Pet Connections

Chemo or Cat? By Dr. Susan Wagner, DVM MS ACVIM

My years as a conventional and integrative veterinarian have taught me that the human-animal bond goes beyond companionship. Animals are here to be our guides and teachers, and to help us on this journey called life. The most important lesson they teach us is to love without judgment. They view us as special people, whether or not the rest of the world agrees.

Our animal companions are also here to help us heal physical and emotional ailments. I remember a very special cat named Stuart. Stuart’s guardian brought him to me for his diabetes. He told me that Stuart was a very, very gifted cat, so I had to help him. This man’s child had died from leukemia, and he believed that Stuart had given his son two more years of life. When the doctors said that his son had only weeks to live, Stuart stayed by his side night and day. He was such a comfort to the little boy. The child made a miraculous turn around, and lived another two years. Stuart’s guardian was convinced that the cat was responsible for his child’s rally.

Now the father had developed a nerve tumor, and knew that Stuart would be there for him. I just had to make him well again. (No pressure there.) I remember thinking that the doctors probably changed the child’s chemotherapy, and that while Stuart had been a wonderful companion, there was no way he was really responsible for helping the child. Now that I understand the energy of the human-animal bond, and the amazing ability of animals to help us heal, I’m not so sure. Chemo or cat? Perhaps it was a bit of both.

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