Oscar the cat predicts nursing home patients'
deaths by Gulliver
An amazing cat can predict when patients in a Rhode Island
are going to die, curling up beside them to keep them company
in their final hours.
The medical moggy's predictions are proving more accurate
than trained medical staff, according to an essay in the respected
'New England Journal of Medicine'.
Dr. David Rosa says of Oscar the incredible cat: "He
doesn't make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when
patients are about to die."
The two-year-old cat makes his rounds at Steere House Nursing
and Rehabilitation Centre in Providence - just like the doctors
After he has sniffed and observed patients, he curls up beside
them during their final hours.
When Oscar has chosen his patient, it usually means they have
less than four hours to live.
Dr. Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine
at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, wrote an article
on the astonishing Oscar in the 'New England Journal of Medicine'.
The article entitled 'A Day in the Life of Oscar the Cat'
was published on July 26, 2007.
In it Dr. Dosa states: "Since he was adopted by staff
members as a kitten, Oscar the Cat has had an uncanny ability
to predict when residents are about to die.
"Thus far, he has presided over the deaths of more than
25 residents on the third floor of Steere House Nursing and
Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island.
"His mere presence at the bedside is viewed by physicians
and nursing home staff as an almost absolute indicator of
impending death, allowing staff members to adequately notify
"No one dies on the third floor unless Oscar pays a visit
and stays awhile."
According to Dr. Dosa, Oscar has provided companionship to
those who would otherwise have died alone. For his work, he
is highly regarded by the physicians and staff at Steere House
and by the families of the residents whom he serves.
There is even a plaque mounted on the wall in his honor. On
it is engraved a commendation from a local hospice agency:
"For his compassionate hospice care, this plaque is awarded
to Oscar the Cat."
The centre treats people suffering from Alzheimer's, Parkinson's
disease and other illnesses.
Oscar takes his work seriously and is generally aloof, according
to Dr. Dosa. "This is not a cat that's friendly to people,"