Oscar, The Furry Vulture

Oscar the cat has generated a lot of warm-hearted, “Oooh! Isn’t he wonderful?” type of responses over the last couple of days as his story appears to have invaded every TV newsroom from California to Timbuktu.

Now, cats are a favorite here at Sparrow Chat, but isn’t Oscar’s ability to seek out a dying human just a trifle spooky?

The cat was adopted by the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Rhode Island when he was a kitten, and has been there ever since. While generally shirking the attention of inmates, Oscar homes in on those at death’s door, curls up beside them on the bed, and waits patiently for the moment of passing.

Various explanations have been forthcoming from the so-called “experts”, ranging from the psychic to the biochemical. Personally, none of them appear very plausible.

There is another, somewhat less heart-warming explanation.

Domesticated carnivores are the descendants of wild animals, and while cats are basically hunter predators, they’ll not turn up there noses at scavenging for carrion, particularly when prey is in short supply. Just as vultures appear from nowhere when an animal is succumbing in the desert, a more logical possibility is that Oscar is simply responding to latent, ancient, instincts.

He can smell approaching death, and with it the possibility of a good meal.

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6 Replies to “Oscar, The Furry Vulture”

  1. That makes more sense than the common tripe that he is comforting them in their last hours. Every report says the cat dislikes people. He might just by misanthropic and celebrating.

  2. especially if they don’t have the LORD JESUS CHRIST as their savour, because if they don’t.. they are “dead meat”

    and osca says “suppa time!”

    Heb 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

  3. Actaully, I believe that behavior is not uncommon in cats and some dogs – sitting by a dying person. I have heard it before. Maybe they think we should send a cat like that to D.C. to nest in congress.

  4. Flimsy – if ever a prize were awarded for cynicism. I think we’d both have to share it!

    verycheeky – welcome to Sparrow Chat. What can I say? There seems little evidence that Oscar shuns departing souls destined for Heaven in favor of the those damned to the fiery lake. Perhaps, being an animal, and therefore having no soul, he was unable to tell the difference?

    PM – you’re quite right, anecdotally at least it is a common occurrence, and more so with dogs – pack animals lost without their Alpha leader. As for Congress, forget the cats, send in a a pride of hungry lions.

  5. Just read a Slate article on this that was really good. They contend that all this was anecdotal and should never have been included in a medical journal. Very good article I thought.

  6. Flimsy – Slate is absolutely right to strip this story of the veneer of scientific credibility endowed by its feature in the NEJM; a veneer so transparent it completely fails to obscure the obvious anecdotal genesis. The NEMJ should leave such emotional, tear-jerky, rubbish to the gutter press who are, after all, the real experts in feeding trash to the masses.

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