Jayme is an artist, blogger, and freelance writer with professional medical training and experience.
Listen to Your Pets
Anyone who owns a cat can tell you that they are peculiar animals. They can have psychotic mood swings, often for no reason. But we also know that cats are very sensitive to things that cannot be seen and heard, such as illness.
People have looked to animals for centuries for predictions about the weather. Is an animal's ability to forecast a storm or temperature change real or folklore? Well, if you live on a farm, and you are very in tune with both your climate and your livestock, you will notice that some animals routinely behave in certain ways whenever there is a change in the weather.
- Roosters will crow in the afternoon before rain.
- Cows and other animals will start grazing towards shelter before rain or a temperature change.
- Herd animals will sometimes stampede towards shelter if a storm is on the way.
- Cows may lie down if there is going to be rain.
- Pigs will "keen" a low song when a storm is likely.
And turkeys will of course, just sort of stand there in the rain. We learned to never depend on turkeys.
Almost all animals, aside from turkeys, will exhibit a change in behavior to alert you. But one of the handiest animals to have on hand, if you live in a climate with persnickety weather, is a cat. Without a doubt, a cat can consistently peg something fishy in the atmosphere.
Cats or Dogs? Who Is More in Tune?
Are cats better than dogs when it comes to sensing a change in the forecast? Dogs are also good pets for predicting the weather. Some dogs, that is. You will always have that one dog that is more interested in his food bowl than in that approaching tornado.
I've yet to meet a cat that didn't act strangely before a storm or other type of bad weather, though. The only trick is knowing which behavior is odd for a cat.
With dogs, it is pretty obvious that they are upset about something. They either hide or whine to get your attention. Maybe even bark.
The difference is that dogs are more people-oriented than cats. If a dog thinks he might get a bite of your sandwich or that you might be about to go outside for a walk, he may get distracted.
Cats tend to be more aloof, and if they are agitated, they act out of the ordinary (for them). A docile cat may become hyper, a hyper cat may mellow out, a hands-off cat may suddenly want to snuggle, a social cat may hide or scratch, or an indoor cat may suddenly want to bolt out the door.
For example, if there is a storm of any type on the way, our lady cat tends to yowl like a tomcat. She will pace up and down the hall, and if we tell her to shush, she will step up the game and start doing things she normally wouldn't, like jumping on counters or clawing furniture. If it is a climate change, she will do the same, as well as climb into our laps and stare us right in the eye.
Cats and Folklore
Today we expect science to step in and help solve our problems, and we like to stick our noses up at old wives tales and folk superstitions. But back in the day before Doppler Radar, people were happy to look to their feline companions for a little heads up.
Except for the people who thought cats were evil, of course. In some time periods and regions, cats weren't thought to be just predicting the weather, they were accused of causing it, along with any other trouble that afflicted humans.
For example, one superstition states that cats carried storm magic in their tails. To prevent storms, a cat had to be kept content. I'm sure that the cats did little to squelch that rumor!
Here are some superstitions about cats and weather that are probably not accurate:
- If a cat plays with an article of your clothing (sock!), then a heavy storm will ensue.
- If you are cruel to a cat, there will be rain at your funeral.
- Baptizing a cat in mineral water will end a drought.
- A cat's tail always points in the direction of the wind.
- If a cat sneezes once, rain is on the way.
The Most Accurate Weather Prediction
- If a cat sleeps with her back to the fire, there will be either cold weather, a bad storm, or snow.
I've never seen this be wrong. In fact, if the weather service predicts snow, I will look at the cat to see where she is laying.
Some Weather Predictions Your Cat May Display
A cat's tail probably doesn't point to the wind, but there are some signs to look for when watching your furry friend.
- If your cat becomes antsy or even hisses at you, it could indicate an earthquake.
- When a cat washes over both ears, there will be rain.
- A cat that is suddenly very frisky means a thunderstorm.
- When a cat licks its fur against the grain, expect hail.
- A cat sleeping with all four paws tucked under means cold weather.
- A cat that yawns and stretches out is predicting fair weather.
- When a cat's pupils widen suddenly, there could be a weather change.
- When a cat stares out of the window for a long time, it means rain.
- If a cat starts scratching more than usual, it could mean warm weather coming.
- If a cat sniffs the air obsessively (not at dinnertime) expect rain or snow.
- A frisky cat means the wind will pick up.
- If a lovable cat suddenly bites or hisses at you, it could mean a bad storm.
- If a cat seems to be listening to something far off, they may be hearing approaching rain or wind.
Cats and Weather Prediction
Explanations Behind Cat's Behavior
Two behaviors that cats display during weather changes are explained by science:
- Cats groom their ears more frequently because of pressure changes that effect their sensitive inner ear. (the same part of a cat that makes their balance (almost) perfect.
- Cats lick their fur more because of the changes in humidity when a storm approaches. Low humidity causes static, and wetting the fur keeps it under control.
Animals, Weather Prediction, and Science
So, is there any scientific proof that animals have a sixth sense about meteorological conditions? Not yet, although researchers are determined to make a connection.
According to this article about pets and weather in National Geographic, the problem lies in forming a control group for the study. Even though there are claims that animals behave a certain way, there isn't much proof on a large enough scale. These experts also say that people only took note of the animal's behavior after storm or natural disaster.
Scientists just love to rain (cats and dogs) on our parade, huh? Not all of them. Others claim that animals are more in tune than humans. Whereas they don't think there is anything psychic about an animal's ability to foretell a weather event, they do say it is a mystery as to how the animals know so far in advance.
The theory is that cats (and other animals) use their superior senses to predict a weather change. They can smell incoming rain, feel trembles in the earth, hear thunder and wind, and sense pressure changes long before their human counterparts. What confuses scientists is how they can sense it before all that pricey, technological equipment can.
Examples of animal instinct were noted:
- When the 2005 tsunami struck the coast of Sri Lanka. Over 100,000 people were killed, but only a handful of animals, despite the wave devastating the wildlife reserve.
- During the Haicheng earthquake in the 1970s, animals were noted to behave strangely. Snakes woke from hibernation and evacuated their burrows, only to freeze as they tried to escape.
- Before major hurricanes. Land animals move inland and insects hide in trees and under rocks.
Is Your Cat a Meteorologist?
In Oklahoma, our major weather issue is tornado activity. In 2013, when we experienced a wave of tornadoes and other storms, we looked to our feline meteorologist for advice.
Sally's normal play-time is around midnight. During the day, she likes to nap, eat, and groom. So when she started going bonkers on a sunny day, pacing the halls and crying like she was lost, we suspected that something was up. A quick check of the forecast (haha, radar!) said that the line of storms was to the north of us.
When we didn't pay attention, Sally jumped on the sink and tried to claw her way out of the kitchen window: something she never does. (cats on counters is a big no-no in this house.) She tried to escape whenever the doors were opened, hid under the bed, cried some more, and would hiss at us if we tried to pet her.
Despite the predictions made by the weather experts, a tornado did set down a few miles from our house. We received some major backlash and a violent downpour. We heeded Sally's warning. We secured the plants, put up our gardening tools, and moved the trucks from under the trees. We also made sure our storm gear was in the hallway and ready to go.
Listen to your pets when it comes to the weather. They have better senses than you do, and their early warning could just save your life.
How do your animals react to bad weather? Do they alert you to possible changes, or do they sleep soundly until the actual event is taking place? Feel free to share your weather and animal anecdotes in the comments below!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2014 Jayme Kinsey
A Turkey on July 03, 2020:
Excuse me! Us turkeys can tell the weather!
jane gallardo from Conway, Arkansas on December 27, 2019:
I commented below
My cat Biddy slink around to her hiding place if a storm is coming, she feels it and hears it way before I do, she is so afraid of thunder
Jane Gallardo on December 27, 2019:
my cat Biddy slinks around to her hiding place if a storm is coming, she either feels it or hears it way before I do,she is so afraid of thunder
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on June 05, 2019:
Interesting, and I do believe they have super-senses that allow them to feel things we mere humans cannot.
That said, my own clowder of cats is pretty laid back, and the only thing that riles them up is when the one who tends to be a bully goes after one of the others.
Follow that up with the fact that I live in an area that really doesn't experience weather extremes, and there's nothing much to make note of: it doesn't snow here; we don't get tornadoes; thunderstorms are very rare, and usually never more than 4 or 5 claps and it's over with. Earthquakes? Yes, I do live in CA, but the area where I now live is not very near any of the major faults, so I haven't felt anything since the 1989 quake when I lived nearer to San Francisco So nothing for the cats to notice there, either.
Mady on June 05, 2019:
This is all very true but what kind of weather is coming if your cat is hiding in the closet and is acting abnormal.
blah!!!!!!!!! on January 24, 2019:
very well writen! I like the sense of humor
dxjasdou on May 04, 2018:
I think when cats lay long on stomach & chin means rain . . . My baby does it whn i Notice rain & two cats I saw today did the same thing both were laying same way different step 1 step below Each other thought it was odd but identical . . . too odd Not to Have a Meaning ~
Mahogany on January 11, 2018:
i think that it is mainly acurately posible that a cat or any animal could actually predict the weather.
Deborah on October 15, 2016:
We are expecting the worst storm in 50 years this evening with winds 50-70 mph (Seattle 10/15/16). I have three cats. One has been whining to go out all day even though it is pelting rain, during which she usually stays in and sleeps. My super affectionate lap kitty won't give me the time of day, usually I have to peel him off of me. My third boy is being serious and sedate, staying by the window except to eat. Granted, I have been battening down the hatches but I know this is more than their reading of my unusual behavior. They know something's up.
Sarah on June 02, 2016:
My cat goes into my closet to sleep when there is smoke in the air from forest fires and also when there is a storm about to come.
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on January 20, 2015:
@Mary615 Thank you so much! I used to have a dog that was petrified of storms too. He could always predict bad weather long before the storm alerts sounded. I don't think they made those shirts then, but I am glad they work for Baby! Thanks for reading and sharing!
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on January 20, 2015:
@Lee Hansen--I've definitely seen the cats that get sleepy before any rain. I get sleepy too, so I am jealous that cats can just slip off for a nap during a thunderstorm!
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on January 20, 2015:
Thank you, twoknowinfo! I will check out your hub as well. I know that since OK has been having earthquakes, our animals have been a lot more agitated!
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on January 20, 2015:
Absoloutely, Oztinato. In fact, insects are probably the champions of weather prediction!
Lana Adler from California on January 17, 2015:
I love decoding animal behavior, although for the most part, I have no clue what my dogs are thinking about. One of them whines a lot, but she's also the one who's abnormally interested in her food bowl :) Congrats on HOTD!
getit6 from kenya on January 16, 2015:
great and interesting article
Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent from Mississauga, ON on January 16, 2015:
I am not a cat person, but my kid sister is. I will ask her if she agrees with this hub :-)
Very nicely written! I enjoyed this article.
Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on January 16, 2015:
Excellent article, very true animals know when a storm is coming, plus a whole lot more.
I could write a lot more but for some reason my comments are disappearing before I save them today, so I made this short.
Congratulations for HOTD
Nithya Venkat from Dubai on January 16, 2015:
Seems like cats are accurate in predicting the weather. Heeding their warning will save lives, precious lives. Great hub and congratulations on the HOTD.
Jennie Hennesay from Lubbock TX on January 16, 2015:
I never paid much attention to my cats and dogs as far as weather prediction goes. My Dad could always predict the weather by the way the livestock behaved or certain changes in the wind or cloud types.
Snakesmum on January 16, 2015:
My cat doesn't seem to care one way or another, or perhaps I just haven't been paying attention! :-) Shall have to watch a little more carefully and see if she shows any of these behaviours. Enjoyed reading your hub.
Cheryl Kohan from England on January 16, 2015:
What a good read! It was interesting and fun. And I believe you are correct - cat's can predict the weather.
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on January 16, 2015:
Love your cat photos! And congrats on Hub of the Day! Well deserved.
Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on January 16, 2015:
Congratulations on HOTD!!!!
If the TV meteorologists kept cats at the station, instead of computers, I think they might be more accurate! LOL
We are having a spell of icky weather--not rain, just cold, damp, foggy, miserable..and one of our cats has been acting the fool all week.
There are never tornadoes or hurricanes where we live, though, and we are outside of any active earthquake faults.
On another note; they also can sense when our ghost is active. They all notice that, and will stare down the hall, in unison, at apparently nothing.
I do think the weather prediction does have to do with the barometric pressure changes that surely affect their sensitive ears, much as we experience our ears "popping" when driving up into the mountains to higher altitudes.
Well done--voted up +++ shared and pinned.
amazmerizing from PACIFIC NORTHWEST, USA on January 16, 2015:
My cat certainly does... if its too cold she wont even ASK to go outside... if its really hot she finds her favorite stair on the staircase and waits for the sunshine to come in the window... she HATES thunder and lightening, and will run to Mommy even if its far away. Great article! ;)
FlourishAnyway from USA on January 16, 2015:
This hub rocks. I've got one cat on my lap right now and one right behind the computer laying in the sunshine. Those animals are smarties (except for the slow one I must always show where the food bowl is -- but he's a cutie). Voted up and more! Congrats on HOTD.
Life and Luxury from South Beach, FL on January 16, 2015:
My cat is too busy sleeping to predict the weather.
Love your hub!
Mary Craig from New York on January 16, 2015:
What an excellent hub! Not only do you prove your premise but you do so with facts and humor. Anyone reading thou has to believe cats predict weather. Your pictures are excellent as well. This is one of the best HOTD's. Congrats.
Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.
Susie Lehto from Minnesota on January 16, 2015:
I know that some dogs are keen at predicting bad weather. So! I would think cats can have that sense as well. Congratulations on HotD.
Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on January 16, 2015:
I'd heard about cattle predicting a change in the weather but I didn't realize that cats are weather experts as well. I loved the superstitions about cats. I'd only heard of one about a black cat crossing your path being bad luck. These weather predictors are interesting. Congratulations on Hub of the Day. This is a good hub and deserves to be featured!
Mary Hyatt from Florida on January 16, 2015:
Congrats on your HOTD! I don't have a cat (I am allergic), but my little Schnauzer, Baby, can hear thunder miles away. She gets very nervous as she is terribly afraid of any loud noise. I use the Thundershirt on her to calm her during a thundestorm.
Voted Up, etc. and shared.
Lee Hansen from Vermont on January 16, 2015:
My cat does get very active when the pressure drops before bad weather. During a storm she gets quite sleepy and wants me to cuddle with her - normally she's not a cuddler except at bedtime.
toknowinfo on January 16, 2015:
This is a great hub. I believe cats can predict weather. Animals are so fascinating. I wrote a hub about animals and predicting natural disasters. You might want to read my hub. So I totally agree with you. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and information. You really got me thinking and I am going to pay more attention to my cat's behavior to see if I there is a pattern of weather predictability.
Oztinato on January 16, 2015:
If an ant can predict rain then its quite possible a cat could. Ants with brains smaller than a full stop know days in advance about rain.
Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on January 16, 2015:
Interesting Hub. I have more experience with dogs when it comes to bad weather. I had two who would pant, whine and slobber long before an electrical storm arrived, even before we were aware of one approaching. They were always right on the button.
Well done on your HOTD.
mySuccess8 on January 16, 2015:
There are many reports of odd animal behaviors, involving the elephants, bats, birds, fishes, etc, just prior to the great Asian tsunami of December 2004. It is amazing how cats, as you have explained very well here, can also display behavioral changes to forewarn the arrival of inclement weather, enabling one to get prepared for it. Certain animals seem to have more developed senses than humans, and that leads to their ability to detect weather changes sooner. Enjoyed reading this informative Hub. Congrats on Hub of the Day!
Blackspaniel1 on November 07, 2014:
I once heard some pets sense a change in the electric fields in the ground before a storm.
Elizabeth Wilson from Tennessee on June 03, 2014:
"And turkeys will of course, just sort of stand there in the rain. We learned to never depend on turkeys."
First off, that line had me snorting in laughter. You have a very humorous writing style and voice, and this article was amazing. I ADORE cats and this Hub was interesting, adorable, and fascinating. I definitely think that animals can predict the weather. I've personally seen it more in dogs than in cats, but maybe that's because my cat is chronically nervous. Thank you so very much for this amazing Hub! Sharing and following you! Thank you!
Beth Eaglescliffe on March 04, 2014:
This hub made me smile as I read it. The cat photos are so-o-o cute and there is a great cat- alogue of interesting facts here too.
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on February 18, 2014:
@TarrinLupo--Thanks for reading! Glad you enjoyed it. :)
Alyssa S from USA on February 16, 2014:
I love this! People don't always give cats the credit they deserve, they're very intelligent creatures. Nice research, I'll definitely be looking for these signs in my cat from now on.
FlourishAnyway from USA on February 07, 2014:
Very cute. They do seem to know things we don't when it comes to weather. We need to attend to their signals better. I enjoyed both your photos and the video of the cats chasing snow and even making a snow angel. Sally is beautiful, albeit a bit camera shy. Calicoes are divine.
Tarrin Lupo from Peterborough NH on February 06, 2014:
What a cute article, I like the predictions.
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on February 05, 2014:
I definitely trust the animals more than some of the machines! So do some of the pros. One of the guys in my storm chaser network takes his dog with him when they spot storms. The dog lets him know when the storms are going to change directions. I think the trick is knowing your own animal's individual traits rather than depending on the "signs" they are supposed to show. Thanks for reading!
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 05, 2014:
I have no doubt that animals can predict weather. I've seen evidence of it for decades now. If we can only learn to read their signals then we won't need tv weathermen. LOL