Thursday, November 24, 2011

Book #31: Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat by David Dosa, M.D.

I first heard about Oscar several years ago when he made national news. If you aren't familiar with him, here's the quick backstory: Oscar is a cat that lives at a nursing home in Providence, Rhode Island: Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. He lives on the floor that contains the unit where patients with dementia are cared for. It was discovered that, although most of the time Oscar isn't overly concerned with the patients, he will go and sit with them a few hours before they die. He knows when it's time and holds vigil until they pass and are taken away.

David Dosa, M.D. is a geriatrician working in the same nursing home. He wasn't aware of Oscar's gift right away and once he found out, he was a bit dismissive about it. He began to ask people who experienced Oscar's vigils with the dying about their experiences and out of those discussions was born this book, Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat.

Although Oscar is on the cover and his name is in the title, the book is more about Dr. Dosa's journey in trying to figure out what was happening with dying patients and the cat on the floor of the unit. It is a wonderful journey to follow along with, watching this scientist trying to explain how a cat knows when someone is about to die.

A bonus with this book is that Oscar is still alive and doing his job at the nursing home. In fact, you can like his page on Facebook, Oscarthecat. You can also follow Dr. Dosa on Twitter.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to all of my cat-loving friends. It brought back memories of the cat, Suki, that lived in the nursing home my own grandma was in when she had dementia. I'm glad that so many nursing homes are pet friendly and hope that Oscar's story brings more attention to the fact that pets can be valuable additions in settings such as long-term care facilities.

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