Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Meet Oscar the "Death Cat." Please don't think of him as a furry grim reaper; he's been thanked by families in their loved one's obituary for the comfort he offered during their final hours. Oscar is a therapy cat at Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, R.I with an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die. The facility cares for people with dementia and in the final stages of various illnesses. Oscar seeks out the dying, snuggling with the patient and family members until the patient passes; with others, he smells the patient's feet, sits outside a closed door until admitted, or refuses to leave a dying patient's bed. Since nursing staff first noted Oscar curling up with residents before they died, he has accurately predicted about 50 deaths. Dr. David Dosa first published an article about Oscar in 2007 in the New England Journal of Medicine and is now releasing a book 'Making Rounds With Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat.' Dosa notes, "I don't think Oscar is that unique, but he is in a unique environment. Animals are remarkable in their ability to see things we don't...Animals know when they are needed."