Monday, August 06, 2007

Cat Predicts Death

Is Oscar, a hospice cat at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, R.I., a harbinger of death? According to nursing home staff, he has, on several occasions, curled up with a patient who passes away within hours. The staff is so certain of the accuracy of Oscar's predictions that they will call a patient's family once Oscar has chosen to perch himself upon the patient's bed. It sounds a bit eerie but, according to doctors, most patients are too ill to be aware of the cat's presence and most family members take comfort in the companionship that cat provides for their dying loved one.

This story may sound far-fetched, but animals have been known to pick up on signals that humans often miss. A study reported in New Scientist shows that dogs predicted epileptic seizures with 80% accuracy. The dogs were not trained for this, they began predicting the seizures spontaneously by whining, licking or standing by the person who would have the seizure.

Also, dogs can predict certain cancers by smelling a person's breath. Our animal companions have highly developed senses of smell and awareness of subtle body language that we can't replicate. We've only begun to find out all the benefits that our furry friends can provide, besides the obvious -- love and companionship. So a cat sensing that a person's last moments are drawing near isn't surprising.

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