Can Cats Sense Death?

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Cats are extremely intuitive and instinctual animals who, although it has not been proven scientifically, many people believe can sense death in humans. And what about when their own time is up? Cats have long been known to take themselves off to a safe secluded space when they know they’re about to die, but do they really know?

One Special Cat With A Special Sixth Sense

There is a nursing home in Providence, Rhode Island that cared for terminally ill people who owned a cat called Oscar.

There is a nursing home in Providence, Rhode Island that cared for terminally ill people who owned a cat called Oscar. As well as having the important role of companion to the residents, the caregivers started to notice Oscar was doing something strange.

Oscar seemed to know when residents of the nursing home were nearing death and he’d go and lie on their bed and purr. In their moments before death, they would have Oscar with them if their family members couldn’t get there in time.

Oscar’s ability for knowing when the residents were going to die astounded the doctor caring for them and he wrote a report about the cat’s accuracy in the New England Journal of Medicine.

What Can They Sense?

A dying person might also give off different pheromones which their cats might pick up with their heightened senses.

There is little known yet about how cats might be able to sense death, but it is hypothesized that cats may be able to use their incredible sense of smell to detect when people’s organs are shutting down.

A dying person might also give off different pheromones which their cats might pick up with their heightened senses. Cats have been known to detect other illnesses with their sense of smell so it is certainly plausible they can sense a chemical released just before humans die.

Cats could also be able to sense a decreased body temperature in people close to dying as they might become more still. The change in body language could also alert cats to what is about to happen.

Also Read: Can Cats See Spirits, Ghosts And Angels?

How Can Cats Warn You Of Death?

Cats tend to find quiet places to lie down in when they sense their own death.

Cat owners have regularly reported behavioral changes in their cats before loved ones died. Like with Oscar, cats have given people extra attention, become clingy, and started purring and cuddling a lot more than they normally would.

These changes in behavior also reflect behaviors cat exhibit when they know they’re about to die too. When cats sense they are at the end of their life, they might be more prone to snuggling with their owner to let them know in their own way.

Cats tend to find quiet places to lie down in when they sense their own death. You might find them curled up under the bed or in an open closet if they’re an inside cat, or under the car or some bushes if they’re an outside cat.

Also Read: Why Do Cats Sit On Your Chest? 10 Reasons Why!

Do Cats Know When They’re Going To Die?

Cats at the end of their life can often be painful or weaker so may not use their litter box as well as they normally would.

Although there is little scientific evidence to prove this, pet owners might notice a change in their cat’s behavior in the days leading up to their death. Cats who aren’t normally vocal might meow or purr more as well. As with humans, cats nearing their death might eat less and might have a change in mood or appear unkempt.

Cats at the end of their life can often be painful or weaker so may not use their litter box as well as they normally would. Cat owners can’t do much to help a really old cat but simply strive to make them as comfortable as possible.

A change in mood might also look like a normally very loving cat becoming standoffish, grumpy, or quiet. They could resent being picked up or stroked.

Also Read: 7 Common Cat Vocalizations And What They Mean

Cats And Grief

When cats have lost a human companion, they were very close with, they can mourn them and will assume a quieter demeanor.

Cats are very good at mirroring our human behaviors and moods. If we are happy, cats are happy. If we are sad or angry, cats will pick up on this too. Grieving cat owners might notice their cat be a little quieter than normal if they’ve noticed a big mood change.

It is impossible to say that cats grieve for their own. Cats are not herd or pack animals so are more independent than dogs and would therefore normally not care too much for other cats dying in the wild.

When cats have lost a human companion, they were very close with, they can mourn them and will assume a quieter demeanor. Sometimes they become clingier or attached to remaining family members or may be seen searching for the person who has died.

Also Read: How To Help Cats Deal With Grief

Conclusion

It seems that cats may well have a very good instinct for sensing when death is near, either for themselves or for their owners or carers.

It seems that cats may well have a very good instinct for sensing when death is near, either for themselves or for their owners or carers. Although each cat may communicate this in a different way if you know your cat well it will be easier to recognize major changes in their normal behavior.

As shown with Oscar, learned behavior for notifying people to someone nearing their death does happen. And cats do have their special ways of telling us when something is wrong.

Also Read: Understanding Your Cat’s Five Senses

Frequently Asked Questions

Can cats sense when something is wrong?

Cats are very intelligent animals and extremely sensitive to change and the body language of their owners. Therefore, if someone is acting different, smelling different, or even sounding different, cats will pick up that something might be wrong.

Do cats care if you cry?

Cats will notice when you cry and if they are normally quite an affectionate cat might well be affected by it. It’s hard to discern if cats care however because they struggle to communicate concern.

Do cats fear death?

Cats likely don’t think about death throughout their life although they seem to know when they’re coming to the end of their life. There is no scientific evidence to prove that they fear death and as highly instinctual animals, they probably realize when they are slowing down but know it is the natural course of life.

How do I know if my cat is trying to tell me something?

When you know your cat well, sudden changes in behavior should be very noticeable and could mean your cat is trying to tell you something. This might be that they’re more clingy and more vocal or standoffish and quieter.

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