The scientist in Dr. David Dosa was skeptical when first told that Oscar, an aloof cat kept by a nursing home, regularly predicted patients' deaths by snuggling alongside them in their final hours.

Dosa's doubts eroded after he and his colleagues tallied about 50 correct calls made by Oscar over five years, a process he explains in a book released this week, "Making Rounds With Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat." (Hyperion, $23.99)

The feline's bizarre talent astounds Dosa, but he finds Oscar's real worth in his fierce insistence on being present when others turn away from life's most uncomfortable topic: death.

"People actually were taking great comfort in this idea, that this animal was there and might be there when their loved ones eventually pass," Dosa said. "He was there when they couldn't be."

Full story at YAHOO.

And for his loyal commitment to what for many would be regarded as a dead end job, angel of mercy, Oscar, is our


Thanks to IT for sending this story in to MadPriest Towers.



  1. I do hope that these folks are comatose. It would scare the Be’jesus out of you if you were conscious and this cat jumped in your bed one day and started paying you a lot of attention. I am just saying.

    But he does look like a sweet kitty.

  2. Oscar is indeed a brick; the wonderful thing is that he is not unique. I have heard of other instances of nursing home or hospice animals doing the same. It seems that cats and dogs also can have vocations to particular ministries!

  3. I agree, IT, though like David, I would worry if I woke up from an afternoon nap and found the Kitty of Death napping with me.

  4. Doc and Boo can tell when I am merely sad about something. At those times they stay close, curl up beside me and quietly purr. Animals have some way of reading our feelings. They are a gift from God.

  5. I have always found this story more disturbing than touching.

    (If my grandfather were still living, he would say that those people are dying because the cat is sucking the breath out of them.)

  6. Knowing “House”, I bet they invented a cynical ending.

    This story broke a year or two ago . . . I just hope Oscar is getting some book royalties in tuna and catnip! 🙂

  7. Yes, totally agree with Dah-veed and KJ, precisely the same thought occurred to me. I personally would shove Oscar off the bed. Or possibly plant some tuna in the bed of the person next to me as a bribe to go and sit there.

  8. It seems that I read it was also discovered that most of those predicted to depart had been placed on heating blankets for their comfort.
    Kitties love warm spots…

  9. (If my grandfather were still living, he would say that those people are dying because the cat is sucking the breath out of them.)

    Yikes. What, the cat caught up with your grandpa?

  10. Oh no! I guess I see it more positively than that in part because cats are Freyja’s sacred animals, and of course Freyja is all about love, sensuality, beauty, playfulness, etc, among many qualities.


  11. The cat sucking the breath is an old wives’ tale. My grandma used to say that about babies.

    The heating blankets idea was from House. There are lots o reasons Oscar may do this, but whatever the ibological reason, his desire to be helpful is not the explanation.

  12. It is possible that Oscar is reacting to an external trigger. But it is also possible that he is reacting to an internal, emotional trigger. Both animals and humans do what they do for the same instinctive reasons.

  13. I agree with Mark. My cat is far more affectionate and needy of affection than my dog. And both my cat’s and my dog’s affection for me, and need for affection from me, come from the same emotional imperatives that govern human acts of affection.

  14. Yes. And he was born feral. When, I adopted him he was six months old and had been rescued from the wild, with two siblings about 4 months previously. His siblings were still in the cattery being gradually acclimatised to humans. Henry, was living in the house with the manager of the sanctuary. He had taken one look at people and the warm, comfortable place they lived in and, being the incredibly clever and sensible cat that he is, decided on the spot that it was the life for him.

    I have never known a cat that is so loving and who will put up with grooming and taking tablets without complaint. He has never once taken out his claw to us or bitten us.

  15. I love our cats. They are a part of the household and loving members at that. Not sure how I would wake up without Smoke purring and Sandstorm head butting me. 😉


  16. I love cats. I had a linx-point siamese that slept every night curled up on the left corner of my bed. Except if it got really cold, then at some point in the night a really wet, cold nose would be pressing at my neck trying to find a way to get under the covers. Under the covers she would curl up on the same corner to sleep.

    Perhaps Oscars sense of soon departure is related to assist dogs uncanny ability to warn their humans of impending seizure.

  17. Y’all do realize we’re talking about patients in a nursing home, don’t you? It’s been my experience that a lot of patients in nursing homes would actually welcome Oscar, not in spite of what his presence means, but because of it.

    My mother used to work in a nursing home, then did in-home care for elderly patients after that. Most of them tend to have a different outlook on life and death than those of us who still have many miles to travel, not to mention the health and energy to travel them.

  18. I adore cats. I still miss Fifi, a cat who a friend of mine had. She died a year ago, just before Christmas. She was lovely and we were really fond of each other. She was getting on, so her death was not unexpected, but it was still horribly sad.

    I’d love to keep a cat, and a dog, but I have parrots, so that makes a cat impossible, and I work out of the house a lot, so that wouldn’t be fair on a dog.

  19. Having parrots doesn’t make having a cat impossible and can work out cheaper. For a start you wouldn’t have to buy any cat food for the first couple of days.

  20. We got a double yellow headed Amazon parrot when I was in the fourth grade. We’ve always had cats, too. At least two of our cats used to play with the parrot. None of them ever tried to attack or kill him. (And quite frankly, I’d have given close to even odds on the parrot if a fight had broken out.)

    Cats and parrots can co-exist in my experience.

  21. For a start you wouldn’t have to buy any cat food for the first couple of days

    Mad Priest, don’t be horrid.

    Jarred: a double yellow headed Amazon is a big parrot that is closeish to the same size as a cat, gives a nasty bite and can look after itself. I’m not arguing with your thoughts on the subject, but I’ve got pet cockatiels. They’re littler than an Amazon, and they’re a lot less feisty. They would be cat meat within seconds, I’m afraid.

  22. But what if the cat was simply giving expression to his inner psychopath? Maybe he’s not reacting to the nearness of death so much as bringing it about…


  23. Not a cat’s style, Ostrich. They do psychopath, of course. But it’s always messy and bloody.

    Cats are the most honest animal on earth. They are completely incapable of deception and if they were capable of it they would never be bothered to do it.

  24. I dunno, MP – in a nice way, cats do pretend. For instance, I’ve known cats take fright from something, start to run away, then realise there’s not really a problem, at which point they stop running and start sauntering nonchalantly along as if they hadn’t got a care in the world and couldn’t imagine ever having such a thing.

  25. Cathy:

    Good point. When I hear “parrot” I usually think Amazon’s, African grays, and other large birds. I’d be concerned about cockatiels as well.