How Does My Cat Just ‘Know’ Things?

Does your cat have an uncanny intuition? Pets seem to know that things are going to happen long before people. How do they do that?

Some of it can be answered by their heightened senses of smell, hearing and sight. But there is more.

They have physical sensors all over their bodies, such as whiskers on their face and fine-haired feelers on their ears, and paws that can feel the slightest tremors. Cat parents are familiar with cat static. The fur builds up an electrical charge. It is believed that this electrical energy field can help cats detect subtle changes indicating incoming bad weather or earthquakes.

Since as early as 1900 cats have been studied for their electrical fields. When tectonic plates around the globe shift, causing an earthquake, the friction of the plates against each other creates an electrostatic charge in the air, as well as a ground current. It could be the electrically charged air and/or the seismic compression wave created from the ground folding up that precedes the quake to alert them.

A YouTube video shows a roomful of cats reacting simultaneously to something approximately 10 seconds before a quake happens. The cause is unknown. The response is sudden, leading one to believe it is more likely the compression wave, or possibly the ability to hear rumbling very far away.

Cats also have geomagnetic homing senses like birds and many other wild animals. They may sense geomagnetic changes as the earth shifts.

What about other serious weather or seismic events? These often include changes in barometric air pressure, wind direction or subtle earth movements, so a cat would know something is coming sooner than a person.  Atlanta cat parents in particular may want to watch how kitty reacts during bad weather. If she is upset enough to hide, check your local weather reports, and you might want to follow her to an inner room.

A big part of your cat’s environment is you. Anything out of your normal schedule or attitude will attract her attention. She can sense your emotions and interpret them. Your cat knows when you’ve had a hard day, or are upset, and she will want to comfort you. Let her know you appreciate her love and concern.

The really amazing superpower cats have is the ability to detect illnesses, perhaps even better than dogs. It has been scientifically proven that, in addition to sensing even slight changes in a person’s behavior, cats can smell chemical and hormonal changes, including toxins made by cancer cells, and sugar in the sweat and urine of diabetics. They can tell when the heart is not beating regularly, and hear when a person is having trouble breathing. They can also detect toxins and hormonal changes that occur as death approaches.

When she needs to warn you about bad weather, potential burglars or smoke in the laundry room, your cat will meow for your attention, butt her head against you or even claw at you until you notice. She may become very anxious and run around looking for somewhere to hide. Her fur may stand up on her back and her tail may bristle.

If you are sick, she will become Nurse Kitty and want to stay with you until you are better. If you have a contagious disease such as a virus, check with your vet to make sure your cat won’t contract it. If not, welcome your cat’s determined efforts to make her beloved ‘feeder’ well again. You two really do depend on each other.

Heron's Crossing provides end-of-life care for pets in the Metro Atlanta area. In-home appointments with compassionate vets are available. If you'd prefer a home-like setting away from your home, our Decatur office is also available by appointment.