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Can cats detect the presence of astral beings?

Cats were revered in ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptians held cats in high regard for various reasons; the primary reason was probably that they recognized their hunting skills and ability to protect crops from rodents.

Nonetheless, the Egyptians believed that cats possessed qualities that made them sacred. Cats were associated with certain deities, such as Bastet, the goddess of home, fertility, and protection [1]. They were indeed seen as guardians of the home and were considered to bring good luck and fortune to their owners. However, there seems to be no historical evidence to suggest that this reverence was specifically due to their psychic abilities, as often reported. While some myths and legends attribute supernatural abilities to cats, such as seeing spirits or predicting events, historical evidence does not support these claims. Even so, studies by Rupert Sheldrake, a British biologist and author, have researched animal behaviour to support the psychic abilities of pets, including cats.

A specific telephone survey study conducted by Rupert Sheldrake and Pamela Smart titled "Psychic Pets: A Survey in North-West England", published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 61, 1997, indicated that 46% of dog owners claimed that their animals knew in advance when a member of the household was on their way home, compared to 14% of cat owners. Many of these animals reacted within five minutes or less, but a significant proportion reacted ten minutes or more before the person's return.

Another study by Rupert Sheldrake, Catherine Lawlor, and Jane Turney titled "Perceptive Pets: A Survey in London", in Biology Forum 91 (1998) investigated reports of seemingly telepathic abilities equally suggesting precognitive capacities in pets (e.g., pets would know when they would arrive), including both dogs and cats, but also indicated a higher percentage of dogs knew in advance when a member of the household was on the way home compared to cat owners (a study that included pet owners that disbelieved psychic phenomena without altering the pattern of response). So, do cats care less? Or are they less psychic?

The difference in the claimed abilities reported in the surveys could be influenced by their innate differences in psychology and behaviour. Cats and dogs have distinct personalities and behavioural traits that can affect how owners perceive their abilities. If cats are often seen as more independent and aloof compared to dogs, they tend to exhibit a greater sense of curiosity. They may explore their surroundings with a sense of independence owners might perceive as being less attentive to their actions or less inclined to anticipate their return home. Nevertheless, is it only psychology, or do they have other types of psychic sensitivity that dogs do not express as much? It is often claimed that cats are clairvoyant animals and can see spirits. Are they?

In a 1973 experiment to find out, researchers at the Psychical Research Foundation in Durham, North California, researched the Out-of-Body Experiencer (OBEr) Keith Harary, who tried to project his astral body into a room where a cat was placed and monitored by research director Dr Robert Morris. For this experiment, the cat was placed on an animal activity board—a large board marked with a number (see picture below).

Researchers would then measure the normal activity of the animal (e.g., frequency of movement, the range of squares it passed through and noise) to compare it with its activity when Harary would achieve a projection out-of-the-body from a room at the Duke University Hospital about one kilometre away (half a mile) from the experiment. Apparently, in Harary's two successful Out-of-Body Experiences (OBEs), the observer monitoring the cat saw the kitten suddenly stop moving around and sit motionless. Nevertheless, if the research was thought not to yield any proof that there is a second body, such capacity of cats, if often widely exaggerated [2], and wrongly universalised to all cats, is certainly reported in nonexperimental settings and even during shared OBEs [3].

Future well-designed experiments will undoubtedly rely on the capacity of OBErs to achieve such targets in the presence of animals. Certainly, such experiments will benefit by including OBErs who are equally pet owners, providing them the possibility to experiment together, a condition that might not only have an added incentive to achieve OBEs because the target would be emotionally salient and motivating, possibly leading to interesting results because of the established rapport. One day I will write about my cat, "Tito", a rescued feral cat, mostly "unsocial" by nature (being a wild cat hybrid breed) and character, which seems indeed psychic, but most notably makes his presence noted when he comes to see me projected when I am away from home.

MSc. Neuroscience,

Sleep Consciousness Researcher,

PhD Candidate.


Montenegro, R. (2015). The Out-of-Body Experiences – An Experiential Anthology, Imagens & Letras.

Sheldrake, R. and P. Smart (1997). "Psychic Pets: A survey in North-West England." Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 61(847): 353-364.

Time-Life Books., T.-L. (1987). Psychic voyages. Alexandria, VA, Time-Life Books.

[1] In Tibetan Buddhism, cats are equally depicted alongside deities or as protectors of sacred places. [2] For example, "Living with the Lama" was described as being dictated to pen name author Tuesday Lobsang Rampa (Cyril Henry Hoskin) by his Siamese cat, Mrs Fifi Greywhiskers. [3] This was reported in one the account of the “Out-of-Body Experience: an experiential anthology”.


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