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Home > Cats > Can My Cat Sense an Earthquake Before It Happens? Facts & FAQ

Can My Cat Sense an Earthquake Before It Happens? Facts & FAQ

scared British blue-point cat hiding under the bed
Image Credit: Zossia, Shutterstock

For decades, we have heard endless stories of pets rescuing their owners, warning them of cancerous tumors, and even being able to predict the weather. Some cat owners who live in earthquake-prone areas insist that their feline can sense the tremors hours or days before the episode.

So, are these people giving their pets too much credit, or is there some truth to these claims? While no scientific evidence exists that a cat can predict an earthquake, cat owners will beg to differ.


So, Can a Cat Sense an Earthquake Before It Happens?

While there is no scientific evidence that a cat can sense a seismic event, they most certainly do act strangely prior to one happening.

Many experts conclude that cats (and some other animals) can feel small tremors because they are sensitive to the earth’s magnetic fields.1 As a result, they know something usual is about to happen. Others believe that felines are sensitive beings, which allows them to feel tremors that humans cannot.

While there is no scientific proof that cats can predict an earthquake, an experiment conducted by Jim Berland in the late 80s and into the early 1990s revealed that there was an increase in advertisements for lost cats just prior to an earthquake.2 He concluded that the reason was that cats would flee from their homes if they sensed an event was about to occur. Although the experiment was a success, it was not repeated and, therefore, cannot be considered scientific evidence.

scared cat
Image Credit: SakSa, Shutterstock

Earthquake Behavior in Cats

If you are a cat owner and live in an area that experiences quakes, you may want to watch your feline’s strange behavior. Here are some cat behaviors that have been reported by owners before an earthquake:

  • Acting nervous
  • Excessive meowing or whining
  • Fleeing
  • Acting fearful
  • Being disoriented
scared cat
Image Credit: PDPics, Pixabay

Did Cats and Other Animals Predict the 2011 Earthquake in Japan?

Although there is no evidence to prove it, many people say that they have experienced the strange behavior exhibited by their cats prior to an earthquake.

After the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011, Hiroyuki Yamauchi conducted a survey of pet owners on the internet. He gathered information about pet demographics and any strange behaviors observed by pet owners prior to the quake.

The questionnaire had a checklist of restlessness, vocalizing, trembling, and runaways. Postal codes documented how far away the animal was from the epicenter. There were 703 cat owners and 1,259 dog owners that participated in the survey. Cat and dog owners reported that their pets exhibited restless and clingy behavior.

Researchers from Yamauchi’s study say that cats and other animals have a wider range of hearing and a better sense of smell than humans, and that may be why they can detect an earthquake and humans cannot.

While the survey offered some insight, more research would be needed to understand better how and if it is possible.


Final Thoughts

So, do you have enough trust and belief in your cat to pack up and leave your home when it exhibits strange behaviors? Because for now, there has not been enough research to scientifically prove that your cat, or any other animal, can predict an earthquake.

Featured Image Credit: Zossia, Shutterstock

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