Has a ghost dog or ghost cat visited you? They have blessed me that way more than once, but never when I wish for it and always unexpectedly. Far from scary, the visitation from beyond brought me great comfort. I know my furry wonders live on–somewhere, somehow, and that I’ll see them again.
It wouldn’t be heaven without them. In fact, one of my Pet Peeves radio programs discussed whether pets go to heaven. At my church, Pastor Craig Sturm also shared a message about whether or not pets go to heaven.
When Bravo-Dawg died March 2021, our hearts ached. Karma-Kat mourned for a week and slept with his buddy’s collar. And our veterinarian and the staff at the clinic also felt the pain–we hugged and wept together at his passing.
Later at home, we second-guessed every decision made during his cancer journey. This gentle giant who never had a bad day (even in the aftermath of amputation), always made us smile during awful times. Karma and Shadow-Pup searched for their hero, the leader of the three furry stooges. Our three-year-old baby-dog fought and defeated osteosarcoma, so how could another cancer take him from us? Not our Bravo!
The day after his death, when his slurpy-kiss across my face woke me, I reflexively reached out my hand to smooth his sweet face. He leaned against my palm. Warm. Real. Karma-Kat watched on the other side of the pillow as his tail thumped and shook the bed. He had all four legs, and a happy, satisfied grin–and then he disappeared. I like to think he knew I needed his reassurance.
I cherish his effort to once again comfort us. What do you think? Does pet death mean the end, or will they come back to comfort us?
Cats and Ghosts
Cats have long been thought to have a link with the “other world” or even to have feline ESP. In fact, popular urban legends hold that cats see ghosts—and their behavior certainly seems to support that notion. Karma seemed to recognize Bravo’s spiritual visit, although he continued to mourn his lost friend.
We built our house 25 years ago, but maybe the site used to be an ancient burial ground that remains haunted by spirits of the departed. Before her own death just shy of her 22nd birthday, Seren-Kitty often played “track the spook” games, maybe just to mess with my head. You’ll understand more when you read the last paragraph.
It’s not just my own vivid imagination, either. A letter to the “Occult Review” magazine of April 1924 tells of a ghost that appeared in a chair, also apparent to the humans present. A cat in the room seemed to recognize the spirit and immediately leaped into the spirit’s lap—and acted dismayed when the insubstantial lap would not hold Kitty. The popular movie Ghost featured a cat able to see the spirit of the murdered victim, played by actor Patrick Swayze.
Can Cats Sense Death?
There also are many stories of cats wailing at the exact instant of a beloved owner’s death, even when separated by miles. How do the cats know? Do they “see” the spirit, or feel the psychic change at the sudden absence of their special human?
Cats (and dogs) have the physical ability to see certain wavelengths and color spectrums that people cannot. Perhaps this “remnant” of the dearly departed remains behind—or in fact, the spirit portion remains visible for felines as well as ultrasonic sound communication.
Oscar the cat, a resident of Steere House Nursing and Rehabilitation Centre in Providence, Rhode Island, had an uncanny ability to predict which patient will soon die. Adopted as a kitten, he remained standoffish as an adult cat—until an individual neared the end of life. Then he’d scratch at the door and demand to be in the room, hop up on the bed beside the patient to sit vigil with them until they die.
Oscar’s prediction rate has been better than the nurses or physicians who care for the residents, who suffer from severe dementia. Experts speculate the dying simply smells different, and that alerts Oscar. Yet he is the only one of several resident cats that seems to care. Relatives have said they feel comforted Oscar spends time with their loved ones when they can’t be there.
Do Cats Haunt Us? Will Pets Visit Us After Death?
When cats die, owners recount experiences of the kitty returning to comfort remaining pet friends and people that they’re okay. Sometimes the delicate paw-print tracks of never seen mourning “ghost cats” appear where the owner can find them. Very often, one can feel the jarring “thump” of the furry ghost leaping onto the bed at night, snuggling across your ankles, or being seen out of the corner of your eyes.
When my first dog died, a day later I felt him jump up on the bed. He suffered from hip dysplasia and couldn’t jump while alive. I knew he’d become whole and returned briefly to let me know.
These invisible visitors may still cheek rub and head butt ankles, so that people can feel the brush of fur against their skin. Wishful thinking? Perhaps the mourning human so desperately wants one last contact that imagination takes over.
What About Ghost Pets Proof?
But what of the other pets who also detect the invisible cat’s or chase a transparent cat as she runs through a room only to disappear into a wall? Sometimes there’s also photographic proof that points to a kitty haunting a residence or person.
One early famous example is a 1925 family portrait taken by Major Allistone in Clarens, Switzerland that documented a woman restraining an infant from climbing out of a baby carriage, with an older boy standing in front holding a stuffed bunny in his left hand. But in the boy’s right hand appears the face of a white kitten—except that white kitten had died several weeks earlier.
More recent examples abound and include pictures and videos posted on the Internet. For example, one family admired and took pictures of a neighbor’s flowers and captured the image of a cat in the window—only the family doesn’t have a cat, so just who was the ghostly feline and (perhaps more importantly) why did the cat allow him/herself to be photographed?
Do Spirit Cats Return?
On October 29, 1993 at 8:30 p.m. my first beloved dog passed away at age 12 years 5 months. We lived in a tiny apartment and had to place his body outside in the entryway, to await burial the next morning. Shortly thereafter, we heard a strangely haunting sound at the door.
I found a cat crouching over my poor dog’s body, muttering and crying. The cat was a stranger, one I’d never seen before or since. I like to think that this eerie cat visitor arrived to pay feline respects at his passing. He’d always loved cats. It certainly couldn’t be my beloved dog’s spirit being hosted within this feline visitor. Or could it?
I never saw the cat again, although I heard the yowls each year on October 29th at about 8:30 p.m. Maybe I imagined it? All I know is the spectral cat cries stopped after my Seren-kitty adopted us.
Have you ever had a “visit” from a dearly departed pet? Have your cats (or dogs) “detected” an otherworldly presence? What did they do? If you had the chance to see a pet ghost, would you want to? Have you ever visited certain locations (or even people) that you’re sure had an animal ghost in residence? Please share!
Read these tips to prepare for your pet in case you pass away before they do.
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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!