Being a cat lover, I was ready for a good cat book when I picked up an advanced reading copy of Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat by David Dosa. I am not sure why HarperCollins had advanced reading copies at its Public Library Association Conference booth when the book is already out and on many bestseller lists, but I am happy that I got a copy. I started reading it before I left Portland.
In the early chapters I worried a little that this story about a cat that seems to know when a dementia patient is ready to die might get a little sappy or sweet, but I don't think that ever happened. I think Dosa took his cue from Oscar, who chooses to give comfort only where comfort is needed. Oscar lightens the mood when he settles on the bed of the dying but he does not distract the living. They all know what his presence means - death is coming and it is time to accept it. Likewise, Dosa somewhat gently discusses death and dying but that is probably the best way for people to contemplate the passing of their parents and their own eventual deaths.
In Making Rounds with Oscar, Dosa recounts how his doubts that Oscar has a sense of when death is near were satisfied. In doing so, he tells a lot about work and life in a nursing home, the concerns of family members of patients, and the process of dying. The cat story is a softening element that lets him write about these less than happy subjects. As already seen by book sales, many readers will want to read this book. It would be an excellent choice for book club discussions and use with support groups.
Dosa, David. Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat. Hyperion, 2010. ISBN 9781401323233