OSCAR THE CAT PREDICTS PATIENTS' DEATHS
By RAY HENRY, Press Writer
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for
predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next
to them during their final hours. His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has
led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually
means they have less than four hours to live.
"He doesn't make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are
about to die," said Dr. David Dosa in an interview. He describes the
phenomenon in a poignant essay in Thursday's issue of the New England
Journal of Medicine.
"Many family members take some solace from it. They appreciate the
companionship that the cat provides for their dying loved one," said Dosa, a
geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine at Brown University.
The 2-year-old feline was adopted as a kitten and grew up in a third-floor
dementia unit at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The
facility treats people with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and other
After about six months, the staff noticed Oscar would make his own rounds,
just like the doctors and nurses. He'd sniff and observe patients, then sit
beside people who would wind up dying in a few hours.
Dosa said Oscar seems to take his work seriously and is generally aloof.
"This is not a cat that's friendly to people," he said.
Oscar recently received a wall plaque publicly commending his "compassionate
Full Story: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070725/ap_on_fe_st/death_cat