A woman has praised her cat for saving her life after it discovered she had cancer.
Sue McKenzie, 64, and her 24-year-old cat Tom have lived together for the past 20 years and Sue has gotten used to her pet’s aloof manner.
So, when Tom started tapping her on the back of the neck with his paw, Sue thought something must be wrong – but with him rather than her.
After a vet told Sue there was nothing wrong with Tom and suggested he was trying to tell her something, she decided to investigate – and found a lump in her neck which was later diagnosed as cancerous.
Sue McKenzie and her cat, Tom
Sue, from Scunthorpe, North Lincs., said: “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.
“He did it constantly for about two weeks and he was starting to drive me quite mad to be honest.
“Each time I sat down he was there tap, tap, tapping and it was always on my right shoulder.”
Because of Tom’s advancing years, Sue, who works two days a week as a volunteer for a local hospice, started to think it might be his own health that was the problem.
“I didn’t feel poorly at all,” she said.
“My cat is never fussy, but he just wouldn’t leave me alone. I spoke to the vet and he thought there might be something wrong with his teeth and I started to feel awful that I had been ignoring his cries for help for weeks.
“But when we went to see the vet in person, Tom was thoroughly checked over and the vet couldn’t find anything wrong with him. The vet said he might be trying to tell me something.”
When Sue and her mysterious moggy got back home, Tom continued to tap her neck until Sue herself felt to see what was there. It was then that she discovered a lump.
The grandmother-of-two said: “I don’t know why but when I got home I put my hand up to my neck and there was a lump there.
“I had noticed something a few weeks before and hadn’t thought anything about it. I had suffered from gland problems when I was youngster and thought it was linked to this.
“But Tom’s strange behaviour made me think twice about it and I was worried it was more serious.
“I was actually going to the doctors for something else but I showed him the lump during the appointment and I was fast-tracked to the hospital where I was eventually diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
“The doctor did say to me, if your cat has been doing that for two weeks then why didn’t you come sooner?
“I actually got a stern telling off from the doctor who told me I should have come to him straight away.
“When I got to the hospital they told me it had reached stage three. Obviously it would had been a lot smaller if they had found it earlier
“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’.
“I had always thought animals had a sixth sense for these sort of things.”
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Sue has been with Tom for nearly all his life after taking in the feline as a young scamp over 20 years ago.
She said: “He was just a stray that turned up on my doorstep.
“My husband said don’t let him in, but I couldn’t leave him out in the rain.
“I let him in, fed him a tin of corned beef and he’s been here ever since.”
Sue was diagnosed in August last year and had an operation to remove the lump shortly afterwards. Following six rounds of chemotherapy she has now been given the all-clear.
Sue said: “I have to go back for a course of injections for the next couple of years to ensure that the cancer remains gone but so far everything is fine.
“I suppose it is all thanks to Tom, he has saved my life in a way.
“But he’s not bothered – he’s gone back to being aloof and leaving my neck very much alone.”