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my gray cat and my head

I've never had a chance to get any kind of recording of Sierra, my gray cat, doing what she does for me, and I've always wondered if perhaps people think I am crazy when I talk about my cat alerting to my migraines and seizures. This morning I happened to be recording an audio file for a friend when she did her alert. She hasn't done it in a long time; but lately I've been having daily migraines. That meant it was a matter of time before she would start alerting. I had already been awake for a few hours, working on a paper. Unfortunately, staying home is not really an option due to the number of classes I missed already when I had the asthma/sinus/bronchitis mess that lasted for weeks.

Sometimes Sierra gets cranky when I have not slept enough; but I really should have recognized this meow. As usual, she was right on. I had a vertigo episode on the paratransit bus going in. I was on my way down the steps, and I fell backward and did not catch myself. The driver did catch me. There is really nothing like being at the top of bus steps and falling. Loretta was not interested in getting on or off the bus. This is my first serious migraine with her, and I am curious how she will do in the future. I am really not interested in continuing to have migraines in order to test her intelligence; but it's probably going to happen regardless of my interest or lack thereof.

By the afternoon, I was sporting a level 9 on the pain scale. Class was in session, and I did not leave to take Imitrex. Of course, by the time I did take it, I had waited too long. It really is not doing very much for me. I will either have to start carrying water or get comfortable with leaving and returning. I'm not exactly inconspicuous.

Anyway, Sierra did a good job. If you're skeptical, you can listen to her. This lengthy meow is reserved specifically for alerting situations. She has a short, slightly lower meow for communicating that the water bowl is empty, and her normal friendly meows are short and similar in pitch to this long one. I have some normal meows on file somewhere, and if I can dig them up I'll put them here If I'm in especially bad shape, she will meow even longer and louder. for comparison. Her range of vocalization is truly amazing. Most cats certainly have a variety of vocalizations, but they are normally quite similar. Sierra and Inca are two of the most vocally versatile cats I've ever encountered. The fact that they use their vocalizations to communicate with me about my state as well as their own is extremely fascinating.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 18th, 2008 12:45 am (UTC)
Im glad that she's able to do that for you. Trinity has noticed more when I'm going to get a migraine than she used to.
I know of others who used psychiatric service dogs and their dogs have been able to alert them to migraines coming too.
How did Loretta act after you were off the bus? Did she notice anything different at all?
Mar. 18th, 2008 01:26 am (UTC)
I really don't remember, but her general work was crummy all day. When I've had my seizures (in which I go into sort of autopilot mode and only halfway have a clue about what's going on), she gets very sloppy and does not straighten up until I am better. I have had to learn to pay attention if she gets sloppy, and perhaps this is her way of alerting. The school calls it "passive distraction" because there is really nothing she is interested in. I wish she would just do something overt, make me sit down or something.
Mar. 18th, 2008 02:42 am (UTC)
I tried to liten to the audio stream, but since I am on dial up, it is taking too long to load--... Does she meow when it is oncoming or purr, walk all over you. Our cat seems to have different ones if I don't notice it... I re-read it and you did describe if she meowed or purred.... does she walk all over you as well (I know some dogs do this)... I just think this is fascinating and you are not weird to take note that your cat is behaving differently when migraines and stuff appear. I think it is the chemical reactions that changes, this is what I am told how dogs, if they have been with the handler long enough, notice the handler's chemical imbalance goes off balance, etc, and they alert to it.

I find this stuff so fascinating!
Mar. 18th, 2008 03:39 am (UTC)
She jumped on the desk this time. Usually she just walks all around on the floor and meows, and if I go t obed she will snuggle up extra close. If you right-click the file, you can download instead of streaming. That may work better.
Mar. 18th, 2008 03:42 am (UTC)
oohhh, good idea about right-licking, I will definitely do that!
Mar. 18th, 2008 03:53 am (UTC)
I tried to right-click on the link, and it won't work that way... Sigh.
Mar. 18th, 2008 05:26 am (UTC)
I'm not skeptical in the least.

I've read so much about animals being able to sense things. I know that there are dogs that can sense oncoming seizures (I think that there is a program for it now. I heard it off-hand from another friend).

I think you are blessed to have a pet like Sierra.

Mar. 18th, 2008 05:02 pm (UTC)
Wow, that is fascinating. Oddly enough, Brandin is the most vocal of all our cats-- but only with me. And I mean that. The only time he was vocal with my parents was when the screen in the lenigh was pushed out and he tried to tell mom.

But with me, he'll meow every time he comes around me and I'm standing. I know when he wants food- especially when I'm the only one home.

This sort of thing really does intrigue me. :)

the Phoenix
Apr. 10th, 2008 05:59 am (UTC)
Hi, Sarah. My name's Cheryl, and I've been reading your lj on and off for awhile.
I know this comment is way late, but I just thought I'd write to say how cool that is about your kitty.
I hope you do more recordings soon.
Apr. 10th, 2008 11:59 am (UTC)
glad you like it
Glad you enjoyed my kitty. She's a good little girl.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah Blake LaRose
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