Weather’s in the news this week—chilling snow storms in the East and rain in the West. But you were prepared, weren’t you? You had plenty of food in the house. Your rain barrel was ready to catch the water runoff. You’d brought in your patio furniture and the kids’ bicycles. And all because of your cat, right? You had plenty of warning about the coming storm if you paid close attention to your cat.
It’s no secret that even science looks to animals when it comes to predicting weather. How many years have they been relying on Punxsutawney Phil, for example? I remember my dad checking to see what the cows were doing on his way to his favorite fishing spot. As I recall, if they were lying down, probably the fish weren’t biting.
So what do cats have to do with predicting weather? Do they really know when it’s going to rain cats and dogs? According to some, yes they do. H.H.C Dunwoody may be the first to have recorded folklore and facts featuring this concept in his book, Weather Proverbs (1883).
In early years, cats were a part of a ship’s crew and sailors began paying attention to the correlation between the ship’s cats’ actions and the weather. Basically, Sailors observed that if a cat was frisky, it would be windy; if they licked their fur against the grain, it was going to hail; and one sneeze from a cat meant rain.
At one point in history, black cats meant rain. Is that part of the superstition about a black cat crossing your path bringing bad luck? I guess it depends on whether you hope for rain or dread it.
Dunwoody also wrote that a cat snoring meant bad weather coming. If a cat washes his head behind his ears, it’s going to rain. And when he lies on his back, it will be a storm. A cat washing his face while facing away from the fireplace indicates a winter thaw.
Some experts say that animals seem to prepare for a disaster more methodically than people do. Snakes will come out of hibernation. Cats will move to higher ground. And animals are thought to sense when an earthquake is about to strike.
Here’s an interesting site offering more information and suppositions regarding your cat as a weather forecaster. Jayme Kinsey at PetHelpful says that cats are better than dogs when sensing changes in the weather, but she adds, “I’ve yet to meet a cat that didn’t act strangely before a storm or other type of bad weather. The trick is knowing which behavior is odd for a cat.”
I have to report that as I write this post on an early Saturday morning here in Southern California, Lily-kitty is snuggled in my lap. She doesn’t crawl into my lap very often, but I’ve noticed that when she does it’s definitely when we’re experiencing or expecting a cold snap. Our temps have been in the mid to high 70s during the day. Rain is predicted and our temps will definitely drop. Yup, she’s right on target and I’m the lucky recipient of her cuddles.