Can cats sense an earthquake coming? No!

Cat is unaware that an earthquake is about to strike
Cat is unaware that an earthquake is about to strike. Screenshot.

Can cats sense an earthquake coming? No, based on the videos I have seen and studies that I have read. I’ve just watched several TikTok videos of cats when an earthquake arrived. Every one of the cats were surprised by the earthquake. They did not, therefore, sense an earthquake coming! The video on this page is illustrative of that conclusion. The cat is taken by surprise. Does that answer the question in the title? I think that it probably does. We will have to further conclude that it is a myth that domestic cats predict earthquakes.

 

Dr Morris disagrees!

However, a world-famous zoologist and author, Dr. Desmond Morris, who has written many books about animal behaviour including cat behaviour, tells us the exact opposite! He says that “It has been established beyond doubt that cats are capable of predicting earthquakes, but it is still not certain how they manage to do this.”

He suggests 4 possibilities:

  1. Cats may be sensitive to vibrations in the earth even though they are very faint and undetectable by humans. Earthquakes build up gradually with these faint movements. We can’t feel them but cats can.
  2. Cats are responsive to a dramatic increase in static electricity which also proceeds earthquakes. Humans might be able to respond to this static charge by developing headaches or feeling as if they are coming down with a cold. These are vague signs. Perhaps cats are more positive in their response?
  3. Thirdly, cats are very responsive to shifts in the Earth’s magnetic field. These shifts proceed earthquakes.
  4. Perhaps all 3 above are detected in varying amounts by domestic cats to allow them to predict the oncoming earthquake.

Dr. Morris says that cats become increasingly agitated just before major earthquakes. And as cat caregivers can recognise their changed behaviour, their cat is providing them with a forewarning.

Sometimes cats run around in the house in panic and when the door is open, they flee from the building. And if the home has a female cat with offspring, she picks them up in her mouth and runs around trying to find somewhere to protect them.

Dr. Morris knows more than I do because he tells us that this sort of feline behaviour “has been reported time and again from the most vulnerable earthquake areas”. He said that serious research was underway at the time he published his book Cat World in 1996. I don’t see research which supports his claim but mention two studies below.

Domestic cats, he says can also detect volcanic eruptions or severe electrical storms because of their exceptional sensitivity. Some people credit the cat with supernatural powers which become evident when they predict earthquakes and other disasters. If they can do it is because of their more acute senses compared to humans.

Studies-some science!

Rather than relying upon anecdotal evidence which is the usual way, I have managed to track down a University of California, Davis study titled: AN EVALUATION OF THE ANIMAL-BEHAVIOUR THEORY For Earthquake Prediction.

Jumping forward to the conclusion in five lines of text, they state: “This study shows that a significant positive correlation does not exist between the behaviour of pets in the San Jose area and the occurrence of earthquakes within the same area over the three-year period from January 1983 through December 1985.”

The study was based upon the number of lost pets during earthquakes. I presume the assumption is that because cats and dogs and other animals became agitated, they ran away. They tabulated “41,717 daily reports of missing pets in the San Jose Mercury News, and of 224 earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or larger”.

That I think is fairly conclusive and my study of TikTok videos (which is not quite so scientific) is also conclusive. The cats that I have seen when earthquakes have struck were very clearly surprised. These were earthquakes at about 6.1 on the Richter scale.

The Seismological Society of America states that for centuries people have claimed that cats and dogs have predicted an imminent earthquake “but the first rigorous analysis of the phenomenon concludes that there is no evidence behind the claim”. The society refers to a study called: Review: Can Animals Predict Earthquakes, which was published on April 17, 2018 on the Geo Science World website.

The study reviewed 180 publications regarding abnormal animal behaviour before earthquakes. Almost all were based on single observations. They concluded that in many cases there was a foreshock which would have been felt by humans as well. They concluded that many of the published reports were too weak to conclude that animals including cats and dogs can foresee earthquakes.

Below are some more pages on earthquakes and cats. I may have come to a different conclusion in some of these 😎.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Cat freezes on his first earthquake experience

Mochi is the cat in the video. He has just experienced the feeling of a minor earthquake were are told in the Twitter feed. He looks frozen to the spot.

Mochi frozen by the sound and feel of minor earthquake

His owner certainly thinks that he is scared and frozen. I’ll have to try and comment. Yes, I agree he felt the earthquake and was uncertain what was going on. He would have been unfamiliar with the type of noises that he heard – a faint rumbling perhaps. This would cause a little bit if anxiety. Not a lot in this instance otherwise he would have jumped off the bed and hidden somewhere.

You can see his alert face and he’s trying to digest the experience and work out how to respond. He’s unsure and stays still as a result.

I’d expect him to wag his tail from side to side and lick his nose at some point although we don’t see it in the video. Both of these feline behaviours are associated with uncertainties.

When the tail moves from side to side it indicates that the cat’s mind is in balance between doing two different things. Licking the nose is a form of displacement activity. The human version is scratching the head or biting nails. It indicates uncertainty and thought.

Mochi accepted having his hind legs gently held. Cats normally respond to this sort of thing by removing their legs or leg away from the human hand as they don’t like interference with their hind legs. Although we can’t generalise. Some cats will accept it and perhaps it is an indicator in this instance that Mochi is indeed temporarily frozen or distracted.

There’s quite a lot of discussion on the internet about the domestic cat’s ability to detect impending natural disasters such as earthquakes. Mochi did not predict it as far as I am aware. This ability is probably a myth and it is based at best on anecdotal evidence. However, I am not writing off the ability as nonsense. It may happen but not it seems in this instance.

THREE MORE POSTS ON CATS AND EARTHQUAKES:

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Cats react to earthquake before shocks rattle building

In this video you can see the cats in what I believe is a cat cafe appear to predict an impending earthquake. However, I think they actually hear a sound before the earthquake hits which puts them on edge and then, as you can see, when the earthquake starts they become panicky.

The question is whether cats can sense an earthquake arriving. I don’t think that this is some sort of mysterious ability. It may be that they can sense the smaller P wave which travels fastest from the source of the earthquake and arrives before what is called the larger S wave.

I don’t think that domestic cats can pick up signals days or hours before an earthquake hits but I am open to suggestions from visitors. The evidence that they can do this is anecdotal and without scientific foundation as far as I’m aware.

It’s more likely that domestic cats pick up foreshocks (small shocks before the actual earthquake hits) which then puts them on alert giving a signal to human observers that they are foretelling in some mysterious way an impending earthquake.

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Our cat Sammy predicted South Carolina earthquake

Sammy a tabby cat who predicted an earthquake
Sammy a tabby cat who predicted an earthquake

It’s been a very traumatic night for Laura and I in South Carolina, especially since our cat Sammy may have predicted an earthquake.

Laura and I live north of Greenwood, SC. For the past day or so, our first rescue Sammy has been acting very strange. He’s done everything from trying to attack the other cats, to racing through the house, to running into a room he knows he shouldn’t be in. His bad behavior began a little over 24 hours ago and peaked about half an hour before the earthquake hit.

Laura had just gone into my bedroom Friday night, where she had to coax Sammy out from under my bed. She had just sat down on the couch after putting him into a time out when the earthquake hit. The couch literally shook under us, and I could hear a bookshelf behind me rattling. Laura was upset because she thought she was the only one who felt it. Or perhaps she thought she was so upset with Sammy that she’d caused the shaking.


Cats predicting disease, disaster, death
Earthquake awareness
Illinois earthquake


South Carolina earthquake
USGS community internet intensity map

Our neighbors were all calling each other, and we soon learned between phone calls and Fox Carolina News that the earthquake’s epicenter was in Edgefield and registered a 4.4 on the Richter scale, which was downgraded to a 4.1. Georgia, located next to South Carolina, had a 5.4 reported. The news on this is still coming in. There are reports of slight damage coming in from all over the Carolinas, including damage to a water tower in Augusta, Georgia.

It’s amazing to think our Sammy may have been picking up on signals that something potentially catastrophic was about to happen. He’s now out of his “time out” place, and acting as though nothing happened.

Doug Bryson with SC Emergency Management out of Spartanburg County says it was the strongest earthquake he’d ever felt to hit this area. A 4.4 isn’t a very large earthquake, given the numbers we see out of areas on the west coast. For those of us who aren’t used to them, well, we may be awake all night.

The news has even interrupted the news. That NEVER happens. Fox Carolina is also staying on the air with a two hour broadcast to keep everyone up to date on what’s happened.

I’ve done articles, as has Michael, on a cats ability to predict an earthquake. I’ll listed some of those in the middle of this article. Several people who have contacted the news media are saying their pets (cats AND dogs) had been acting strangely before the earthquake hit.

I can tell you it’s very different to write on a topic than it is to experience it up close and personal. I have a new respect for cats now. I imagine from this day forward, Laura and I will pay closer attention to cat psychology. Just in case any of our cats are trying to tell us something.

In what I consider as Michael’s (PoC) best article on cats and earthquakes, I believe Sammy was tuned in to the slight vibrations of the earth that build up before the quake hits. Good job, Sammy. We thought you were just being a major cat brat.

This isn’t the first earthquake to hit South Carolina, but it is one of the strongest. Charleston had a 7.3 on August 31, 1886. Union, South Carolina also experienced one in the 4.4 range about a century ago.

Did any of the readers in the North Carolina, South Carolina or Georgia area have any damage? Did any of you have pets who went a bit psychotic before the earthquake hit? Please leave a comment if you did.

Elisa

Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.

Cats and Earthquake Awareness

by Susie Bearder
(Lorca, Spain)

I thought that Jessie was having hormone problems as she would not come in the house, preferring to sleep in the long grass all night instead of her usual place between my partner and me – and the Westie for that matter.

Two days later we experienced an earthquake of 5.3 Richter Scale, a prior one had been about 4.4 and a small series of aftershocks for about 24 hours that we were aware of.

However as of last night she was back in her usual place and I have decided to trust and let out my breath at last. Are there any other stories of cat warning signs of impending natural phenomena?

And please give a passing thought to the people and cats and other animals who are living lives in parks at present.

Susan


Hi Susan… thanks a lot for this. It is really nice to hear first hand experience of this. There are a good number of stories of cats predicting earthquakes.

This is another story from Kathy:

My Cat Sensed Forthcoming Illinois Earthquake

And this is an article by Elisa:

Can Cats Predict Disaster, Disease or Death?

And here is another about a cat sensing an oncoming fit.

Cats have very sensitive sensory organs: hearing and smell. They are very intuitive.

They can pick up stuff that we cannot and have a different kind of intelligence. I think most people don’t recognize these skills.

My thoughts go out to the relatives of people killed by the earthquake and the homeless and injured. It is the first time I have heard of an earthquake in Spain. Sadly, I think people have got a bit blasé about earthquakes after the Japanese one.

Michael Avatar

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