Pickles The Guide Cat Helps Visually Impaired Owner — Even Detects Seizures

Pickles alerts his owner to oncoming seizures and helps the vision-impaired woman get around the house.

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Kim Ward with her guide cat, Pickles. Via News Shopper
Cari Jorgensen

Sure, many pets have been used as therapy animals, and we’re all familiar with guide dogs. But have you heard of a guide cat?

Kim Ward, a resident of Kidbrooke, England, ended up in a wheelchair after a vehicle accident in 1999, News Shopper reports. Since the accident, she has suffered from daily mild seizures and biweekly serious ones. In 2011, she also began losing her eyesight. While these hindrances can be inconveniences in one’s life, Ward, 50, has something to rely on: her cat Pickles.

Ward and her husband, Keith, 55, “trained him to sit, stay, wait and lay down. We taught him like you would a dog. When my phone rings he will go stand next to it so I can find it — I don’t have any peripheral vision, but I can see him against certain surfaces from certain angles. He’s a bit like a guide dog,” Ward told News Shopper.

After the couple taught Pickles basic tricks to help Ward, the cat began predicting when she would have a seizure.

Pickles trained himself to detect seizures, his owner says. Via News Shopper

Pickles trained himself to detect seizures, his owner says. Via News Shopper

“Pickles will do his utmost to warn me that a seizure is due and will stay with me all the time until I’m safe. He will claw the furniture or run around to make noise when he knows I’m going to have a seizure,” Ward told News Shopper. “I’ve mentioned it to doctors and they have heard of dogs sensing it because of chemical smells but not cats. We haven’t taught him that — he did it himself.”

This skill is of the utmost importance to Ward, who could become unconscious, fall and get hurt during a seizure. With Pickles’ warning, Ward has time to go lie down until the seizure is over.

Ward has penned a children's book series based on Pickles. Via itv

Ward has penned a children’s book series based on Pickles. Via News Shopper

Ward is telling the story of Pickles in the form of children’s books that she hopes will address difficult issues, such as disabilities and adoption.

Ward told News Shopper that the books “will tell the story of how Pickles found a new family, going from a tiny little unwanted kitten to being trained commands and then detecting my seizures.”

News Shopper reports that the books are now being published.

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