Know special powers of your feline: Did you know cats helped researchers predict earthquakes? - Firstpost
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Know special powers of your feline: Did you know cats helped researchers predict earthquakes?

I have 22 dogs in my house, all of whom have been rescued. But deep down inside, I am really a cat person. I would be happy if I could keep 22 or more cats as well. This reminds me of the movie Pretty Woman where Richard Gere asks Julia Roberts, "What happens after the knight rescues the lady?" and she answers "She rescues him right back.” Cats are like that. They refuse to be passively thankful, are independent and have an attitude that will make you think who actually "owns" whom!

I just finished reading Richard Webster's collection of anecdotes – Is your Pet Psychic?. A particular chapter on cats describes their senses and agility. Did you know that the field of vision of each eye slightly overlaps the other, like binoculars, allowing them to hone in with incredible accuracy on their prey? That their hair also acts as a sensory organ? That their ears can move 180 degrees to focus on the direction of the sound without turning their heads and they contain semi-circular canals that provide them with an unerring sense of balance?

However, the book is not about physical attributes but about the sixth sense of animals. The Egyptians, who revered the cat, called it Mau. This name is not based on Meow but means "seer"- one with the ability to see what we cannot, including the future. There are hundreds of recorded instances where cats have raced out of houses frantically, hours, even days, before an earthquake.

One Second World War incident, related by the Vicar of St Augustine's Church in London, is about his cat called Faith and her kitten. They disappeared and were found in a small niche, three floors below the ground level and the Vicar carried them back to his room. This happened four times. The cats went back. Three days later, the place was bombed and burned to the ground. The cat and her kitten kept meowing till they were found safely tucked into the niche.

Every family from that time has a story about cats who ran to bomb shelters long before the planes arrived. Hundreds of people who simply followed them were saved

The author Richard Webster has his own story: every year their parents rented a vacation home from a woman who would leave her cat with them for three weeks. Every year the cat disappeared as soon as the owner left and did not reappear till one hour before the woman was to return! In another instance, their cat Ting, who had never been interested in the phone until the author's sister, her caretaker, went to the hospital. Whenever she would call from the hospital, the family knew it was her because even before the phone rang Ting had already reached the instrument.

One special power of the cats is their ability to know when their owner will call before anyone picks up the call. Scientist Rupert Sheldrake, one of the experts in the research into the unexplained powers of animals, including cats says,"We found several times where cats anticipate telephone calls from their owners. They get excited if the phone rings and their owner is on the phone, but they ignore phone calls from anyone else, and this happens when their owners call from a great distance or at unpredictable times." Also, like dogs, cats miraculously appear at the gate or doorstep the moment you arrive home from work, no matter what time it is and which car you arrive in.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Repeated experiments were tried with a cat whose favourite food was cheese and who knew if cheese was in the fridge, even if many other strong smelling food were put there. The owner only had to think about cheese and the cat would jump up onto her lap. Instead of calling him, she just thought about a great big piece of cheese and the cat would arrive.

Sheldrake's theory, on how animals have these powers, is called Morphic Fields. "Morphic fields are involved in self-organising systems which include cells, animals, and groups of organisms. When the owner and the pet form a bond there is a field that connects them," said Sheldrake. He says, the fact that we see schools of fish or flocks of birds turning in the same direction simultaneously is evidence that these morphic fields exist. Sheldrake believes these fields connect living things, whether of the same species or different species, which have close connections to one another across distances, whether large or small.

Jim Berkland, a geologist working for the last 30 years in California, observes the behaviour of cats and dogs as a method to predict earthquakes. His work is chronicled in the book, The Man Who Predicts Earthquakes, by Cal Orey. For thousands of years, people in China had been successfully predicting earthquakes based on the behaviour of animals before quakes. Jim's first prediction involving cats occurred in 1980 where he observed the number of lost cats advertisements listed in local newspapers.

"On 7 November  in 1980, there were 14 missing cat ads, the most of the whole year. There are usually 3 or 4 missing cat ads," Jim said. Based on that and other factors, Jim predicted a 7.4 earthquake in the next few days. Within days there was a 7.4 earthquake in Eureka, California. Since then, Berkland has successfully predicted over 25 earthquakes based on missing cat and dog ads. Jim's most famous prediction came in 1989 when he predicted the famous "World Series" earthquake in San Francisco. Missing cat ads were at a record 27. On 17 October, four days after he called the papers with his prediction, the most deadly earthquake since 1906 hit the San Francisco area.

How are cats able to detect these earthquakes?

Animals can detect the change in the earth's magnetic field. When they sense something is about to happen, many cats and dogs flee

In 1998, Jeane Dixon – America's most famous astrologer – wrote a book called Do Cats have ESP. She described the findings of scientists at the parapsychology laboratory of Duke University, which have repeatedly confirmed that cats have psychic abilities.

In the Middle Ages, the prescience of the cat was so widely recognised that people began to believe that they were witches. In 1484, Pope Innocent VII ordered millions of cats to be tortured and killed. On the other side of the world, Chinese Emperor Khai-Hwang ordered anyone involved with cats to be banished to the ends of his empire. We are all aware of the superstition of black cats crossing your path – we still believe that the black cat knows what is going to befall you that day and is warning you.

What has saved cats has been their mortal enemies, rats. As the rats spread, cats and their practical witchcraft were needed again and they were brought back into society as working animals and from there they magicked their way back into people's hearts and laps!

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