In 2006, as her mother lay dying in a nursing home bed, Louise Cable-Tuck was surprised to see a pure white cat saunter into the nursing home room.
Louise’s mother, Toni, had been unwell for several years with a cruel degenerative disease, and the family was preparing for her final days.
The cat leapt up onto the bed, and made itself comfortable.
“She seemed to know where she was going,” Louise told HelloCare.
When the nursing home staff saw the cat, they offered to take it away, saying it lived in another part of the nursing home.
But Louise said it was fine, that she and Toni were both animal lovers, and she thought her mother, who was not conscious, would like the cat to be there in her final days.
The home had set Louise up in a bed beside her mother, and for the remainder of the day, Louise, her mother, and the cat remained quietly in the room.
Louise nodded off to sleep in the evening, only to be woken just before midnight.
The cat, who she had come to know was called Duchess, was sitting up, alert and awake, and staring fixedly at Toni, who was taking slow, shallow breaths.
Duchess and Louise watched together as Toni took her final breaths, and eventually passed away.
“I glanced up at the clock, and it was just on midnight. After my mother died, Duchess just got up and left,” Louise said.
Louise said that having the cat in the room with her when her mother died was enormously comforting.
“I’m just glad the cat was there,” she said. “Mum was a very vibrant person. She loved cats. She would have been happy to know the cat was there.”
Though Louise describes herself as a sceptical person, she thinks animals appear to have a special kind of knowing.
“I really love animals, and I do sometimes think they have some sort of special sense,” she said.
“I think Duchess knew mum was going to die.”
Louise’s daughter gave Toni a white porcelain cat for her seventieth birthday, just a month before she died. The ornament was placed carefully on Toni’s chest when she was buried.