Feline Companionship and Compassion for the Dying

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By USA News Group (Originally in English)

A two-year-old cat named Oscar at a New England, USA nursing home seems to be able to predict and now provides comfort and companionship to those who are about to depart this world. Oscar has so far presided over the passing of 25 people in the nursing home, which he does by curling up next to a patient in her or his final hours. Because of his accuracy, the nursing home staff now calls family members as soon as they see Oscar settling down in a patient’s bed. They know that this usually means the person has less than four hours remaining. /p>

Oscar is better at predicting the time of departure than the people who work there, said Dr. Joan Teno, an expert on care for the terminally ill who treats patients at the nursing home. His warm and purring presence for some people has meant the difference between loving companionship and passing away alone.

Most families are grateful for the advance warning. They see it as a chance to be able to say goodbye to their loved one. They also appreciate Oscar’s kind company.

Oscar recently received a wall plaque from a local hospice agency that now hangs in the nursing home, publicly commending his “compassionate hospice care.” A poignant essay describing the cat’s unique role was also published in a recent issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.