An amazing cat story…

July 25, 2007 at 8:57 pm (Cats, LOL cats, Weird News) ()

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Thursday July 26, 10:04 AM

Cat predicts deaths in US nursing home

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 US 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.

He describes the phenomenon in a poignant essay in 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 two-year-old feline was adopted as a kitten and grew up in a dementia unit at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre. The facility treats people with Alzheimer\’s, Parkinson\’s disease and other illnesses.

After about six months, the staff noticed Oscar would make his own rounds, just like the doctors and nurses. He would sniff and observe patients, then sit beside people who would end 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 is better at predicting death than the people who work there, said Dr Joan Teno of Brown University, who treats patients at the nursing home and is an expert on care for the terminally ill

She was convinced of Oscar\’s talent when he made his 13th correct call. While observing one patient, Teno said she noticed the woman was not eating, was breathing with difficulty and that her legs had a bluish tinge, signs that often mean death is near.

Oscar would not stay inside the room though, so Teno thought his streak was broken.

Instead, it turned out the doctor\’s prediction was roughly 10 hours too early.

Sure enough, during the patient\’s final two hours, nurses told Teno that Oscar joined the woman at her bedside.

Doctors said most of the people who get a visit from the sweet-faced, grey-and-white cat are so ill they probably do not know he is there, so patients are not aware he is a harbinger of death.

Most families are grateful for the advanced warning, although one wanted Oscar out of the room while a family member died. When Oscar is put outside, he paces and meows his displeasure.

No one is certain if Oscar\’s behaviour is scientifically significant or points to a cause. Teno wonders if the cat notices telltale scents or reads something into the behaviour of the nurses who raised him.

Nicholas Dodman, who directs an animal behavioural clinic at the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and has read Dosa\’s article, said the only way to know is to carefully document how Oscar divides his time between the living and dying.

It is possible his behaviour could be driven by self-centred pleasures like a heated blanket placed on a dying person, Dodman said.

Nursing home staffers are not concerned with explaining Oscar, so long as he gives families a better chance at saying goodbye to the dying.

Oscar recently received a wall plaque publicly commending his \”compassionate hospice care.\”

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25 Comments

  1. jackaloopa said,

    i just saw this on another person’s 360 site…i hope oscar doesn’t find his way to my place…lol…not yet anyway…

  2. Toni A said,

    This is a fantastic story. I wonder however if people run away from Oscar?

  3. Anonymous said,

    Cats can do alot of amazing things. Years ago my aunt had a cat who wasnt very nice to men, only nice to women. She would walk around all the ladies in the house and whoever’s lap she sat on, was pregnant before their doctor even knew it.

  4. Curtis said,

    keep that cat away from me lol

  5. Anonymous said,

    The grim reaper in furry form? seriously, they say that animals can tell these things somehow. i have read quite a few stories on animals predicting such things as seizures, fires, or breathing trouble.

  6. Dion S said,

    I’m gonna be needing Oscar to stay the hell away from me! Maybe a human should come curl up and lay next to him in his cat bed. Would that make you nervous Oscar?

  7. Anonymous said,

    Really great post Fluffy…I am not suprized at all, though. I used to teach Wilderness Survival, and Search and Rescue and had a chance to spend a fair amout of time with two very special Rescue dogs…now they relied more on sight and smell, but were unbelievable…second experience was when I was dating someone with Epilepsy…she was on disability and they wouldn’t cover it and she couldn’t afford it, but she had been referred to an organization that provided dogs, unfortunately at a cost(not to mention that she was allergic to pet dander), that had the uncanny ability to predict seizures. Animals have an almost scary intuition…people do too, but we are so wrapped up in ourselves to recognize it. Have a great day!

  8. Anonymous said,

    Well, I am no cat but many years ago when I worked in a nursing home and someone expired I had to go pick them up and place them in bed. It sounds goulish but it really wasn’t. These were people I knew. Anyway, once I picked someone up I knew if they were really dead or not. The nurses would always ask me and I would confirm. But they still had to call in the Doctor to check and authorize a time of expiration. This could take hours. But I always knew, just by the way they felt when I picked them up.
    As far as the cat is concerned I think they can smell death approaching in the critical moments. Although most cats leave when death approaches.
    Great story.

  9. Anonymous said,

    Interesting story.

  10. Anonymous said,

    The Cat is stealing the air from people Oscar is the grim reeper!!!!

  11. Anonymous said,

    You Look like the Actress who played the Music Teacher in the Movie “Lean on Me” with Morgan Freeman.Is that you?

  12. Bart said,

    I heard about this on the radio here today and also saw it on MSN.com,sounds like a good story line for a Stephen King novel. I never thought death would have 4 legs and a tail !

  13. carebear said,

    That cat is amazing and I know sometimes animals can sense when there is something wrong with thier owners and the can sense when people are not feeling well. They also know when their owners are upset. So i believe that oscar knows when people are ready to go to that wonderful place. Thanks for sharing that story.
    Carebear

  14. Bart said,

    I’m a firm beleiver that animals know when you’re sick or a person is dying, we had a little neice who died from leukemia a few years ago, her last days were spent at home with family and friends keeping a vigil, one of her parents friends had 2 weiner dogs that stayed by her side and comforted her the whole time.

  15. Anonymous said,

    Are you one of the people that has been listening to my illegally wire tapped living quarters tapes? I’m so sorry that you don’t have a life, but I appreciate the insurmountable information and your level of involement into my world. Thanks dudette.

  16. Anonymous said,

    This is all over the news here today. They also did a follow-up story about other amazing animal/ patient occurences. Apparently dogs can sniff out cancer! one dog even pinpointed a patients cancer, in her stomach. We are just beginning to realize how attuned animals are to such things (but every pet owner already knew this, eh?)

  17. Mind Dreamer said,

    don’t know if i want the cat near anyone i know. thanks for sharing.

    max

  18. Anonymous said,

    CNN did a segment on this last night. I’m not sure I would want Oscar around me if I was in the hospital!

  19. Anonymous said,

    what if the cat is a feline Dr. Jack Kavorkian, and is actually sending them off to the Big Sleep himself???

  20. Truculent Trencherman™ said,

    It is amaziung how animals have senses that we humans have failed to develop. For some death comes very slowly and gradually and it is hard to tell when the end is near.

  21. Anonymous said,

    This is so cool that they have this cat to help them on their way.
    I too worked in both Hospice care and old age care.
    We had a dog on our ward.Both their sense of smell & hearing is stronger by 10 times to our 1.
    They are also good around ghosts as well.
    L Mich

  22. Anonymous said,

    Our cat knows hours ahead of time when a family member is about to have a seizure. But he does the opposite of this cat, he won’t go near the person and usually hides. This has helped us to prepare for the upcoming seizure. Animals are amazing!

  23. Anonymous said,

    Away foul beast from hell! (throws slipper at Oscar from hospital bed).

    The cat’s out of the bag now. If those old folks could get up out of bed, they’d probably lynch him.

  24. GREEN said,

    i am gonna tell my rich aunt about this cat except i will say it lives near me. then i will come to visit in a couple of weeks after i have given the cat a little lullaby solution and sit her at the foot of her bed while we talk about all our relatives who have passed on to meet their maker. she always mentions they are in a better place. i will make many affirmations and have a lovely “spontaneous” prayer and then note how the cat seems to wat to stay with her. later, i will mention how the cat keeps looking our my window facing toward her nursing home. thanks for the swell idea. i am sort of creative. i am a retired burglar and stockbroker. gambling is my weakness, otherwise, i would be well off. but the game (not the play) is the thing for me. again, thanks.

  25. Rabbit said,

    If a dog can detect cancer, seizures, etc., it’s make sense that this cat can smell death on someone.

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