Can cats see ghosts? Are they more aware of “the unexplained” than we are? When your kitty is meowing at the ceiling at 3 a.m. is she seeing something or someone you cannot?
I’ve always wondered if the cats in my life have really had some sort of extra sensory perception, or if I’ve just really wanted them to. Every cat I’ve shared a home with has had some weird behavior that my ectoplasm-addled brain chalks up to no, not leaky pipes, but a turn-of-the-century little she-ghost I’m convinced is living in my apartment with me, and really wants me and my cat to acknowledge her presence so she can point us to her bones and stop keeping me awake at night by talking to my cat.
You know, that stuff.
But while my “cats as ghost hunters” experiences have probably been the projection of my own neurotic mind, my mom swears that she has experienced firsthand how cats can see things human eyes can’t (or won’t) see.
I should say that while my mom is the Keeper of All Things Macabre in my family — from ghost stories to “haunted clocks” passed down for generations — she is remarkably clearheaded about such things. She does not scare easy and is the first person to say, “Broken air conditioner!” when her daughter cries, “COLD SPOT!” My mom believes that ghosts and the paranormal exist, but mostly she believes in explanations.
Except when there aren’t any.
My mom has one story she just cannot fully explain, try as she might. Her only witness was a cat, but as my mom likes to say, “Cats don’t lie.”
No it wasn’t; I just wanted to say that.
It was actually a hot and balmy night. My family and I were spending the last night in our house in Seattle before moving to Dallas, Texas. My dad was starting a new job in Dallas, a job that we all had big hopes for.
Stress was high, money was tight, and my mom was starting to come undone. My dad was back and forth between Dallas and Seattle right before the move, so most of the packing and preparation was left to my mom. Aside from packing, she had the unenviable task of moving a hormonal, cranky preteen and a menagerie of animals.
That night we all slept in the living room of our house. My mom, Mew and Sam our cats, Misty our dog, Bright Eyes our rabbit, and me. I think my dad was meeting us in the morning. I remember falling asleep with Misty and Mew around 11 p.m., while my poor mom continued to putter around the house doing last-minute cleaning and packing with Sam as her shadow.
As she tells it, around 3 a.m. she started to feel really sick. She sat down on the floor to stop her head from spinning, and Sam flopped down beside her.
Then she passed out. My mom describes that heavy-headed, “black spots taking over” sensation, then feeling her head hit her sleeping bag. Right before my mom lost consciousness she said she felt “so scared, and so worried,” it was like the world was imploding. I suspect she had a panic attack.
But then the heaviness was replaced with lightness. She felt like she was floating. Mom said she opened her eyes and she was looking at the ceiling. That is, she was a few inches from the ceiling.
Mom said she looked down and saw the living room. Me asleep with Misty and Mew; Bright Eyes snoozing in his cage; the various suitcases, sleeping bags, and pillows that made up our makeshift bedroom; herself lying in a heap on the floor; and Sam — staring at her.
Mom says she thought it was all a dream until she saw Sam. Sam, our giant silver tabby, the coolest character in our little four-legged family, was turning in frantic circles, eyes locked on my mom. He yowled at her, and something in his voice and in his eyes felt very real to her.
Yet my mom says she did not feel fear. She felt what can only be described as an absence of fear. “I knew everything was going to be okay,” she says.
So mom floated around the house. Sam meowing at her and following her the whole time. She went through the living room, passed the front entry way, and into the dining room where the dining table still sat waiting for movers in the morning.
As she drifted above the dining table, feeling happy and languid, Sam hopped up on it and followed her across the room. She noticed that he knocked over a pile of mail sitting on the edge of the table.
Finally, my mom says, she just started to feel heavy again. She’s unclear how she got there, but she found herself blinking her eyes open and lying on the floor. Sam was chatting up a storm, walking back and forth across her stomach as if asking, “MOM! Say something! Are you okay?”
As she got her bearings she wondered what had just happened. Was it a dream? A hallucination? Did she actually have an out-of-body experience?
She looked at the clock and deduced that she’d been out for between 15 and 20 minutes. In that time nobody else had stirred. The only evidence of her “experience” was the feeling of calm that now enveloped her tired body and Sam taking every opportunity he could to get up in her face as if to say, “You all there? Are we good? Are you good? Are you? Are you?”
Mom woke up at dawn the next morning. Despite having gotten only a couple hours of sleep, she felt surprisingly refreshed. Taking advantage of the quiet, she decided to gather up the last pieces of our lives before everyone woke up and cat, dog, rabbit, and human children would join in a chorus of, “I’m hungry!”
Tiptoeing into the dining room, my mom spied some mail that had fallen off the dining table. As she bent to pick it up, she suddenly remembered how it got there. At least, how she remembered it getting there.
Had Sam actually followed her — uh, spirit? — into the dining room and knocked over the mail? Had she just imagined this? Had she somehow, pre-blackout, seen Sam knock over the mail, her exhausted brain turning that incident into a very vivid dream? Could Sam have been freaked out because my mom was in real medical danger?
Whatever happened, my mom felt a chill creep up her spine. “I really thought I might be losing my mind,” she admits now.
Strange events aside, our move to Dallas was a success. All humans and animals made it there safe and sound, and Sam lived on with my mom until his 21st year. My mom never did quite figure out what happened that night. Sam took the truth to his grave.
Now and then my mom likes to bring this experience up, and we turn over all the logical explanations for what could have really happened. And while many of said “logical explanations” make a lot of sense, nothing is quite as satisfying as the sliver of a chance that Sam witnessed something really unexplainable.
After all, something spooked Sam that night; SOMETHING out of the ordinary happened. And like my mom says, “Cat’s don’t lie.”
Does your cat have an “imaginary” friend? Have you ever had any spooky experiences with your cat? Does your cat see dead people? Tell us in the comments!
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