Thursday, July 26, 2007

Oscar the cat that can predict death

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Oscar the cat can tell when elderly residents at a US nursing home are about to meet their maker... His accuracy has been observed in 25 cases.

"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 the New England Journal of Medicine.

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.

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.

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.

Oscar recently received a wall plaque publicly commending his "compassionate hospice care." Link

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