Do Cats Sense Death?

We all have a certain degree of intuition and much like us, animals too share this spiritual ability. The simplest way to describe intuition is having the sense of something happening or that something is going to happen. Many people in relationships with cheating spouses actually can sense when their significant other is cheating, and 9 times of out 10, they are right. As for cats, more and more people are starting to believe they can sense death on a human. So, is this even possible?

Oscar’s Skill

In 2007, the New England Journal of Medicine wrote a story about a cat named Oscar. He was adopted and taken into a nursing and rehabilitation center. He was allowed to freely roam the halls and go in and out of rooms where patients were resting. Something Oscar began doing caught the attention of staff and quickly raise eyebrows. 

You see, when a person was close to death, Oscar would lay on their bed. When staff members would try to take him from the room, he would become very upset and even meow outside the door. At the time, he had predicted at least 25 deaths of patients. What was shocking is that the patients died only hours after he took to their bedside.

You can read more about him and the experiences of the doctors and nurses around him in his book “Making Rounds with Oscar: The Extraordinary Gift of an Ordinary Cat“.

All About the Senses

Feline experts have said that cats have the ability to sense when a person’s organs begin shutting down, and therefore, can sense when a person is nearing death. Oscar is not alone. Several other animals have been in the news and all over online for not only sensing death, but fires, storms, and danger. There are even dogs who are trained to sense when a person is about 40 minutes away from having a seizure.

The short answer is yes, cats can sense death on people. Not all will react in a manner to alert others around them, however. They are not pack animals like dogs, so the sudden alarm to alert other “members” of sickness or death is not common with felines.

Spiritual Adaption

Beyond death, a cat who is introduced into a home where a person is still mourning a loss of a previous cat can actually pick up the past cat’s characteristics. This is especially the case with kittens. They will cry for the same things, play the same way, enjoy the same toys, and even interact with their owner the same way the previous cat did. This phenomenon is still yet to be explained.

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30 thoughts on “Do Cats Sense Death?”

    • Thanks for your comment Alexandra. There is no way of me being able to tell you that as not all cats react the same or at all. This is similar to a cat sensing pressure changes in the air to alert them a storm is coming. Some cats will act different in response to this, others won’t.

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  1. I had a very strange thing happen tonight, I’m not a well man and sitting on the couch at home, my cat walks in and sits in front of me wide eyed and crying out as if he’d seen a ghost, it look me a good couple of hours to settle him down, he’s also been sleeping beside me in bed lately purring he’s little heart out which is odd because I’m a restless sleeper, anyone got any idea why his acting this way?

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    • Thanks for your comment Sean. It sounds like your kitty knows your body is not doing too well and he wants to comfort you. It is not unheard of. This is similar to a cat knowing when his/her female owner is pregnant and gets very close and protective of her. They sense things we would not expect them to.

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  2. I LOVE CATS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! their LIFE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! also do cats eat chocolate do they eat fruits

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  3. My cat and I just went thru the death of my husband/her “Daddy”. (What we called him. He actually saved her from death when we got her!) Well, she DEFINITELY knew something was wrong w/ me crying all the time, and why wasn’t Daddy coming home from “That Place”?!? (The hospital – she knew the smells on my hands after all these years.) She would FIGHT to get into the hall so she could find Daddy on the porch, out the back door, to see if he was there, etc. She’s 15 and been an indoor cat all her life – we finally realized what her puzzling behavior might mean.

    I still had medical supplies that belonged to his home nurses. He had one who was his main nurse, Rebecca. Rebecca always brought a couple small treats for Baby. Well, Rebecca came to pick up the items, faithfully gave Baby her treat, but hey… Something’s missing… Daddy! Not one minute further did she fight to see where Daddy was, she laid all that day on my bed with the saddest eyes I had ever seen and since then has retreated to her bed, for the most part. She still eats and drinks, poops properly and in her box, etc., but she no longer…What? Laughs? Smiles? I don’t know. If I’m crying, she’ll lay up next to me until I fall asleep, (I guess) and I try to make sure I talk to her eye-to-eye, pet her, whatever she wants, but for both of us life is just bleck. I don’t think I’m just seeing her thru my POV, she’s NEVER slept this much! She realized, the day Rebecca came and Daddy wasn’t here, that he had gone somewhere, never to return.

    Cats, apparently, can figure it out after the fact, as well. She’s lucky, she’ll see him over the Rainbow Bridge looong before I do. *sigh* ?

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    • “Baby” went over the Bridge to see Daddy on Saturday Oct 27th 2018. She died of both kidney failure and an obstructed/collapsed lung – same EXACT thing that my husband died of! The vet said that was actually pretty common for aged pets to die shortly after their humans die and with the same issues. She had been to see the vet regularly, so we didn’t think there were any serious issues then, so they didn’t think I had “let her go” or whatever. No recriminations. But now it’s soooo silent and so lonely…*sigh*

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      • you could connect with a medium, so that you can connect with your husband and Baby through the veils. so that they can communicate with you. this could be a real booster for you.

  4. Just recently my husbands cat has been closer to me more then ever. We did just recently get a dog a Chihuahua. But his cat is always on me now. Especially at bedtime. Hes never been this way before. Please help I’m frraking out

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  5. Not sure if thus is the right place to ask. Anyway, my cat sits at the bathroom door and meows so I let her in. I watch her from a distance she looks around then plays with the toilet paper before going out into the other room where she hides under the bed. I can’t get her out. I try to it takes a while. Everyday as she’s outside most times she meows until I let her in. She the sits on my lap and purs before taking a nap. I’m not sure what’s wrong but I do know she’s acting very strange. It’s not her nature to be like this. She even will hiss at me.

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    • Thanks for your comment Irene. This can be due to many factors. Most people overlook small changes in their lives that can greatly impact a cat’s behavior. Have you been around any new animals or new people? Did someone recently move in or out of your home? You mentioned she goes outside, there could be a good chance a cat may be bullying her outdoors or someone got a new dog near you and she is not fond of it. If you notice any health changes with her, it would be best if she gets taken in to see a vet. Things like lack of appetite, litter box habits changing, or sleeping more.

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  6. Question my stepdad have many health issues hole in the heart lung disease breathing problems and we have 3 cats the one that is closest to him have been acting different this year. However my stepdad breathing have slowly gotten worse.

    The first thing I noticed was when he literally rushed his food down, the second he hissed at one of his brothers and now he meows a lot and he ain’t one to meow like that.

    After reading your article I was wondering if any of this relates to the article

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    • Thanks for your comment Ossie. It is hard to say without knowing your cats personally but they may be sensing things are wrong with your stepdad. If they are older cats, behavior can change as they age as well. Some cats become more territorial with age. Usually, regarding humans who are ill or dying, cats who are close to said human or cats who love companionship with all humans will be more affectionate and clingy. This is based on what I have read, what people have said, and videos online. Not all cats will react, some don’t react at all to illness or death. I wish I could be of more help.

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  7. I found out recently that I had liver cancer and I am in the process of doing embolisation and ablation treatments I got a cat before this started and now that I’m going through treatments he’s laying on top of me which he never did before he’s laying really close to me cuddling me all the time I’m a little nervous. I hope it’s just that he loves me

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    • Thanks for your comment Patti. The scientific side of cats sensing death has a lot to do with the actual scents we give off. When your body is going through a lot of physical stress, your odor can and often will change. These changes are not typically noticed by people but cats, as well as other animals who have a higher sense of smell, will notice them. There is also the emotional aspect here as well. He may simply sense you need comfort and he wants to give that to you. Purrs are said to be healing to the body, be sure to cuddle him back. I am sorry this is something you have to go through and I wish you the best in your treatment.

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  8. My aunt has 2 cats one (fluffy)has not gone to close in over a year since my aunt had her stroke in oct 2016 today fluffy is sitting on her lap just laying there. This scares me is she sending something we do not know . I know they have a sixth sense or something like that I hope she is not sending her death

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    • Thanks for your comment Tina. It is hard to say what Fluffy may be feeling but she wants to be close to your aunt for a reason. Is she in pain (your aunt)? Fluffy may be sensing that. Cats are very strange with how they react to our physical and emotional pains and stress. Not every cat will act the same or react at all.

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  9. I came home from passing out at work. My school nurse said my blood sugar dropped because of not enough fluid of food.. I was very dizzy and cold. She called for someone to drive me home if I promised to ear and drink water, after giving me juice and chocolate and getting my blood pressure up otherwise I would need to go yo the ER. I came home and Tails,my cat, laid on my legs purring and warming me. She kept coming to my face, just looking at me with her eyes widen,over and over. She has in my ways taken on the charaticis of my missed dog of 14 years. I find it comforting and scarey. She is a very finicky cat biting me and running. A lady said she is making me her own. She is still with me and won’t leave while I am trying to feel better. Please forgive my typos, I am trying to write this without seeing well. I am positive animals do since their most loved owners illness, both my cat and dog have. Maybe because they are wondering who will love/feed them, lol.♡

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    • Thanks for sharing Debbie! Cats are used to sense blood sugar drops as well as seizures (before they happen) in humans now so this does not surprise me.

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  10. My Dad and his wifed moved into a new house about 6 months before ge passed away from liver disease. At the end my dad was at the final stage nearing his death. A neighbors cat who does not jang at the house was showing up and sitting at the glass storm door at the front of the house near where my dad was in the den. Now 2 years later my stepmoms mother moved in with her for her final stage of dimentia. Again the neighbors cat who does not hang around the house showed up yesterday of this writting. The next day she passed away in her sleep, with the cat sire enough near by.

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    • Thanks for sharing Shane! It would appear this cat was indeed sensing the passing of both your father and your step-mom’s mother.

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  11. I have a cat and she delivered two kittens 3 months back.Both were healthy and nourished and one kitten was grew distuinshibly bigger than the other one after 2 months.

    Recently the bigger one got bitten by a dog and got deeply wounded.It’s abdominal organs were consolidated to a lump and could feel it was hard when touched.The day when it got bitten, we gave first aid and dressed her wounds and she could walk around ,climb the stairs and took a lot of rest.Next day we took her to a veteran and gave her a dose of vaccine and antibiotic.We gave the antibiotic as prescribed and let her rest.She was feeble than previous day.She couldnt walk properly ,we though may be due to the pain of injection.She will lay down on floor about 10 mins and then will take two steps forward very slowly and will lay down again.The whole day she repeated this.

    Meanwhile the mama cat will come near to her intermittently and will sniff around and go away.Mama kitten fed milk to the other kitten but not to the injured one. Also the sibling cat would sniffle when she was near the injured one.We were quite saddened by the reaction of mom and sibling cats and they were also seemed so not happy,May be was caught with a shock on the dogs attack – we assumed they might have a witnessed the incident.All of a sudden she was alone.

    We let her rest and on the next morning I found her not being able even to stand.She will fall to her side when tried to stand on her feet.We tried to feed her milk and medicine.She was struggling to consume it..Seemed painful to swallow.We wrapped her as it was very cold and then let her sleep and 2-3 hours later we realised she had gave up the battle.

    It was terrible and we still find hard to get over with it.
    After she died I reminded the incidents of last two days and my attention was caught on the reaction of the mommy’s cat and sister cat.Did they know that her mother/sister is not gonna leave on the very first day of injury??Still a mystery..

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  12. Hi i completely agree with the above comment of cats sensing death.
    My mum has been unwell for 18 months with real critical moments where we thought she would pass away.
    My cat only started behaving very strangely 1 week before her death. She would not leave my sight sit close to me which was very unsual for her character.

    I thought nothing of it but my daughter picked this point and comented on her. A week later she passed away and my cat is back to her normal self.
    I was surprised at this myself

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  13. My mother was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. She made the trip to Boston where I live with my 5 cats ( I have a huge house ) and since she has been here my cats have barely left her side. Even my very finicky female siamese. I have been in awww by their behavior. I feel they can sense she is dying.

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  14. hi my name is Joe I’m calling on behalf of my cat Jakey .marry my girlfriend and Jakey are close.he began following her all over the place for a few days everywhere she went sleeping with her was normal. he would sit and watch are in the kitchen he would sit and watch her in the living room. she was just diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.he is not a follower he’s 14 years old loves his rest. he continues to follow her and look at me when she’s not here. my girlfriend is in surgery as we speak removing her breast please send your prayers thank you.. Joe Callahan

    Reply
    • Thank you for your comment and I am sorry to hear about your girlfriend. Cats will sense when something isn’t right and he was likely comforting her. He likely sensed she has fears about her surgery. Believe that God is with her and by her side the whole time of surgery, and every day from this forward. Don’t let anyone make you believe otherwise. God is always there for us, we just have to believe Him. He also has offered healing to everyone as part of Christ’s debt which was paid on the cross. We have been granted the gift of salvation, health, and prosperity. Keep faith and encourage her to seek God each day. He will comfort you both through this hard time. Keep the faith.

      As for your kitty, be sure to reward him with lots of love as he was trying to comfort her and make her feel better.

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