I mean, yeah, people who are dying do have a palpable something about them. There’s the thing, and you can feel it. Nobody better than this cat, it seems. What a great cat. I’m glad he goes to give the folks love when they get close to crossing over.
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 the patient has less than four hours to live.
“He doesn’t make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die,” Dr. David Dosa said in an interview. He describes the phenomenon in a poignant essay in Thursday’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
After about six months [after the time that he was adopted], 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 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.
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