Cat knows when someone is going to die: myth or truth?

By ganerationlmn 7 Min Read
Cat knows when someone is going to die myth or truth

There are many myths and legends surrounding our pussies, and this is nothing new. Cat knows when someone is going to die: myth or truth? So, let’s find out if cats know when someone is going to die or if it’s just another myth about pets.

Associated with gods and witches, felines have had days of glory and demerit. In Ancient Egypt, cats were respected and venerated by deities for the great work they did in hunting the rats that consumed the people’s grains.

In the Middle Ages, cats were persecuted and killed alongside witches for representing evil and being associated with sorcery. The persecution was the effort of the belief of the time to end pagan values, in this case, Egyptian values.

Can pets predict death?

Beliefs aside, what is currently known is that felines have great sensitivity, which goes beyond their survival instincts. Therefore, many people wonder if the cat knows when someone is going to die.

The answer to that question is yes, the cat knows when someone is going to die. However, this has nothing to do with any magical power or supernatural power of felines, but rather with their super-acute sense of smell!

The story of Oscar the cat

Oscar was a kitten who lived at a rehabilitation center for the elderly in Rhode Island, in the United States. In 2023, doctor David Rosa wrote a book about this pet and stated that Oscar had a gift: the cat predicts death.

According to Dr Rosa, Oscar managed to predict the death of 50 elderly people at this rehabilitation center. They were patients that no one expected would die, and some were not the cat’s favorite residents.

A report about Oscar published in the New York Times described what he did when he realized that the elderly man was going to die: he would go into the room, lie down next to him, and start purring.

Neither the doctor who wrote the book nor the newspaper report explained how Oscar the cat was capable of this feat. However, some studies can explain this ability of the cat.

Oscar had lived at the rehabilitation center since he was a puppy. By seeing patients pass away, he learned to identify the signs — especially the smells — of those who were at that stage. Therefore, the cat senses when the owner is going to die in this way too.

The sense of smell of felines

The smell is the most acute sense of cats. Babies are born knowing how to locate their mother by smell. In addition to having a large olfactory area in the brain, they have an auxiliary organ called the Vomeronasal.

Have you ever seen a kitten sniffing something insistently with its mouth half open? Then! It is him using the Vomeronasal organ to better “understand” the odor he has captured.

This is how we explain if the cat knows when someone is going to die. Both Oscar and the other kittens can smell odors that humans exude when they approach the moment of death.

All living beings exhale these smells when they are dying due to physiological changes that occur in their organisms. Therefore, the cat’s (and other animals’) sense of smell can detect these odors and “predict” death.

What else can cats sense and anticipate?

Cats and many other animals have keen senses and can instinctively sense changes in temperature, air humidity, and changes prior to environmental disasters, for example.


Many animals are able to sense that an earthquake is about to happen. In the wild, they flee to higher and more distant lands. In domestic life, many owners report that animals become agitated and anxious before earthquakes.

One explanation for this is that animals can feel small vibrations that precede the larger tremors of earthquakes. It’s just not known whether they feel it through their paws or through their vibrissae and ears.


Dogs are well known and are even trained to recognize epileptic seizures in their owners, but cats also have this ability. They become agitated moments before the attack and try to get their owners’ attention.


Just as with the body odors of someone who is about to die, sick people exude smells that can be perceived by the cat. Some owners report that they discovered a disease in a certain organ because of their cat, which always lay on top of that area.

Tutor’s mood states

Cats can tell if their owner is happy, sad, angry, or depressed. In general, when your human is happy, your cat will invite you to play or have fun together.

However, if the owner is not very well, worried about something at work, or sad about the loss of a friend, the kitten will most likely lie down next to him and show that he is there with him in this difficult time.

Does the cat predict its own death?

Some people believe that the cat knows when it is going to die because it disappears. This is an old belief so that children do not suffer so much from the loss of the animal. Possibly, this legend began when cats with free access to the street died and never returned home.

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