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Can Cats Sense Danger – Facts & Myths Explained!

There are many beliefs about cats in many parts of the globe. Some cat owners believe that cats can sense danger before it happens. While some people believe that black cats are evil, some hold the view that a cat shouldn’t share a room with a baby. Regardless of the position you hold about these beliefs, without a doubt, we all know cats to be amazing creatures. As a cat owner, you may wonder at times — can cats sense danger?

Yes, cats can sense danger. Cats can sense perceived danger and are acutely aware of potential threats. While there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that cats can sense danger, scientists remain skeptical about their ability to do it consistently.

Follow us as we explain in detail six ways cats sense danger. We will answer some frequently asked questions about different types of danger that are cat-related. We will also discuss a few things to consider about cats being able to sense danger.

6 Ways Cats Sense Danger

Whether cats can sense danger or not has generated some controversy over the years, some people are entirely sure, while others are still sitting on the fence. Let’s examine six critical ways in which cats sense danger.


Cats’ sense of sight is simply unique. They are well known for their hunting prowess, especially in the middle of the night. Have you ever witnessed a scene in which a cat is trying to hunt down a rat?

If you have ever witnessed one, you would be amazed at the vision and swiftness of cats. A cat’s vision most times depends on its lifestyle. If your feline is always staying indoors, the ability to see long distances may be limited. But the opposite is the case for outdoor cats.

They can see things a mile away. Generally, cats see better in dim lighting. In contrast to popular belief, cats can’t see better than humans in complete darkness.


Hearing is the most notable way in which cats sense danger. The hearing ability of indoor cats has been discovered to be around 48 and 85,000 Hz. Some people have labeled cats to be psychic due to their unique hearing ability.

Don’t get it wrong, cats are not psychics, but their hearing ability far outweighs that of the average human. Probably you own a cat; have you gone out and on your way coming, you met your feline right at the door waiting to welcome you home.

This scenario is not too uncommon. You may wonder how your feline knows you are coming. This boils down to their superior hearing ability.


Cats perceive odors and scents almost perfectly. They are renowned for this. Science made us understand that cats have over 200 million odor receptors. Can you imagine an average human has about 400 odor receptors?

Cats’ sense of smell is simply top-notch. They can perceive almost every scent and odor around them. Some animal scientists suggest that a cat’s ability to sense when a person would die comes from its ability to smell different chemicals secreted by the body when someone is on the verge of dying.

Cats also use their sense of smell to identify their friends and enemies. If you come in contact with a cat for the first time, he would use that sense of smell to identify you the next time you visit, no matter the cologne you’re wearing.

Ground Vibrations

Cats use their paw pads to detect ground vibrations. Have you ever attempted to make a cat lie on its back? How easy was your attempt? Cats are the kind of pets that always want their four paws on the ground.

They use these paws to sense danger or any alteration in their environment. The four paws of a cat contain some nerve endings called Pacinian corpuscles.

These nerve endings pick different frequencies of vibration. They can detect vibration frequencies between 80 and 240 Hz. Some people believe that cats can detect an earthquake right before it happens.

There might be some evidence to support this. It is not unusual for cats to start acting strangely before an earthquake. More research needs to be done to validate this claim.

Alterations To Air Pressure

Animal scientists have discovered that cats use their whiskers to detect changes in the air pressure of the environment in which they live. Cats’ whiskers are alternatively known as Vibrissae.

It must, however, be noted that whiskers in cats play no active role in achieving coordination and balance. That’s primarily the function of the inner ear. Their whiskers could be compared to a signal receiver; they get valuable information about their environment using these whiskers.

There have been some weird moments a feline would decide to hide for no apparent reason. As the owner, you might start looking for it. It has been discovered that most cats go into hiding before a storm or hurricane happens. They can discover changes to air pressure using their whiskers long before humans do.


Taste is another sense cats use to sense danger. The effectiveness of this sense in predicting danger can not be compared to other senses previously described. An average human has about 9000 taste buds compared to just 470 taste buds for cats.

Science has been able to discover that cats cannot taste something sweet. This is not entirely surprising because cats are pure carnivores. Their heightened sense of smell might have made up for a poor sense of taste.

On the flip side, cats have a superb ability to taste anything bitter. This has helped cats to protect themselves from toxins. It is not surprising because most toxins and poisons are bitter.

Can Cats Sense When Something Is Wrong

Yes, evidence has revealed that cats can sense when something is not right. One of the reasons why cats are incredibly close to their owners is their ability to understand the state of mind of those they are close to.

If you own a cat and you are sad or happy for some reason, be aware of the fact that your feline knows you are sad. We also noticed that cats tend to be more affectionate to people with emotional issues. Although there are a lot of superstitious beliefs around cats which most times are not true.

Cats’ ability to sense when something is wrong is purely based on how the cat uses its sensory organs to interpret different cues and signals. As previously mentioned, hearing and smell are two significant ways they sense danger. They can experience things such as fear, disease, depression, and so on.

Can A Cat Sense Death

Some anecdotal evidence has proven a cat can sense death. We must acknowledge the fact that conventional studies have not been done to back this up. Evidence from nursing homes around the world proves that a cat can sense death.

For instance, a cat known as the ‘dead cat’ often comes visiting a nursing home in Australia when someone aged is about to die. The most exciting thing about this is that anyone who becomes the subject of attention of this cat dies within a few hours.

You might think this example was a mere coincidence. To corroborate this example, there’s a cat that lives in a nursing home in the United States known as Oscar, the cat.

He’s fond of roaming about the facility; he would then end up staying very close to an ill patient. Like you might be thinking, the patient would also end up dying within a few hours.

This cat was able to predict the imminent deaths of about 50 people in a nursing care home in the U.S. by sitting quietly with them a few hours before they passed on.

All these points to cats’ innate ability to sense death. There have been numerous stories about cats and death around the world. Many animal experts have concluded that cats’ ability to sense death would likely be from their remarkable ability to perceive the smell emitted from those on the verge of dying.

Can Cats Sense Human Anxiety

Cats can sense human anxiety, and they also copy our moods and gestures. Several studies have been carried out to validate this.

One notable study was done in Nottingham Trent University, revealing that cats can sense when we are anxious or stressed out. It further shows that cats with anxious owners tend to be less healthy.

This is not surprising because our personalities reflect on the way we relate to our pets. If you are naturally calm by nature, there’s a high chance you would deal tenderly with your feline.

Our behaviors or personalities can either affect our felines either positively or negatively. Our felines may not truly understand our state of mind whenever they are with us.

But they are capable of reading our facial expressions. Studies have further revealed that cats can differentiate between human emotional cues. The only limitation of our furry friends is their inability to express themselves!

Can Cats Sense Natural Disasters

There are solid proofs that support the claim that cats can sense natural disasters. Cats are known to exhibit anxiety-related behaviors hours and minutes before an earthquake.

What cats perceive before a natural disaster is still somewhat controversial. There have been various unproven theories about it. The popular theory is that cats use the nerve endings (Pacinian Corpuscles) in their paws to detect abnormal ground vibrations long before we do.

Funny enough, some people have also claimed in the past to have heard silent vibrations thanks to their delicate ears. Before the outbreak of natural disasters like tsunami, volcanic eruptions, and hurricanes, there are usually subtle changes in atmospheric conditions.

There are changes in temperature, atmospheric pressure, and wind direction that might go unnoticed by humans. The majority of cats can detect these changes before the ‘outbreak’ of a natural disaster. Cats’ ability to sense natural disasters should not be attributed to magic or the supernatural.

That is how they are wired. More research needs to be done to shed light on the grey areas.

Can Cats Sense Sickness

Yes, cats can sense sickness.

Cats can sense when people that are close to them are sick. Cats live in an olfactory world. Their heightened sense of smell is almost perfect as that of a dog. This is not surprising because cats in their natural habitat are predators.

They act on the smell emitted by their prey to hunt them down. There are also theories that cats can detect the changes in the smell of chemicals that occur within the human body. When we are sick, it is not uncommon to use medications with different smells to recover. Felines may likely pick on these smells to know we are not quite well.

Cats show a wide range of emotions depending on the mood of their owners. A feline understands the basic routine of its owners. Once there is a disruption in the routine, a cat might know something is entirely wrong.

Cats tend to be very affectionate when people they’re staying with are sick. Cats and humans have tolerated each other for thousands of years. This might be one of the reasons why felines can detect when we’re sick.

Can Cats Sense Pain In Humans

It is believed that cats can sense pain in humans.

The answer to this question is subjective; some cat owners have reported that their felines feel their pain and respond to the pain. While the minority of cat owners have described their pets as “not having emotions.” Like humans, cats have different personalities.

Some are empathetic, while others don’t care. The majority of cats seem to feel the pain of their owners. According to a survey conducted by Catnip, about 80% of 700 respondents claimed that their felines could feel both physical and emotional pain.

Another factor is that cat owners are quite different. Some are more sensitive to how their cat behaves, while some other cat owners don’t care. If you are the sort of person that is sensitive to your cat’s actions when you’re in pain, there is a high chance you’ll conclude your feline can sense the pain you are going through.

Since it has been established that cats do get nervous when their owners are nervous, it is safe to assume that cats can sense pain in humans. More research needs to be done to affirm this assumption.

Can Cats Sense Fear

Cats can not sense fear in itself, but they are good at paying close attention to our body language to have an idea of our emotional state. Since smell is one of the most effective senses of a cat, they always try to perceive the scent you are producing to understand your emotions.

When we are fearful, there are some distinct language signals that we exhibit. It is also not strange to be restless when we are frightened. It is quite difficult for humans to hide their emotions; this provides leverage for cats to understand our emotions.

They add all these things together to get a clue about our state of mind. Cats can not sense fear, but they can surely understand it. If you are a person that has a phobia of cats, cats can recognize this. People that are scared of cats keep a constant eye on the current location of the feline.

It is also common to scream when they observe a cat coming near them. A feline understands these signals. A study conducted at Oakland University found out that cats display more positive actions than negative ones when their owners are relaxed and cheerful. More studies need to be done to understand how cats respond to different emotions.

Things To Consider

There seem to be a few misconceptions about cats in almost every culture. In some cultures, they revere cats to the extent of worshipping them. Some people believe cats have a sixth sense, while others believe they possess magical powers.

Do Cats Possess A Sixth Sense

There is no scientific evidence that supports the claim that cats possess the sixth sense. However, anecdotal evidence has sparked a lot of interest in whether cats possess a sixth sense.

There have been numerous reports from cancer patients undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments about their cats staying and sleeping at their sides all through the duration of their treatment.

What sparked interest is that they haven’t been doing that until that point. They also observed that when their health got better, these felines returned to their former routines.

However, there might not be solid scientific proof to support the claim that cats have a sixth sense. But we are certain that cats can read our body language almost perfectly.

Are Cats Protective

Many people have labeled cats to be aloof or non-protective. This has proved to be untrue! Cats care a lot about their owners and family. A cat-human relationship is very similar to a human-human relationship.

Cats sense danger most times before it happens. They can at times get overprotective of their owners. How do you identify an overprotective feline? These are some signs to watch out for:

● Crouched stance

● Dilated pupils

● Quick tail movements

● Biting or scratching 

● Pointed ears

The effective way to handle an overprotective cat is not to reward his aggressive behavior. At the same time, you should refrain from punishing your feline. Do everything you can not to encourage aggressive and fearful behavior.

Cats are the kind of pets that amaze us every single day with their mysterious nature. A lot of research still needs to be done to unravel the mysteries around our felines.