Cancer and America’s Deteriorating Health:
A New Kind of Cat & Dog Fight
By Allen and Linda Anderson
This year’s annual report, “America’s Health: State Health Rankings,” reveals the dismal news that the country’s overall health has taken an alarming downhill slide since the 1990s. The survey’s results raise the question: What else can be included in the arsenal of tools for improving America’s fitness?
Through our research and the thousands of stories we receive each year, we’ve concluded that animal companions are invaluable additions to healing therapies. With 77 million cats and 65 million dogs in U.S. homes, we believe people often overlook an important resource in the fight against cancer and other health issues — their animal companions!
In doing research for our new book, Angel Cats: Divine Messengers of Comfort, we came across a study reported by Lev G. Fedyniak, M.D., in the November 2003 issue of Animal Wellness. Elizabeth von Mug-genthaler, a bioacoustics specialist at the Fauna Communications Research Institute in North Carolina, found that the purring of an average housecat falls into the frequency range of 25 to 40 cycles per second. Exposure to frequencies at 20-50 cycles per second induces bone density, relieves pain, and heals tendons and muscles. Many people say they can relieve or eliminate a migraine headache by lying down with a purring cat next to their head.
To prove the point that a cat’s purr is a natural healing agent, we are reminded of a story in our first book, Angel Animals: Exploring Our Spiritual Connection with Animals. Karen Jensen, N.D., told of a kitten who insisted on lying on top of her broken bone and purring like a freight train for hours at a time. Karen began to sense that the bone was mending but didn’t know why. After six weeks, she went to the doctor and asked for an X-ray. The doctor said that because of the severity of Karen’s injury, it would take six months for the bone to heal. He was amazed to find the bone had healed in only six weeks. Karen credits the kitten’s purring for this healing.
We have had health issues of our own — dealing with Linda’s breast cancer and the regular problems that come with mid-life aging. Animals became our friends and healers during tough times with their companionship, their need for exercise (which prompted us to keep moving), and their instinctive sense to cuddle near what-ever parts of the body are hurting. Through the thousands of stories we have collected from around the world for our books and online newsletters, we noticed that animals consistently and constantly play pivotal, lifesaving roles. Animals, as healers, seem to be a pattern rather than an occasional occurrence.
Recently the British Medical Journal reported on the first experiment to scientifically verify that dogs can detect cancer. The dogs detected cancer three times more often than would be expected by chance alone. In fact, all dogs in the study found cancer in one patient even though medical screening tests had found none. Later, the doctors conducted more tests and discovered the patient had a life-threatening tumor in the right kidney.
Animals also help people relax and remind them to play and take breaks. We’ve read reports that show blood pressure is lowered merely by stroking an animal’s fur. The touch and sense of comfort relieve stress.
In Angel Cats, Margie Broadrick from Madison, Tennessee, wrote about Harley, the cat who changed a long-term care and rehabilitation center into more of a loving home. Harley was an abandoned kitten whom the staff members brought in as the new resident cat. Harley immediately took to the job. He forged a unique relationship with each resident and with the staff members. He attends all the staff meetings, often riding on a nurse’s shoulders into the meeting room and then carefully listening when individual patients’ needs are discussed.
Something truly remarkable about Harley is his ability to immediately evaluate what each resident or staff member needs and to deliver it with all four paws. Although he loves to interact with people and to be petted, if he senses someone merely needs his presence and not his touch, he will sit quietly nearby without calling attention to himself. Whatever will help the most, Harley delivers.
Someone might require cheering up after a rough night, so Harley will perform antics, chase his tail, and jump around in a silly fashion to bring a needed laugh. Moments later, this perceptive cat will trot into another room and sit quietly and respectfully on the bed or floor. With his gentle, bright, loving eyes, he exudes love so the person feels less alone. Harley gives of himself, not only as a companion but as a healer.
In our second book, God’s Messengers: What Animals Teach Us about the Divine, Meg MacZura-Betts from Granite City, Illinois, said her father and Meg’s dog Max were the best of buddies. When Meg’s father suffered a stroke, he went into a coma. Meg asked the hospital for permission to bring Max to visit her father in intensive care after being told that he probably wouldn’t make it through the night. She placed the dog on her father’s bed, and Max began to nuzzle his cheek. The man, feeling Max’s kisses, came out of his coma! He lived for several months more, giving much comfort to his family. The hospital considered Max to be a hero, and he had visiting privileges any time from that point on.
The special healing bond people have with their pets comes largely as a result of noticing and being appreciative of all that the animal is doing (or trying to do) to help. Sometimes, what the pet does for improving emotional and physical health is so subtle that people take it for granted or miss it. This is why we so often receive heartfelt stories after the pet dies. Only then do people recognize the hole in their lives and are grateful for their animal’s love, companionship, and healing abilities.
So we try to help people observe blessings from animals while their pet is still
with them. It makes for a much more fulfilling life when you understand you are
not alone, but are receiving many gifts from animal companions and animals in
Visit www.angelanimals.net, read hundreds of healing stories, and receive free the Angel Animals Story of the Week. It’s a great way to start your week with a reminder that even in a world full of anger and uncertainty, love is all around when animals are in your life.
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