I was rather amused by this AP article in SF Gate: Oscar the Cat Predicts Patients' Deaths. It describes a cat that was adopted by the nurses in a nursing home as a kitten. Since then it's proven to have quite a knack for figuring out which patients are hours away from dying.
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.
You might think that this is a bad thing, but apparently it's quite helpful for the families.
"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.
And the patients themselves aren't likely to notice.
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.
Of course, the cat is better than the professionals too!
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.
I wonder if we'll ever figure out how animals can figure this out...
Posted by jzawodn at July 26, 2007 07:28 AM