Book Review – Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat

By Michelle Hutchinson

Oscar the Cat

Oscar the Cat

Dr. David Dosa is skeptical when the nurses and aides at Steere House, the nursing and rehabilitation center with which he is affiliated, tell him that Oscar, one of their resident cats, can predict a patient’s death. After all, Dosa had been trained in the sciences. His medical education had no explanation for a cat who supposedly knew when people were on their deathbeds.

But slowly, Dr. Dosa realizes that Oscar does indeed have this ability. In Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat, published in 2010 but which I only recently had a chance to read, Dosa observes that Oscar, who is usually avoids Steere House’s human residents, cuddles up beside them hours before they take their last breath.

Prodded by the day shift nurse, Mary Miranda, he visits loved ones of several of the deceased and discovers that not only does Oscar bring comfort to the dying, most of whom have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, he brings comfort to those sitting by their bedsides. In fact, Oscar’s presence might very well be more important for the latter.

Dosa says the book is really about the caregivers, typically spouses and adult children of the Steere House patients. In his words, “It’s the story of all of the difficult decisions that are made, it’s the story of all the guilt and all of the emotions that are brought out at the end of life, but it’s also the story of the care that people receive.”

This book is a quick read and one with many scenes that will hit home if you have ever dealt with a loved one suffering from dementia, if you have ever loved a cat (or any pet), or if, like me, you have a profound interest in improving the delivery of healthcare in this country. We should all be so lucky to have a physician like Dr. Dosa on our side.

Please click on ‘Leave a comment’ to share your own stories about the role an animal has played in your health or in the life or death of a loved one.

Photo of Oscar reprinted with permission of Steere House, http://www.steerehouse.org/oscar/o_images.

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