“Are cats on their own spiritual paths to enlightenment?” Here are four divine signs your feline is sending you.
I was raised in a cat house. Not the raunchy kind. The type of Midwestern bilevel house painted an awful shade of pale yellow popular in the 1970s—with a chain-link fence to keep us safe from dog-loving neighbors. No pooches ever graced our home; instead, we were blessed with a string of rescued felines from the local humane society.
I don’t recall ever receiving a manual for how to live with a cat. We figured it out as we went along, making childish presumptions that―if I had access to time travel―I’d like to undo. For example, subjecting our first cat, Him, to endless runway (or better said, driveway) shows dressed in our doll’s clothes.
Luckily, through the years, I acquired more knowledge about cats. And as I became more spiritual, it seemed the cats around me did too, joining me regularly for meditation. The ever-curious Buba-ji is currently quite keen on my tarot cards. Is he tuned in to the sacred? Mystically oriented? Are cats on their own spiritual paths to enlightenment?
In my quest to find out, I stumbled upon a new spiritual practice: Felidomancy. From the Egyptians to the Incas to the Chinese, diviners through history observed cat actions to predict future events. Perusing the book Divining the Future: Prognostication from Astrology to Zoomancy, I read: “In some parts of France, a strange white cat seen sunning itself on the doorstep means a hasty marriage for one of the house’s residents.”
An esoteric website informed me that, in the middle ages, it was believed if a cat jumped over a corpse, the human would become a vampire. More practically, perhaps, I read when a cat is washing his face, rain is coming soon. Hmmm. That happened last week. Then again, Deacon washes his face most days.
Betty the Weathercat provides a modern example of the intersection of cat and climate. She precociously interrupted her human companion, Jeff Lyons―the chief meteorologist at NBC affiliate 14 News in Indiana―while he was delivering a live broadcast from home during the pandemic. Betty now appears in plentiful weather graphics on the show, has an Instagram account, and holds Facebook Live Q&As. How much she influences his actual forecasts is still TBD.
Beyond the weather, one site suggests if a cat washes one ear three times, expect a visitor from that direction. Hmmm ... Buba-ji and Deacon do seem to know when my husband’s car appears in the driveway well before I notice. And, honestly, we should just ditch our doorbell, because they run to hide in the bedroom a full 20 seconds before anyone rings it.
While I was unable to prove fact behind any intriguing predictive feline signs, I did learn that paying more attention to my cats through what I dubbed “feline mindfulness” helps me stay more present to their daily lives, understanding that they experience the world differently than I do.
In his delightful book, The Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions, Thomas McNamee reveals why my cats might be a few steps ahead of me.
“A cat’s hearing is extremely acute―the widest range, in fact, of any mammal except bats. It is equally superior in its directionality: Watch your cat’s ears twitch and swivel, each moving independent of the other, as she tunes in on the precise place from which a sound is coming. For [my cat] Augusta the faintest whisper of a breeze on a screen, swirl of snow, or far call of a raven was matter for instant, rapt attention. She seemed pure awareness.”
But, wait, exceptional hearing is not the end of cat superpowers. Their incredible olfactory memory graces cats with “five times more surface area inside their noses than we do.” Add eyes that “amplify incoming light by as much as 40 percent,” and we glimpse why cats seem to be tuned in to the future.
I can think of no better example of feline intuition than the notorious Oscar the Hospice Cat. While living as a therapy cat in a Rhode Island nursing and rehab center, Oscar was described as “generally unsociable” but highly attuned to the health of residents at the end of their lives. Time after time, nurses found Oscar napping with a patient shortly before the person’s death. In his paper for The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. David Dosa notes that Oscar’s presence at a bedside was “viewed by physicians and nursing home staff as an almost absolute indicator of impending death, allowing staff members to adequately notify families.” And for those with no family members, he provided company and comfort to those who might have died alone.
Dosa suggested Oscar might have been attracted based on the scent dying cells emit. And, yet, that answer doesn’t quite explain why this cat chose to stay—it couldn’t be merely for biological reasons. Could Oscar have been acting spiritually? Evidence of animal altruism and capacity for empathy has been mounting in the last decade. Biologist Marc Bekoff suggests we should indeed “keep the door open to the idea that animals can be spiritual beings.”
Whether we believe cats to be semidivine like the Egyptians, capable of spiritual experiences, potential intuitive weather cats, or simply great companions, being more sensitive to the signs they are giving us can make us better roomies.
Here are four divine signs your cat is sending you:
- The tail tells. A tail upward generally means confident and probably ready for a pat. But, beware: a tail rigidly straight up with a point at the end means this kitty is in fierce mode and a hiss is likely to follow. A tail down and between the legs can mean nervous, so best to give kitty some space until you see her tail pop up gently. If the tail is fluffed out fat, this likely means the cat is scared or startled. Of course, cat personalities vary. Spend a week mindfully watching your cat’s tail to see if you can link its position to what your cat might be experiencing.
- Hey, here’s my belly. Unlike many dogs, a cat who displays a tummy is not necessarily looking for a rub. An exposed belly often indicates the cat is relaxed. But not all cats like a belly rub, so proceed carefully!
- I am not interested in getting near you human! Let’s face it. Some cats are not lap cats. The Cat Bible proposes this ingenious idea for cats who like to keep their distance. Get a long-handled bath brush with soft bristles. Although your cat may not like to be patted from close up, he may enjoy a rub if you provide more space. Remember to brush in the direction of your cat’s hair, not against it.
- Cat sitting on your tarot cards. The jury is still out on this sign. Buba-ji and I hope to report back soon. But we can tell you our current card spread suggests it’s certainly going to be a transformative year.
Read about 5 spiritual lessons our cats teach us.