The cat that scented death

From the July 2007 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine:

Making his way back up the hallway, Oscar [the cat] arrives at Room 313. The door is open, and he proceeds inside. Mrs. K. is resting peacefully in her bed, her breathing steady but shallow. She is surrounded by photographs of her grandchildren and one from her wedding day. Despite these keepsakes, she is alone. Oscar jumps onto her bed and again sniffs the air. He pauses to consider the situation, and then turns around twice before curling up beside Mrs. K.

One hour passes. Oscar waits. A nurse walks into the room to check on her patient. She pauses to note Oscar’s presence. Concerned, she hurriedly leaves the room and returns to her desk. She grabs Mrs. K.’s chart off the medical-records rack and begins to make phone calls.

Within a half hour the family starts to arrive. Chairs are brought into the room, where the relatives begin their vigil. The priest is called to deliver last rites. And still, Oscar has not budged, instead purring and gently nuzzling Mrs. K.

An amazing story, and all the more so because it is a) true, and b) published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. Oscar’s ability to predict the imminent death of nursing home residents is so infallible that “his mere presence at the bedside is viewed by physicians and nursing home staff as an almost absolute indicator of impending death, allowing staff members to adequately notify families.”

Read the one-page article here.

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About oregon expat

Socialist heathen and Mac-using writer who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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3 Responses to The cat that scented death

  1. Alma says:

    Oh yeah, I’d heard about this before somewhere. Absolutely amazing! Thanks for the reminder. :)

  2. Hick Crone says:

    The article made me cry, maybe partly because my father died four years ago today.

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