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68-year-old Betty Macaluso doesn’t wake to the sound of an alarm clock. Like many of us, she’s awakened by a hungry cat or two, who gently knead her arm when it’s time for their breakfast. Unlike many of us, she wouldn’t be able to hear the alarm clock even if it did ring; she’s deaf, and her cats are her ears.

She adopted Tom 2 (an orange and white tabby) and Tiger (a heavier gray and black tabby), both now about a year old, from PetSmart in Lawrenceville, Georgia, when they were 12 weeks old.

“They know I can’t hear,” Macaluso, 68, said through a sign language interpreter. “They hear for me.”

She remembers one morning when Tom 2 stood on her stomach, gazing intently at the ceiling above her bed. Over the course of the following week, he continues to stare at the same spot. She grabbed a flashlight and took a closer look, discovering a thin, round line of clay on her ceiling. She immediately called a pest control company. Tom 2 had spotted termites.

Macaluso said the exterminator was puzzled as to how she found termites in the wall, since she’s deaf and could not hear them. “I smiled and pointed to my Tom 2.”

He told her she was lucky to have a cat like Tom 2; she could have lost her home if he hadn’t detected the termites.

Tom 2 and Tiger also notice the flashing lights that signal the doorbell or video phone is ringing and alert their owner.

Since Macaluso can’t hear her cats when they meow, the two have already learned to paw at her leg to get her attention.

Macaluso’s parents were also deaf, and she grew up in a home with cats. She recalled one evening when she was sitting down with her mother on the swing on their porch, and their family cat began acting very strangely. They couldn’t figure out why.

About that time, the cat jumped a rattlesnake that was five feet from Macaluso and her mother, keeping them out of harm’s way.

“I will never … live without two cats because they always helped me by (hearing what I cannot).”

[LINK: Gwinnett Daily Post]