Categories: brain

It’s more likely that domestic cats can detect the Earth’s magnetic field

Humans can detect Earth’s magnetic field, it is now believed. Photo in public domain with words added.


Research into humans on sensitivity to the planet’s magnetic field supports the theory that cats have this ability and use it as a compass to navigate.

Research into human senses indicates to me that it is more likely that domestic cats can detect the Earth’s magnetic field. This is an interesting subject. Animals, or at least some animals, use the Earth’s magnetic field as a compass which allows them to navigate. Protozoa, sea turtles and birds, we are told, have this ability.

A question mark hangs over the head of humans but inside that head is a brain which recent research indicates is likely to have this ability. You know how some people swear that they have an internal compass. You also may recognise the fact that some people are far better at navigating without using maps than others.

It appears that some among us have a natural, innate ability to know where North, South, East and West are located. Perhaps it is these people who have a sensitivity to the planet’s magnetic field and if so it is the discovery of a new human sense. The magnetic field is created by molten iron churning over below the earth’s crust.

Until now there has been no conclusive evidence that humans share the same sensory ability of certain animals including domestic cats. I have to bring into the discussion domestic gas because there are many instances of cats successfully finding their way home sometimes over large distances. The journey can take weeks. It is been hypothesised that domestic cats are like sea turtles in being sensitive to the Earth’s magnetic field and therefore have an internal compass. Of course this is not the only way they navigate but it is almost agreed among experts that this is a key element of this ability.

In the study which was published in the journal eNeuro on 18 March 2019, 34 participants were subjected to an artificially created magnetic field. The scientists noticed some fascinating shifts in brain behaviour patterns amongst some of the participants indicating that they were processing sensory information.

The scientists were able to detect this sensitivity because when the brain is at rest it falls into a state called alpha rhythm. When the brain senses stimuli this rhythm is broken into a state known as alpha event-related desynchronisation. Apparently, four of the British appearance showed strong responses to the magnetic field over testing sessions.

It appeared that their brain responses were tuned to magnetic field characteristics of the northern hemisphere. However, they could not feel that they were able to pick up this magnetic field.

At this stage there is a likelihood that humans can detect the planet’s magnetic field, which is quite possible bearing in mind the nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle of our ancient ancestors.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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