Are Cats Psychic?
Cats always seem to know more than they let on. But are they psychic? With the widespread news of Oscar the nursing home cat being able to predict when a patient will die, some people wonder if they live with a furry Nostradamous.
For 25 times, Oscar suddenly cuddled with a patient and refuses to leave until the patient is dead. For 25 times, the patient has died in four hours. Can Oscar glimpse into the supernatural? Or does Oscar possess natural senses that far surpass our own? The answer is most likely that a dying person puts out a certain smell that science has not been able to identify. Why Oscar is attracted to that scent, if this is so, remains to be seen. What is known that Oscar is a reliable predictor of death.
Long before Oscar, cats as well as dogs were known to be able to predict natural disasters long before people had any idea of danger. At Azabu University in Japan, Professor Mitsuaki Ota concluded that cats are incredibly reliable predictors of major earthquakes (those with a seismic rating of 6.0 or more). Cats will panic for no reason and try to escape the house. But not all cats will react, even to the same earthquake. It is thought that only 30% of cats reacted before the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1996 that killed over 6,000 people and an unknown number of animals. Perhaps the mystery isn't how cats detect earthquakes, but why would they bother?
There are several theories as to how cats can predict natural disasters. They could be able to detect changes in static electricity, or be super sensitive to underground vibrations. They could also be able to detect major shifts in the earth's magnetic field. Or maybe they can hear the screams from those in the epicenter. But not all cats seem to react to impending doom. Perhaps not all cats are psychic, like not all people are psychic, but only some are.
World War II
One of the great legends of World War II that is very hard to prove is that cats were able to predict air raids. Their fur would stand up on end. Considering how busy everyone was with other problems during World War II, no scientific study was ever encouraged. But there are many family stories in England about the family cat giving a life saving warning long before the air raid sirens sounded.
Home Sweet Home
In Rupert Sheldrake's popular book on animal psychic behavior, Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals, he concludes that many pets are psychic in the sense that they can detect when their owner has left work or is about to come home - even when the owners leaves at unpredictable times. An observer was left with the cat and noted when the cat started waiting for the owner (such as looking out a particular window.) The owner would then compare the time of the cat's waiting to when he or she actually left for home.
Perhaps even more remarkable is a cat's homing ability. Many of us are familiar with tales such as The Incredible Journey, where pets traveled thousands of miles to reunite with their humans. Rupert Sheldrake did homing cat experiments where a cat was let loose in a place he or she had never been. The cat was closely observed (partially for the cat's safety) but also to see where the cat would go. Usually, the cat went right home.
Cats definitely possess senses that we either don't have or don't use. But since cats are individuals, these senses differ from cat to cat. Cats can rarely be forced to do anything they don't want to - so why would Oscar want to comfort the dying, for example? Perhaps cats see in us something we can't see in ourselves - that we can be worth comforting, protecting and coming home to.