Are animals psychic?

25th April 2019. Reading Time: 7 minutes General, Paranormal Theories. 1847 page views. 1 comments.

Our pets seem to know when we are about to arrive home. They know when a storm is coming. They know when we are sick or depressed and need comfort. They can find their way home despite being kms away. They seem to have traits of what humans would describe as psychic abilities. So are animals psychic?

Our pets seem to know when we are about to arrive home. They know when a storm is coming. They know when we are sick or depressed and need comfort. They can find their way home despite being kms away and some animals can communicate with one another without making a noise. I have written about Animals and the paranormal before but more so from the perspective if there were animal spirits. I did lightly touch on some of the things animals were capable of including can they see spirits? Something which a lot of paranormal investigators believe to be true. Check out the article if you want to read on that topic a little more. What I didn't really explore though were the abilities that animals have. They seem to have traits of what humans would describe as psychic abilities. So I have to ask the question, are animals psychic?

The science behind why a dog knows when its owner is coming home

I always find it fascinating when i visit my Mum's house. She has a little dog Charlie (that I named) and he is what we consider our family dog. My kids just adore him. He himself has a lot of quirks and sometimes I think he is more work than my kids. Usually 5 minutes before my Dad would get home, his ears would prick up, he would get his favourite bone toy out of his toy pile, and he would run up the hallway and wait at the door. Shortly after, my Dad would arrive home and Charlie was there with his bone to greet him. He knew before we did that he was coming home. It isn't a once-off. He does it every day. It is a common trait of dogs and some cats as well, Can they psychically sense that we are coming home? First of all, dogs in particular have a very distinct sense of smell. They are also very good at noticing even the most subtle clues from their humans who are generally creatures of habit. They are also very good at remembering patterns. It could be a simple case of 5 minutes before you get home, the local bus drives past, or maybe one of your neighbours gets home just before you do. Author Alexandra Horowitz of Being a Dog believes this to be a factor as well as our scent based on studies she has done.

There was a potent combination of two forces leading to these dogs’ abilities. The first is the distinctness of our smell to our dogs. The second is the ease with which dogs learn our habits.

It might be that the odors that we leave around the house when we leave lessen in a consistent amount each day. Over the hours we are gone, our home begins to smell less of us.

Alexandra Horowitz - Being A Dog

It is their ability to recognise these subtle cues of our behaviour that allow them to recognise when we are unwell or depressed. Whenever I was recovering from surgery, Charlie would never leave my side. He would sit next to me and follow me wherever I went. If one of the kids was ever crying or woke up, he would come and get my attention. He was on the ball offering the support I needed in an empathetic way. Does this mean animals can pick up on our emotions or are they just good at recognising these patterns?

Photo by Sarah Living Life In Full Spectrum

Rupert Sheldrake trials

In 1994, psychical researcher for the Society of Psychical Research Rupert Sheldrake proposed an experiment. Would a dog still know if its owner was coming home if the routine was different and if they came home in a different vehicle? It would more so prove in some ways that a dog knows this information by some means other than routine or scent as Science would explain. Collecting data over a period of time, the results indicated that in some cases the dog was still anticipating it's owner return, even when the routine was different.

Nevertheless, taking all the data into account there was a highly significant relationship (p<0.0001) between the time that the dog began to wait at the window and the time his owner set off to come home (Sheldrake & Smart, 1998).

Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 63, October 1999
by Rupert Sheldrake

Cats and spirituality

Cats themselves are a lot harder to study due to their reputation of not being as well trained when it comes to scientific study. They just don't co-operate. I must admit, I am not much of a cat lover, so this information comes as no surprise to me, however, this is a trait a lot of cat owners love. Each to their own! Spiritually speaking, the Ancient Egyptians worshipped Cats due to their sacred connection Bastet the goddess of protection and warfare. Cats were a symbol of protection. Some believe that cats act as spiritual protectors and ward off evil spirits. They are thought by some to be a conduit of positive energy and can help rid any negative energy in your home. When the cat rubs itself against your leg, it is said that they are trying to share their energy with you. If you shoo them away, the transfer apparently does not complete.

The science behind what cats are staring at?

Often a Cat will stare or react at what seems like nothing. A lot of people believe their cat can see a ghost or a spirit that we cannot see and that is what they are reacting to. The scientific explanation is much simpler. A cat has much better vision and hearing than what we do.

"When cats appear to be staring into space, they may actually be detecting subtle motion, as their vision is much more acute than ours,"

Veterinarian Rachel Barrack,

Dogs do this as well. It is thought that dogs and cats can see in some spectrums of light that we humans cannot. They are very much seeing something or detecting a motion that we cannot see. I suppose when you apply this to the paranormal, we as investigators often use cameras modified to see in these spectrums of light as it is thought it can enhance the chance to see something 'paranormal'. This is why a lot of people rely on their animals to tell them if a spirit is around.

How do animals predict the weather?

While some again believe that animals have a form of ESP and can just sense these things, science explains it a little differently. As humans, our bodies notice for example a drop in barometric pressure. We may react with a small sensation of our ears popping. To an animal, this feeling is much more dramatic. An animal hears in frequencies outside what a human can hear. The weather makes all sorts of sounds in the infrasonic range that humans cannot hear. It is thought that animals in fact can hear this. Small changes in water pressure and the air which we are too busy to notice, are picked up on by our pets. They react to all of this by shaking and expressing fear. This is how we usually know that a storm is coming for example. They can perhaps feel the rumbles before an earthquake. They are very keen observers with strong senses and they don't have the same distractions that we have. If we stopped and listened and felt, we too would notice a lot of these things as well.

Finding their way home

I can't seem to find my way home half the time when I am lost even with GPS in my smartphone, yet an animal can be released in unfamiliar surroundings kms away from their house and still find their way home. Dogs are said to work with scent. They can 'smell' their way home. Cats actually rely on magnetic fields. The same is said with other mammals like deer and cattle. Their ears contain iron which helps to give them cues based on the magnetic direction on the ground. This works differently in birds who see the magnetic field by light striking the retina in their eye which stimulates a chemical reaction that sets off this sort of internal compass they have and helps navigate them home.

Animals we know are not just our pets, they are part of our families. They have a brain. In the same way, a human has a brain that could be capable of psychical phenomena, then we have to entertain the idea that animals have these same capabilities. In fact, they can see and hear a lot that we cannot so potentially they could be capable of even more than what we are when it comes to psychical phenomena. Or maybe because they have better senses and aren't focused on all of the outside 'noise' of the world they see things purely as they are - nothing paranormal, just something we aren't noticing or seeing ourselves. In the same way, people have different beliefs about the paranormal, the same applies to animals.

So what do you think? Do you think animals are psychic? Or do you think they are just better recognising patterns, smells sounds etc?

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  • Joseph Kapusta 5 years ago

    The animal & insect world is a fascinating one indeed, however the astounding abilities of certain animals, I would wager, possess nothing paranormal about them. Both humans and animals have, over time, used their subjective sensory experiences to evolve to meet their needs. This is never more evident than studying creatures like jellyfish, for example, lacking a brain, are reactive to surrounding stimuli. I feel the assessment to be made on this topic is obtained by examining qualitative differences. Studies have shown that differences in the cognitive abilities of humans vs animals has less to do with the size of our brains but rather the actual number of neurons humans vs animals develop and accordingly, the location in the brain they are located. Although this may seen a quantitative result, numbers alone do not substantiate the degree of intelligence and purpose/usefullness of the same. The most popular and classic examples of this often cited are the African elephant and primates. It is a well established fact that the African elephant has a brain on average, three times larger than a primate, including humans, yet the cognitive abilities in comparison lack far behind in elephants, astounding creatures in themselves as they may be. Sperm whales are said to have the largest brain of any animal on earth. I am unaware of any neuronal count studies done on them specifically, however I wouldn't be surprised if the results fall in line with that of the elephant. Specific cognitive abilties that animals have developed also are a kind of internal brain spatial memory and mapping system endowed by something known as the "medial pallum." IMO the behavioral abilties we deem strange in animals and insects of all kinds is each creatures' evolutionary result of the sensory world they inhabit.