Oscar, the Cat Who Can Predict Death

In 'Making Rounds With Oscar,' a doctor tells of a cat?s extraordinary gift.

By Nikki Batalis | Posted: February 5, 2010, 3 a.m. EST

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Making the Rounds With Oscar
“Cats may have nine lives, but we have only one and we’re all terrified to talk about the ending of it.”

So goes a line from "Making Rounds With Oscar," a fascinating book by David Dosa, a physician who has written about a cat called Oscar, who is ordinary by all appearances, but who actually has an extraordinary gift.

He is the resident cat at the Steere House Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Rhode Island, a facility that houses many elderly patients with dementia who are near the end of their lives.

He is a typical cat in that he chooses where he wants to nap and spend his time. But his uncanny gift is that he can sense when someone’s life is about to end, and he will jump up on the patient's bed and spend his time there until the person has passed away.

Dr. Dosa and the staff say that Oscar has made at least 50 correct calls about imminent death.
How does Oscar know? Is there a scent or pheromone that someone who is near death gives off that he can detect? Is there some sixth sense he possesses?

Whatever the reason, Oscar’s gift can be a blessing to the families at Steere House, many of whom have spent years nursing a loved one through the ravages of dementia.

One man in Dosa’s book, Jack, described his mother’s death after she had suffered for 16 years with the disease. Oscar had taken up his place on the bed beside her, and Jack knew death was not far away.

“I knew this was the way she was going to die, with a cat at her side. Two hours later, my mother took her last breath. Oscar never moved until she died. Then he got up casually, like nothing happened and left the room. ...

“I suppose my mother would have been happy to know that she died with one of the critters she loved the most.”

Rather than being morbid, the book discusses end-of-life issues with great sensitivity – and it is nice to know that Oscar is there for people when he is needed most.

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Reader Comments

Joi @ Cat-Pause    Owensboro, KY

9/3/2010 7:13:06 AM

I'm going to HAVE to order and read this book - it sounds fascinating! I've actually read quite a few great books about cats lately - thank Heaven for great authors who also happen to be cat lovers. what is My Cat Thinking by Gwen Bailey is a great one.

Thanks for the recommendation, I'm going to read it asap!


Lori    Apple Valley, MN

2/10/2010 2:17:24 PM

As many cat lovers that have lost a cat to illness know that even if a cat never purred often that in it's finally days it purrs to comfort itself.Oscar is only trying to soothe the pain of these people.I would think that it is helpful to the family because that way the would be present for when the time has come.So often people regret not "being there" when someone passes.

Cathy    Hubbard, OH

2/10/2010 5:56:54 AM

I have heard a lot of comments on the radio and TV on this cat and a lot was not good. People are afraid of an animal that knows this. I think it is Great! This kitty goes and offers these people comfort and stays with them to the end. This is what I would want with my kitties. He is a special kitty.

Suzanne    Laguna Woods, CA

2/5/2010 12:32:22 PM

I just read an excerpt of this book in Reader's Digest. I found it very interesting because when my father died of cancer, his favorite cat, Kyli, was by his side and did not leave. Even though my Dad was not aware of things at the time of his passing, I know Kyli offered him comfort. Cats do seemed tuned in to when we are ill.

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