Most people know that certain dogs qualify as service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Dogs have the ability to detect seizures in humans before they happen, and these dogs are known as seizure-alert dogs. While this ability in dogs is remarkable, what about cats? Can cats also detect seizures? Reports 1 and stories 2 around the world claim that cats can indeed detect seizures.
While claims of cats detecting seizures are evident, is there any scientific proof? Unfortunately, we could not find any scientific proof that cats can detect seizures, but try telling this to cat owners who claim their cats can. Let’s explore this topic more in-depth.
Can Cats Sense a Seizure Coming in Humans?
While no scientific proof exists explaining if cats can detect seizures, a few stores out there make you wonder if it’s indeed true. One story 3, in particular, raises eyebrows regarding the subject.
In 2011, a 19-year-old boy claimed his cat, Lily, was able to detect his weekly epileptic seizures before they happened. To Lily, she was simply responding to a medical emergency and taking action.
Lily was normally a quiet cat, but when she sensed a seizure coming on in Nathan, she would run around the house, meowing loudly to alert Nathan’s parents so they could assist Nathan by keeping him from hurting himself or falling during the seizure. Nathan stopped breathing during one seizure, and Lily licked his mouth until he started breathing again.
Experts believe that cats use their incredible sense of smell to detect seizures, meaning they can detect chemical changes within the body before a seizure happens. Cats have a more heightened sense of smell than dogs, making us believe they should have the ability to detect seizures in the same way as dogs can.
Is a Cat’s Sense of Smell as Good as a Dog’s?
Cats have fewer scent receptors than dogs, but cats may be able to differentiate certain smells from one another better than dogs. Mammals have three different scent receptor proteins, one being the VR1 protein 4. This protein allows mammals to differentiate one smell from another.
To put into perspective, humans have two variants of this protein, dogs have nine, and cats have 30.
Can You Train a Cat to Detect Seizures?
It may be possible to train a cat to detect seizures, but a cat will probably not be as trainable as a dog for these medical situations. Cats can be trained to use the toilet and the litter box and possibly even learn the commands “sit” and “stay.”
As far as training to detect seizures, you can try rewarding with a treat if your cat detects a seizure; it certainly wouldn’t hurt, but again, no scientific proof exists on whether or not this is possible.
While we cannot scientifically prove that cats can detect seizures, fascinating stories of cat owners claiming their cat is able to do as such certainly make us wonder about a cat’s ability.
Cats are incredibly intelligent, making this theory not so far-fetched. In the end, if you suffer from seizures, adopting a cat may be an option to help with this medical event, but bear in mind that your cat may not have the ability.
Featured Image Credit: evrymmnt, Shutterstock