Can a Cat Smell Cancer? What Science Says

by beaconpet
Can a Cat Smell Cancer?

In the article “Can a Cat Smell Cancer? from BeaconPet” we explore the intriguing possibility of our feline friends having the ability to detect cancer. While there is no scientific evidence to definitively prove that cats can smell cancer, there have been countless heartwarming stories of cats alerting their owners to potential health issues. From a cat pawing at a tumor in its owner’s lung to a cat’s unusual attention to a bruise that turned out to be breast cancer, these stories make us wonder if cats possess an extraordinary sense of smell that could be harnessed in the medical field. While the research is limited, it’s fascinating to consider the potential of our beloved feline companions and their incredible noses.

Stories of Cats Detecting Cancer

There haven’t been any formal studies to determine whether cats can smell cancer, but there are numerous personal stories from cat owners who claim that their feline companions have saved their lives by detecting cancer. One such story comes from a woman in Tennessee who noticed a strange bruise on her breast. Her cat began paying special attention to that area and even pounced on it as if trying to alert her to something. Acting on her cat’s behavior, the woman visited her doctor and was diagnosed with breast cancer. She credits her cat with the early detection and successful treatment of her cancer. Another well-known story involves a man from Alberta, Canada, whose cat started pawing at his left side. This behavior prompted him to seek medical attention, leading to the discovery of a tumor in his lung the size of a soda can. The cat owner believes that his cat’s instincts and claws led him to go to the doctor in the first place.

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Stories of Cats Detecting Cancer

Is It Possible for Cats to Smell Cancer?

While there is no solid research on cats and their ability to detect cancer, their noses suggest that it might be possible. Cats have an incredible sense of smell, far superior to that of humans. They possess over 200 million odor sensors, compared to our 5 million. Their noses also contain 30 V1R proteins, which allow them to discern different scents. In contrast, humans only have one of these proteins, and dogs have nine. This suggests that cats have a more sensitive sense of smell than dogs, making them potentially capable of detecting cancer. A study conducted on this topic claimed that cats could be used in detection and rescue situations due to their superior sense of smell.

Can a Cat Smell Cancer?

The Untrainable Feline

There is a common perception that cats are untrainable, which has led to researchers primarily focusing on using dogs for tasks such as detecting cancer. However, cats can be motivated and trained using food and treats. Providing tasty treats, such as cooked chicken or tuna, can act as a strong motivator for cats. They can also be trained through play and socialization as rewards. While cats may be more challenging to train compared to dogs, it is certainly possible to train them to detect cancer or other threats if given the right motivation and rewards.

cat is possible to train to detect cancer

Would Smelling Cancer Be Accurate?

Accuracy is an important consideration when it comes to using cats or dogs to detect cancer. Both animals need time to adjust to scents and learn their owner’s unique scent. In the case of cancer detection, changes are happening within the body at the cellular level, and these changes can affect the scent. It is believed that cats and dogs would need to be familiar with the person’s scent beforehand to accurately detect changes associated with cancer. This may be one of the reasons why researchers are not using cats as cancer detectors. However, many cat owners believe that their cats have alerted them to changes in their health, even without formal training or research.

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Would Smelling Cancer Be Accurate?

Final Thoughts

If your cat starts exhibiting unusual behavior, such as pawing or scratching at a specific area of your body, it can be difficult to determine whether it indicates something is wrong. Without further research, it is challenging to definitively say whether a cat’s actions are an indication of a health issue. While cats have the potential to sniff out cancer, more research is needed to fully understand the extent of their abilities and whether they can be harnessed for medical purposes. In the meantime, the power of cats to detect changes in our health remains largely within our homes rather than in medical environments.

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