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Some cats serve, some cats whine

July 27, 2007

Oscar the cat has a natural ability as a hospice assistant. Not otherwise a particularly friendly cat, Oscar makes his rounds in a nursing home, and when he knows, however he knows, that a patient’s death is imminent, he sits with the patient until death comes; then he leaves discreetly. He’s made New England Journal of Medicine, but no one knows the source of his ability to sense that a patient is within four or fewer hours of death. He has left the room of a patient the human staff believed to be about to die, returning several hours later, shortly before the patient actually died. The staff was about 10 hours off; Oscar, as always, was right on–as he has been, 25 times in a row. When the staff sees Oscar enter a room, they know it’s time to call the patient’s family.

Inability constantly thwarts our flesh. We cannot aspire to special graces we would like to have; they are given or they are not, but we can’t earn them in any way, although we can improve upon them and advance with instruction. Oscar has some kind of knack for knowing when a person is going to die. No one taught him this. He has no concept that his behavior is particularly laudable; he can’t appreciate the plaque he was awarded for his dedicated hospice service. He gains nothing for doing what he does uncannily well; he simply does it.

My Cat has a knack for knowing when I am finally in deep sleep, and then he whines, or throws up, or paws at the covers by my face because he is hungry, although he has food in his dish. Sometimes he just likes me to know he’s going to go eat now–or that he’s not, but that he’s hungry anyway. The wonderful thing about my Cat’s special talents is that they remain ripe for discovery. Just like mine.

  1. scribbles2day permalink
    July 28, 2007 3:03 am

    Interesting that Oscar does what he does. It sort of reminds me of the angel appearing at a fountain to heal the first one who touched the water. Every year, every time.

    And who can match the talents of cool Coolidge?

  2. July 28, 2007 7:28 pm

    None can match the talents of Coolidge. He parlays a yard of soft belly fur into unmitigated adulation.

  3. kamelda permalink
    July 31, 2007 11:17 am

    I think you should write an article about Coolidge’s sensing sleep and throwing up abilities for the New England Journal of Medicine.

  4. July 31, 2007 11:58 am

    Perhaps if you shared Oscar’s noble example with Coolidge, he would deign to let you know before people died.

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