The Phoenix

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Feline Fortune Teller

Oscar, a cat that resides at the Steere House hospice in Providence, R.I. has a very uncanny and amazing ability. Dr. David Dosa has submitted an article to The New England Journal of Medicine describing how Oscar is somehow able to predict when a patient is near death.

Without any help, Oscar will enter the room of a resident. He will then jump on the bed, curl up, and purr. If the hospice staff sees this, they know to call the resident's family...because they know the patient's time is nearing an end. Oscar only exhibits this behavior to patients that are nearing death.

And the cat is 25 for 25. 100% accuracy.

Oscar has been observed doing his "terminal ritual" hours or half a day before a patient passes away. He doesn't do this with patients that are NOT dying soon.

How does he do this?

Many doctors and scientists believe that Oscar is somehow able to smell a certain chemical that is released by a person that will soon expire. Others also think that maybe the cat is mimicking typical nurse behavior. He's been living at the hospice since he was a kitten, for two years. Maybe he sees how a nurse attends to a patient that is dying and is alone. He sees the nurse giving comfort, and he has simply learned this behavior.

Another theory is that maybe Oscar notices that patients that are gravely ill don't move around as much, and he associates that with death.

Regardless of whichever hypothesis is correct, Oscar is one amazing cat.

I just hope a patient suffering from dementia and denial doesn't beat the hell out of the cat thinking it's a modern day Grim Reaper.

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Blogger Keshi said...

Well arent most animals more intuitive than humans?


7/26/2007 12:37 AM  
Blogger goddess said...

awww, that's such a sweet story.

7/26/2007 5:18 AM  
Blogger Big Pissy said...

Sounds like Oscar is offering some comfort in their final hours.

Still kinda creep, though. ;-)

7/26/2007 10:19 AM  
Blogger KC said...

I read about that! How interesting! It made me think of the dog that was in the news a year or so ago who could sniff out tumors. Saved his caretakers life by sniffing a tumor in her breast that had been undiagnosed. Animals are amazing, aren't they? That being said, I might now get paranoid if my cat wants to sleep next to me.

7/26/2007 12:44 PM  
Blogger mojotek said...

I wonder how the patients feel about the cat. WOuld they really want to know they're going to die in the next few hours or days? I guess if you're in hospice care, then maybe.

Wow... sound like a little debbie downer kitten.

7/26/2007 3:29 PM  
Blogger Godwhacker said...

What a cool story. I know that when I'm feeling down, my dog and my cat can pickup on it. Oscar does a service. No one should have to die alone.

7/26/2007 5:55 PM  

I read that the patients are usually so out of it that they do not notice the presence of the cat...though some relatives have asked to have the cat removed from the room & he stands outside the door & paces.

7/27/2007 1:37 AM  
Blogger ozymandiaz said...

Yea, I've been hearing about this cat. Kitty Kavourkian I've heard him called. JUST KEEP HIM AWAY FROM ME!
Anyhow, sorry to tell you this but I've tagged you. That's what you get for commenting on my blog.

7/27/2007 10:30 AM  
Blogger mad said...

I'd rather have a dog.

7/27/2007 11:36 AM  
Blogger ajooja said...

I've heard of dogs that can smell diseases, so why not? Makes sense to me.

7/27/2007 2:27 PM  
Blogger Haley-O said...

WOW! That is SO cool.... My cats can definitely predict BIRTH. They've been ALL OVER ME since I became pregnant. It's ridiculous! ;)

7/27/2007 3:28 PM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

I'd be more impressed if the cat's name were Felix.

-- david

7/27/2007 4:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only live an hour away but I am not gonna pay that cat a visit!

7/27/2007 9:10 PM  
Blogger angel, jr. said...

Why is there an animal in a hospital?

7/28/2007 10:06 AM  
Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

Well, our cats are the best alarm clocks I've ever seen, even if they think we need waking up at precisely 6:00 a.m. on the weekends, the goobers

7/28/2007 11:55 AM  
Blogger Etchen said...

I think I would be scared to death if the cat came and laid down in my bed.

7/28/2007 2:07 PM  
Blogger Grafs said...

I think it's a chemical too, but which one? I think that animals can also smell cancer and other illnesses. It's too bad our doctor can't do this...It would save hours of CT scan and MRI time.

7/29/2007 4:24 PM  
Blogger Tai said...

I hope Oscar doesn't visit me any time soon.
But you know, I think it would be nice to have the comfort of a purring cat beside me as I passed.

7/29/2007 10:10 PM  
Blogger Orhan Kahn said...

I still can't swallow this story. I'm sorry, I don't know why. Maybe it is because I hate cats?

7/30/2007 9:14 AM  
Blogger DaBich said...

This is amazing. There was even a small excerpt on our local television stations news broadcast. The weirder thing was, Oscar isn't "social". he doesn't like to be touched while he's roaming the halls. But yet, he stays with these people as they are dying.

8/09/2007 1:46 PM  

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