Those with a suspicion that our cat or canine companions can sense the supernatural are not alone. From ancients to modern day cat guardians, the idea that cats have some sort of sight into an unseen world that remains a mystery to us is a common theme. And both, cats and dogs, have powerful senses that give them insights into more than we can see, smell, and taste. It’s an intriguing idea that ghosts and spirits might also be within their perception.
There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that a sixth sense may be a special gift our fur-babies either enjoy or cope with.
There are dog guardians who report their dogs growling, staring at nothing, whimpering, and hiding from unseen an unseen presence. Stories about dogs who will walk around a spot where someone has died or will play with an unseen force are countless. Sometimes they bark incessantly at what seems to be nothing. They may stare at a particular place in the house as if there is someone or something there.
There are also incredible stories of dogs sensing important events. In California, households have reported their dogs acting nervous, looking for hiding places, and being extra affectionate toward their guardians before earthquakes hit. In fact, 47% of dog guardians have described their dog alerting them to events or bad news we, as humans, could not have predicted. For example, dogs can sense when a person is about to have certain types of seizures, when some diabetics need medication, and when their guardians may need comfort.
What about the cats? There are very similar stories about cats suddenly jumping to their paws, arching their back, and hissing at nothing. Cats may gather together at a particular place in the house, like a door or a corner, making it seem like there’s something of interest when in fact there may only be a blank wall. Cats are also common to witch folklore as familiars and frequent companions.
What Does Science Say?
Cats and dogs do in fact, have some pretty amazing talents and abilities that we don’t have. Whether the supernatural is what they are sensing, is another story.
Smell. Dogs are used to smell the chemical changes in the body that occur before a seizure, a diabetic event, and even to detect the early stages of cancer. They also have jobs as bomb sniffers, drug detectors, and dog detectives who can find missing people with nothing more than their noses. While we may not be able to prove it, there’s some sense in the idea that with such powerful noses, they may be able to sense more than we can detect in our everyday environment.
Hear. Cats and dogs both have powerful abilities to hear beyond what the human ear can detect. They can hear different frequencies, particularly higher pitches. That’s why, for example, dogs will bark when they hear sirens. That high pitched whirring noise actually hurts their sensitive ears. They bark because they are in pain. Cats can hear frequencies 1.6 octaves higher than humans. Plus, they can move their ears independently, which allows them to pick up sounds from different directions. For both cats and dogs, this can mean they are easily distracted, attracted to different sources of sounds, or able to give their attention to something like pipes, electrical outlets, and outside sounds that we can’t perceive.
Sight. Cats and dogs have eyes that are built for night vision. It isn’t perfect. They still bump into things and can’t see at all if it’s too dark, but they can see better than we can. This means they can see things moving in shadows that we can’t detect. Something as simple as a spider or a fly walking in a shadowy corner can make them jump or look interested in what looks to us to be nothing. On the other paw, we don’t know everything about their ability to see. We don’t yet fully understand how they perceive color and light. They may be following other-worldly ghostly shadows as they visit us outside our visible perception.
Other senses. Humans and animals perceive the world in many ways. We aren’t limited to the five senses: sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound.
Anyone who watches ghost hunter TV shows or who dabbles in ghost hunting will know what electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are. Humans can often have reactions to the strong electromagnetic fields old, inefficient electrical outlets can emit, leaving us feeling queasy, uneasy, and spooked out. Because we don’t realize it’s just some bad wiring, we often attribute the feeling to a ghostly presence. Many animals have a better understanding of EMFs and use it to their advantage. For example, migratory birds use magnetic clues to find their way north and south each year. Cats and dogs may also possess some ability to sense these fields, though research is still looking for evidence of just how sensitive they may be.
Humans are also sensitive to atmospheric pressure changes. Many people who have had broken bones will find they can feel a storm days before it hits their area. It’s because the area of their body that was injured is now weakened and more susceptible to pressure changes around them. Animals are the same way. Variations in atmospheric pressure, such as a pressure system, or storm, will trigger an animal’s survival instincts. They’ll tend to seek shelter, migrate inland, or horde food in preparation for a violent storm or sudden seasonal changes. Dogs and cats are no different.
When we observe this type of behavior in our dogs and cats, it can be difficult to understand what they’re reacting to, leading us to believe there might be an unseen presence. It could just be that they are using their senses to track more of the mundane in this world. Then again, we don’t fully understand the many unique ways our fur-babies perceive their environment. Science is only beginning the scratch the surface in many ways. They could very well be communicating with, and observing spooky, mysterious phenomena we simply can’t perceive.
“Can Animals Predict The Weather” How Stuff Works
- “Pressure and Pain” New York Times
- “The Magnetic Sense of Animals” Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group
- “How And What Do Cats Hear?” Catalogical
- “Hearing in Dogs” Dog Health