Thursday, July 26, 2007

Oscar the cat

It seems a lot of people read this story and thought it was interesting. I remember seeing something similar on a documentary a few years ago about cats being used for pet therapy - not sure if it's the same cat.

Thanks to Simian, Imp, TarsierGirl and Coboypb for sending this in :-

Oscar the Cat

It occured to me that I wonder whether Oscar's ability to literally sniff out death (if that is indeed what it is) may not be taken quite so well in Singapore, where people might feel more squeamish about this. Some people might feel that it was inauspicious. However I think Oscar basically is reading the signs somehow that the person is going to pass away - and is just offering what comfort he can. It's not as if he hastens death. If relatives can be alerted too to say goodbye - I think that most people would appreciate the opportunity to do so.



Blogger VeganCatsg said...

I agree with Dawn on our asian cultural mindset. In a chinese context, Oscar may even be blamed! and a pest controller called to remove that jinx!
Recently I knew an old lady who died and her daughter made the Indonesian helper slept next to the coffin in the void deck to keep the cats away!!

26/7/07 4:34 PM  
Anonymous JK said...

i read somewhere that cats pining after their sick owners (where the sickness necessitates separation) often stop after being shown the owner's (dead) body. this shows that they know (1) that the owner is "gone" (as opposed to being asleep) and (2) that the departure is irreversible.

oscar's ability is probably an extension of a cat's innate understanding of death.

26/7/07 5:37 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

That's very interesting jk - there's so much about animals we still don't know.

26/7/07 5:48 PM  
Blogger VeganCatsg said...

This is not the only cat that senses death in a nursing home. I remember reading or watching a black cat in a nursing home in USA who would seek out dying patient and unlike Oscar, it would like next to the dying patient who seemed much comforted. I tried a google search but failed to find this other cat.

26/7/07 6:15 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

vegancat- THAT'S the cat I was thinking of. Wasn't sure if it was the same cat as Oscar.

26/7/07 6:18 PM  
Blogger iwooiblog said...

I think animals, and since we have pet cats and dogs at home, have certain special animal ability or instinct to sense out that their human friends may exhibit a different "bio rythmn" than normal? i.e. being sick, ill, near death rather than being healthy?

I remembered once I was having a very high, or bad fever and I was bed ridden, and Teh Cee my cat, without a word, or a meow, spent the whole day since morning, jumped on my bed and stayed by my leg side...


27/7/07 1:57 AM  
Anonymous gk Blank said...

Has it occurred to anyone that Oscar may, well, somehow be complicit in these deaths?

27/7/07 4:08 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

gk blank - Oscar the evil genius who outwits all the dumb people in the hospital? Somehow I don't think so :)

iwooiblog - I do think animals have very attuned senses and can pick up on things we don't. Note their well documented ability to know when there is an earthquake for example - there are signs. We just don't see/feel them.

27/7/07 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

what about saying cats can see 'things' that we can't? My tiggi's eyes dart around quickly sometimes when there isn't a fly in sight at the ceiling, I'l carry him along if i need to make a midnight loo trip, wud rather be warned by him then to get a nasty shock...he's my guardian so that makes me a supporter of predictive-cats rather than seeing them as jinx.

27/7/07 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cats are smart but they are smart to keep quiet about it. You take out a bag - and they know if you are going on a trip, for groceries or will be back late. I am sure they observe what you wear while they lounge around with half-open eyes. They certainly know the signs for a vet visit - all cats under the bed. They certainly can tell time very accurately eg 4pm chow time.
I always wonder how cats feel when they know people are making preparations to dump them.

27/7/07 12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes our Asian mindset wont be able to accept it. It was reported on CNA and the reaction the news caster gave was not "How sweet..." it was "quite errie....."

27/7/07 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yep...catch the last bit of CNA telecast this morn, just to hear them both quickly identify themselves as dog-persons, S.J said cats are mysterious...., c'mon...people who can appreciate cat's unique characters are a 'uncommon'charistmatic lot...

27/7/07 3:42 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous - very true. I wonder how those cats feel when they are about to be dumped.

I really do think cats pick up on signs we don't - there's nothing eerie about it. Cats' sight and hearing for example have been shown to be far sharper than ours. Their sense of smell is sharper.

If I can smell muffins in the oven and can tell what I'm having for tea for example, whereas my friend with a less sharp nose can't - does that give it eerie? We fear what we cannot understand.

27/7/07 3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My female cat jumps into the carrier when she knows she is going to my parent's place.... to her it is club med, lots of places to jump around, bigger space, non stop feeding by my mum of fish, meat, etc etc.... and constant fussing by my dad.....

27/7/07 6:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe animals indeed can pick up signs that we din sense just like tsumani case.

When any of my pets is sick and my cat don't feel at ease, keep jumping up and down n meow around the sick pet area, I will know my pet has passed away... It happened a few times.

Animals can really share our happiness and sorrows... they will stay by your side and comfort you when you're sad...

29/7/07 2:57 AM  
Anonymous tez said...

I actually work at the nursing home that oscar lives at. I have read some strange things that people have written about oscar. This page is so much more of what oscar is about.. comforting people at the end of their lives. as Jk said.. oscars ability is probably and extension of a cats innate understanding of death.. Look at the tsunami, where all of the animals were already on high ground. animals still have the instincts that we lost a long time ago.. It doesnt seem strange to me.. what i find strange, is the attention this got. wowow.. I was at work the other night, and i got a call from australia, the bbc, headline news, fox and cnn. they wanted to know about oscar. wow

oscar and the five other cats in the building bring so much joy to the residents. and oscar isnt all that antisocial.. he is not spooky either..

thank you,

29/7/07 7:29 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous - absolutely.

Hey Tez - glad to meet someone who knows Oscar and for stopping in to share that with us! How nice that the nursing home has other cats too - we're trying to speak to nursing homes in Singapore about trying that out but so far it hasn't been too successful. Say hello to the famous Oscar and the other cats too for us!

29/7/07 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Dawn,
I recalled seeing one of your photo collection, an ah mah (auntie)cradling a ginger tabby.

Think it was during one of your rounds in an old folks home. u did express that the major problem's cats' stress that hinders such charity work. Probably the cats has to be residential ones and not 'visitors' on wheels...

I can't forget the comforting look on that Ah Mah's face, it looked as though she's close to tears, very powerful photo which you may consider using it someday.

29/7/07 6:00 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Think that's vegancat's photo! It's a great one!

29/7/07 7:10 PM  
Blogger VeganCatsg said...

I think the presence of animals make a nursing home more like a home. It is evidence-based that when a hospital room is made to look less clinical and more warm like a real room, the patient recovers faster.
Similarly, a nursing home should de-institutionalise itself and in the context of Singapore,with sensitivity towards Muslims, some of whom are conditioned to fear dogs, cats will make wonderful pets in any nursing home.

30/7/07 11:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Definitely, statistics showed pets made elderly people happier and prolonged their life span. I believe a nursing home with pets will be profitable and popular!! Anyone interested in such business yet?

30/7/07 12:01 PM  

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