Oscar the Cat Seems to Know When the End is Near for Patients
Oscar, gray and brown on his back and white under his chin and on his belly, lives at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island.
The nursing staff discovered the cat's uncanny ability when they noticed the patients, with whom Oscar selected to cuddle, would expire within hours after Oscar joined them in their rooms.
The nursing home treats patients with severe dementia with the home often being their final place of residence.
Oscar's unique skill has been profiled in a book entitled Making Rounds With Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat, written by Dr. David Dosa.
Mrs. K. is resting peacefully in her bed, her breathing steady but shallow. She is surrounded by photographs of her grandchildren and one from her wedding day. Despite these keepsakes, she is alone. Oscar jumps onto her bed and again sniffs the air. He pauses to consider the situation, and then turns around twice before curling up beside Mrs. K.
One hour passes. Oscar waits. A nurse walks into the room to check on her patient. She pauses to note Oscar's presence. Concerned, she hurriedly leaves the room and returns to her desk. She grabs Mrs. K.'s chart off the medical-records rack and begins to make phone calls.
Within a half hour the family starts to arrive. Chairs are brought into the room, where the relatives begin their vigil. The priest is called to deliver last rites. And still, Oscar has not budged, instead purring and gently nuzzling Mrs. K. A young grandson asks his mother, "What is the cat doing here?" The mother, fighting back tears, tells him, "He is here to help Grandma get to heaven." Thirty minutes later, Mrs. K. takes her last earthly breath. With this, Oscar sits up, looks around, then departs the room so quietly that the grieving family barely notices.
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States