Thursday, July 26, 2007

Can a cat predict death?

The New England Journal of Medicine contains an essay about a cat named Oscar that seems to have the ability to predict when patients at a nursing home are going to die.

Are cats compassionate? Sure they are. My parents' cat definitely senses when things aren't right in their household. He snuggles next to my mom when she isn't at her best. There's a bond that develops between a pet and its caregiver that's difficult to explain, but it's (obviously) an unspoken communication that takes place and develops over time.

Granted, Oscar wanders the halls of this nursing home, but he must be able to detect something - perhaps the compassion of the nurses who raised him. I heard one of the commentators on MSNBC say that it's a little creepy, but if you've ever had a pet that you've developed a bond with, you wouldn't think it's creepy. I can remember when my grandmother was a nursing home resident and my kids would drag the farm cats in to visit all the residents. Everyone loved it! The cats were well behaved and lavished the attention from someone other than a five-year-old who would carry it everywhere. The residents enjoyed the time spent with the animals.

Cats make you work for their attention - but once you have it - it's quite an attachment.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Where do you live?

Growing up, I imaginged I'd live in New York in a loft apartment in mid-town Manhattan or I'd have a lakefront home along the shores of Lake Michigan and Chicago's skyline would draw me downtown, like a beacon, and I'd spend my evenings watching the best theater products and movies or taking the train to a Cubs or Yankees game, depending on which city I chose to live.

And now, where am I? Far away from the glitz and glamour of NYC and Chicago. But after 46 years of traveling, I think I'm where I belong. It might be 16 miles to the nearest town, grocery store, or quick mart, but I think this area of Nebraska - the sandhills - is one of the most peaceful spots I've lived. Someone told me that looking west from my front deck is looking out across God's country. At first I laughed because what I first see is dairy cattle in a pen and a mad bull stomping to get closer to them. But you have to look beyond, look for the scattered cedars that occasionally pop up along the hills, the cacti that dot the ditches, the sunsets that stretch across the horizon and glow purple-red.

I might live in the middle of nowhere, but I'm home. . . and still speculating about the world.