Making Rounds with Oscar
By David Dosa, MD
I made the same mistaken assumption about this book that I think a lot of humans have (and trust me, I am not thrilled with having a mistake in common with humans). I thought this was going to be a book about Oscar, the cat who lives in a nursing home and helps patients through their final dying moments. But it’s not really about Oscar at all. It’s about Dr. Dosa’s observations concerning Alzheimer’s disease and how it affects both his patients and the patients’ families. Oscar is pretty much a coda to each story, only appearing when a patient dies. Although the doctor, skeptical at first, comes to believe that Oscar knows when a patient is dying, and even offers an idea or two as to how this kitty knows (hint: it has something to do with our fine sense of smell), he never even considers the obvious question — why Oscar has chosen this role for himself.
Normally I would be a little peeved about this and accuse Dr. Dosa (who does not even like cats) of using Oscar to draw people to his book, since cat books are so popular, and Oscar has made a name for himself in the press. There are no real cat stories per se, and it’s clear that we kitties do not resonate with Dr. Dosa at all. But his book does a good service for humans who have to cope with Alzheimer’s. It brings humanity to the disease and the stories behind the patients are interesting. So I can’t really be mad at him. Just keep in mind that this is a book about Alzheimer’s, and not really a book about a cat.
Sara Cat writes says
Ever since I read an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, I have been curious about Oscar. My Mommy has been trying to write an essay about cats and anything written about cats gets scrutinised by her.
I can imagine what kind of book this is. It is a book written about a physician; and doctors’ chief concern is finding the cause and/or cure for diseases. The problem with Oscar is that his behavior falls into a category that does not fall into what is ‘normal’ for the world of doctors. Oscar seems to be an unusual cat. I mean, how many cats do this? If Doctor Dosa explains Oscar’s ability by simply saying that his sense of smell tells him that a patient does not have a long time to live, that would be a typical answer from someone whose first interest is finding strictly biological answers to medical problems. I am not surprised. But he could have written two books. One about Alzheimers and one about unususal cat-behaivior — if he were interested in cats. The subject matter is there, but the interest seems to be lacking. My guess is that he is using Oscar the cat to help sell a book that is about a subject that probably would not sell very well, even though it is an important subject. My two-legged Mommy has worked with patients with Alzheimers and other kinds of dementia, so she has told me about how sad this is for everyone involved. So I can kinda forgive Dr. Dosa for using a cat to find readers.
Too bad he did no t write two books.
Pardon my spelling mistakes! The family has come home and I can’t finish this, Sparkle. Even a super-cat like me can lose her train of thought.
I’ll get back with you later.
Alzheimers is a terrible, sad disease and like all chronic, debilitating illness, it affects the patient as well as those who love them, so good to know it’s a great read for that issue…Hope you all have a fun Sunday friends….kisses…Calle, Halle, Sukki
I have heard that before about this book. But like everyone else says, it does sound like a good book. Oscar does sound like an amazing cat but then aren’t we all amazing. Thanks for this great review. Have a great Sunday.
Katnip Lounge says
We think Oscar is a an amazing Cat. Mommy still wants to read the book, thanks for the heads up on Oscar’s role in it.
We would have thought it’d be more about Oscar too. Thanks for letting us know although it does still sound like a good book.
The Island Cats says
We think what Oscar does is really amazing…
It sounds interesting all the same, especially to me as my Dad has Alzheimers. I’ll have to check it out. . . . .
Karen & Gerard says
My husband read this book and said the same thing. He was disappointed there wasn’t more about the cat. I added a link to your review on his at http://ourstack.blogspot.com/2010/07/making-rounds-with-oscar.html