A common adage holds that dogs and cats have a sixth sense. This sense enables them to predict impending earthquakes and other natural disasters. Stories abound about animals that became agitated or went into hiding just before major temblors in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Mexico City, and Alaska.
Personally, I am not convinced. First, I take issue with the term sixth sense. Cats and dogs (and people) already have a well-defined sixth sense. And a seventh one. (And, depending upon whom you ask, there may be an additional 14 less-well-defined senses). The seven well-defined senses are sight, smell, touch, sound, taste, proprioception and vestibular orientation (also called equilibrioception).
So, let’s rephrase the question. Do dogs and cats have an eighth sense (or a 22nd sense, according to some researchers) that enables them to predict natural disasters?
An incident that occurred the other night has left me quite convinced that they do not. A minor earthquake occurred in San Francisco. My pal Buster, Denise (that’s Buster’s mom), and I were watching a movie. Denise and I certainly noticed the earthquake. But Buster was completely oblivious.
Of course, such an isolated incident proves nothing about dogs in general. But I certainly won’t count on Buster to let me know when the “big one” is coming.