Categories: story

Dainty female cat acts like an alarm clock to help mother of severely handicapped girl


This is the story of Speedy. There are two things about the story that need to be mentioned at the outset. Firstly, the story was published in a book entitled Wonder Cats in 2010 and Speedy was honoured by Cats Protection with a Rescue Cat Award in the Hero Cat category in 2008. Therefore, the story is about 12 years old and things might well have changed over the intervening years. It is still worth telling because as far as I can see it has only been published in book form and not online. The story is told by Joan Payne, the mother of Christine, from Aldeburgh in Suffolk, UK.

Joan brought home a tabby cat named Speedy as a companion for her housebound daughter Christine. At the time, Joan’s 19-year-old daughter Christine suffered from various serious ailments which included progressive spinal ataxia and epilepsy. She had severe learning difficulties and suffered from grand mal seizures. She is or was confined to her home. Joan tells the story better than I can:

Christie is a very severely handicapped little girl whose whole world is around the home. She is very isolated. We decided to get Christie a cat to help bring some life into her lonely world. We went to the animal rescue centre where there were so many cats to choose from. The lady showed us a very small, dainty tabby with delicate features. She seemed very lady-like. I would say she was elegant and how she walked. Her cry was very soft and gentle and she seemed to have a very caring nature. We brought her home and she was very nervous. She hid in her bed, only venturing out at night when it was quiet. She did a room at a time, taking it very slowly and settling into her new surroundings. She eventually found her way to Christie’s room where she seemed to settle in very quickly. She soon made herself at home, lying on the arm or the back of Christie’s chair and on her bed at night. We even had to bring her biscuits in. When Christie was washed Speedy would sit and wash herself. They seemed to just hit it off-like they both needed someone.

Of course, Joan was delighted that Speedy had formed a close relationship with her daughter. She noticed an improvement in her daughter who was brighter and happier. However, it wasn’t just the companionship that Speedy brought her daughter. Speedy was able to provide Joan with a form of alarm system when Christie was having a seizure. Once again, in Joan’s words:

One day speedy seem very distressed and would not settle. When I looked at Christie I could see she was unwell. So we put her to bed and when Speedy came into the kitchen crying and clawing I saw Christie was having a fit. We gave Christie her medication and both Speedy and Christie slept. Christie seemed calmer for having Speedy there. We thought how lucky we were that Speedy had noticed because when Christie had grand mal seizures she just suddenly falls.

Since that time there have been other occasions when Speedy has predicted a seizure and has warned Joan. Speedy’s presence is reassuring to both Joan and her daughter. She does not just relieve Christine’s loneliness but provide Joan with a warning system. As a result, and as mentioned above, Speedy’s support was honoured by Cats Protection. Cats Protection is UK’s leading feline welfare charity formed in 1927.

I’d love to know if the relationship still exists. Perhaps Joan will visit and write a comment. Cats who help in this way are so precious. That said all domestic cats provide a ‘service’ of sorts to their human carer: companionship. Millions of otherwise lonely people have a reliable companion thanks to their cat.


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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