The End Is Near: Hospice Cat Senses Death

Oscar picks patients just about to die with uncanny accuracy
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 26, 2007 5:40 AM CDT
Oscar the cat   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – An upscale nursing home in Rhode Island is home to a cat that can sense impending death, the Boston Globe reports. Oscar, whose domain is the dementia ward, shows little interest in patients who are ill but not dying. But when he curls up in a bed, the patient usually dies within hours. Caregivers take Oscar's cuddling as a signal to call loved ones.

When shooed from the room by family members, the cat rubs the door, demanding to be let back in. "As a scientist, I want to offer a biological explanation for this, but I can't," said one doctor. The geriatrician who reports the phenomenon in today's New England Journal of Medicine says simply: "This is a cat that knows death."