Saturday, July 28, 2007

Nursing Home Kills Off Cat's Favorite Patients

Oscar, a hospice cat at a Providence nursing home, has become an omen of impending death. Oscar seems to know when a patient is in her final hours, curling up next to her out of what optimistic doctors and nurses assume is genuine companionship:
"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.
Link (thanks, Melissa). Oscar the Death Cat has even inspired an episode of purported lolcat-meme ur-comic Laugh-Out-Loud Cats (a bit disconcerting since the strip was written in 1912).

In that essay in the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Dosa passes off Oscar's behavior as old-fashioned, good-spirited death prediction, but years of absorbing the works of Stephen King tell us there is something much more sinister afoot. After all, Providence is only two-hundred miles from King's stomping grounds in Maine.

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