The story goes that many folks used to pay attention to their cats during World War II. Apparently the cats would become agitated before the bomb sirens went off, warning their owners of a pending air raid. Other stories told are about cats who react strangely before earthquakes, volcanoes erupting and other natural disasters, or who have returned to homes many kilometres away.
In December 2004, when the Indian Ocean tsunami hit Phuket and other parts of Asia, more than 200,000 people lost their lives. Strangely, no large-scale animal deaths were recorded, indicating that many animals, both domestic and wild, had moved to higher ground.
Animal behaviour specialists have attributed this to natural animal instinct. It’s the same innate instinct that enables predator to find prey and prey to avoid predator. Hundreds of accounts are available of how cats have escaped danger or even cheated death – the mystifying ‘9 lives’.
The 6th sense
Feline analysts have documented 4 areas where cats show ‘unusual’ power or premonition. These include:
- Having or showing a forewarning of impending danger or a dangerous event
- Knowing when an owner will arrive home
- The ability to find their way home after being lost
- Locating an owner in a place where the cat has never been before.
The first 3 can be explained through science. The last cannot.
Are cats clairvoyant?
Whether you believe in your cat’s clairvoyant powers or not, scientists have yet to find concrete proof that it exists – in animals or humans. “Until this is absolutely confirmed we have to believe that it must be animal instinct,” says Sandton-based animal behaviour practitioner Karin Landsberg. “A cat’s senses are almost supernatural if compared to our own and these heightened senses can easily be mistaken for a ‘6th sense’ since cats are so extraordinary in everything they do.”
‘Acute 5 senses’ definitely offers a plausible scientific explanation.
- Cats can hear high-pitched sounds that our ears aren’t able to pick up on
- Their eyes are able to detect faint movements even in very low light conditions
- Their sense of smell is 14 times better than our own
Can cats predict the weather?
Extensive research has been conducted in China on how various animals react before geological events. Cats display atypical behaviour and many cat owners notice how their pets groom themselves just before a thunderstorm, anxiously rubbing their head or ears. Scientists link this behaviour to changes in atmospheric pressure which may disturb the balance in the cat’s sensitive inner ear, similar to humans who suffer from migraines when barometric pressure builds up before a thunderstorm.
Cats also seem to have some sort of forewarning system before volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. An explanation for this lies in the cat’s ability to pick up on changes in the earth’s magnetic field. The cat’s feet and whiskers are very sensitive to vibrations, tiny tremors and electrostatic activity. These are then relayed through the cat’s sensory system. The cat’s Jacobson’s organ may allow her to ‘taste’ the air and possibly pick up on traces of gas before a volcano actually erupts.
The cat’s powerful ears can pick up on ultrasonic sounds, that may be audible to the cat long before we can hear them. Scientists believe that it’s the same reason cats ‘know’ in advance when their owners will return home.
‘Psi-trailing’… an incredible journey
Then comes the behaviour for which there are no explanations and we can only guess at and perhaps marvel at its meaning. ‘Psi-trailing’ is the ability of animals to find their owners in locations that they have never been in before, sometimes 2km away but sometimes thousands of miles. All sensory clues are wiped out for these animals – there is no smell, sight, memory or audible signal that they can follow.
One such account is of a New York veterinarian who moved to California but left his cat behind. Some months later he was surprised to see a cat who looked exactly like his previous pet, at his new home right across the United States! The vet was suspicious and took x-rays. Some years before, his pet had suffered a nasty bite that resulted in a tailbone injury. Sure enough, the x-rays were concrete proof that the cat was his! Remarkable.
Text: Gina Hartoog Photography: rozbyshaka
For the full story, get the July 2014 issue of Animaltalk Magazine. Visit Coolmags.com for subscription details.