Can cats see and predict the future?

Facts can be crazier than fiction sometimes, but not everything you believe is necessarily a "fact." Sure, cats can feel earthquakes from a long way away, and are highly empathetic, but can they see the future?

Cats have very keen senses, and are more perceptive than you might think.
Cats have very keen senses, and are more perceptive than you might think.  © 123RF/Veronika Kireeva

Black cats are thought to be omens that signal bad luck in some cultures, while calico cats are considered lucky in Japan. Sometimes, though, even the most bizarre of beliefs have a little bit of a basis in fact. Instead of assuming that a claim like "Cats can see the future" is entirely fiction, it's a good idea to take a deep breath and a little bit more of a look.

In this cat guide, we'll take a dive into the world of cats and time travel. Can cats see and predict the future, can they sense earthquakes, and do they know when you're going to die? Let's take a look.

Can cats predict the future?

No, cats cannot predict or see the future, nor can they sense earthquakes or death. With that in mind, cats do have much keener senses than us and can feel certain things well before we're even aware of them. Indeed, there are a few interesting examples that on the surface might seem to contradict the blindingly obvious.

Let's start with the story of Oscar, an adopted cat who lived at Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island. He made the news for his uncanny ability to sense when the center's residents were about to die. According to Reuters, Oscar predicted over 50 deaths.

Dr. David Dosa, who was the first to share Oscar’s abilities in a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007, revealed that the feline was never particularly social as a kitten. In fact, Dosa told Reuters that Oscar bit him the first time he met him. But when the cat was about six months old the staff noticed some fascinating behavior.

Whenever a resident was approaching the end of their days, Oscar would go into that person's room, lie down on the bed and refuse to leave the room. The cat wanted to be near the person who was dying. It seemed as if he was there to offer comfort to the center's residents who were leaving this life.

There are different theories about why Oscar had these extraordinary abilities. Dosa thought it was because Oscar was attracted to some "pheromone or a scent" that might have been coming from the dying people's bodies.

As such, while it might seem that Oscar was predicting the future or "sensing death," it was a chemical matter, not whimsical magic.

Can cats sense earthquakes?

To date, no dead cats have been discovered in the ruins of Pompeii.
To date, no dead cats have been discovered in the ruins of Pompeii.  © 123RF/Bruno135

Cats cannot predict a future earthquake, but it is believed that they can feel the tremors well in advance of us. Witnesses report that a few days before an earthquake, cats and dogs tend to become more restless and want to be near their owners for no apparent reason. They also have a strong urge to flee the area right before an earthquake hits.

A historical fact supporting the idea that cats are great seismographs comes from the legendary case of Pompeii. Not a single cat skeleton has been found in the perfectly preserved ruins of the ancient city, which was buried under ashes and lava after the devastating eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D.

More recently, before a gigantic tsunami flooded the coasts of Indonesia and Thailand around Christmas in 2004, many cats were reported to have scurried off.

Cats are not magical creatures, they cannot predict the future

So what does this all mean? Well, cats have heightened senses and can feel and observe certain things well in advance of us humans. This does not make them magical, does not make them capable of predicting and seeing the future, and certainly doesn't mean that they can be used as a way to make your own predictions.

Of course, it is always worth doing research into such matters if there is genuine evidence to support an idea. Perhaps the fact that there are barely any research papers on this matter is evident to the fact that it is mostly just a big load of rubbish.

Cover photo: 123RF/Veronika Kireeva

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