I read today that there is a cat in America, Rhode Island to be precise, who seems to be able to predict when the next patient at a nursing home is going to die. The cat, who goes by the name of Oscar (pictured right), invariably goes to sit by the unlucky person who's time has come in the final few hours of his or her life. Oscar's ability to predict these deaths has become so accurate that the nursing home staff have come to rely on his actions as a sure sign that the patient is about to snuff it!
I bet the patients love that. As soon as Oscar is seen lingering at the doorway to their room, I bet they're shooing him away, throwing slippers at him, and urging him to carry on down the hallway to somebody else's room (wasn't that the woman in room 304 that I heard coughing?).
As it happens, most of the patients in the nursing home are suffering from dementia so they probably don't know that the cat is there (or even what a cat is). But I'm not sure I'd like the cat of death to be circling as I sit and watch Countdown in my latter days. On the positive side, if the cat did come to sit by my side I would know that it was my final Countdown! (Sound of cymbal to emphasise crap gag.)
Click here for the BBC web page covering the story. The original piece that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine is here.