Oscar the Therapy Cat

I have blogged before about animals' uncanny ability to sense the supernatural in ways that people can not.  One of my favorite examples of this is Oscar.   Oscar is a therapy cat that  lives at Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island.  Oscar has been doing rounds at this nursing home since 2007.  He walks from patient to patient and sniffs them and when he finds a patient that is near death,  Oscar stops and curls up next to that patient.   Oscar has been reliable in his predictions of death since 2007.    He has never been wrong.

So reliable and fascinating are Oscar's predictions that he has been featured in the very prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.  Doctor's compete for years to get a piece of a publication placed in this journal, but Oscar topped them all.  One of the first cases involved a patient who had a blood clot in her leg that was ice cold at the time. Oscar wrapped his body around her leg and stayed until the woman died. In another instance, the doctor had made a determination of impending death based on the patient's condition, while Oscar simply walked away, causing the doctor to believe that Oscar's streak (12 at the time) had ended. However, it would be later discovered that the doctor's prognosis was simply 10 hours too early – Oscar later visited the patient, who died two hours later.

Oscar's stories are so prolific that an entire book has been written about him, he has been featured on CNN, he was featured in an episode of House,  and he has been on CBS.  Doctor's and scientists have struggled to explain Oscar, but to me the answer is easy.   Cat's see things we don't.  They see ghosts and they know when death is coming.


Sharon Day said…
I'm certain that chemically people give off an odor when things become septic that a cat could pick up on, as well as some minor things about the person's behavior. I wonder if any cat could do that if it lived in a skilled nursing facility? I've heard about dogs sniffing skin cancer, so one never knows. If I lived there, I think I'd keep a guard dog at my doorstep--just in case Oscar wanted to visit. Hee hee
Jessica Penot said…
Autumn,,, You would think that tho things you've mentioned would be the answer. That was what the article in the New England Journal of Medicine was about. A team of doctors looked into behavioral, chemical cues etc. and found nothing. Doctors from all over the world have tried to debunk Oscar and no one has managed too. On "House" House spent an entire episode researching this cat and failed to debunk him. There's a book on Oscar. You should look into it. It's good stuff.
Courtney Mroch said…
I thought about Oscar a LOT when I was taking care of my mom back in 2008. My cat Tabby stayed with my mom and wouldn't leave her side right before she had her first TIA. Then, right before her next episode after we'd just been referred to hospice, Tab did it again...wouldn't leave my mom's side. That second incident was it for us caring for her. Had to move her to the hospice to finish out the end of her days. Anyway, I'd heard of Oscar right before all this with my mom and wrote about him when I blogged in Pets for Families.com. It was interesting they couldn't find a chemical connection. It's just something about his senses. (That's what I remembered most. And after spending time in the hospice with my mom when she finally entered her Death Sleep, all I know is the "feeling" really changes. Reminded me of the "energy" in the room when my friend gave birth. Same sort of vibe. Sort of...)

GREAT post! (I'm finally trying to catch up on my loooooong overdue reading of your fantastic blog! ;)
Jessica Penot said…
It's interesting that your cat did that too. I wonder if anyone's ever looked to see if that is just a gift cats have. I know that feeling right before death comes. It is scary if you are watching someone you love and you know it is the end.

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