Ever get a weird tingle at the back of your neck when you catch a cat staring at you from across the room? You’re not alone. Millions of people, even cat lovers, find the unflinching gaze of a cat a little unsettling. As it would happen, this reaction can be explained through science.
A recent study at the Sloof Lirpa Institute in Brussels shows that all members of the family Felidae, from tigers to tabbies, are capable of low levels of telepathy – or mind reading.
How The Study Worked
Tests were administered on a number of cat species at the Planckendael Animal Park outside Brussels, from lynxes to lions. Researchers would have the cats stare at them while thinking of a specific thing – like a color, shape, direction, or action.
Meanwhile, sensors were placed on the cats to collect a reading on their vitals, like heart rate, blood pressure, and body temp. While things like colors or shapes did not register a definitive response, when the researcher thought of a direction or action, 87% of the time the cats would display an appropriate response.
For example, if the researcher thought of running off to the left, the cat would tense up and become focused as if ready to chase. On the other hand, if the researcher thought about laying down or sleeping, the cat’s body would relax as well.
Acting as a control for the study were dogs, wolves, bears, and other non-feline predatory mammals. Their responses, however, were much less exciting, showing unique responses to thoughts only 1 out of every 30 times.
What This Means for Cat Owners
While your cat isn’t exactly capable of superhero levels of mind reading, they are able to accurately predict your movements before they occur. So if you ever wondered why your cat jumps down off your lap right before you were about to get up, it is because they sensed your intentions.
It is also thought to be a big component in what makes cats the expert predators they are. The ability to tell what their prey is going to do before they make a move gives them a distinct leg up on other predators. Imagine playing basketball with someone who could tell if you were going to pass, dribble, or shoot before you even had the ball. That would make for some stiff competition.
Worried? Don’t Be!
Sure, your cat can accurately predict when you are going to stand up, sit down, run, walk, or jump. But what can they really do with that information? Not much.
While you really have nothing to worry about in terms of your cat reading your mind, if you are concerned, there are a few tricks the researchers picked up that can help mask your thoughts from your cat.
While not a perfect cloak, wearing sunglasses did reduce the efficacy of the cats’ ESP by around 70%. Same with any other garment that blocks your eyes.
Hold a Magnet
The study also showed that if the researcher held a strong enough magnet, the cats were unable to predict their thoughts. They believe the magnetic field interferes with their telepathy somehow, although the mechanics behind their abilities are still largely unknown.
Empty Your Mind
Pretty simple in theory, but difficult in practice. If you can clear your mind of all thought, then your cat has nothing to read. Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Miracle of Mindfulness is a great read for those looking to clear their mind and protect their thoughts from cats.
Think of Something Scary
If you are unable to clear your mind, the next best thing is to think of something that would scare the cat. This seems to distract them long enough for you to think about something else without fear of being cat-scanned.
Don’t Believe Everything You Read