All three of our rescue cats play close attention to us, and two of them have returned the favor by becoming life savers themselves.
Several months ago Calli gave me a “love bite” on the arm. I was angry at her and saw that it was red and swelling, so I asked my dermatologist to have a look at it. When he did he told me that it was actually a pre-skin cancer which he promptly burned off.
During the night last night I kept feeling Midnight’s cold nose on my elbow. When I awoke I noticed a bump on that very spot. Remembering that I had one “cancer sniffing cat” I thought perhaps I may have a another and went to see Dr. Grekin again. Sure enough it was another pre-skin cancer that had been detected by one of our cats, which he then burned off.
The Nose Knows
Dr. Grekin then made me aware of this study done on dogs sniffing out cancer.
As detailed in the British medical journal The Lancet in 1989, a border collie-Doberman mix belonging to a British woman repeatedly sniffed a mole on its owner’s thigh and once even tried to bite it off. The constant attention prompted the woman to have the lesion examined and she learned it was a malignant melanoma.
“The dog may have saved her life by forcing her to seek medical advice while the mole was still at a thin stage,” wrote Hywell Williams and Andrew Pembroke, surgeons at the dermatology department at King’s College Hospital in London, in a letter to The Lancet.
In another case, a pet Labrador named Parker repeatedly pushed his nose against his 66-year-old owner’s leg, sniffing a lesion through the owner’s pants. When the man had the lesion examined, he learned it was a basal cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer, and had it removed.
Neither dogs showed any interest in their owners’ lesions after they were treated.