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Can Cats Sense Earthquakes Before Humans? What Vet-Reviewed Science Tells Us

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on February 27, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat hiding in green leaves

Can Cats Sense Earthquakes Before Humans? What Vet-Reviewed Science Tells Us


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Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Have you ever seen a video of a cat freaking out just moments before an earthquake? There are many of these videos out there, which has to mean something, right? But before you jump to any conclusions, you’ll want to read this guide.

There’s an argument for both sides, and there’s no cut-and-dry answer that everyone can agree on. So, if you want to make an informed decision about whether a cat can sense an earthquake before a human, you need to get all the facts!

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Can Cats Predict Earthquakes? What the Science Says

When it comes to cats predicting earthquakes, there’s a ton of conflicting information out there. There are studies saying that they can, with anecdotal evidence. Then there are studies saying that it’s all a bunch of malarkey and that cats certainly can’t predict an earthquake.

So, what’s the truth? The best way to form your opinion is to figure out what each side is saying and then decide!

kitten hiding
Image Credit: Madelynn woods, Unsplash

Studies for It

When it comes to the people on the side that cats can predict earthquakes, they point to a ton of anecdotal evidence. It’s not hard to find videos of cats freaking out just before an earthquake hits, and it only feels natural to draw conclusions from there.

In addition to that, there are some studies/claims that people who believe that cats can sense earthquakes point to. The first comes from a German scientist, Helmut Tributsch. He published a book claiming that cats can pick up the ions that tectonic plates rubbing together create. He theorized and published this book in 1900.

The second study comes from U.S. geologist Jim Berkland. He successfully predicted two California earthquakes simply by monitoring the number of lost pet ads in the local newspapers. When the numbers of lost pets were up, an earthquake was usually on the way.

Another ongoing study 1 in Italy seems to postulate that animals and insects may be able to sense seismic activity that precedes or accompanies an earthquake.

Studies Against It

According to the Seismological Society of America, nothing that we’ve highlighted so far matters. They claim that it’s all anecdotal evidence and that there’s no hard evidence out there that cats can predict earthquakes.

They’ve reviewed several studies of their own, and these studies do note the abnormal behavior of some cats before earthquakes. However, the amount of time before an earthquake that a cat starts acting strangely varies, as does the distance to the earthquake’s epicenter.

In fact, there’s no discernable pattern that they can pick up on. This lack of consistency and the fact that the only “clue” that a cat can pick up on an earthquake is abnormal behavior—which many cats exhibit with or without an earthquake—tells them cats don’t have any earthquake-predicting powers.

The claim is that sometimes cats act weird and sometimes earthquakes happen. With billions of people and cats, it’s only natural that sometimes these events line up. There’s nothing to it but humans drawing conclusions from two completely unrelated events!

cat hiding in the wardrobe
Image Credit: Rebecca Scerri, Shutterstock

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Final Thoughts

Whether you fall on the side that says that cats can predict earthquakes or you think that they can’t, there’s no denying that felines can be incredibly perceptive and make great companions! So, the next time your cat is acting a little strange, give them extra attention, and see if you can’t figure out what’s going on—or what’s about to happen.

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Featured Image Credit: Rock.N.Roll.Queen, Shutterstock

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