Are Pets Psychic or- Just Super-Sensitive?

Remarkable stories of animal telepathy, sense of direction and premonition. Are they examples of animals' keen senses, or are they evidence of an unexplained psychic ability?

  • a pet cat jumps up onto the windowsill every day, several minutes before its owner arrives home
  • a pet dog barks just before a certain person calls on the phone, as if knowing the call was being made
  • a pet parrot, who's learned to talk, says things seemingly in response to what its owner is thinking
  • a beloved pet, somehow lost on a family trip, miraculously finds its way home - sometimes traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles

How are these things possible? Do our pets - perhaps even all animals - possess some innate psychic ability that allows them to tune in to human brainwaves or even to see the future? Or are they just more sensitive than humans to visual, aural, magnetic and other subtle environmental factors and changes - and because we are not aware of these subtleties, their actions seem miraculous?

It's an ongoing debate, usually with the psychically minded and a lot of devoted pet owners on one side, and the more skeptical and scientifically minded on the other.

Rupert Sheldrake, author of
Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home (Three Rivers Press, 1999), believes that animals have abilities that humans may have possessed at one time, but somehow lost. Through his extensive research, he has concluded that there are three major categories of unexplained perceptiveness by animals:

  • Telepathy - a psychic connection that some pets may have with their owners through connections Sheldrake calls "morphic fields." It is this ability that enables pets to "know" when their owners are on their way home.
  • The Sense of Direction - this ability accounts for the "incredible journeys" some animals make to be with their owners, including homing pigeons.
  • Premonitions - which may explain why some animals seem to know when earthquakes and other events are about to occur.


In the section of Sheldrake's book focusing on telepathy, he asserts that this ability arises from the strong bond that develops between human and family pet. He relates several anecdotes from pet owners who believe their animals are psychically picking up their intentions. For example:

I just cannot understand how my dog, Ginny, a mixed breed I have had for seven years, can know when I am going to walk him. Only my thinking of it is enough for him to jump about joyfully. In order to exclude the possibility of eye contact and information through the other senses, I left the dog outside in the garden and behind closed windows and doors when I thought of taking him. And still the same result every time: He acts crazy out of sheer joy and expectation. When I dress to leave for work, however, he remains totally quiet.

It could be argued that this very perceptive dog is picking up some kind of cues from the owner without the owner realizing it. There could even be an odor cue that a human releases with a certain intention that only the dog can smell. More difficult to explain, however, is the story of a cat in Switzerland that seemed to know when a specific telephone call was coming:

After my father had retired he sometimes worked for an acquaintance in Aargau. Sometimes he called us from there in the evening. One minute before this happened, the cat became restless and sat down next to the telephone. Sometimes my father took the train to Biel and then used a moped to get home from there. Then the cat sat down outside the front door 30 minutes before he arrived. At other times he arrived at Biel earlier than usual and then called us from the station, and the cat sat down near the telephone shortly before the call came. After it she went to the front door. All this happened very irregularly, but the cat seemed to know exactly where he was and what would happen afterward.

The Sense of Direction

The stories about animals that have made long, sometime arduous journeys to be reunited with their owners are some of the most incredible and compelling cases for unexplained animal powers.

My father-in-law had a small farm and on it he kept a watchdog, Sultan. One day my father-in-law became ill and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. A few days later he died and then he was buried in the local graveyard, five kilometers from the farm. Several weeks after the burial the dog was not seen for days. This seemed strange to us, as Sultan never used to stray. But we did not make much of it, until one Sunday a former employee came along, who lived near the graveyard. She told us: "Imagine, when I went across the graveyard the other day, Sultan lay at your family grave." I cannot fathom how he could have found the way all these five kilometers. There were no footprints of his former master that he could follow. And he had never been taken to the graveyard, not even to the fields, since he had to keep watch at the house. How is it possible that he found his master's grave?

Animal Premonitions

In this section of the book, Sheldrake explores the possibility that some animals can forewarn us of events that are about to occur. Most common, perhaps are pets that seem to know when their owners are about to have epileptic seizures. Epilepsy, explained in the simplest terms, is a kind of temporary short circuit in the victim's brain, resulting in convulsions, labored breathing and sometimes blackouts. Is it a real premonition the pet is having before the onset of such a seizure, or is it supersensitive to slight muscle tremors, subtle changes in behavior or emitted odors that even the victim is not aware of minutes before the seizure takes hold? Sheldrake notes that pet dogs, cats and even rabbits can be sensitive to the event.

Sheldrake wonders if animals are sensitive to other diseases as well. He offers some anecdotal evidence that could suggest that some pets have warned diabetics when their blood sugar was low, and also stories of pets that seem to know where cancerous spots are on their owners, long before the diagnosis is made.

Mentioned earlier is the ability of some animals to "know" when an earthquake is about to occur. Before the quake actually starts, rats and snakes have been seen fleeing their burrows, horses and other farm animals become agitated, and birds fly away from the scene in great flocks. Again, this is almost certainly a case of supersensitivity to the environment rather than true precognition. The animal senses subtle vibrations, odors and electric and magnetic emissions resulting from the stresses within the earth.

Much harder to explain, however, are incidents in which the pet truly seems to have foreknowledge of some disastrous event - an event for which there can be so sensory cues to pick up on. Sheldrake includes several interesting examples, including this one:

One morning my dog, Toby, tried to stop me going out of the front door. He barged against me, leaned on the door, jumped up at me, and pushed me. He is normally a quiet, loving dog and knows my routine; I would have been back within four hours. I had to lock him in the kitchen and left him howling, something he has never done before or since. I set off at 7:30 a.m. and by 9:40 a.m. I was involved in a horrific traffic accident resulting in a fractures neck and right arm, and many other injuries. In the future, I'll listen to Toby.














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Replies to This Discussion

Yes, this is all true:)) animals are very communicative, that`s like everyday communication with them:) I have a cat and sometimes, because of these experiences, I find it difficult for me to define this attitude:) I`ve had some strange (visual) experiences, but the most funny of all is how my cat senses me in which room I am:) When she`s outside, and me inside, she comes on the window of the room where I am, if I am on the second floor, she than climbs a tree to come to the specific window:) This is everyday situation:)) 

My cat Cherry was telephatic with me, now she's in a better place)))) We were extremely connected! When I was small, and had a scary dream, or afraid of something, she always came to me, and sit on my laps like to comfort, or protect... when I was ill sometimes, she sitted on the place where I was hurting! I loved her very much, and still do!!!



Oh Ksenia she was absolutely exquisite, intelligent of heart & her beauty of souls shines through her...I love you sis.


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