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Old Feb 3, 2010, 12:03 PM   #1
mscriv
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Doctor casts new light on cat that can predict death

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – When doctors and staff realized that a cat living in a U.S. nursing home could sense when someone was going to die, the feline, Oscar, was portrayed as a furry grim reaper or four-legged angel of death. But Dr. David Dosa, who broke the news of Oscar's abilities in a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007, said he never intended to make Oscar sound creepy or his arrival at a bedside to be viewed negatively.

Dosa said he hopes his newly released book, "Making Rounds With Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat" will put the cat in a more favorable light as well as providing a book to help people whose loved ones are terminally ill.

"After the New England Journal article you got the feeling that if Oscar is in your bed then you are dead, but you did not really see what is going on for these family members," said Dosa, an assistant professor of medicine at Brown University. "I wanted to write a book that would go beyond Oscar's peculiarities, to tell why he is important to family members and caregivers who have been with him at the end of a life."

Dosa said Oscar's story is fascinating on many levels. Oscar was adopted as a kitten from an animal shelter to be raised as a therapy cat at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island, which cares for people with severe dementia and in the final stages of various illnesses.

SIXTH SENSE?

When Oscar was about six months old the staff noticed that he would curl up to sleep with patients who were about to die. So far he has accurately predicted about 50 deaths.

Dosa recounts one instance when staff were convinced of the imminent death of one patient but Oscar refused to sit with that person, choosing instead to be on the bed of another patient down the hallway. Oscar proved to be right. The person he sat with died first, taking staff on the ward by surprise.

Dosa said there is no scientific evidence to explain Oscar's abilities, but he thinks the cat might be responding to a pheromone or smell that humans simply don't recognize. Dosa said his main interest was not to delve further into Oscar's abilities but to use Oscar as a vehicle to tell about terminal illness, which is his main area of work.
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Fascinating. I have no idea how you don't get paranoid when this cat comes around.
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 12:08 PM   #2
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Luckily, our cat has no such ability as she sleeps on our bed frequently. While I understand the doctor's interest is in the terminally ill, its a shame he doesn't pursue the issue of the cat's ability at least a little.
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 01:42 PM   #3
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House

There was a House episode just like this!

In House, he figures out that the cat is attracted to the warmth.

The cat was sleeping on dying people who either a) had a fever or b) had a electric blanket for comfort.
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 01:49 PM   #4
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See, this is why I don't have a cat. The damned thing would give me the heebie jeebies every time it looks at me funny.

Last edited by dmr727; Feb 3, 2010 at 02:29 PM. Reason: Added a smiley for Lee. ;)
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 01:57 PM   #5
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We're all dying. I have a cat on me right now.
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 02:01 PM   #6
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Anyone remember the name of the cat in The Smurfs? That's right Azrael...as in the Angel of Death Azrael.

Damn cats-borgs are stealing our lives to add to their own. Eight lives ain't good enough for them. NOoooOOoOo. They gotta have nine. Resistance is futile.
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 02:14 PM   #7
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See, this is why I don't have a cat. The damned thing would give me the heebie jeebies every time it looks at me funny.
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Anyone remember the name of the cat in The Smurfs? That's right Azrael...as in the Angel of Death Azrael.

Damn cats-borgs are stealing our lives to add to their own. Eight lives ain't good enough for them. NOoooOOoOo. They gotta have nine. Resistance is futile.

Oh, for god's sake. Cats aren't evil or "grim reapers". I really get sick of people's irrational hatred of animals. You guys have the problem, not the cats.
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 02:30 PM   #8
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Oh, for god's sake. Cats aren't evil or "grim reapers". I really get sick of people's irrational hatred of animals. You guys have the problem, not the cats.
Dammit Lee, you know better than to take anything I say seriously.
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 02:40 PM   #9
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Oh, for god's sake. Cats aren't evil or "grim reapers". I really get sick of people's irrational hatred of animals. You guys have the problem, not the cats.
Lighten up Francis. Obviously Mousse's real name is Mouse, and just hiding from the cats.

This particular cat's story is quite impressive, if only that ability could be understood and used to benefit the sick. Mind you I would ask to change the cat's name to 'Schrödinger'; out side of the box it's the cat who tells you if you'll live or die.
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 03:00 PM   #10
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Mind you I would ask to change the cat's name to 'Schrödinger'; out side of the box it's the cat who tells you if you'll live or die.
and see how he takes to Stephen Hawking?
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 03:13 PM   #11
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Lighten up Francis. Obviously Mousse's real name is Mouse, and just hiding from the cats.
Oi! Someone's wife been talking to my wife. Every time there's an argument, I hear: "Are you a man or a mouse? Squeak up!...blah blah blah."
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 03:26 PM   #12
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Lighten up Francis. Obviously Mousse's real name is Mouse, and just hiding from the cats.

This particular cat's story is quite impressive, if only that ability could be understood and used to benefit the sick. Mind you I would ask to change the cat's name to 'Schrödinger'; out side of the box it's the cat who tells you if you'll live or die.
I think so too. The cat is obviously just reacting to some sort of stimuli. It's not going around killing people.

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Dammit Lee, you know better than to take anything I say seriously.
No, I don't. One thing I've learned is that everyone can surprise you. But thanks for the clarification.
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 05:11 PM   #13
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This is a picture of the actual cat from the story.


He sure is a cute bugger for being the harbinger of death.
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 05:21 PM   #14
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Not unlike my cat but (just like my cat) he looks a little overweight.
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 05:27 PM   #15
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Interesting story.

Hey cat, scat. Get out of my room. Ha ha!
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 06:57 PM   #16
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awe....what a cute kitty...........I'll SHOOT IT! if it gets close to me
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 08:06 PM   #17
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Maybe the patients' passings do have something to do with the cat being around, rather than the reversed alternative.

I know from experience that a cat's affection brings on a certain comfort and happiness. Perhaps people are more willing to slip away when they're comfortable, happy and have a warm, purring furball on their bed.

Just spitballing, of course.
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 09:11 PM   #18
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Maybe the cat has some allegiant that people die from?

Or maybe one of these?
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Old Feb 3, 2010, 11:16 PM   #19
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I'd say it's something in the water here, but my cat avoids me.
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Old Feb 4, 2010, 01:55 AM   #20
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I'll SHOOT IT! if it gets close to me
hahaha I'll do the same!
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Old Feb 4, 2010, 03:15 AM   #21
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This is a picture of the actual cat from the story.


He sure is a cute bugger for being the harbinger of death.
Awesome LOLCAT
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Old Feb 4, 2010, 09:28 AM   #22
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This is a picture of the actual cat from the story.


He sure is a cute bugger for being the harbinger of death.
Looks like he is on the lookout for his next victim ROFL

Seriously though; our pets know more than we know at times. My "boy" Chewey (lab-chow mix) knew when his comfort was neeed... not surprising for this cat to take to those that are dying since he has been around it for so long.
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Old Feb 4, 2010, 12:03 PM   #23
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He's accurately predicted 50 deaths. I'd be interested in the total number of deaths at the nursing home since he arrived. And has he curled up next to someone who didn't die that night? Are the patient's doors always open so he has ample opportunity? Do they ever find cat hairs on the deceased's mouth and nose? (Kidding about the last one.)

I'm not doubting his ability but would like to know the details.
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Old Feb 6, 2010, 01:22 AM   #24
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Aw I love cats. This story makes me miss my Dylan (Dylan is my all black cat).
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