Oscar is a fluffy therapy cat living in a nursing homein Providence, Rhode Island. He is meant to provide the ailing residents with cuddly comfort… so you might wonder why his nickname is “Death Cat.” In fact, Oscar has an uncanny ability for predicting the deaths of sick patients.
You might think that Oscar’s mere presence then would bring out something of terrifying anxiety around the nursing home. But Steere House is an end-of-life care facility, where terminally ill patients struggle with late-stage Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s; they are generally unaware of their surroundings.
Of course, the nursing home staff likes to believe that Oscar is trying to comfort those who are dying. But how can he tell? Many scientists believe that Oscar can pick up on the subtle scent of biochemicals released in the body when someone dies. But another hypothesis is that Oscar picks up on — and prefers — the total stillness of the sickest residents. Skeptics, however, decry Oscar’s ability as mere confirmation bias. But I’m sure anyone who has ever loved their pet can attest to the caring, extra-sensory solace they provide. What do you think?