Do you believe animals have a sixth sense towards death?

Nurses General Nursing


Specializes in Psych, Hospice, Surgical unit, L&D/Postpartum.

I just read a great book by Doctor David Dosa called, Making Rounds with Oscar. Its about a cat who lived on an end stage dementia unit and would take vigil in each patients room during their final hours until death. The nursing staff knew when a patients time was near because Oscar would slip into the room and lie on the bed with the patient. He wouldnt leave until the body was removed, then he would just go back to his spot at the nurses station until he was needed again. It was a real touching book, i recommend it to anyone.

Has anyone heard of this book or read it? Do you believe in animals having this kind of sense when the time is near? I know sometimes when i might feel sick, my cats lay with me. Does anyone have any stories related to this book? I find it comforting to know that not all people need to pass alone if family members are absent, the presence of a pet can do wonders...

Specializes in home health, dialysis, others.

This is nothing new, it has been discussed here before. Many people believe that animals can sense a change in a person's status, whether it's just a cold, or impending death, or seizures.

The challenge here is trying to find out how they know - is it a chemical change, electric fields, or whatever.

We may never know.

To answer your question, I do believe that animals are able to sense things that we cannot. How they do it, no clue, and I'm not sure if we will ever know.

My pets can easily tell if I am upset about something. If I'm home alone, I don't verbalize how I'm feeling, and I'm usually not sitting there crying or anything, so they aren't reacting to things I say or see. It's like they can sense a change in my feelings. Typically, they don't pay attention to me throughout the day. But if I'm stressed or upset, they make a clear effort to be near me, even if it's just laying at (or on) my feet. They also do this when I am physically ill. I really think that somehow they know me well enough to know when something is wrong and then they make an effort to comfort me.

Example, I was stressed about my final Micro exam the other day. Very stressed. Within 10 minutes of me getting stressed my dog came over and rested by my feet, until I was done with the exam. He then followed me and sat with me on the couch.

Today, no stress, and good luck getting that dog to come over here. He's laying on the couch and he isn't about to move. lol

Specializes in LPN, Peds, Public Health.

I do believe animals can sense things, whether it be death or our moods.

I read somewhere, dont remember where, or I might have even watched it on TV that cats can tell who is about to die by a scent that they put off... maybe a certain odor from a chemical change when the body is in the process of dying that is not noticable to us?

Either way....

Just a note too, I'm not a real superstitious person or anything, but when I worked LTC anytime a cat was hanging around our building, someone died either on our shift or the next.

Specializes in Hospital Education Coordinator.

I believe it is instinctive in little children too. If we had a death on the pedi floor where I worked the other patients would get irritable and cry, even though we had not communicated to their parents what was going on elsewhere or even gone into those rooms. We just knew that a code meant everyone had to be vigilant about the other patients. It just underscored to me that life is precious.

Specializes in Cardiology and ER Nursing.

My guess, if it is true, would be that certain animals can sense eminent death through certain smells that, due to certain evolutionary forces, we've lost the ability to perceive.

Specializes in PACU, OR.

I think some people, especially children, do have a sixth sense regarding approaching death, and not only that of other people.

A dreadful tragedy occurred recently in our area. On Wednesday morning last week a little boy was being seen off to school by his mom. Apparently he never wanted her to kiss him before he left, but on this morning he went to her and kissed her goodbye before getting into his school bus.

The bus was hit by a train on the way to the school and this little boy was one of the casualties.

Oscar would slip into the room and lie on the bed with the patient. He wouldnt leave until the body was removed,

Well Oscar no doubt had an enhanced sense of what we ICU nurses have been describing for years as "the look", which precedes death by 24 to 36 hours. Very unscientific, but very accurate.

Specializes in CCU,ICU,ER retired.

I absolutely believe that and they sense when you are sick. I have 2 dogs and 2 cats, and I have severe rhematoid arthritis. I take methotrexate for it and the med makes me sick for about 24-36 hours after I take it. And on days that I really hurt bad all 4 of my pets stay on me> I have a huge recliner and they are either on top of it or on the arms and at least 2 of them are in my lap. If I am laying down they are in bed with me and they get as close to me as they can. It is truly comforting. I hate to complain about how bad I feel to the family and when they see the pets all over me they know I am not feeling good. The other thing that always amazed me was that they knew exactly where I hurt. I hate to be licked but the dogs and one cat would go right to the joint that hurt the most. Maybe it was the heat of the inflamation that draws them idk but they know

Specializes in Geriatrics.

I too believe animals can sense illness & death. Have you ever entered a patients room and "smelled" something off in the air?? I have, and when I mentioned it to people I work with they say they can't smell anything. Usually when this happens the patient dies within a couple days. I figure if I can smell it, then animals, with thier superior sense of smell, must smell it too.

Specializes in ICU.

I recall going in a patients room after they had died and the smell of flowers was overwhelming (and very beautiful too).

Specializes in LTC Family Practice.

Yup no doubt about it, there is plenty of data, think of the dogs that are trained for seizure patrol and other related health issues.

Are critters are way smarter than we think they are:D

+ Add a Comment