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Feline Oscar heads to bigscreen

Famous cat comforts dying in nursing center

Oscar the famous cat, who is able to predict the impending death of terminally ill patients in the nursing center where he lives, is extending his rounds to the bigscreen.

Scribes Stephen Lindsey (“Hachi: A Dog’s Tale”) and Luis Ugaz are adapting David Dosa’s bestselling nonfiction tome “Making the Rounds With Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat” for Wind Dancer Films and Anonymous Content.

Oscar, now 5 years old, arrived at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, R.I., as a kitten. A year later, staff starting noticing that the tabby would curl up with patients a few hours before their death.

Oscar’s track record was so impeccable that he became an early warning signal for doctors and nurses. Whenever he began a vigil, staff notified family members and friends to come to the center.

Lindsey and Ugaz sold their pitch to Wind Dancer. Storyline will follow physician and geriatrician Dosa’s discovery of the cat’s ability and its impact on his own belief system, as well as the care given to people at the end of their lives.

Film’s producers are Anonymous Content’s Steve Golin and Alix Madigan, while Matt Williams and Judd Payne are producing for Wind Dancer. David McFadzean and Dete Meserve exec produce.

Dosa’s book, published in February by Hyperion, spent eight weeks on the New York Times bestseller list and made Oscar world famous. Dosa first documented Oscar’s story in a 2007 article published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Oscar lives on the third floor of Steere House, an advanced dementia unit that has long used animals to keep patients company. These days, Oscar continues to patrol the halls.

“Though at times he has been caught sleeping on the job, Oscar continues to hold vigils for departing patients — mostly to the delight of family members struggling to deal with the death of their loved ones. He continues to be mentioned routinely in obituaries and during funeral services,” Dosa writes on Steere House’s website.

Dosa and others speculate that Oscar might be sensing odors associated with death, specifically, ketones, the biochemicals released by dying cells.

Oscar has already become part of popular culture. A cat with similar predictive abilities appeared in the “Here Kitty” episode of Fox’s “House,” while a fictionalized character bearing his name and likeness is the host of “The Oscar the Cat Show” on Sirius Satellite Radio’s Raw Dog uncensored comedy channel.

Lindsey and Ugaz are repped by Gersh and Principal Entertainment; Dosa, RWSG.

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