Killer Kitty Guides you to the Other Side

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Principessa, Jul 26, 2007.

  1. Principessa

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    Oscar the Cat Predicts Patients' Deaths

    By RAY HENRY
    Associated Press Writer
    PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Oscar the cat seems to have an uncanny knack for predicting when nursing home patients are going to die, by curling up next to them during their final hours. His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means they have less than four hours to live.
    "He doesn't make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die," said Dr. David Dosa in an interview. He describes the phenomenon in a poignant essay in Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
    "Many family members take some solace from it. They appreciate the companionship that the cat provides for their dying loved one," said Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor of medicine at Brown University.
    The 2-year-old feline was adopted as a kitten and grew up in a third-floor dementia unit at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The facility treats people with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and other illnesses.
    After about six months, the staff noticed Oscar would make his own rounds, just like the doctors and nurses. He'd sniff and observe patients, then sit beside people who would wind up dying in a few hours.
    Dosa said Oscar seems to take his work seriously and is generally aloof. "This is not a cat that's friendly to people," he said.
    Oscar is better at predicting death than the people who work there, said Dr. Joan Teno of Brown University, who treats patients at the nursing home and is an expert on care for the terminally ill
    She was convinced of Oscar's talent when he made his 13th correct call. While observing one patient, Teno said she noticed the woman wasn't eating, was breathing with difficulty and that her legs had a bluish tinge, signs that often mean death is near.
    Oscar wouldn't stay inside the room though, so Teno thought his streak was broken. Instead, it turned out the doctor's prediction was roughly 10 hours too early. Sure enough, during the patient's final two hours, nurses told Teno that Oscar joined the woman at her bedside.
    Doctors say most of the people who get a visit from the sweet-faced, gray-and-white cat are so ill they probably don't know he's there, so patients aren't aware he's a harbinger of death. Most families are grateful for the advanced warning, although one wanted Oscar out of the room while a family member died. When Oscar is put outside, he paces and meows his displeasure.
    No one's certain if Oscar's behavior is scientifically significant or points to a cause. Teno wonders if the cat notices telltale scents or reads something into the behavior of the nurses who raised him.
    Nicholas Dodman, who directs an animal behavioral clinic at the Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and has read Dosa's article, said the only way to know is to carefully document how Oscar divides his time between the living and dying.
    If Oscar really is a furry grim reaper, it's also possible his behavior could be driven by self-centered pleasures like a heated blanket placed on a dying person, Dodman said.
    Nursing home staffers aren't concerned with explaining Oscar, so long as he gives families a better chance at saying goodbye to the dying.
    Oscar recently received a wall plaque publicly commending his "compassionate hospice care."
    ___
    Science writer Alicia Chang in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
    ___
    On the Net:
    New England Journal of Medicine: http://content.nejm.org/
    ___
     
  2. findfirefox

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    Could it be that the cat is attracted to activity? The closer someone is to death I would think the more activity around that room...
     
  3. dong20

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    A self fulfilling prophecy leading to imminent catastrophy?

    Or maybe the cat's really a soul sucking alien from the planet moggy accidentally stranded on Earth. Well, it could be.....
     
  4. Gillette

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    No joke. As cool as I think cats are they are creepy too. A friend who worked in a nursing home here said they had a cat that would do the same thing.

    It's entirely possible that there is some nuance in those last hours that certain cats are able to pick up on, much the same way as there are certain dogs that are able to predict epileptic seizures in people.
     
  5. AlteredEgo

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    In a hospital yes. Nursing home? No.
     
  6. findfirefox

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    Good point, maybe its just a cat with some good sence.
     
  7. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    At one time the New England Journal of Medicine was a very serious journal. It and Lancet were what doctors with actual patients read (that is, not doctors in research institutions, who had entirely different reading lists). Unfortunately a few years back NEJM went political, and has been diving down the toilet ever since. So it's not easy to determine if something like this is for real, or if the NEJM is trying to expand into the niche the Weekly World News is abandoning.
     
  8. dong20

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    So you're saying; by not investigating the possibility that this as a real phenonemon and stooping to cheap tabloidism, the NEJM is a pussyllanimous shadow of its former self?
     
  9. Pecker

    Pecker Retired Moderator
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    I wonder if the nursing home was exclusively for people who suffer with violent allergic reactions to cats? :tongue:
     
  10. dong20

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    I agree, many animals are able to sense a range of things that pass us by, until we collide with them, they fall on us, or some other tragic outcome occurs.
     
  11. camper joe

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    Orginally Posted by Pecker

    I wonder if the nursing home was exclusively for people who suffer with violent allergic reactions to cats? :tongue:


    :lmao:
     
  12. Principessa

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  13. SpoiledPrincess

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    If this was a person who was consistently around people who died within 4 hours we'd all be screaming murderer.
    I have a friend who has an 'angel of death' reputation, she works in an old people's home and when some of them are dying and taking a long and hard time about it they send her to sit with them and they go within a few minutes.
     
  14. B_big dirigible

    B_big dirigible New Member

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    Oh, I didn't say it was "dumbing down". It has compromised its long-standing reputation as a scientific and medical journal and cashed in as a propaganda rag. That's not dumb, it's malevolent.

    On the other hand, I may be overreacting to a small number of vile articles. Dr. Arthur Kellerman's articles (not available online) would never have been published by any journal at which the editors were interested in fact. It is possible that not all NEJM's articles are crap. But it's very hard to regain a reputation once it's been marinated in the sewer.
     
  15. dong20

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    She'll not be a Dylan Thomas reader then.
     
  16. witch

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    Damn! all my cat does is sleep or lick his butt.........


    I would worry that some sick nut would harm the cat thinking it was some spawn of Satan.
     
  17. Yorkie

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    Sweet-faced!!! Look at his photo, he's about as sweet-faced as Charles Manson!
    He looks malevolent to me. :scared2: Could hospital cat be angel of death? - Yahoo! News UK
     
  18. bboy24

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    I read about this in the paper this morning. Weird as shit. Not a big cat fan but hey, if homecat wants to walk around letting the doctor's know when the patients are about to die, I say let him. It would be nice to think that he brings comfort to the dying and is able to give the staff time to notify family so they can say one last goodbye.
     
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