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Oscar the cat is able to predict deaths - PHOTOS

03 February 2010 [11:22] - TODAY.AZ
A cat called Oscar is an omen of impending doom who has predicted the deaths of dozens of patients at a nursing home, according to a doctor who works there.
Oscar first rose to international fame in 2007, when Dr. David Dosa wrote about his uncanny ability to turn up just before the death of patients at Steere House, in the US state of Rhode Island, in the New England Journal of Medicine.

At the time, Oscar had managed to foretell the demise of around 25 patients. But Dosa has now revealed in a new book that in the two years since, Oscar has doubled his tally, making about 50 correct predictions of death.

Dosa insists that he never intended to make Oscar sound creepy or his arrival at a bedside to be viewed negatively, and he hopes his book - Making Rounds With Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat - will put the doomcat in a more favourable light.

Dosa, a geriatrician and professor at Brown University who treats patients with severe dementia at Steere House, says many caregivers consider Oscar a comforting presence, and some have praised him in newspaper death notices and eulogies.
Oscar death cat Oscar stalks the halls of Steere House

The nursing home adopted Oscar, a medium-haired cat with a gray-and-brown back and white belly, in 2005. After a year, the staff noticed that Oscar would spend his days pacing from room to room. He sniffed and looked at the patients but rarely spent much time with anyone - except when they had just hours to live.

They say he's accurate enough that the staff - including Dosa - know it's time to call family members when Oscar stretches beside their patients, who are generally too ill to notice his presence. If kept outside the room of a dying patient, he'll scratch at doors and walls, trying to get in.

Nurses once placed Oscar in the bed of a patient they thought gravely ill. Oscar wouldn't stay put, and the staff thought his streak was broken. Turns out, the medical professionals were wrong, and the patient rallied for two days. But in the final hours, Oscar held his bedside vigil without prompting.

Dosa does not explain Oscar scientifically in his book, although he theorizes the cat imitates the nurses who raised him or smells odors given off by dying cells, perhaps like some dogs who scientists say can detect cancer using their sense of scent.


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