Can Cats Predict Disaster, Disease or Death?

Oscar doing his thing.

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Oscar doing his thing.

I’ve always been a cat lover and find myself studying the activities and expressions of my own two cats. What are they thinking? Are they as sneaky as they look? Do they ever know something I don’t?

When my cat perches himself at eye level and just stares at me what is he thinking? Do cats use their heightened senses to predict disaster, disease and death? Can they be trained or is it more of a bond between cat and owner. I would like to share several stories and you can form your own opinion.

Can cats predict earthquakes and other natural disasters; how do they do it? There are several theories. Most suggest that the cat can detect smells and feel subtle changes and vibrations.

Another theory states the cat reacts to charged ions released into the atmosphere shortly before an earthquake hits. Cats can be seen carrying their kittens outside of a building before an earthquake is felt. With the recent earthquake in Haiti and the possibility of earthquakes in many areas of the world we owe it to ourselves to learn some of the warning signs a cat can give us.

Your cat may be jumpy. Many cats go totally crazy. They will either growl, hiss, climb the screen, pace or demonstrate other negative behavior, completely out of character. Most will attempt to escape the structure although some hide in closets and dark spaces. Your cat may even try to attach itself to your neck or head.

Don‘t dismiss this behavior. Few animal carcasses were ever found after the tsunami earthquake that hit Sri Lanka. Studies suggest animals have some internal radar that tells them a disaster is imminent. Anecdotes can be found back thru the ages that suggest people believe in the predictive ability of domestic and wild animals(1).

Today I Googled "pets dead in Haiti" and not much came up. I'm curious if the animals gave any warnings. We may never know.

There is an almost psychic connection between most owners and their feline housemates but can cats predict disease? Cats are best at predicting disease within their own family. There’s no set of instructions you can buy to teach your cat to do these things. It’s more of an empathic ability created by the bond between cat and family. I’ve had a lot of experience with animals who can predict or recognize health problems. I currently live with a 10 year old retired boxer mix seizure dog.

I acquired him when he was 6 weeks old and he would act differently when my boyfriend was on the brink of a seizure. There was no formal training and this is usually the way it is with cats. Prior to my seizure dog I owned a dog who wouldn’t leave my daughter’s side when she was sick. She never could pretend to be sick to miss school. Cats are similar in diagnosing the sick.

They tend to hover where they are needed. When my daughter is sick her cat can be found in the bed with her. When she is well the cat is on the back of the couch asleep or happily playing with my cat.

Can cats predict illness and/or be trained as a service animal to predict disease? An animal that assists a person with a mental, physical or psychological disability can be considered a service animal. Many challenge the intelligence of the cat as not being smart enough or focused enough for training. After all, cats are very independent and this isn’t a bad thing. It’s one of the many traits that endear us to our feline friends. While focus is placed on dogs as companions to the blind, there is new information available that suggests cats CAN be trained as a service animal(2) if the cat is fearless and willing to listen and obey simple commands.

Pat Gonser of Citronelle, Alabama is the founder of Pets and People and an advocate on training cats as service animals, especially for predicting seizures. Because there is no organization that focuses on training cats Pat offers a lot of good advice for people who would like to train their cat. Although they cannot be trained in the traditional way dogs are trained, many do pick up on the health problems of their people. I believe the key is for us to learn to read the body language of our cats and to pay close attention if the cat is acting strangely.

One of the most famous cases of a cat predicting disease involved a cat named Tee Cee and his owner Michael Edmunds of Sheffield, England. Michael suffered epileptic seizures and often without warning. It was unsafe for him to venture outside because of the severity and unpredictable nature of his seizures. His family noticed that Tee Cee, who was a kitten the family rescued from a river, would sit and stare at Michael's face. Then the cat would run to Michael's wife and let her know there was a problem.

The family quickly discovered they had an early warning system in the form of their cat. He would summon help then remain by his owner’s side until the seizure was over. Tee Cee was named Cat’s Protection Rescue Cat of the Year for 2006(3).

Not all researchers have ruled out the psychic bond we cat lover’s have with our cats. Perhaps they tune in to body changes when we are sick or depressed. Cats can sense smells and it is possible the human body puts out a different odor shortly before a seizure, illness or death. A lot has been written on dogs diagnosing cancerous sores but cats are also capable of this lifesaving talent. Again most research suggests it’s usually a member of the family or someone the cat is close to. A cat simply cannot go into a room and diagnose skin cancer in one person and heart trouble or seizures in another. That would be great but it’s not going to happen.

The United States has a cat famous for predicting death at the Steere House and Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island. Oscar is a shelter adoption brought to the center as a kitten and spends a lot of time in the dementia ward where patients are in the end stage of various diseases including Alzheimer‘s. After observing Oscar for several months the doctors and staff noticed Oscar would make his own rounds at the center. He would go from room to room and sniff each patient. If all is well Oscar can be found napping at the doctor’s/nurses station. No one would die.

When death is close Oscar will settle in with a patient and within 2 hours the patient is dead. Debate over whether Oscar was picking up on an odor produced by someone dying or body temperature or lack of movement of the patients led Dr. David M. Dosa, a geriatrician at the facility and also affiliated with Alpert Medical School, to write of the cat in the New England Journal of Medicine ( is the link). The article is fascinating and I highly recommend all cat lovers read it. Video on Oscar can be found at and on YouTube at Here is another video:

At the time of the article in July 2007 Oscar was 2 years old and had correctly predicted 25 deaths. Dr. Dosa’s article details a day in the life of Oscar. What I found interesting is on many occasions the Dr./nurse would think death imminent on a certain patient and Oscar would stop by for his routine exam, jump onto the bed, sniff the patient and continue with his rounds. He was always correct with his predictions and anytime he curled himself up on a patients bed the nurses trusted his prediction ability.

Family members of the patient would be notified, extra chairs placed in the room, and the priest or reverend called in for final prayer. Oscar’s hospice service has been rewarded by a local hospi ce agency and the facility proudly displays his plaque for “considerate hospice care“.

There is a lot of controversy on Tee Cee the seizure cat. Some argue he would stare at his owner and CAUSE the seizure. There is also a lot of controversy on Oscar. Cat haters say he is a bad omen. That he may even cause the deaths. I believe cat hater’s are the bad omen. Personally I believe these two cats are both heroes. Neither is a pedigree and both began life in a less than desirable way.

Tee Cee was rescued and Oscar was a shelter kitten. I’m sure Michael Edmunds and his family feel Tee Cee is a hero. The staff and family involved at the Steere House and Nursing Rehabilitation Center in Providence, Rhode Island recognize and admire Oscar for the role he has settled into. His early warning system provides the chance for family members to be with their loved one as they take their last breath and for those with no family Oscar makes sure the person doesn’t die alone. He is there to offer comfort in the end. Which is really all any of us can hope for.




Photo of Oscar: This is a well circulated photo and now presumed to be in the public domain.

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Can Cats Predict Disaster, Disease or Death?

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Mar 30, 2012 Cats and Chrons NEW
by: Anonymous

I have Chrons disease and every time I have a flare up the day and/ or night before one of my 2 cats can be found sleeping on my belly region. This is unusual behavior for them as my male fozzy prefers to sleep curled up by my legs and my female alley is usually perched on a pillow. I started to notice that when I would wake up one of the cats, usually Fozzy, was on my belly and it never failed that I would flare that day. Throughout the flare the cats take turns lying on my belly and if one gets up the other takes over. People say I'm crazy but it happens every time and I never use any type of heating pad or device so I know it's not that. They just seem to know especially the male. The last go around when I woke up to fozzy on my belly I knew I was in for a flare after the pain started I knew something was wrong and went to the ER. Turned out I had a bad paralyzed portion of my bowel. Normally I would have waited until I was really really bad off but with knowing the cats have never been wrong I felt they knew something I didn't and it ended up saving me from having to have major surgery. They know they just know and stick with me through the whole flare rather I'm stuck in bed or in the bathroom at least one cat accompanies me at all times

Feb 25, 2012 cats just know NEW
by: Anonymous

Five years ago I did chemotherapy, My now 9 year old cat Blue would lie beside me, only leaving long enough to eat and refresh himself while I was in the "sick" stage of chemo. Blue is somewhat surly most of the time and offers affection only on his terms, usually when you are feeling a little down or physically ill. I do not suffer from depression, so Blue usually just passes by stopping only long enough to say Hello and is on his way. In December he started searching me out, going out of his way to be in my lap, lying beside me if I was napping or in my face if I was on the computer. I asked him one day if he thought I was dieing again. Of course he didn't speak, however in January they discovered activity in my lymph nodes which they suspect is cancer. I am having surgery next week to find out for sure what is going on, I think Blue already knew, and I guess honestly, it has prepared me for what may be ahead.

Jan 04, 2012 Cats can predict disasters or misfortune?
by: Rudolph.A.Furtado

As a professional speculator on stocks and sports for a living i am a bit superstitious on certain aspects of 'LUCK". Bizarrely my queen cat matahari is an identical copy of Oscar, only difference is that she doesn't predict anyone's death but definitely warned me of either bad health or bad wealth misfortunes.Occasionally, Queen cat matahari takes a sudden fondness for my personal belongings in the house, either sitting on my closed laptop or vacant chair or bed.This strange behaviour has often resulted in huge monetary losses or either bad health within a few days.Bizarrely, since new Year(1-1-2012) cat matahari has taken a sudden liking to my living room cane chair, refusing to vacate the same and snoozing continuously throughout the day on this chair,She never ever sat on this particular chair in this particular manner prior to Sunday(1-1-2012), hence keeping me alert of future misfortunes or good-luck.Hope the World economy picks up in 2012 and matahari occupying my chair means good future monetary returns rather than a depreciating economy.People might disapprove of my observations but i certainly do believe that the sudden bizarre behavioral changes of my cat definitely is a prediction for either future misfortune or future good-luck and i am speaking from personal experience.

Jan 04, 2012 Cat's Change of Behavior
by: Jill

My 4 year old cat is strictly an indoor cat. Ini the past, she never jumped on anyone's lap to be petted, but was rather content just curling up nearby. Recently, within the past couple of weeks, she has literally jumped on my lap and has actually gotten quite close to my face and just stared at me as well. Definitely not typical, and kind of giving me the creeps. She would sit in my lap all the time now if I let her. I do not feel sick, but I recently became the primary caregiver for my 84 yr old father who has Parkinsons and Dementia. I go to his house every evening, and then return to my house during the day. Is it possible she's sensing something related to that?

Aug 22, 2010 Cats
by: S. Leszczynski

3 years ago i had my left knee replaced. 2 years ago we got a cat. After the replacement and nerve damage to my knee, my cat sleeps on my knee. if i push her off, because of pain, she climbs right back on it.

Can anyone explain why she does this?

Mar 18, 2010 My Hero Zuess
by: Rhonnette

I have a 3 year old cat named Zuess. I suffer from grand mal seizures since I was 25 without warning. I notice that every time I have one, when I come to, Zuess is right there by my side staring at me and won't leave until I get up. I'm sure he must give me some kind of a warning right before they happen but unfortunately I can never remember what happened 5-10 prior to my seizures. So I absolutely believe that pets can sense things that humans can't, and for that, we should all be greatfull for!

Jan 23, 2010 animals do communicate
by: kathy

My cat Lia has many ways in which he can or tries to communicate with me and my boyfriend. Christmas was and extremely stressful time for him. He wanted a bed, (dont ask, its a long story, but he did,) So he got a bed then when I came home from my cousins house with two soft blankets, guess what?? He wanted a soft blanket. My friend make me a cat blanket, for me not him, but now it is drapped over his bed and he is extremely happy. When we watch tv at night and he wants his bed brought out into the living room he sits between the two of us and stares us down. When his bed is brought in he immediatly gets in it. When he thinks its bedtime he sits in the doorway and stares at us. When its treat time he follows us and meows. He communicates in his own way.

Jan 22, 2010 "Animal Predictions"
by: Rudolph.A.Furtado

Call me eccentric but i firmly believe that animals can sense danger or "Bad Luck". My pet Alexandrine parakeet who has been with us for 18 years has proved his extra-sensory powers on manny occasions, the same being difficult to explain in a short paragraph. the cat "Oscar' is just unbelievable as his statistics prooves him right and just not "Flukes" in determining terminally ill human patients."Pet Owners" please heed your pets "Body language signs" or "Outbursts", they could be very significant.

4 thoughts on “Can Cats Predict Disaster, Disease or Death?”

  1. Cats are very special beings who have evolved over time and developed unique gifts and abilities which they share and use to help others with whom they live, their family. Who knows exactly how they do what they do. The point is to watch what they do and learn to read the message they are trying to convey with their behavior. Over time, if you are an astute observer, you will understand what they are trying to tell you. Just observe and respond accordingly with an intuitive understanding of their message. You’ll know if you got it right, and they’ll let you know if didn’t–they will redirect you with their behavior until you do understand their message. Cats are quite remarkable (and insistent) in this manner. My cats have a “notifying” routine. Every time someone is (about to be) knocking on my door, my current cat, Diana (“The goddess of the Hunt”), notifies me by erectly and directly sitting up at full attention and stares at the door until someone knocks on it, which without fail, occurs a moment or two later. I never timed the interval between her change in behavior (“notifiction stance”} and the knock on the door, but it can’t be more than 30 seconds to a minute, max., and she does this with 100% accuracy. She also displays similar notification type of behavior which is actually more of a warning. I’ve only had her for two months, so I don’t have a large enough sample of behavior to make scientifically accurate predictions, but I can say that she is a year old, not a kitten, and of the number of people who have visited our home since her arrival, she has consistently (every time) only avoided being anywhere near one particular person each and every time he came inside my home for the entire duration of his each of his visits. After she became acclimated to her new surroundings, he is the only visitor for whom I had to physically transport her from the back of the house (my bedroom–her safety zone) to the den, where I receive people, so she could meet him. Diana immediately jumped out of my arms and ran to the back bedroom. Subsequently, each time this person stopped by, Diana “flew” to the back of the house before he actually made it through the door. I finally asked him not to stop by anymore for reasons of my own which were related to a lack of trust. Diana “nailed it” right off the bat!


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