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Can animals predict death?

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Quick Answer

Animals have more refined senses than humans, and may be able to sense disaster and illness a short time before humans can, but they are not psychic. Numerous stories exist about animals sensing earthquakes and other natural disasters, cancer, and even death. Scientists think that this is due to animals’ more sophisticated senses of hearing, smell, and possibly an acute ability to detect subtle vibrations and changes in the air or in electromagnetic fields.

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Can animals predict death?
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The staff at the Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre in Rhode Island adopted a cat named Oscar and found that he had the strange gift of sensing when a patient was hours away from dying. The rarely affectionate cat would curl up next to a patient and, at least 25 times, the patient would pass away hours later. He would comfort the patient and leave their room soon after they died. Animal behavior experts believe Oscar was smelling or sensing a chemical undetectable to humans given off by the patient’s body as his or her organs shut down.

Dogs have been known to detect cancer and predict epileptic seizures. Some dogs are trained to sense seizures and alert their owner so they can prepare. Scientists believe dogs can sense disease in humans because their wolf ancestors passed on the ability to detect when one of their pack was sick.

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