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This remarkable story has been in the news off and on since 2007.  Oscar, a sweet-faced white and gray cat, was adopted as a kitten into the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, R.I.

Raised by staff, he’s gained notoriety for his ability to accurately predict the time of death for terminal patients on the dementia unit.  His protocol?  He gains access to patients hours before their death, sitting with them in vigil until the time of their passing.  He’s persistent and accurate.

From the Steere House website:

Oscar Relaxing

Oscar is a tabby cat who resides on the third floor of the Steere House Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island. Adopted by the nursing home as a kitten, Oscar has lived his entire life on the 41-bed advanced dementia unit.   Though much of his first year on the unit was nondescript, Oscar suddenly began making visits to residents on the third floor shortly before his first birthday. His visits originally went unnoticed, but family members and staff began to realize that Oscar’s appearances coincided with the deaths of terminal patients there. While the passing of some residents was not unexpected due to their advanced condition, Oscar’s visits proved to coincide remarkably with a resident’s final hours.  Otherwise he was nowhere to be found.  On several occasions over the next year, Oscar seemed to be the first “health care provider” on the floor to realize that a resident was about to die.

In time, staff at the nursing home began to rely on Oscar as an “early warning system,” announcing to those present that it was time to notify family and increase hospice services for those close to death.

*****

Our pets come to us in the spirit of service and healing.  The service takes many forms and is usually specific to a person, but Oscar is different.  His agreement isn’t with one person, it’s with humanity.

Different theories abound:  he smells the ketones!  He observes changes in staff behavior!   He’s looking for the heating pad!   The heating pad.

Whatever.  I say, this cat is in service.  He’s a working man and he’s found himself a great, fulfilling job.

Here’s the full link.

 

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