We all have heard the amazing stories: a dog who can sense when an epileptic seizure is about to take place, some disturbance in the electromagentic field or something that alerts the dog to an impending event.
Or maybe those pets who sensed an earthquake or tsunami was bearing down, and ran for higher ground long before the people figured out what was coming.
Or Oscar the cat, the gentle hospice feline who had a way of knowing when a person was about to pass on, and always managed to find his way to them to snuggle in their last hours.
Animals know things we don’t, and it bugs us as humans when we can’t figure out how they do it. So we wonder, and study them, and doubt their abilities, but at the end of the day all we can do is marvel at the amazing gifts they possess.
Granted, some skills, some sixth senses, are more useful than others. Take Apollo, for instance.
He’s fairly aloof, at least with strangers. Give him a day or so and you guys will be best friends, but at first he prefers to study strangers from the relative safety of the laundry room, where he can quickly escape to the garage if you turn out to be worrisome.
There are, however, a few exceptions to the rule. If you are one of the following types of people he will immediately single you out for his undivided attention and love:
1. Deathly afraid of cat people. From day one Apollo could not get enough of my sister, a woman who has had issues with cats ever since a troubling childhood encounter with a particularly malevolent calico. He jumps on her chest, drools on her arms, and if she forgets to put him away at night, sleeps on her face.
2. Allergic people. If you are allergic to cats, Apollo will without fail implore you to explore hygiene hypothesis through flooding you with all the dandery goodness he can rub on you. His method of attack is to approach immediately and from behind.
Perhaps he senses reticence and fear, in the first case fear of physical attack, and the latter fear of a nasty immune response. I like to think maybe he is simply trying to be reassuring- See? I’m a nice cat! No need to worry! rubrubrub – which is all very nice and all until someone stops breathing.
We had some friends over yesterday, and it happened like clockwork. A new mother bouncing her adorable 6 month old on her lap. Apollo, rising from his spot on the couch and instead of beelining for the laundry room, immediately tries to climb on her lap. I see her freeze.
“Is that OK?” I ask, not sure if she’s concerned for the baby, the fur, or her life.
“Oh, I’m just…” sniffle “….allergic. He’s very sweet, I just….” sniffle….
“Say no more,” I said, scooping him up and bringing him off to the spare room for a quiet solo evening.
If a dog can sniff out colon cancer, I can’t see why a cat can’t sense allergies, or fear, or who knows what else. Anyone else have a pet with a peculiar sixth sense?
Lisa W says
Love the photo!
Peggy @Peggy's Pet Place says
It makes sense to me!
Hanna at Dog Products says
It’s interesting that you attribute that “special something” that animals have to a sixth sense. I, however, attribute it to an empathy that is by far more powerful than that of humans.
My little Shih Tzu boy, for instance, senses irregularity in my breathing even from across the room and even before I become aware of it. He then runs over and yelps until I grab a hold of the inhaler that would prevent my next asthma attack. How does he do it? Empathy and continually remaining tuned in although it really doesn’t seem like he is.
Another example of this is when one day last week I was feeling really sick and was just unable to walk my 2 Shih Tzus who needed to relieve themselves. The poor little things held it in until the next morning and never complained ones because they apparently understood that I was too ill.
Animals are the perpetual heroes of my life!
My 20-lb. cat always picks the person who is allergic, without fail. He’s sweet and everything, but won’t pay too much attention to new people unless they can’t pet him. He makes himself at home on a new lap and stares, daring them to pet. (He also thinks kneading their lap with his giant claws will induce some love, but he usually gets put on the floor for that.)
I had a beagle growing up, her name was Angel. At age 10 my family and I moved to a new town and I had to go to a new school, shortly after I started having seizures. Angel always knew a few minutes before I was about to have one. If I wasn’t in the same room as my mom, Angel would crawl into my moms lap or sit by her side. And if I came into whatever room my mom was in Angel would bark frantically at me which was really strange for her to do. I stopped having them after a few years but I’ll never forget how helpful she was.
My yellow lab, Jade, doesn’t appear to be able to sense health issues, but whenever I have people over for a visit, she immediately sits on the feet of the least dog-friendly people in the room. It’s like she’s saying, “You’re not going anywhere until you learn to love me.”
By the way, I love caption on the photo!
One of my cats knows when I have cramps. She ignores me the rest of the month (She’s really my hub’s cat), but during that time, she will come and lay on my belly and purr. A nice vibrating heat pad!
Nice! I wish I had one of those, it sounds like heaven! lol.
Cats can be SO perverse! I think this is their favorite party trick – finding the one person in the room who CANNOT or does NOT want to cuddle them. This on the same day when YOU can’t get them to sit in your lap to save your soul!! Great post!
I’ve read that non-cat people will avoid eye contact, and even subtly position their bodies away from the cat, which signals to said cat that such people are less threatening, and therefore safe. And non-cat people also have no scent on their clothes, thereby perfect for marking. Whereas us cat people are all, “what a pretty kitty!”, tapping our fingers on the floor, and trying desperately to get the cat to look at us. Which signals to the cat, “Weirdo ahead! Prepare to be manhandled!”
Of course, this isn’t nearly as fun and doesn’t explain Apollo’s sneak attacks from behind.
Really non-cat people should just realize resistance is futile, and be absorbed into the CatBorg.
HA! love the shot!! I have seen that cat drawn to “allergic” people time after time…. particularly in my own life 🙂 but my cat allergies have decreased a little but I have seen my cat be drawn to other “not cat people” time after time…. too funny….
PS: and since I am too damn lazy to go back a day on the posts, I will say it here. LOVE the Barbie posts; you would be awesome to work for….recognizing the hard work of all those involved even if they don’t have fancy-schmancy letters after their name 🙂 and my little girl has one of those Barbies…. seriously, what is up with all the joints….
We had a cat that always new when a non cat person was in the house and he made a beeline straight to them and up to their lap. I never failed my great aunt was so afraid of cats she hated coming to our house, but after 2-3 times of Soxie jumping into her lap for some one on one time she came around and decided cats weren’t so bad. Even decided to get one for herself.
We have a 15 month old golden retriever. She’s made of the same stuff as your Apollo. There could be 100 people in our off-leash park (Cherry Beach in Toronto! yay!) but she’ll zone in and jump on the SINGLE INDIVIDUAL who wandered in without realizing it’s a dog park, the one who put on their clean white pants that morning, the one who was dragged out by a dog owning friend …..
And yes I meant to add – GREAT photo!
the only thing my cat, scully, can sense is when i’m going to open a can of tuna. but i love her anyway.
Shelley @ Green Eggs and Hamlet says
I think Hamlet, like most dogs in general, can sense which humans are suckers for giving him undivided attention. He also has an uncanny ability to sneak in French kisses on unsuspecting victims. It plays out like this: new person leans down to get to Ham’s level, is talking to him and telling him how friendly he is, and Hamlet jumps up to expertly stick his tongue in their open mouth. Gets them every time, even though I try to warn people.
describes my cats EXACTLY! love the photo & caption 🙂
oh, and I’m stealing the photo for my FB profile … I’ll credit you 🙂