Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: July 26, 2023 by Crystal Uys


When Elizabeth Moore went to her local veterinary clinic to buy food for her cat Toby, she wasn’t planning on falling in love with a little tortie kitten. Little did she know that less than a year later, Lucy would save her life. Here is Lucy’s story, in Elizabeth’s own words.

Meeting Lucy

I was aware of Lucy before we actually met. Our vet had rescued two litters of kittens and they were all playing in a large enclosure when I went to collect food for Toby,  our tuxedo cat. I first noticed a beautiful champagne tabby cavorting with her siblings. When I returned in two weeks, she and several other kittens had been claimed. The remaining fur balls rolled, played and stalked on.

It was several weeks before I returned. I had just heard on the news that a juvenile whale found in a waterway in the northern part of Sydney had been euthanized, and I was feeling sad and even a little teary. Without even thinking, I checked the enclosure and made eye contact with the last kitten. A loud trill came from this tiny tortie creature. It was clear to me that I was being summoned, so I took a closer look at the little lady who was demanding my attention. We had quite a conversation and I felt wretched that she was the last of the two litters. Her name was Lucy.

I was late for work but the germ of an idea was hovering. I mentioned Lucy to my husband and for once he said “Let’s talk about it when we get home.” In the past, he had always countered any kitten request from me in a kind but firm negative. Not this time.


As soon as I finished work I drove straight back to the vet’s. I asked if I could meet Lucy. I was ushered into one of the exam rooms. A veterinary nurse brought Lucy, and the little girl made all the right moves for an adoption interview. She snuggled and purred and rubbed her head on my wrist. Meanwhile, the nurse was conducting her own, if somewhat covert, interview with me. She pointed out that Lucy was not really a tiny kitten anymore – she was a lanky 5-month-old and growing fast. I said I didn’t really want a kitten. I wanted a cat. Apparently, that was the right answer. “Besides” I added, remembering our exchange earlier in the day, “she is an amazing talker.” The nurse looked askance at me. “Lucy never talks.” I quickly asked about all the necessary adoption details and hurried home to convince my husband.

Bringing Lucy home

He was unusually amenable, and the next day, Lucy and I became an official item. She had spent all her time in a vet’s enclosure so I decided to start her off gently and gave her her own little room with all the basics: a bed, food, litter, water and toys. I would head in every half hour or so and sit on the floor with her while she sniffed, played and explored. That night my husband and I could hear what can only be described as cat Olympics as she bounced and jumped and skittered in her new, very own space.

Our next task was to introduce her to Toby. He was interested. Lucy put on her best firebrand impression and made much noise. Within minutes they were firm friends and remain inseparable to this day.


Lucy slipped seamlessly into our lives. She adored Toby, loved my husband, but was obviously my kitten. Each morning she would jump onto the bed accompanied by her lovely trilling calls. We would snuggle and then I was gently encouraged to start her day with food and litter duties.


Lucy saves a life

One morning, her snuggles varied a little. She leaned across me and pushed my left breast with her head. I moved her away as I was about to get up and attend to her breakfast. She repeated the behavior the next morning but this time she was much more insistent – annoying even. I reached across to stop her and as I moved her head I felt a lump. A lump that was not going away. A lump I should have found myself had I not been so haphazard in my own self breast examinations.

Everything changed in seconds. My doctor saw me without an appointment, I spent a day at the Sydney Breast Clinic confirming my fears and by the end of the week, I was in surgery. I went through a series of surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation – I won’t go into detail. I spent months dutifully following every instruction I received, attending every appointment and downing every medication. Eight months later I was pronounced fit for work. Five years later the powers that be were tentatively pleased with my progress.

So – was it sheer happenstance? Dogs have been known to detect cancer – but cats? I know Lucy found my cancer. I really don’t care how she did it. I know she saved my life. At the very least, she hastened my diagnosis and treatment.


A very special tortie

Lucy has tortitude by the bucket load. She loves my husband and me unconditionally. Occasionally, she loves my daughter. I have friends who do not believe Lucy lives in my house, because strangers are to be hidden from, yet supervision of the tradesmen working on our renovations is deemed necessary, albeit from a safe distance.

I knew very little about torties before I met Lucy. I know a lot more now and have become one of an elite group, enchanted tortie lovers. It’s an exclusive club – by invitation only – and I and so glad I was asked to join by one special little cat.

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20 Comments on Tortie Cat Detects Breast Cancer in Her Guardian

  1. Tami
    I have a Tabby named Tigger. He, out of the blue, started to lie on my chest. I would wake up with him curled up on the left side of my chest. This was not his normal behavior, and it got me thinking. I went in and now have been diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. It’s aggressive and surgery is done, chemo will start soon. Tiggy got me to the doctor. He saved me. Thank you for sharing your story and allowing others to share theirs. Cats are amazing!

  2. I’ve a tortie Olive, who has imparted so much kindness, love, and knowledge to me. She is an amazing cat with tortitude abound (she likes to bite, lovingly). I’m grateful for her honesty and we snuggled whilst reading your story. She said that torties are simply exceptional, how did I not know this yet. We agreed, if I smelled weird anywhere she’d tell me, just as your exceptional Lucy did for you. Thank you for such an amazing story with a happy ending.
    erin & olive

  3. My cat Lady is an orange and white tabby but we call her the guardian cat. If we forget to leave the oven on she miaows like an alarm around the stove. We used to have a cat that would jump over our porch fence and she would sound the alarm. Before hurricanes she acts funny and miaows and hides under stuff. I believe this story 100%

  4. So glad to hear you are in good health after your “journey” Elizabeth. A wonderful story, eloquently written – perhaps you should write a book! My own Tortie, Misty, having recovered from her own traumas (broken leg & removal of a kidney) played nurse-maid to me when I had a hysterectomy. Somehow, she knew not to “patty-paw” my stomach as she usually did until I was quite recovered.

  5. I love torties!! And I love this story. More people should share these so that we can raise awareness of the incalculable value all animals have. So glad you’re well. Cheers!

  6. Lovely story. Sad for me since my Tortie, Gracie, was just sent on her journey over the Rainbow Bridge this week. She was 17 and a chirpie girl, too. She is missed.

  7. I love this story. Why can’t cats detect cancer? If dogs can do it certainly cats can too!!!! You go Lucy! Good health Elizabeth!

  8. I love your story, Elizabeth! Torties are incredible–mine is named Tillie. Thankful that God brought her into your life for “such a time as this!”

  9. Beautiful story! I am so happy for you.

    My Tortie did the same, she could tell I was having mini strokes and would not leave my side. They are such caregivers. She is always there when I am sick or sad.

    Funny too she knows when I am telling another cat (or my son) not to do something and she disciplines them, lol.

    • That’s so wonderful that your tortie alerted you to your mini strokes, Misty. And the part about disciplining the other cats and your son sure sounds like tortitude in action. 🙂

  10. Cats are sentient beings, capable of great love and great instincts. Lucy’s story is amazing, and it’s fantastic that Elizabeth came through her ordeal with flying colors!

  11. Aww what a lovely story. My tortie is a Lucy too and looks so much like the Lucy in this story. I just love my girl, she is a true purr machine and love bug.

  12. What a beautiful story. I believe there are times a cat and its owner is so powerful, they can detect these illnesses. I had such a bond with my first cat Frutty. Lucy you’re amazing!!

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