Thursday, July 26, 2007

Speaking of Feline Bringers of Death...

(Or: "im on ur bed causin ur deth")
I was just kidding yesterday when I sort of said cats were evil killing machines but this story is making me reconsider. A cat at a hospice in Providence has been killing patients, or as the attendants would prefer to believe is merely predicting their deaths. From the story

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.

Oscar the cat doesn't like to be put out in the hall when a patient is dying.

His accuracy, observed in 25 cases, has led the staff to call family members once he has chosen someone. It usually means the patient has less than four hours to live.

"He doesn't make too many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die," Dr. David Dosa said in an interview. He describes the phenomenon in a poignant essay in Thursday's issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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.

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.

I wouldn't imagine the cat would be too friendly, and I know I wouldn't be too friendly to him. The thing is obviously evil and how freaked out would you be if you were a patient and this cat hopped onto your bed; I would totally use up all my strength trying to get him away (and yes I know if you're in a hospice you really don't have the strength to do that and in many cases might welcome the Real Reaper)

I suppose it is more comforting to think that the cat is consoling or preparing these patients to move on rather than causing their deaths, but in situations like this I remember a quote from the book Goldfinger where Goldfinger confronts Bond "Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence but three times is Enemy Action" I wonder what the 25th time is. I'm scared now; I think I'll do what my cats want...

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