Oscar the Cat: The Ultimate in Animal Therapy?

Reader Contribution by Stephanie Bloyd

Any pet owner can tell you how comforting their animals are in times of stress, illness or even a lazy Sunday afternoon around the house. But Oscar the cat of the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, R.I., is taking this to a whole new level – he not only can sense when patients are about to die, but he curls up with them and keeps them company during their final hours of life.

In today’s issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, David M. Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor at the Brown University School of Medicine, shares a story about this special cat that has accurately predicted the deaths of more than 25 patients.

After winning over the center’s staff with his uncanny abilities, Oscar’s behavior is now an indication that the patient’s family members should immediately be notified. He has also prevented patients from dying alone, instead providing a warm, purring escort into the hereafter.

While no one can explain Oscar’s abilities, speculations range from an inexplicable sixth sense, to the cat’s ability to smell a chemical change on a dying person or detect a difference in their metabolism, or even pick up on the subtle ways in which staff members react around the patient.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, keeping pets in nursing home has been an emerging trend for several years. Oscar has lived at the Steere Center for the past two years after the staff adopted him as a kitten from a nearby animal shelter.

Yet another reason to respect and care for our fellow animals here on Earth!