Oscar meows in protest if removed from the room of a dying patient
A US cat that is reportedly able to sense when a nursing home's residents are about to die is baffling doctors.
Oscar has a habit of curling up next to patients at the home in Providence, Rhode Island, in their final hours.
According to the author of an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the two-year-old cat has been observed to be correct in 25 cases so far.
Staff now alert the families of residents when he sits down next to their ailing loved one.
"He doesn't make many mistakes. He seems to understand when patients are about to die," David Dosa, a professor at Brown University who carried out the research, told the Associated Press news agency.
Oscar was adopted as a kitten at Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre.
The cat is said to do his own rounds, just like the doctors and nurses at the home, but is not generally friendly to patients.
Although most families are grateful for the warning Oscar seems to provide, some relatives ask that the pet be taken away while they say their last goodbyes to their loved ones.
When put outside the room, Oscar is said to pace up and down meowing in protest.
Thomas Graves, a feline expert from the University of Illinois, told the BBC: "Cats often can sense when their owners are sick or when another animal is sick.
"They can sense when the weather will change, they're famous for being sensitive to premonitions of earthquakes."
A doctor who treats patients at the home said she believed there was probably a biochemical explanation, rather than the cat being psychic. (and what do you believe?)
from The BBC Online, 7-29-07