Therapy cats are especially valuable when interacting with Alzheimer’s Disease patients, by stimulating both memory and forgotten emotions.
One of the most astounding cases of cats assisting Alzheimer’s patients is Oscar, the cat who rules the third floor dementia ward of Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island.
Oscar has the almost mystical ability to sniff out patients who face imminent death, and he invariably stays with them until they have passed over. Often, Oscar will not leave a patient’s bedside until someone arrives to remove the deceased. Then, he will turn to the next most needy patient.
Oscar’s story has been told in the masterful book, Making Rounds With Oscar, by David Dosa, M.D., a staff physician at Steere House, with a background in Geriatrics. No one knows precisely what alerts Oscar to the pending demise of a patient, although there are several theories, including the odor of ketones on the patients’ breath, signaling the breakdown of body cells.