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Oscar The dementia unit of a nursing and rehabilitation center in Providence, Rhode Island has an unofficial resident with a rather unusual talent: Oscar, a cat capable of predicting death. The splotchy white-and-tortoiseshell furred feline is quite friendly in spite of the fact that he is named after a cranky, green, garbage-hoarding character on Sesame Street, but just the same, some Steere House residents may be less than happy when he pays them a visit.

This is because of his unique ability to detect when patients are about to die, at which point he wanders, uninvited, into their room, jumps into their bed and purrs. His visits are usually timed a few hours before death. Staff has credited him with accurately predicting the demise of a minimum of 50 individuals. It is believed, among other theories, that Oscar has this ability because he can smell a chemical change in the bodies of the terminally ill as they shut down.

Whatever his method, it is highly accurate and cannot be manipulated: Nurses have placed him at the bedside of very sick patients they believed would die and he has fled; he has been kicked out of the rooms of others who did die and remained at the door, stubbornly scratching for entry. But be not alarmed; OscarБs talent is likely a product of his unique living circumstances. Most cats that jump in bed and purr are simply putting on a display of affection or are desirous of some attention.

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