My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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cat predicts deaths, web folk LOL

Oscar the cat lives in the dementia ward of a nursing home. When one of its residents is about to die, Oscar comes in and settles into their bed, comforting them for the last few hours of life. Researchers and doctors are intrigued by this. How does Oscar know that people are going to die?

Web folks can’t help but LOL. They want to know if Oscar is really predicting deaths or causing them. Their discomfort is emerging through the production of LOL cats, arguing for both in that distanced way that you know comes from nervous laughter. I mean, it is kinda eerie that a cat knows that someone’s going to die before they do, right?

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8 comments to cat predicts deaths, web folk LOL

  • Steve

    Cats have always been sensitive to the emotional energy flow of humans. If two people are experiencing an emotionally intense interchange, the cat will settle bttween them. If an individual is depressed, the cat will come over, almost seeming to show concern. It is not at all unlikely that the immediate pre-death hours of a terminal patient would be marked by an ebb in the life force, to which a cat would presumably be sensitive.

    Questions for further investigayion would include whether other cats exhibit a similar ability, and whether Oscar ever makes mistakes.

    -Steve

  • Other possibilities…

    1) Animals can sense pain/anguish. People about ready to die may be, indeed, in significant pain.

    2) Now that the news about Oscar’s alleged prognosticatory talents have gotten out, he may be causing heart attacks in shocked and horrified patients when he visits (even if they’re not visibly conscious / cogniscent)

    3) Perhaps Oscar is carrying germs? And in a weakened state of immunity, he pushes sick humans over the edge? Or maybe it’s allergies?

    Hmm.

  • I think he swallowed some Polonium and is secretly radiating them to death

  • Maybe a more pragmatic idea… cats are looking for a warm (without direct sun) and calm place to sleep. Maybe when we are passing away the body is giving a ‘last’ pulse of temperature (or the temperature of the body is already higher due to an illness).

    By the way, my cat is next to my foot… I’m a little bit worry 😉

  • Criss Angel’s mindfreak show on A&E last night–his cat can do magic! So, yeah, they’re out to get us, definitely. Remember–if mice created the planet, then cats = !

  • Whenever I’m ailing or have an inflamation or soreness, I am surprised how often that is where one of the household cats chooses to settle on the bed covers.

    It is comforting that they do that. I am not sure it is anything more than a great ability to find the warm spot, but I remain comforted.

  • mark

    oscar sounds pretty amazing= a gift for tuning into a vibration/sense/freaquency. few can tap into, much less understand. i marveled at the animal stories with the tsunami, how did they know to run long before the wave? man has built wonderful conveniences and luxury around himself. perhaps we forgot to be so sensitive to our fellow mans true inner state?

  • Cats and Wizards can see death. Doesn’t anyone read Pratchett anymore?