Oscar the Therapy Cat Predicted 100 Deaths and Inspired Stephen King

While sounding fit for Halloween, the true story of Oscar the Therapy Cat predicting 100 deaths is less spooky and more about compassion and caregiving.

Oscar the Therapy Cat predicted dementia deaths

Oscar – Therapy Cat to Clairvoyant Cat

The story starts in 2005 with a quaint nursing home in Providence, Rhode Island. Oscar was a rescue hired as your average therapy cat to comfort dementia patients. The staff noticed nothing remarkable about him, and he kept to himself the first few months or so. But then the kitty started to make more regular appearances, doing rounds among the patients. But he would pick certain patients to spend time with, either around their room to keep them company or on their bed for a snuggle. The staff eventually started to notice that patients seemed to pass away while Oscar kept them company… No foul play on Oscars’s part was suspected, but it was very curious. Eventually, the staff recorded about 20 or so deaths with Oscar present.

Oscar the therapy cat nursing home Rhode Island

Oscar – The Furry Angel of Death and Celebrity

Then in 2007, Dr. David Dosa published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine about Oscar, with theories that Oscar couple smell biochemicals released by dying cells or picked up on subtleties in the lack of certain patient’s movements. This led to Oscar going viral, with many articles and news segments about him – Including headlines such as “If Oscar’s in your bed, you’re dead!” and CBS News hyping him up as “The Furry Angel of Death.”

book based on Oscar the Therapy Cat's story

Oscar – An Uplifting Symbol and Inspiration

Despite the attention-grabbing headlines, many people, including Dr. Dosa, saw Oscar as a symbol of how much our furry friends can support us in times of illness or injury and provide comfort for elderly people. This led to Dr. Dosa publishing the book Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat. But on a spookier note, Oscar also inspired Stephen King’s novel Doctor Sleep, which includes a kitty character named “Azzie” who could also sense when someone was about to pass away. In 2019, Doctor Sleep was turned into a feature film of the same name, starring Ewan McGregor and Rebecca Ferguson. By 2015, it was estimated Oscar predicted 100 deaths. Oscar passed away in February 2022 at the age of 17.

For another career cat with a story to tell, meet Sir Indiana Bones – from shelter cat to museum manager

More In: Cats