Oscar, the Cat who Predicts Dying: New Book ReleasedPublished February 11, 2010
It would certainly be difficult for cat lovers to forget that most unusual news item which was circulating the Internet awhile ago. The story featured that extraordinary feline - apparently a psychic - Oscar the cat.
This rather aloof kitty, who took up residence at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, located in Providence, R.I. The center specializes in the treatment of patients with severe dementia. These patients are so severely ill that they no longer recognize their family members, and cannot speak. Steere House is often the last step on their lifetime journey.
Dr. David Dosa, a professor at Brown University and geriatrician works on the third floor of the facility. He was very skeptical when the staff told him that Oscar was able to predict the death of a patient, by simply curling up beside them during their last few hours of life.
But his skepticism quickly faded, after the nursing home staff verified almost 50 precise predictions made by this gifted cat over five years. Dr. Dosa was so interested in this phenomenal feline that he wrote a book, "Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat", which was recently released. Published by Hyperion, the price of the book is $23.99.
While initially Dosa was concerned that family members might be put off by the "furry grim reaper", he changed his mind and began to feel that caregivers might actually consider Oscar a soothing comfort. Some people have actually given praise to the feline in death notices and eulogies in newspapers.
Dr Dosa said, "People actually were taking great comfort in this idea that this animal was there and might be there when their loved ones eventually pass. He was there when they couldn't be." He added, "Maybe they're seeing what they want to see, but what they're seeing is a comfort to them in a real difficult time in their lives."
Oscar, a medium-haired gray and brown kitty, with a white belly, was adopted by the nursing home in 2005. The staff recognized how pets can enhance the quality of institutional living, and that it would also facilitate the transformation of the facility into more of a "homelike" atmosphere, since they become a welcome pleasurable distraction for visitors, patients, staff and doctors.
The staff began to take notice when after a year, that Oscar spent his days going from room to room, appearing to check out the patients. He hardly ever spent much time with anyone, but they realized that once a patient had only a few hours to live, Oscar lingered with them.
So when they observe Oscar snuggling up with a patient they know that it is time for them to call in their family members. Also, if they lock Oscar out of the room, he will try every trick in the book to get back in. He is on his mission! While most of these critically ill patients appear to take no notice of his presence, it doesn't faze Oscar at all.
What was even more extraordinary about this cat's predictions when a nurse placed Oscar in the room with a patient thought to only have hours to live, Oscar left. They thought that Oscar had lost his "talent". But what really happened was that the patient actually rallied for two more days. But Oscar then took his place next to him during his final hours with no further prompting.
While Dr. Dosa has no "scientific" theory for the cat's behavior, his theory is that Oscar may be imitating the behavior of the nurses who raised him, or his keen sense of odors of dying cells attracts him to patients near death. He thinks that it may be similar to those dogs that scientists are working with who can detect cancer cells by scent.
Even though parts of the book are fictionalized by Dr. Dosa's use of composite case studies for his characters, the names and stories of the caretakers are real. Dr. Dosa has also learned to "live for the moment" as he is tutored by his feline Guru, Oscar the cat, as he watches him enjoy the simple pleasures of a chin scratch or a delightful cat nap.
Meet this most amazing kitty up close and purrsonal by watching the video uploaded to YouTube by RWNSD.
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