Can Cats See Ghosts?

There is a popular belief that cats are more capable of seeing the supernatural than their human masters. In part, this seems to be based on the fact that cats have keener senses than humans. However, there is a long-running perception of cats as liminal creatures with paws in both the natural and the supernatural worlds, which might be connected to their nocturnal nature as well as their relative aloofness when compared to their canine counterparts. Unfortunately, there is no real proof for this belief.

Simply put, cats might have keener senses than humans, but humans have instruments that can perceive much more than what cats can manage on their own. However, these instruments have never managed to pick up evidence of the existence of ghosts and other core components of what we would consider to be the supernatural, which is in spite of the fact that people have been searching for such since before the start of human civilization and will presumably continue searching until the end. Due to this, while it is theoretically possible that cats have some kind of unknown sense that enables them to see the supernatural when humans cannot, it is rather dubious to assume that it is the case when there is nothing to buttress it from below. In other words, cats may or may not be able to see ghosts, but there is no reason to believe that is the case at this point in time.

How Have People Perceived Cats Over Time?

With that said, whether there is proof or not, there are a lot of people who will believe in various supernatural powers for cats. In fact, this has been the case for a long, long time, as shown by the various beliefs that people have held about cats since the start of human existence.

For example, cats played a very important role in ancient Egyptian culture. For proof, look no further than the fact that the ancient Egyptians were known to embalm their cats, which suggests that they believed that their cats were capable of going to the ancient Egyptian equivalent of Heaven. This is further supported by the fact that some of the burial sites contained provisions for the cats, with examples ranging from milk to mummified mice. With that said, it is interesting to note that the cat was also associated to some extent with the feline-headed goddesses entitled the Eye of Ra, who served said figure as complicated mixes of mother, daughter, protector, and partner. Something that was necessary because of the perpetual struggle against the chaos serpent Apep, who threatened to swallow Ra and his sun bare on a daily basis.

However, not all cultures have held cats in the same regard. For example, most people in the West should be familiar with the Renaissance belief that witches often chose cats for their familiars. However, the curious part is that there were also plenty of stories about cats being much more benign figures, with an excellent example being the folkloric tale that the tabby cat received the “M” on its forehead in gratitude from the Virgin Mary because it was the one who soothed a crying baby Jesus to sleep with its purring. Likewise, this curious range of opinion can be found in other cultures as well. For instance, Japan is the place that came up with the beckoning cat, which is based on a story about a cat repaying a poor man’s kindness by bring prosperity. As a result, beckoning cat statues, figurines, and other objects are now frequently found wherever people with East Asian backgrounds do business. With that said, the ancient Japanese also believed in cat monsters called nekomata, which were said to possess power over the dead that were proportional to the poor treatment afforded to them by their owners.

Even in modern times, the belief that cats have supernatural sensitivity as well as other supernatural connections have not vanished from the stories that we tell. For example, H.P. Lovecraft, who had a huge impact on the related genres of horror, fantasy, and science fiction, was a huge fan of cats if not very good at naming them. As a result, the cats in his body of work were sometimes capable of sensing things that were out of the ordinary as well as lending protection to humans, though Lovecraftian fiction sometimes features more malevolent cats from more malevolent places as well.

Summed up, there might not be much evidence for the idea that cats can sense the supernatural as well as possess other supernatural powers, but it seems probable that this is one of those things that will be with us for a long, long time to come.

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