“Psychic” Pets

A recent poll reported by Newser.com and conducted by The Associated Press and Petside.com concluded that many American pet owners believe that their pets are psychic or have a sixth sense on some level. The actual details vary depending on what questions people were asked.

According to the poll, 2/3 of American pet owners believe that animals have a sixth sense about bad weather, and 43% of the people polled say their pets can predict bad news. Owners of both cats and dogs claimed that their feline or canine pets warned them either about poor weather or upcoming bad news.

Although the report teased the idea about the pets being “psychic,” the general consensus more seems to be that pets can pick up on human distress or sense when an earthquake or thunderstorm might be about to happen. I completely believe that animals can sense bad weather. It’s a survival instinct. They can pick up on things like changes barometric pressure or tiny tremors in the earth.

Any pet owner will attest to the deep bond that forms between humans and their animals, and the second most commonly reported pet “psychic” attribute, sensing bad news, comes from that. Pets know when their owners have received bad news because they are attuned to our body language and moods, and they know when we are upset.

A cat that cuddles its distressed owner or a dog that won’t leave the side of a woman with a high-risk pregnancy are responding to the nonverbal cues that humans give out when they are troubled. Pets may not be as intelligent as humans but they are still observant on a certain level and can tell when something is wrong with us.

Or take the couple who reported to the study that they left a pot of water to boil on the stove, and then forgot about it. Their dog came rushing into the room, barking, and led them to the kitchen where the water had evaporated and the pot began to burn. The dog wasn’t excited or psychic; it just smelled smoke and knew that meant danger.

There are a few people who reported supposedly psychic attributes to their pets that probably have more to do with simple observation. For example, a few people claimed to have been awoken by their pets in the middle of the night shortly before receiving a phone call about the death of a loved one or other distressing news. They claim that their pets knew, somehow, what had happened.

I’d instead like to know how often in general these pet owners were awoken in the middle of the night by their pets. On occasion my dog wakes me up by whining at the edge of the bed, sometimes because she needs to go out but other times simply because she’s bored and wants attention. My cat does the same for the latter reason on a regular basis. Couldn’t these pets waking up their pet owners on nights of bad news just be a coincidence?

Still, it’s clear that pets do have a greater sense of the subtleties of what’s going on around them than we might at first attribute them. I’m glad for such reports, because it just further proves of the deep bond that can form between pet and owner.

Do you think your pet is psychic, or still has a sixth sense for human emotions or bad weather?

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