by Barbara George – Tellington Ttouch Behaviourist
Cats are attuned to the magnetic field of the earth; that is partly the way some can find their way home. Their whiskers are more sensitive to changes in atmospheric pressure than many of our weather instruments. Not all cats will react to changes in the weather, unless there is a real threat to their safety.
Although there is no scientific proof that cats, or any other animal, can predict the weather, there is anecdotal evidence and folklore that shows that there is a link.
Changes in atmospheric pressure can affect the sensitive hearing of cats, making them likely to spend more time washing their ears and faces.
Before a storm, there is less humidity in the air. Cats sense the change as static on their fur; licking keeps the fur moist and under control.
Their keen sense of smell means cats can smell rain and lightning, and possibly the gasses that escape from the ground before earthquakes. They can hear thunder and wind before we can, and maybe even the first rumblings of an earthquake, and can feel electromagnetic changes in the atmosphere and tremors in the earth beneath their feet.
Cats will react in their own way, depending on the type of threat and the options their environment offers for safety. They may become agitated, pace, try to escape, howl, hide, groom frantically, or be aggressive.
For many years, sailors have used the behaviour of cats for determining the likelihood of bad weather. Farmers, and those who tend animals, understand the behaviour of all their animals, including the cats.
In 1883 H.H.C Dunwoody wrote a book, commissioned by the US Government, entitled Weather Proverbs. It includes the following about cats:
- When cats sneeze it is a sign of rain.
- The cardinal point to which a cat turns and washes her face after rain shows the directing from which the wind will blow.
- When cats are snoring, foul weather follows.
- It is a sign of rain if the cat washes her head behind her ear.
- When cats lie on their head with mouth turned up [on their back] expect a storm.
- When a cat washes her face with her back to the fire expect a thaw in winter.
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