Monday, July 30, 2007

Oscar the Death Cat

Our journey now takes us to Providence, Rhode Island, where we will investigate the language of death. I'm sure many of you are familiar with the story of Oscar the Death Cat.

Oscar, a pet at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, seems to have a knack for predicting when patients are going to die, by curling up next to them in their final hours.

Psychic pets have been documented well back into the seventeenth century, when a "Learned Pig", a "Wonderful Intelligent Goose", Toby the "Sapient Pig", and many others mystified onlookers with counting games and other parlor tricks.

Of course, the most famous thinking pet must be Clever Hans, a German horse, to whom the ability of arithmetic was attributed. However, an investigation in 1907 determined that Hans merely watched the reactions of his human observers to learn the answers.

Am I discounting Oscar's ability to sense the inevitability of death? Certainly not. There are many things in this world that I don't understand - things that don't seem to have "natural" explanations. Some have suggested that Oscar can smell physiological changes in patients that are about to expire - but this is no less amazing.

No, it's not that I think Oscar is a fake. I just think his services would be better put to use in other settings. It's not surprising that patients in nursing homes are close to death. But what if Oscar was employed:

1)At McDonalds - He could curl up under the feet of customers who are about to partake in their final super-sized Big Mac meal before departing for the Golden Arches in the Sky. For those people, it's time for a salad.

2)On Sky Diving Trips - He could snuggle with jumpers that are about to go "splat". For those people, it's time to find a new hobby.

3)On the Docks for Crab Fishing Boats - I'm a big fan of Deadliest Catch, on the Discovery Channel. Oscar could be used to pick the boats that have bad omens over them. For those people, it's time for a change of profession.

4)Any other ideas?

Where else would Oscar come in handy? Can you help me translate?


Beenzzz said...

I...I mean my cat, did a post on Oscar too!
I feel kind of bad for poor Oscar. I also feel sorry for him because he's trapped in a old folks home! Maybe he can detect (perceive or hear)the death rattle long before humans are privvy to it. Either that or the old people smell really bad and he knows they are goners.
I think he would really enjoy working at McDonalds though! :)

Jaya said...

I love Oscar... what a wonderful service he is providing. I want a cat with me when I die.

Translator said...

Beenzzz - Good point! Perhaps old people just smell really bad when they're about to expire!

Jaya - I agree. Any sort of comfort that Oscar provides is very valuable to the patients and their families. He's a SUPER CAT!

TOM said...

I don't to meet Oscar right now, thanks!

Crabbie said...

Oscar brought to mind earlier reports about dogs trained to sniff out bladder cancer and dogs who can sense lung and breast cancers (no kidding). I wonder if dogs can sense this because of their incredible ability to smell, and as gross as it sounds, maybe they smell cancer? And maybe Oscar "smells" impending death? I don't know if cats have the same amazing ability to smell though. All I know is I wouldn't want to see Oscar standing in my doorway!!!

Translator said...

I have also heard about dogs that can "smell" tumors. It's very plausible, since tumors are very different physiologically than normal tissue (increased blood flow, increased cellular proliferation, etc.) So it's very believable that Oscar can
"smell" death.

Thanks, crabbie!