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back to article Cat senses impending death

A cat in Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island, appears to sense when one of the elderly residents is about to die, Reuters reports. Oscar has been at Steere House for two years, during which he's settled down beside 25 old timers shortly before they passed away. Dr Joan Teno, a professor of …

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Anonymous Coward

Hmmmm

Maybe it rolls around in poison.

Oooh the Moggie of Doom !

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blimey

Mmmm... maybe a cat that lives with old people, might actually sit next to them regularly.

Ooooh... and maybe some of the oldies actually die?

Wow... correlation?!?!?!

On a lighter note... maybe the old dears are being scared to death... oh noes... the cat of doom is come!

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Interesting

Are they sure the cat isn't killing the old timers?

If that was a doctor who always arrived just prior to the demise of the patient there would be some serious questions asked.

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Cat rename?

Think the cat should be renamed the Grim Reaper rather than Oscar!

I'm glad this cat has no chance of sitting at the side of my bed. Anyone ever heard of the 'power of suggestion' ?

:)

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Cause and Effect

What they also appear to have missed is the self-fulfilling prophesy.

People can attribute cause and effect where there is none, maybe owing to a couple of coincidences, and then when the cat then goes to sit near a wrinkly, the wrinkly believes his or her time is up, and duly obliges, thus strengthening the myth.

Jon

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Anonymous Coward

Egyptians

Maybe this is why the Egyptians held cats in such high esteem, but I can imagine the sheer terror felt by any of the residents should the cat so much as poke its nose through the door.

Eeeek! Get out! I'm not ready to go!

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cause and effect

Has anyone thought to see if it the damned cat is the cause of death ?

If the cat is evicted, does the elderly bod survive ?

Perhaps the old dears are sufferering from a reaction to an allergen / pathogen ?.

I know if it had that kind of reputation and sat on my bed it would get a swift kick.

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Anonymous Coward

Serial Cat

Death by mothballs? Death by cat allergy? Maybe the cat sits next to an old person and discreetly sticks the claws in. We should be informed.

p.s. When my cat died, suddenly but still in fine health, It was on ym mind for the two weeks before. Should I tell someone?

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@ Colin Morris

...maybe they should rename it Shipman!

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Anonymous Coward

One Unloved Pussy Cat?

Can you imagine, you pop in to visit your elderly relative and this pesky cat decides it wants to come and sit on your lap. You'd be frightened to leave the building in case you befall an accident.

Please put the moggy in a crate and send to your favourite politician.....

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Egyptians...

...held cats in such high esteem because they were considered the guardians of Ra (the Sun god) as he died (sun set) and passed through the underworld to be reborn (sun rise).

Hmmmm, if my moggy decides to come and sit near me (she's a typical cat...only comes near me when she wants food) then I am going to start writing out my will!

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Silver badge

Put them in a box

with a radioactive atom and give the cat a Gieger counter.

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Dan

Robocat

You've all missed the point, this moggy has robot insides and is an instrument of the Lizard Alliance, killing off the old folks using fricking laser beams in its eyes!

Alternatively, and to further Alan Gregson's comment, Harold Shipman was there when a lot of people died...

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Senses dinner

Mmm... tasty granny's face.

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Anonymous Coward

If only .....

If only my cat could do this just before Windows die on me, at least I will have time to save all my work and get the Windows installation CD ready.

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Silver badge

For sale:

Black and white male cat.

One terrified previous owner

Free to good home.

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oxo

Reincarnation

So Harold Shipman came back as a cat.. interesting

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Rob
Bronze badge

Believe it or not....

... not that uncommon.

Egyptians revered cats as they are the guardians of the spirit world, to have a cat near you at the time of death is supposed to facilitate safe passage to the other side.

On a scientific note, the theory that I subscribe to is that they can pick up on the electro-chemicals we transmit while we are living, obviously getting close to death that electo-chemical field starts to wan, hence the reason cats sense death.

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Anonymous Coward

This isn't so far fetched

There are people with severe epilepsy whose dogs can tell (before they are even aware of it) that they're about to have a seizure.

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Coincidences and allergies

From what is being reported, Oscar only visits patients that later will die. It is not like it randomly visits patients and some of them die. And most of those the cat visits are already in a state in which they can't acknowledge the cat's presence, therefore a self-fulfilling prophecy is rather unlikey.

An allergic reaction to the cat can also be counted out, as the hospital staff did not mention to find not any symptoms related to that.

German Spiegel reports that at one point a doctor at the nursing home predicted the imminent death of a patient, but Oscar came by and left again. The doctor thought that this time the cat was wrong, but it turned out the doctor was mistaken. The patient lived for another ten hours and promptly, two hours before the actual death, Oscar showed up.

The Spiegel report also said that the cat otherwise is not very social and keeps to itself.

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Sick

The cat knows that the coffin-dodger is about to kick the bucket and is getting first in the queue for nibbling on the corpse.

Think about all the old folks who die alone at home, and are discovered 3 days later. The cat never starves....

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Dogs have been doing this for years

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060106002944.htm

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Vigils

Maybe the cat is just coming to see why everyone's sitting around Grandma's bed. Cats are like that.

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Wht belive its random

Certain diseases and conditions are detectable by scent and other changes to biochemistry.

Whats to say the cat isnt just picking up on these

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There's a very easy biochemical explanation

Dying old people smell like tuna. Doh.

-dZ.

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Silver badge

Not the only cat

We have a cat that will come and keep us company when we're ill. He seems to know, so I guess there are signals. Or he just knows that the sick person is likely to stay still and provide a nice, warm place to sleep for a few hours.

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Raspberry

My dog used to be able to sense when I was about to blow a raspberry - he'd always get up and walk away just before I let rip.

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An unrelated cat story

I got up one morning and into the bathroom for the brushing of teeth and a quick wash before getting off out to work.

So there I was in the altogether having a wash with my dear old moggy weaving in and around my legs purring away. Woops, the soaps slips out of my hands and falls onto the floor. So I squat down to pick it up and suddenly the little sod takes a swipe at my dangly bits with claws extended. The shock makes me jump up in shock and I smack my head on the underside of the washand basin on the way up.

Talk about a double whammy. ;)

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ooo - magic cat

"On a scientific note, the theory that I subscribe to is that they can pick up on the electro-chemicals we transmit while we are living, obviously getting close to death that electo-chemical field starts to wan, hence the reason cats sense death."

Scientific? Theory? No. Start again please.

"From what is being reported, Oscar only visits patients that later will die. It is not like it randomly visits patients and some of them die."

Erm... don't we all die?

And if it is only being allowed in to see the ones in imminent death.. then it doesn't have any say in the matter - so no special powers need apply?

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Run away!

Being friendly to this moggie appears to be about as safe as being an acquaintance of Jessica "Murder, She Wrote" Fletcher.

Cause of death? Moggie Morbidity.

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Damn right that cat isn't very social, Spiegel...

...how the hell would it make you feel if your eternal duty as decreed by the sun god Ra - perhaps because of some digression in a previous existence (ie as Shipman) - is to remain at an old folks' home in Rhode Island and be the valet of the lost souls? I wouldn't be too social myself, come to think of it. That must be one serious cat.

Tinkerbell the Cat from Next Door: "I'm going to chase birds, roll in some dirt, eat a few leaves of catnip and fall asleep on some fresh laundry. You?"

DEATHCAT: "..."

Tinkerbell Cat: "Suit yourself."

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Ash

Fountain of Youth?

Kill that cat, live forever.

Genius.

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Silver badge

Post hoc ergo propter hoc

to coin the phrase..

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Familliars

I thought cats were well known to be able to see the grim reaper and predict death?

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The scientific explanation

Cats eat souls.

I would have thought that was obvious, that this moggy is doing side-work for the Reaper.

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Anonymous Coward

They're evil

Knowing cats, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the reason they curl up besides someone just before they die is to be the first to tuck into them as soon as they're gone. It's no different to the odd-bods who camp outside shops to bagsy the first Playstation 3, except they don't go home and feast on human flesh. Do they?

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Anonymous Coward

The cat killed them

from them all being allergic to cats in their weakened state.

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Anonymous Coward

Or maybe

Maybe it's an antisocial cat and goes to see people who are essentially unable to move, but are still relatively warm (cat's do like warmth)... what they need to do is have a (controlled) fire in a room just for the cat, then it will prove that the cat is nothing to do with it and the old codgers will die anyway.

I also like the lizard alliance theory though.

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Anonymous Coward

Eh?

Bit Fiddler said:

> he odd-bods who camp outside shops to bagsy the first

>Playstation 3, except they don't go home and feast on

>human flesh. Do they?

You haven't seen some of these PS3 games, have you?

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re: Familliars

By andy gibson

Posted Thursday 26th July 2007 11:26 GMT

I thought cats were well known to be able to see the grim reaper and predict death?

agreed - has this not been observed behaviour for centuries?

...except now we're looking to science to explaim it instead of dunking the cat's owner in the river and seeing if they live (before burning them at the stake)

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Biochemistry

People who are imminently dying - of nursing-home type ailments, or just drawn-out old-age frailty - their organs start to fail, so their biochemistry changes, toxins aren't being removed, digestion stops, dehydration occurs, urination ceases, &c &c.... so they smell different. On their sweat, if they sweat, on their breath, farts if any, and general skin odour. Can't see there's anything more to it than that.

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Don't hurt me, but...

Did anyone else think this could make a very sick lolcat image?

"I'm in your nursing home, euthanasing your relatives."

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I can't be the only one...

... who is thinking of Bubba Ho-Tep right now can I?

"Mr President... we're gonna kill us a kitty."

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Harrold Shipmane re-incarnated ?

'course that only works if he has died :-), can't be bothered to look

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As any Pratchett fan will tell you...

...cats can see the big hooded chap with the scythe. Clearly Oscar is just following a friend around.

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Memories...

Reminds me of Trainspotting

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I iz in ur bed...

...waitin fer u to dyz, kthxbai...

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Silver badge

Incomplete data and the miraculous coincidence.

This sounds like a classic case of the human mind seeking patterns in coincidences and a bit of confirmation bias to boot. The article doesn't mention all the old codgers who miraculously failed to die when the cat came and lay down next to them, for example. I'm sure if you include that data then the apparent pattern completely disappears.

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jai
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Re: I can't be the only one...

fear not - you're in safe company here. all this talk of egyptians was also making me think of the film. gonna have to watch that film again soon

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