Can pets sense illness? – BBC News Magazine

Can pets sense illness? 
BBC News Magazine

A cat has apparently “predicted” the deaths of 25 residents in a nursing home in the US. It seems fanciful but can pets detect illness or even death?

Oscar in the nursing home

Oscar displayed sudden affection for dying residents

The residents of Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre in Rhode Island would be forgiven for getting a little anxious if Oscar was to curl up next to them.Not generally friendly to patients, this show of affection has been used to warn families that their loved one has not long to go.

Sounds far-fetched? Animal behaviour experts in the US say Oscar is probably smelling a chemical given off by the body. 

And Jacqueline Pritchard, an expert in animal behaviour in the UK, agrees the explanation is biochemical, rather than psychic.  

 [Read more]



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  • Clyde Duncan  On 02/08/2015 at 5:42 am

    I am not an animal lover, by any means, but I stayed a couple weeks at a friend’s home in Melbourne, Australia. They had a dog, but the animal left me alone and practically stayed away from me until the last day. I woke up in the morning to find the dog sniffing my luggage, shoes, etc.. I just stayed in the bed and watched her – I told my friends about my observation and they laughed and said, “You smelling death?” – I never heard the expression before, and I don’t remember if I laughed …. that was in 1982. I suppose animals could tell when you are leaving, in general. But then, again, I believe that is a form of unexplained ability to communicate that we humans lost. I read some where that while the loaded train was on its way to Auschwitz, one woman was reported to be screaming ‘the smoke – the smoke’ and everyone thought that she was crazy.

  • Thinker  On 02/08/2015 at 7:43 am
    Seems so

  • Ron. Persaud  On 02/08/2015 at 1:12 pm

    Little children and animals appear to sense our “emotional status”. I knew a couple whose (sick) 3 year old son would get very upset whenever his mom had to take him to ‘see the doctor’. But his dad could do so – uneventfully.
    The doctor himself explained that the mom was probably stressed out at being reminded of her child’s illness; and the child sensed her agitation and he himself reacted. Dad had a very sanguine disposition most of the time.
    I had a pet dog who could sense my mood and would be quiet or rambunctious.
    He was never wrong.

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