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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

The kit of death

I am writing concerning Oscar thenursing home cat who has apparentlyacquired the ability topredict the death of patients.According to last month’s newspapers,this feline mortality expertis in the habit of curling up on thelaps of patients on the verge ofpassing away and has successfullypredicted 25 deaths to date, withthe body count rising daily. Wemust conscript him onto the CMIBureau asap.Or must we? Maybe these newspapersare looking at this matterfrom the wrong perspective. Considerit instead from the point ofview of the geriatrics on Oscar’sward. Imagine you are one ofthese invalids, sitting in your overheatedroom in a contented doze,when you suddenly feel a rubbingagainst your shin. You look downand perceive this cat, Oscar, withhis worldwide reputation forsingling out and showering hisattentions upon soon-to-becorpses. Would your heart notjudder a little, if not leap?And what is the exposed to risk?How many false curls did Oscarmake? Can you institute the necessaryinvestigations and let usknow?