Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Grim Reaper Meows?

With the recent deaths of Maurice Sendak (author), Carroll Shelby (auto icon), and Mitchell Guist (Swamp People), I was reminded of a story I heard a few years ago about a cat that predicts deaths.
Photo from Oscar's page.
Oscar (the cat) lives at Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre in Providence, Rhode Island.  In 2007, an article addressed Oscar's uncanny ability to determine when a resident was nearing the end of his or her life. At that time, the employees noticed that Oscar would sit on the bed and refuse to move which was completely out of character for this normally reclusive cat. The person in the bed that Oscar chose would pass away within the next few hours.

Of course the staff was initially horrified in this "odd coincidence" and they tried to keep Oscar from going into the rooms. But then they realized that he was actually doing good. Oscar was able to accurately predict the next death, allowing time for family members to be gathered to say their good byes. And if there was no family to be called, at least the person wouldn't be alone.

The New England Journal of Medicine published "A Day in the Life of Oscar the Cat" written by David Dosa M.D., M.P.H detailing an occasion where Oscar performed his ability. The nurse noted his presence and called the family.

"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."

Oscar's story sounds unbelievable but, he has proven his talent at least 50 times. He's been right when the staff thought that it was another resident's time. So now they've learned to trust Oscar's instincts. Although no one is completely sure how he knows, the residents and their families are grateful for Oscar's gift.

So what do you think? Would you want Oscar at your nursing home or the nursing home of a loved one?


  1. My oldest cat Mr. Butts did the same thing before my dad passed away, and then he refused to get off my dad's bed afterwards. He stayed with him for over 4 hours while we waited for the funeral home to come get my dad. Animals are so special!

  2. It seems ironic that cats themselves go away to die yet this one stays put to alert of looming death.


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