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Sixth sense.

Eddie Mair | 11:54 UK time, Thursday, 26 July 2007

Can this be true?


  1. At 11:55 AM on 26 Jul 2007, RJD wrote:

    Eddie - You do realise that if you read enough of this sort of thing your brain will rot?

    By the way, what are you plotting?

  2. At 11:55 AM on 26 Jul 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Oscar may be carrying a secret allergen? Or simply be another manifestation of the Angel of Death?


  3. At 11:57 AM on 26 Jul 2007, Jill wrote:

    Why can't it be true?
    Mankind is puny, un-evolved and there is MUCH to learn.

  4. At 12:01 PM on 26 Jul 2007, Andrew Neil wrote:

    An interesting story, I would be quite prepared to believe this if we are to take into account the place cats held in the Egyptian system of belief, as guardians of the underworld.

  5. At 12:13 PM on 26 Jul 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Of course it's possible. There are many instances of animals sensing things which we humans don't. Not magic, just an aptitude, possibly linked to smells.

    Just like the dogs who lick skin over areas of the body which have been injured (and I don't only mean where the skin is broken). This, as a dog owner, I've observed very frequently, and it is very accurate.

    It is quite possible that Oscar detects a change in odour, which for some reason is attractive to him, in bodies which are shutting down. Or it could be the sound of shallow breathing. Or, yet again, something of which we mere humans are unaware.

    I'd like to make a link here to the vivisection debate in favour of animals, but I will hold my tongue.

  6. At 12:16 PM on 26 Jul 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Keep a close eye on that cat: he may be a psychopathic killer in furry guise.

    Just like Miss Jane "Ripper" Marple, who used to bump people off like clockwork and then successfuly blame the murders on other people on ridiculously over-complicated pretexts...

  7. At 12:28 PM on 26 Jul 2007, Tom Harrop wrote:


    What is the difference between a cat and a comma? One has the paws before the claws and the other has the clause before the pause.

  8. At 12:34 PM on 26 Jul 2007, Delores Behan-Ingland (Mrs) wrote:

    Hello Eddie,

    Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods. Cats have never forgotten this.

  9. At 12:49 PM on 26 Jul 2007, DI Wyman wrote:

    Last evening as I was watching Mr. Clarkson and team on TV charging about the Arctic for a Toyota advert my cat ' Stella' came and perched herself on the back of the chair.

    She then decided that my bald plate needed a good clean and promptly settled down to give me a damn good licking!

    I await with bated breath the revival of said dormant follicles.


  10. At 01:04 PM on 26 Jul 2007, Stewart M wrote:

    I have that skill too. I occasionally do domicillary eye examination. On quite a few occasions patinets have died the day before I get there! (and sometimes the day after!) I have never had someone die on the job as it were.

  11. At 01:09 PM on 26 Jul 2007, Andrew Knight wrote:

    In the last hospice I worked we had a cat, 'Snoopy', that regularly did as Oscar allegedly does. Patients wrre aware of this uncanny habit of his and it got so that patients would object to him coming into their rooms.

  12. At 02:09 PM on 26 Jul 2007, Electric Dragon wrote:

    What is not mentioned is the sample size. How cats are there in nursing homes? How many of these do not predict deaths? I assume the answer to the second question is "all except one" otherwise it would not be news.

    This is like the fallacy of flipping a thousand coins and when one lands heads up ten times in a row, pointing at it and saying "it's a special coin!"

    What about the self-fulfilling propecy aspect as well? By definition, people in nursing homes are more likely than average to be in poor health. If the cat has developed a reputation as being a harbinger of death, and comes and sits next to you, it's not going to be good for your health, is it?


  13. At 02:14 PM on 26 Jul 2007, ian wrote:

    Could be, I suppose. More likely is that the evil purring creature has a highly contagious fatal disease.

  14. At 02:20 PM on 26 Jul 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Delores Behan-Ingland (Mrs) @ 8, didn't Neil Gaiman have that as the opening to one of the comics in his "Sandman" series? "A Dream of Cats", or some such title?

    I don't see why a cat shouldn't be able to tell when someone is close to death. Some animals do seem to pick up on 'signals' that humans miss or discount. I seem to recall reading that there are animals in the Far East that seem to be able to predict earthquakes before scientific methods have done so, for instance, and get agitated in a quite specific way that their owners recognise as being an 'earthquake warning'. Not sure whether that was cats, pigs or a particular breed of dog, though.

    Why Oscar should find imminent death attractive is a different question...

  15. At 02:37 PM on 26 Jul 2007, witchiwoman wrote:

    I can well believe Oscar has an inkling whats going on - my furry friend is great at predicting bad weather. Slightly different but you get the gist.

  16. At 03:32 PM on 26 Jul 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Chris (14),

    "Why Oscar should find imminent death attractive is a different question...

    More Din-Dins?


  17. At 04:46 PM on 26 Jul 2007, Bedd Gelert wrote:

    Listening to Tony Benn on the radio this morning, he mentioned that his Scottish grandmother said to him, when he was 8 yrs old, 'Well one thing about your final journey, at least you don't have to pack!'.

    I guess most people have an inkling when it is their time, so I guess a cat can pick up on some clues as well. Although it would be troubling to think that any person who saw this cat appear at their bedside, with his reputation, might give up the fight there and then..

  18. At 05:03 PM on 26 Jul 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Well, listening to the opening of the programme, it would seem my theory holds - Oscar walks into a room, sniffs, and walks out again. Doubtless to continue his quest for the perfect smell, eau de mort.

  19. At 05:12 PM on 26 Jul 2007, Fifi wrote:

    Of course it's true.

    1. Animals can predict epileptic seizures in their owners, before they happen.

    2. One of my friend Werner's cats, Buddy, knows when his owner's back trouble is getting unbearable. It's the one time Buddy curls up behind him in the bed, keeping the affected part warm. He stays for hours, till Werner starts to feel better; then he goes back to being a normal selfish cat again and wanders off.

    3. Animals can predict earthquakes and (I believe) volcanic eruptions, before they happen.

    Not all animals can do this. But while I agree with the questions raised about sample size and increased chances of people in nursing homes dying ... a one-off consistently-right cat is still right.

    Whether it's desirable once the word gets out is another question altogether.


  20. At 05:56 PM on 26 Jul 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Oh, *honestly*, Ed @ 16! There I was trying to show some sensibility and decorum and *not* mentioning that possibility, and along you come...


  21. At 06:11 PM on 26 Jul 2007, tony ferney wrote:

    Tony Benn's grandmother had plainly not studied the mores of (rich) Ancient Egyptians (cat loversof course) who took all sorts of things with them on their journey to immortality.

  22. At 07:55 PM on 26 Jul 2007, Christine Austen wrote:

    I have met Oscar's litter mate at my local vets.
    I took my very poorly dog to the vet. After examining my dog the vet told me that my dog didn't have much time to live. I was devestated and asked for a second opinion at once.
    The vet left the room and returned carrying the largest tabby cat that I had ever seen. He gently placed the cat on the table next to the head of my dog.
    The cat stood up, raised its tail in the air and slowly walked along the full length of my dog then slowly walked back along the other side. When the cat reached my dog's head again, it sat down and gave a very loud meow.
    The vet said that the cat had confirmed his diagnosis.
    Although I was very upset and a bit bewildered I accepted the outcome and asked the vet how much I owed him.
    "£250.00" he replied.
    "Why that much?" I asked.
    "Well", he explained, "My consultation fee is £50.00 and it's £200.00 for the CAT scan".
    (Iv'e waited years to tell that one).

  23. At 11:38 PM on 26 Jul 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    No Eric, it can't. Don't be silly.

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