If a cat psychologist came to my home and did a quick evaluation of my cat Bougie, she’d probably call him mediocre, borderline stupid, and fearful. It’s true, Bougie is afraid of strangers, he often looks bewildered, and nothing about him, other than his ability to shed, seems extraordinary. But there is more to Bougie than meets the eye.
Bougie was born in my apartment while I was pregnant with my first son. As soon as Bougie was big enough to make his way onto the couch or my bed, he began to climb on me and sit on belly. He’d sit my on belly for as long as I’d let him. We called him the incubator.
After my son was born, Bougie stopped sitting on my belly. He’d still hang around me and sleep at the foot of my bed, but my stomach was of no interest to him. Then, a little more than year-and-a-half later, Bougie began to sit on my stomach again. I noticed it right away, and that told me I was pregnant before a blood test did. Bougie incubated my second son, too. After the birth, Bougie once again stopped sitting on me.
My third pregnancy began with complications. Very early in the first trimester I ended up in the emergency room where the doctors told me I’d miscarried. I was miserable. I was crying. But when I got home from the hospital, Bougie kept trying to sit on my belly. “Leave me alone, Bougie,” I said. But Bougie wouldn’t leave me alone. He insisted – aggressively – on sitting on me. Every time I pushed him away, he came right back. He had good reason. He knew better than a team of gynecologists and an ultrasound. I hadn’t miscarried at all.
But it wasn’t that simple even after we’d established that I was, as Bougie suspected, still pregnant. During the course of the first trimester, my doctor repeatedly told me the pregnancy didn’t look normal. I was scared. I had already been through losing the baby once. I couldn’t bear to go through it again. And because none of the doctors I’d seen seemed to know what was going on, and the ultrasounds weren’t conclusive, I decided to do most foolproof thing I could do: watch the cat.
For weeks I stayed away from doctors and ultrasounds. Bougie was my guide. Part of me was terrified that my baby wasn’t developing normally, and that I need to be treated by medical professionals. The other part of me believed if Bougie was in incubator-mode, it meant the baby was just fine. He was of full experience, after all, having done this twice before. And sometimes a woman just needs to listen to her cat. So I did. Bougie proved to know more about me than any doctor or machine. He knew more about me than I knew about myself. Other than a few diabetes-related bumps along the way, my pregnancy and my baby were fine.
I can’t tell you how Bougie sensed the changes in my body. Other than the smell of tuna, he doesn’t seem to sense much at all. But sometimes animals show extraordinary powers. A cat named Pudding, who lives in Door County, Wisconsin, is one of those animals. I first learned about Pudding in an article in the Door County Advocate. I was so moved by Pudding’s story that I contacted his owner Amy Jung.
Amy was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 1980 at the age of four. A few weeks ago, she took her son Ethan to the Door County Humane Society to play with cats. “I tend to be a cat person,” Amy said. She hadn’t gone to the Humane Society with the intention of bringing a cat home. But when she saw Pudding, a giant, fluffy 21-pound orange and white cat lying on a counter, she decided to adopt him and his buddy Wimsy. “Pudding was just the sweetest old man,” Amy said. “I fell in love with him on the spot. I couldn’t bring myself to leave him at the shelter, he just needed a home of his own.”
When the Jungs arrived home with their cats, Pudding acted as if he’d always lived there. He was instantly part of the family. At 9:30 p.m. that night, Amy went to sleep. About 90 minutes later she began to have a diabetic seizure. That’s when Pudding landed on her chest. The impact of Pudding’s 21 pounds wasn’t enough to wake Amy. So Pudding began to paw at her face. After that, he started to nibble on her nose. Amy woke up and stopped seizing long enough to call Ethan for help. When Ethan didn’t respond, Pudding came to the rescue yet again. The cat ran to Ethan’s room and jumped on his bed. According to the report in the Door County Advocate, “Ethan later told Amy that he didn’t know anything was wrong until the giant cat landing on the bed woke him up.”
Amy believes Pudding saved her life. And it doesn’t stop there. “I honestly think everything he does is pretty extraordinary,” Amy said. “When my blood sugar hits 76 he’s on my feet meowing.”
So far Bougie shows no signs of being able to detect hypoglycemia. But after learning about Pudding’s abilities, I’m going to pay more attention to him. Perhaps he’s trying to tell me something important when he jumps on my head in the middle of the night, or when howls and tears through the apartment as the sun begins to rise. I have always dismissed these things as crazy cat behavior. But maybe, just maybe, there is method in his madness.
For the full story of Amy Jung and Pudding see Samantha Hernandez’s article in the Door County Advocate.
Cover image of Pudding by Tina Gohr.