I feel like starting this off with “Once upon a time”, as the contents following will indeed sound like a fairy story. I own a cat…. no, that’s wrong, a cat owns me is more correct. About eight years ago, after receiving the news that cancer was to limit my life span to a matter of a few months, my cat, Precious (Norwegian Forest Cat) began to show some concern about my well-being. It was especially evident after radiation therapy when my body was confined to a wheelchair since I was in severe pain from the waist down.

The pain would result in discomfort so severe that the tears would flow. Almost every pain medication was tried, except Morphine. (I would not permit that) None of these worked for longer than just a few minutes. Precious would seem to sense when the pain was at a peak, come to where I was seated, jump upon on my lap, and the pain would vanish. Upon the urging of my wife, this was mentioned to my doctor, in spite of the fear of ridicule. To my surprise, there was no ridicule at all (while he was out looking for the white coat that does up in the back, I left his office!).

About four years ago, I stopped taking all prescription medications. I do not even take Aspirin, The frequency of the pain peaks has not changed and the intensity has not varied, but my attitude towards the pain has moved from anger to acceptance. I have asked medical experts if this is “mind over matter” and am assured that this is not so. Originally, I thought that as my immune system automatically fights the ingestion or drugs, the cat was a mind detour allowing the medication to take effect. But, I do not take medication now and the pain void is instantaneous. My “furry pain medication” seems to know more about me than I ever gave her credit for.

The pain does not re-occur while Precious is sitting on my lap. When she leaves, the pain will return after about 20 minutes, but within my pain tolerance level. These peak pain periods may occur two to four times a day. They may be experienced on a daily occurrence or I may go for two or three days without a pain peak.

The strange thing is that we have a Cocker Spaniel and the experience of pain relief does not occur when she cuddles next to me. Cats are far more intelligent than we give them credit for, and I believe that they may have powers that we only dream of (This from a man who once considered that the only important pets were those of the canine variety!). The wheelchair, two canes and then one cane have now been discarded with little or no discomfort. I am told that the pain experience will be permanent, but my loving cat makes it bearable.

I have mentioned this to many cancer specialists, but get the feeling that they are condescending at the most. We, as an “intelligent form of life”, do not seem to understand even our most loved pets and are only too willing dismiss their capabilities in order to protect the status quo! Surely this experience must have been experienced by others with similar problems I would love to hear their stories.