Cats and Death


A news item in today’s paper caught my eye. According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, a cat named Oscar that resides in a dementia unit of a nursing facility in Providence, Rhode Island has a sixth sense as to when residents there are about to die. In 25 cases, the cat has been observed to curl up next to a patient within about four hours of the person’s passing. Curiously, the cat is not especially friendly towards people, with the exception of when people are nearing the transition into the great beyond. His capacity for predicting death is higher than that of the human staff at the facility.

What does this all mean? I have no idea, nor does apparently anyone else, but I find it fascinating. We have a cat in our house named Moses. Moses is also rather antisocial. We adopted him after he was weaned, and apparently a kitten who isn’t held by people from the get go never becomes especially cuddly. He doesn’t purr; and doesn’t willingly allow himself be held, although he will put up with it for a time. Nonetheless, we are fond of Moses, and this is in large part because he likes being around us. He just would prefer we not touch him. He comes and sits next to me on my desk when I am working at my computer. Fortunately, his presence doesn’t seem to be an indicator that I’m about to die. But I think I would find a cat curled up next to me to be a comforting presence when the time comes for me to cross over.

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