The Cat That Can Predict Death
Oscar the "furry angel of death"
Oscar was a tiny kitten when staff at Steere House, a nursing home in Rhode Island, took him in. However, they didn't know that he had an amazing ability.
He can predict when someone is about to die.
The staff first realized this as they noticed Oscar spending time with patients in the advanced dementia unit as they were becoming terminal. When a patient is close to death, the cat will jump up on the bed, sniff out the patient, curl up next to him or her, and purr. If he is kept outside of the patient's door, he will scratch on the door in an attempt to get in.
One of the first incidents was that of a woman who had a blood clot in her leg. Oscar wrapped his body around her leg, which was very cold, and stayed by her side until she died.
Oscar is even able to predict when a patient is about the die more accurately than the nurses, as they found out when they placed him beside a resident they thought was close to death. Instead, though, he jumped off the bed and went to sit beside a patient in another room. It turned out the patient he chose to sit next to died that evening, while the other lived for another few days.
Margie Scherk, president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners and a veterinarian in Vancouver, British Columbia, says that it is very possible that he is able to smell some type of chemical that is released just before death. Daniel Estep, a certified applied animal behaviorist in Littleton, Colo, offers another explanation of the cat's mysterious behavior. He claims that Oscar may be predicting the residents' deaths not as a result of smells, but simply because of the patient's lack of movement.
Either way, Oscar is able to provide comfort to both the patient and the family, as his actions help alert the nursing home's staff to inform the patients' family members when they are about to die so that they have enough time to say goodbye.