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Could my cat be a hero?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Recently, I began having health problems and saw my doctor ... who referred me to three specialists. One of those specialists was a sleep medicine specialist who wanted me to do an "apnealink" sleep apnea screening. This is not a full-blown "sleep study." Rather, I'd take a small machine home with me to monitor my sleep habits and, for one night, sleep with it hooked up to me.

To do this, I checked myself into a motel. Reason? Sometimes, my cat, Velcro, will jump up on a dresser near my bed and JUMP on me while I sleep. And other times, she'll come up to me while I'm asleep and claw an exposed elbow (grin). Of course, both things wake me right up. So, because I wanted a "clean" test, I decided to do it at a motel.

Sleep apnea, for those who don't know, is a condition where people stop breathing for short periods of time while they sleep. This is actually considered normal ... but only as long as the number of cessations is 5 or less per hour. My screening score? 93 times per hour.

My primary physician said it was nearly "off the scale" ... and a clerk in the sleep medicine specialist's office said it was the worst score she'd ever seen. Untreated, sleep apnea could cause a sufferer to go to sleep and (ulp) simply stop breathing altogether and not wake up. Bottom line? I'm going to need either a CPAP or BiPAP machine to assist in breathing while I sleep (and this is for the rest of my life). And next week, I'll have the full sleep study and be "fitted" for one.

But ... back to my cat, Velcro. A thought occurred to me ... and the sleep medicine doctor thinks I might be onto something. It could be that the jumping and clawing activities of my cat are "on purpose" ... that she knows I've stopped breathing and is doing it to "revive" me. In short, it could be that my cat is a hero ... and has saved my life on a number of occasions. And if true, I have reason to appreciate her even more than I had before.

P.S. (humor) Perhaps my cat has given a whole new meaning to the term:


Is it "Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation" or "Cat Pulmonary Resuscitation?" Hehehe.

J. Alec West
post #2 of 17
Maybe she senses when you stop breathing during your sleep. Speck was a rowdy kitten when I became very sick. After I got out of the hospital, he was as sweet as could be. This went on for days. Then, about as soon I recovered, he started chewing on me again.
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
The thing worrying me now is whether she'll stop attacking me and start attacking the machine when I get it (grin). She thoroughly "inspects" every appliance I bring into my home. And if the appliance has moving parts or parts that make noises, she's even more thorough.

Since I do some traveling, I think I'll ask my doctor for a "portable" unit from the get go ... not only so I can take it with me ... but so I can pack it up and put it in the closet when I'm awake and away from home.
post #4 of 17
Good idea about getting a portable one.
I thik it's entirely possible that your cat was waking you when you'd stopped breathing.
post #5 of 17
Are you sure you'll be dependent on the machine for the rest of your life? Aren't there treatments for apnea?
post #6 of 17
Originally Posted by pushylady View Post
Good idea about getting a portable one.
I thik it's entirely possible that your cat was waking you when you'd stopped breathing.
i agree - look at calismom's thread about her fire!

mine is portable. i didn't even request one - that's the way it came. none of mine have shown any interest in it, running or not.
post #7 of 17
I think it is definitely possible. I saw something on television before about a man whose iguana actually saved him by clawing him when he was asleep and had stopped breathing.
post #8 of 17
Are you sure you'll be dependent on the machine for the rest of your life? Aren't there treatments for apnea?
There really is no cure for sleep apnea and it is a life-long condition. My husband has sleep apnea and sleeps with a bi-pap machine. Our cats don't bother it. Hannah will start gnawing on the tubing occasionally if she's hungry and it's feeding time. This is a last-ditch attempt to get him awake, though.
post #9 of 17
My goodness! 96 times an hour? You poor thing, you must be tired a LOT, huh? I'm pretty sure I have sleep apnea too, but there's nothing I can do about for now.
post #10 of 17
I could believe that Velcro saved you! I've heard of things like that happening.
post #11 of 17
For some people, in whom the apnea is minor there is a surgery that messes with a flap in the throat-- but meh.

My dad has one of the machines, had it for 3-4 years now and its awesome. The cats never bother it, and it doesn't wake my mother up at all. I am going for a full on sleep study soon as they schedule me, because sleep apnea has been genetically linked, and because I'm sick of having days where I literally almost faint in class.
post #12 of 17
Yes, I do think your cat is a hero. In fact, I know he is. You should be very proud. The story made me smile. c:
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
Three full sleep studies later (and using a free loaner machine afterward), I finally got my own "auto-BiPAP" machine. It's funny ... my cat doesn't bother the machine at all ... but she's fascinated by the carrying case, hehehe. She climbs into it and sometimes sleeps in it - and claws me when I try to get her out of it. Territorial, I guess - the machine is "mine" but the bag is "hers."

Before the machine, she used to jump on me, claw my elbows, and once I woke up to find her sitting on my chest, looking me right in the eyes, and paw-punching my nose (grin). But since getting the machine, all that behavior came to an abrupt halt. Now, she just sleeps near (or sometimes on) my feet.

Because this behavior has ceased, I can only conclude that she WAS sensing that I'd stopped breathing and WAS trying to revive me. I still owe her that clawing post I promised her when I got the machine (grin). She'll get it soon.

post #14 of 17
what a great story - and I do believe she was waking you on purpose. What a wonderfully devoted kitty. Hope you both continue to do well!
post #15 of 17
she deserves a few extra treats as well as a new scratching post!
post #16 of 17
I think her biggest reward is a good night's sleep! I'm sure she was up all night worry about you. What a great story! (anyone call purina yet? )
post #17 of 17
Hmph! Apparently I need to trade in my cats for new ones. I have sleep apnea and none of my cats have ever tried to wake me up when I stop breathing. I'm jealous.
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