Do cats have a ‘sixth sense’ when it comes to humans?
We have a mature tabby at home, and she has always been particularly sensitive to her environment – whether sound, smell or something within vision; she is usually aware of it. Some years ago my Father passed away, and when my sister phoned me early one morning to give me the sad news, something quite amazing happened. I have never forgotten how our tabby approached me while I was still in bed taking the call, came to sit on my lap – and stayed there for hours! It never happened before that moment. We meet a lot of loving carers and owner when photographing cats around Melbourne, and the possibility of a ‘sixth sense’ comes up surprisingly often in conversation.
As a rule, all cats and dogs share this sensitivity, but in some cases – just as with humans; some are more sensitive than others. Human sufferers of epilepsy or diabetes have reported incidents where the last thing they remember after regaining consciousness on the floor; is their cat walking up and down the stairs, meowing loudly as they go. Sometimes their cats will pace around in circles repeatedly around their owners, caterwauling as they go.
This behaviour was originally thought to be more common in dogs, but it appears that this is not so. As we all know ;o) cats are somewhat more independent than dogs, and are less likely to be by our sides throughout the day and night. But when they are, there seem to be regularly recorded events of felines picking up on that ‘something’, whether illness – or in extreme circumstances; impending death.
In 2006, there was extensive international research into Cancer patients having breath that smells ‘different’, and the main subject of the research was on dogs. However, anecdotal evidence is increasingly leading scientists to conclude that cats also have a means of picking up this scent.
Just behind a cats front teeth, there is special ‘smelling’ organ called the Vomeronasal. In Humans this is more commonly described as the Jacobsen’s organ, although for humans, it is far less sensitive than in cats. Because it is connected to the cat’s nasal passage, it provides a fast freeway to the brain of even the slightest unusual scent. In some cases, it will sense rapid pressure drops on the approach of a storm. In other cases it will pick up slight changes to static charge in the atmosphere on the first sine-waves of an earth tremor. Either way, I think it is amazing (!)
There are some excellent articles on the subject of this mysterious ‘sixth sense’, and this one in particular makes for interesting reading.
Sixth Senses – Cat Photography Melbourne