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Sunday, July 29, 2007

White Angel

The white angel.

Well, it’s obvious to me that the cat mentioned below is indeed the Angel of Death, the chosen angel who often visits this world in the form of a cat, a blonde woman (a nurse), a doctor (usually Asian), a family member (the closer the better), a truck driver or an alligator. He has also been known to assume the shape of a hoodie, a policeman, a fireman or till assistant in Tesco. Of all creatures cats are best placed and qualified to attend to the near dead in an “angels in an animal / angelic form”. I’m trying to remember how it is you summon up the Angel of Death (not a routine party trick), I recall learning the incantation as a teenager, (I had some odd friends). It involved the number three and a repetitive piece that, thankfully escapes me. The exact form that the angel would take when summoned up this way I don’t know. We didn’t specify animal type at the time. Like many things in life, your ongoing relationship with the angel of Death rests in a somewhat uneasy balance, how could it be anything else?

Some where in New York: He is a two-year-old cat and looks innocent enough. But at the nursing home where he lives in the US state of Rhode Island, Oscar has developed a reputation as an angel of death.

Since being adopted as a kitten by staff at the advanced dementia unit of Providence's Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre, Oscar has revealed a rather morbid tendency to pick which patient is going to die next.

According to David Dosa, a geriatrician at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, Oscar makes regular rounds, looking in on patients and giving them a quick sniff, before either moving on or settling down for a cuddle.
So accurate have his predictions been, that as soon as the white and tabby harbinger of death curls up with one of the patients, staff immediately start summoning family and clergy to the soon-to-be deathbed.

"No one dies on the third floor unless Oscar pays a visit and stays awhile," Dosa wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"His mere presence at the bedside is viewed by physicians and nursing home staff as an almost absolute indicator of impending death, allowing staff members to adequately notify families," he added.

"Thus far, he has presided over the deaths of more than 25 residents."

Dosa did not offer any explanation for Oscar's uncanny powers of prognostication, which patients were not yet believed to have spotted.

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