In Britain, a Kidbrooke resident named Kim Ward may have the country’s only seeing eye cat.
In 1999 she was involved in a bus crash that left her wheelchair-bound. Since then, she has suffered from seizures, and in 2011, began losing her sight. Lucky for her, Pickles, the gray mixed-breed feline, is there to lend a helping paw.
“We trained him to sit, stay, wait, and lay down. We taught him like you would a dog,” she told News Shopper. “When my phone rings he will go stand next to it so I can find it – I don’t have any peripheral vision but I can see him against certain surfaces from certain angles…He’s a bit like a guide dog.”
Pickles’ amazing ability and willingness to learn these helpful tricks came as a pleasant surprise to the Wards, who adopted him as a kitten after he was abandoned by his mother. And despite the amazing things he’s been trained to do, there’s one crucial skill he learned on his own: how to detect Kim Ward’s oncoming seizures.
“Pickles will do his utmost to warn me that a seizure is due and will stay with me all the time until I’m safe,” said Ward to News Shopper. “He will claw the furniture or run around to make noise when he knows I’m going to have a seizure.”
With mild seizures every day–and more severe ones every couple of weeks–she has learned to heavily rely on Pickles’ senses. Without his warnings, she could lose consciousness, collapsing on anything in her path and seriously hurting herself. But with Pickles by her side, she knows when to find a safe place to lie down until the seizure is over.
According to News Shopper, dogs can be trained to sense seizures by detecting changes in their human’s biochemistry, but a cat who can sense these changes is almost unheard of.
“I’ve mentioned it to doctors and they have heard of dogs sensing it because of chemical smells but not cats,” Ward told News Shopper. “We haven’t taught him that – he did it himself.”
Pickles’ story is so amazing that she wants to share it with the world–especially children. It all started when she began telling the story to her niece at bedtime.
“She hopes to use the books to address issues which children find difficult to talk about, such as living with disabilities and adoption – as Pickles lost his own mother soon after he was born,” reports News Shopper.
Ward explained in the article, “They will tell the story of how Pickles found a new family, going from a tiny little unwanted kitten to being trained commands and then detecting my seizures.”
What an amazing feline! Have you ever met a guide or service cat? We’d love to hear about it!
(h/t: News Shopper)