Cat predicts death of patients at nursing home

Nov 18, 2004
521
0
0
Long Beach, NY
#1
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070725/ap_on_fe_st/death_cat

Oscar the cat predicts patients' deaths

By RAY HENRY, Associated Press Writer 45 minutes ago

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours. His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live.


"He doesn't make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die," said Dr. David Dosa in an interview. He describes the phenomenon in a poignant essay in Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Many family members take some solace from it. They appreciate the companionship that the cat provides for their dying loved one," said Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine at Brown University.

The 2-year-old feline was adopted as a kitten and grew up in a third-floor dementia unit at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The facility treats people with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and other illnesses.

After about six months, the staff noticed Oscar would make his own rounds, just like the doctors and nurses. He'd sniff and observe patients, then sit beside people who would wind up dying in a few hours.

Dosa said Oscar seems to take his work seriously and is generally aloof. "This is not a cat that's friendly to people," he said.

Oscar is better at predicting death than the people who work there, said Dr. Joan Teno of Brown University, who treats patients at the nursing home and is an expert on care for the terminally ill

She was convinced of Oscar's talent when he made his 13th correct call. While observing one patient, Teno said she noticed the woman wasn't eating, was breathing with difficulty and that her legs had a bluish tinge, signs that often mean death is near.

Oscar wouldn't stay inside the room though, so Teno thought his streak was broken. Instead, it turned out the doctor's prediction was roughly 10 hours too early. Sure enough, during the patient's final two hours, nurses told Teno that Oscar joined the woman at her bedside.

Doctors say most of the people who get a visit from the sweet-faced, gray-and-white cat are so ill they probably don't know he's there, so patients aren't aware he's a harbinger of death. Most families are grateful for the advanced warning, although one wanted Oscar out of the room while a family member died. When Oscar is put outside, he paces and meows his displeasure.

No one's certain if Oscar's behavior is scientifically significant or points to a cause. Teno wonders if the cat notices telltale scents or reads something into the behavior of the nurses who raised him.

Nicholas Dodman, who directs an animal behavioral clinic at the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and has read Dosa's article, said the only way to know is to carefully document how Oscar divides his time between the living and dying.

If Oscar really is a furry grim reaper, it's also possible his behavior could be driven by self-centered pleasures like a heated blanket placed on a dying person, Dodman said.

Nursing home staffers aren't concerned with explaining Oscar, so long as he gives families a better chance at saying goodbye to the dying.

Oscar recently received a wall plaque publicly commending his "compassionate hospice care."
 

fkornre

Boogity Boogity Boogity...Let's go racing boys...
Nov 4, 2006
1,744
0
0
monroe twp, nj
#2
"He doesn't make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die," said Dr. David Dosa in an interview.
at least he is almost accurate...
 

Sinn Fein

Infidel and White Interloper
Wackbag Staff
Aug 29, 2002
31,557
2,210
898
Florida's Nature Coast
#4
Someone's gonna find out about this and freak out when they see this cat around.
 

Plunkies

Registered User
Jun 28, 2006
6,030
2,764
543
#5
Probably because a dying patient isn't likely to pay too much attention to the cat, so the cat feels they're more approachable.

Either that or the cat is killing them. Maybe they forgot to mention the cat is laying on their face?
 

Chino Kapone

Yo, whats wrong wit da beer we got?
Jun 10, 2005
16,959
2,196
608
#7


so this is what "the Harbinger of Death" looks like. not surprising its a feline.
 

LiddyRules

I'm Gonna Be The Bestest Pilot In The Whole Galaxy
Jun 1, 2005
142,432
50,238
644
#10
It's clear what's happening. The cat is obviously the pet of the creepy male nurse who gently pets the dying people and recognizes the body smell.
 

SatansCheerledr

Ideologically Unsound
Apr 6, 2005
15,383
7,744
716
I Will Pay Snakes To Bite You
#12
My God are those people idiots! The cat is oviously snatching old peoples breath right under there noses. Is there not an Irish person in the whole hospital to point this out?
 

Smokezilla

U. S. Backstroke Roulette Champion
Jul 30, 2005
6,275
3
313
BumFuck-Egypt, KY
#14
They should name it "Club Soda Kitty".:p

(Dumb Kenny Voice): I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but Grandpa is gonna die. . . **meow**
 

HummerTuesdays

Another girrrrl!!!
Apr 24, 2005
7,347
0
261
On the road to ruin
#17
My God are those people idiots! The cat is oviously snatching old peoples breath right under there noses. Is there not an Irish person in the whole hospital to point this out?
That was my first thought. He's sucking the breath right out of them.

Another option is that the cat can smell death on the person. I think Opie said something about old people just slowly decomposing. I bet the cat picks up on the scent when most of their body is shutting down.
 

abudabit

New Wackbag
Oct 10, 2004
14,802
0
0
#19
Cat predicts elderly deaths

A US cat that is reportedly able to sense when a nursing home's residents are about to die is baffling doctors.
Oscar has a habit of curling up next to patients at the home in Providence, Rhode Island, in their final hours.


According to the author of a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the two-year-old cat has been observed to be correct in 25 cases so far.

Staff now alert the families of residents when he sits down next to their ailing loved one.

"He doesn't make many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die," David Dosa, a professor at Brown University who carried out the research, told the Associated Press news agency.

'Premonitions'

Oscar was adopted as a kitten at Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre.


The cat is said to do his own rounds, just like the doctors and nurses at the home, but is not generally friendly to patients.

Although most families are grateful for the warning Oscar seems to provide, some relatives ask that the pet be taken away while they say their last goodbyes to their loved ones.

When put outside the room, Oscar is said to pace up and down meowing in protest.

Thomas Graves, a feline expert from the University of Illinois, told the BBC: "Cats often can sense when their owners are sick or when another animal is sick.

"They can sense when the weather will change, they're famous for being sensitive to premonitions of earthquakes."

A doctor who treats patients at the home said she believed there was probably a biochemical explanation, rather than the cat being psychic.
There also is a dog who can smell cancer.