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Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat Hardcover – February 2, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; 1 edition (February 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401323235
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401323233
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.8 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (295 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #36,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Dosa, a geriatrician with a strong aversion to cats, tells the endearing story of Oscar the cat, the aloof resident at a nursing home who only spends time with people who are about to die. Despite hearing numerous stories about Oscar's uncanny ability to predict when a patient's time is nearing, Dosa, ever the scientist, remains skeptical. Slowly, he starts to concede that there may be something special about Oscar. Dosa starts to pay more attention to the cat's decidedly odd behavior, noticing that Oscar seeks out the dying, snuggles with the patient and family members until the patient passes; with others, he smells the patient's feet, sits outside a closed door until admitted, or refuses to leave a dying patient's bed. Dosa discovers how powerfully Oscar's mere presence reassures frightened or grieving family. Ultimately, the good doctor realizes that it doesn't matter where Oscar's gift comes from; it's the comfort he brings that's important. This touching and engaging book is a must-read for more than just cat lovers; anyone who enjoys a well-written and compelling story will find much to admire in its unlikely hero. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"I love this book -- Oscar has much to teach us about empathy and courage. I couldn't put it down."—Sarah Gruen, author of Water for Elephants

"At its heart, Dosa's search is more about how people cope with death than Oscar's purported ability to predict it."—Associated Press

"Beautifully written, heartwarming [...] Told with profound insight and great respect for all involved, this is more than just a cat story (although it will appeal to fans of Vicki Myron's Dewey)."—Library Journal

"You'll be moved."—People

More About the Author

David Dosa MD, MPH is a practicing geriatrician and health services researcher at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. In July 2007, David garnered international attention for an essay on Oscar that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

After the story made headlines on morning television programs and newspapers around the world, David decided to write his first book "Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat" about his experiences with Oscar.

David lives with his wife and two children outside of Providence, Rhode Island. He is currently trying to convince his wife to buy a cat or a dog-- with significant assistance from his two kids. Unfortunately, like many of the characters in his book, David and his wife are also now part of the 'Sandwich Generation' a generation caught between raising children and caring for a parent with dementia.

For more information about David, please see his website at:

Customer Reviews

If you're a cat lover, you'll love this book.
Kimba W. Lion
Attending physician at the Steere House, Dr. David Dosa learns more about Oscar's talent and the comfort he provides families during their loved one's final hours.
Brenda Avadian
When I started to read this book, I wanted to like it.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

104 of 109 people found the following review helpful By emmejay VINE VOICE on February 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I loved geriatrician David Dosa's 2007 essay in the New England Journal of Medicine -- about Oscar the cat, who by then had seemingly predicted, within hours, the impending deaths of dozens of residents on the dementia unit of a Rhode Island nursing home. He'd been dubbed the "grim reap-purr" and I was thrilled to see MAKING THE ROUNDS WITH OSCAR: THE EXTRAORDINARY GIFT OF AN ORDINARY CAT and, from that title, eager to read what promised to be an expansion of the essay. So first, to be clear: this book is not much about the cat.

In fact, there might be a mere cumulative total of 20 pages about Oscar. Rather, the book is one part memoir of the doctor and his geriatric practice; one part profile of the dementia unit's charge nurse; and eight parts profiles of the residents and their families, with a dollop about the end-of-life comfort provided to them by Oscar. Nor does Dosa explore (beyond a couple sentences) the source of Oscar's instinct -- the theories and research about the physiology of dying and animals' amazing sense abilities.

That said, I'm going to take a sharp turn and say that I liked the book it actually *is*, and that it's an important book for the elderly and (especially) their caregivers to read. Dosa is frank about the fear, denial, frustration and guilt inherent in caregiving generally, and specifically in losing a loved one in "the long goodbye" of dementia. He touches on the inadequacies of doctors and the healthcare system and the importance of realistic end-of-life directives. And there are takeaways: that simple diversion is more effective than trying to reign someone in from their altered reality; that it's important to interact according to who the person is now (in dementia) rather than who they were; and that it's most important to simply "be there" rather than necessarily interacting at all. Recommended.
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79 of 82 people found the following review helpful By Rushmore VINE VOICE on February 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
OK so here is this book with this cool cat on the cover, and you think there is something neat about the whole concept. Maybe you have already heard there is this cat that knows when people are going to die. Well, it's way more than that. This book, written by a doctor who is not actually a cat person, is more of a tribute to those creatures, human as well as feline, who allow advanced dementia patients to die with dignity.

I imagine that Steere House will not be lacking for residents after this moving depiction. Needless to say, it is heart-wrenching for any family member to place his/her loved one in a nursing home, probably more so when the loved one has dementia. What a gift to know that Steere House exists, where the staff is compassionate, even loving, and treats their residents like family. Where a cat moved in while the building was still under construction, and the management took it as a sign that animals were meant to live there along with the patients. Personally, I find dementia to be a pretty scary topic and generally try not to think about it. The author is a geriatrician who makes it real, even if still mysterious. He interviews family members who speak courageously and honestly about losing their loved ones, and how it helped to have Oscar there at the end.

I learned that hospice is not just for the very end of life, and it is about much more than medical care.

I learned that people who refuse to eat at the natural end of their lives are not starving themselves.

I learned that there is a lot we don't know about dementia, but we are learning more all the time.

Dr. Sosa writes in a very easy, straightforward style. His patients and their families are very lucky people.
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133 of 142 people found the following review helpful By M&M VINE VOICE on January 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Oscar is one of several cats who live at Steere House nursing home. All of these cats provide companionship and love for the residents, but only Oscar has the special talent of being able to sense when people are nearing the end of their lives. The nurses were the first ones to figure it out as they noticed how frequently he showed up just at the right time.

No one knows how he does it, but when he detects that someone is near dying, he takes up residence on their bed and usually stays until the funeral director comes to collect the body. During this time, he also offers comfort to the family who are there to be with their loved one during this transition. When there's no one to sit with the patient, Oscar maintains a solitary vigil. No one dies alone on Oscar's watch.

People who love their pets probably won't question Oscar's abilities, but one of the doctors who works there was a bit of a skeptic. This book is the result of his interviews with family members and staff who shared their experiences with him. Over and over they told Dr. Doza how much the gift of Oscar's presence had meant to them during a very difficult time. Most people who have cats know the comfort they can bring when they curl up next to you in bed and share their warmth. It's as if Oscar's being there normalizes the events and removes some of the fears.

All of the patients on Oscar's floor are in the final stages of dementia, usually due to Alzheimer's. Experience and research have shown that two things are often able to break through the haze that envelops them - music and animals. In the process of telling Oscar's story, Dr. Doza also gives us insight into this very scary disease.
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