Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Friday cat blogging on Thursday: a moving (and not surprising) story

From today's San Francisco Chronicle, an Associated Press story from Providence, Rhode Island:Nursing Home Cat Predicts Patients' Deaths.


Grandmère Mimi said...

My husband insisted that I read the article this morning. He was absolutely fascinated by it. It is interesting. I wonder if we'll ever know why the cat does this. It would be difficult to do a controlled experiment.

Jane R said...

There was just a piece about it on NPR! (I think on "Day to Day.") It turns out there is an article about it in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. They interviewed the physician who wrote it.

Cats have all kinds of extra perceptions we don't have so as I wrote in the subject line, I didn't find it surprising, but it sure is fascinating.

I think it's great the nursing home has a cat...

The doctor interviewed said most of the patients are in advanced-stage dementia, so they are not that aware of what is going on, but their families are, and most of them are fine with the cat's presence and sometimes grateful.

And you know how they say that even people who are unconscious can hear (so if you talk to them or sing it makes a difference) -- perhaps they can perceive the cat's comforting presence, who knows. I think there's a lot we just don't know about perception and the brains of various creatures (human and other).

All this brain/mind stuff is really interesting. (There's a big project on it at Harvard -- since a few years ago, or maybe it's the last decade already, I am losing track of time... That project is only about humans though as far as I know.)

Jan said...

I loved hearing about this cat today. The cat is living in a "thin" space. I think the cat is blessing many people.

Kenneth Wolman said...

I had a cat for nine years to the day who was empathic. During the first winter following my separation, I came home "metal on metal," drank myself stupid, and wept. Pushkin (a female!) would walk in and climb into my lap to be petted. It was fun for her and helped me remove my head from my a posteriori argument. Over the years she became somewhat unfriendly to other people but cleaved to me to the last day of her life, 9/9/06. She was a comforter and for some years my best friend: she just knew stuff about me and even other people. We always saw in her a hospice cat because of that inner knowledge and ability to reach out beyond herself. Though the intensity has faded, I still miss her terribly and am grateful I was able to help her depart her life because she'd taught me the signs I had to know about how she wanted to leave.

johnieb said...

Cats have spirits, which may be consulted regularly in a well-run household, though this does not mean the cat always gets her way there; as Grandmother would have told her cats, I'm sure: "scat! Catch a mouse outside!"

Interpreting the hermeneutics of inter-species consultations is tricky at best, however, and sometimes a chore like anything else. These events/ accounts seem somewhat richer than most, at first glance.