Known Johnson

June 12, 2006

Feline early warning

Filed under: General — Tom @ 2:08 pm

I realize I’ve written quite a bit about migraines lately, and if you’re not interested, well, for that I can only half-heartedly apologize: there are millions of other websites to visit, and this is currently my biggest issue – I’m going to write about it.

That said, this particular issue should be pretty interesting to everyone: one of our cats, Bentley, seems to know when I’m getting a migraine. I’m not crazy, I swear. Bentley, a sweet, nearly silent but slightly temperamental brown tabby, whom I refer to as our living stuffed animal because his fur is unnaturally soft and luxurious, has taken to waking me up in the middle of the night, which is when I most often seem to get attacked by migraines. And he’s insistent. He jumps up, jumps on my chest, or side, whatever is presented to him, and will bump my head with his, which is a common thing he likes to do to show affection. And that’s all I’d taken it for until today. On some nights, like last night, he refuses to let me sleep. Instead, he bumps, then he paws, and if he still gets no response, he contines to bump, paw, and lightly scratch until he gets what he wants – or what I thought he wanted, some attention. And he rarely ever makes a sound – except last night, when he sat by my side of the bed on the floor after I plopped him there when he took up too much residence on my pillow. There, a few quiet times, he produced a few of his odd little chirpy meows and pawed at the side of the bed.

When he woke me up last night, I came out of a deep sleep, confused, groggy, very tired, and I wanted back. I’ve made note of odd colors and light formations late at night before, as often attributing them to my (the drug I take for my migraines which begins in “Top” and ends in “amax,” written this way because of damn bots spamming my comments) as to migraines, and last night there were more. I ignored them – groggy and sleepy, I wrote them off, again, as just a side-effect, despite knowing what I already knew from the past three weeks, but more because I’d just had a migraine that afternoon. Surely I wouldn’t already be getting another, right?

When I woke up this morning, I found out the answer: yes, I sure could. And that’s when something hit me. Bentley had been following me around yesterday morning shortly before I left for the trip in which I not only got gas and lunch but also got a migraine aura, and he’d been circling around me as I walked, chirping and squeaking, something that is very unusual for this nearly silent cat. I thought back to my previous overnight migraines and it hit me – I hadn’t gotten migraines from poor sleep because Bentley woke me up. He knew something was not right with me. He knew something was wrong those nights and he knew something was wrong yesterday morning. And he knew something was wrong last night. I should have paid attention. From now on I will.

And, for your information, I’m not crazy and I’m not the only one. Here’s a whole thread on a migraine newsgroup where others report their pets acting unusual when they have migraines. I’ve heard of epilepsy patients whose pets picked up on early warning signals and alerted their owners, and recent studies suggest a link between epilepsy and migraines, so this might make more sense.

I stayed home from work today, took my Fioricet to dull the pain, and it’s okay. I don’t feel like doing much, but the edge is off and so I can actually do some things. There’s enough caffeine in the Fioricet that I sure won’t be sleeping anytime soon, that’s for sure.


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