves His Owner's Life by Alerting Him to a Cancerous Growth on His Lung.")
With any type of cancer, early detection is the key to survival and that is why living with a cat oftentimes is more valuable than either annual x-rays or periodic examinations by a physician. Cohabiting with a cat that engages in considerable pawing and breath sniffing can, however, be a little disconcerting.
That is especially the case if the cat in question is Oscar at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island. (See Cat Defender posts of July 30, 2007 and Mary 27, 2010 entitled, respectively, "A Visit from Oscar the Cat Means the Grim Reaper Cannot Be Far Behind for the Terminally Ill at Rhode Island Nursing Home" and "When Lovers, Friends, Health, and All Hope Have Vanished, Oscar Is There for Those Who Have No One and Nothing Left.")
Various explanations have been advanced over the years as to how cats are able to detect various diseases and even imminent death. The most plausible of which attributes their uncanny ability to their vastly superior senses. In other words, they apparently are able to smell diseases, detect abnormal growths, and to recognize irregularities in breathing and blood sugar.
As to why they go out of their way in order to alert their owners that something is wrong, some have theorized that they are acting solely out of self-interest. That may not necessarily be the entire story because it is just as likely that they are motivated by genuine concern and compassion. After all, just because altruism is in such short supply with men and women, it does not necessarily follow that the same is true of cats.
Others maintain that cats simply are psychic. Although never substantiated, that belief is as old as at least the Middle Ages and as modern as today.
"Cats are a mysterious kind of folk. There is more passing in their minds than we are aware of," Sir Walter Scott, writing in the early nineteenth century, maintained. "It comes no doubt from their being so familiar with warlocks and witches."
Although not too many contemporaries share Scott's sottise about cats and the occult, that prejudice stubbornly persists in some quarters. (See Cat Defender posts of February 26, 2009 and February 27, 2010 entitled, respectively, "Dog Groomer Who Sold Mutilated Gothic Kittens on the Internet Is Finally Identified and Ordered to Stand Trial" and "Sweet Valley Mutilator Is Convicted of Piercing the Ears, Necks, and Tails of Tiny Kittens That She Later Sold on eBay.")
Just as importantly, detecting diseases that physicians often have overlooked is only half of the equation. Some research tends to suggest that just living with a cat, inter alia, lowers blood pressure, improves heart health, eases stress, and prolongs life. (See U.S. News and World Report, February 21, 2008, "Cats Help Shield Owners from Heart Attack.")
It also is believed by some that there are discernible health benefits to be derived from being kindhearted and thankful and those certainly are two prominent character traits that Humphreys, Danchura, and Adams share in common. So, perhaps there is some truth in Plato's assertion that virtue is its own reward.
To carry the argument to its logical conclusion, moral virtue, properly understood, is the glue that holds together all individual, animal, and environmental health. That, however, is the last thing in this world that capitalists, imperialists, and consumers ever want to hear.
Photos: Swindon Advertiser (Fidge and Humphreys), CBC (Sumo and Danchura) and CTV (Tiger, Adams).