The Truth Behind Oscar, the “Death Kitty”

February 23, 2010

By Cole

Oscar is a 4-year-old calico in Providence, Rhode Island. He’s got a book, Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat by David Dosa, the doctor who observes Oscar in action at Steere House, the nursing home where Oscar lives with 5 other cats.

Dr. Dosa and Oscar (Photo - Janet Teno)

Oscar’s “extraordinary gift” is that he’s the only cat there who cozies up to patients about to check out — permanently.

In the cat world Oscar is nothing special. All cats can do what he does. We just choose not to, and we have very good reasons.

Oscar lives in the advanced dementia unit, where people are usually in no condition to be chummy with anybody. For Oscar to curl up on their beds in their final few hours is considered a supreme kindness to them and their families.

Now let’s imagine a cat acting like Oscar in a regular household. Suddenly the cat decides to cuddle with Grandma, a woman who has always hated cats and swats them with brooms.

A few hours later, Grandma is history.

Do you think the family would be cooing, “What a good kitty!” or running around in a tizzy?

Say the cat next turns his attention to Grampa, who thinks swinging cats by the tail is fun. Then Grandpa takes off for the Great Beyond and leaves the cat sitting there, purring.

I can promise you this is a cat who is 1) about to become strictly outdoor, or 2) will be permanently banned from sleeping on the bed.

Oscar lives in the perfect place to be a furry Grim Reaper, and his humans seem to appreciate it, so I wish him the best.

But trust me, you’re usually better off not knowing what secrets cats keep. Most of us are not about to tip our paw and reveal too much. All it takes is being right just once with the wrong person to end up in a carrier on a one-way trip back to “the joint.”

SAD NOTE: Cats Working extends sincere condolences to Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan, who lost his beloved 16-year-old pit bull, Daddy, on February 19. Rest in peace, Daddy. As dogs go, we think you were one of the best.

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