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I see where Oscar the Cat is back in the news.

Who he?  Well, a couple years ago a story appeared about this cat attached to a Rhode Island nursing home that seemed to have an uncanny knack for sniffing out which patients were on the verge of shuffling off this mortal coil and cosying up to them.   Apparently since then, he’s accurately predicted another 50 deaths.

Dr Dosa and other staff are so confident in Oscar’s accuracy that they will alert family members when the cat jumps on to a bed and stretches out beside its occupant.

“It’s not like he dawdles. He’ll slip out for two minutes, grab some kibble and then he’s back at the patient’s side. It’s like he’s literally on a vigil,” Dr Dosa wrote.

Dr Dosa noted that the nursing home keeps five other cats, but none of the others have ever displayed a similar ability.

In his book, “Making rounds with Oscar: the extraordinary gift of an ordinary cat”, Dr Dosa offers no solid scientific explanation for Oscar’s behaviour.

He suggests Oscar is able – like dogs, which can reportedly smell cancer – to detect ketones, the distinctly-odoured biochemicals given off by dying cells.

I recall posting about Oscar the first time he came to light and I’ll say the same thing now that I said then.  Everybody is marveling at what a sense he has for predicting these deaths.  Nobody seems to be considering that he may actually be causing them.

I mean, ask yourself this question honestly:  If a cat has to choose between saving a human life and protecting its own reputation, which do you think it will do?

‘Zactly.  And as a matter of fact, not only will he pick the latter, he’ll consider it a win-win, too.

UPDATE: Here’s my original post on Oscar.  I see that my memory is a bit fuzzy after all and at the time I actually borrowed my original line from somebody else.  Credit where it is due, of course.  But I also like what I wrote in following up:

I suppose I’m willing to accept (simply for lack of proof) that Oscar isn’t murdering the poor blighters outright, but that doesn’t really cause me to warm up much to him. If this had been a story about a dog, I would have assumed that his purpose in seeking out those about to die was to provide them comfort and sympathy. I’d be willing to bet that ol’ Oscar does it just to gloat.

Heh.  Yeah, back in the day I used to be a halfway decent writer…..


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February 2010