can cats sense storms

Can cats sense storms?  Cats have always been known as remarkably intuitive creatures, capable of picking up on subtle changes in their surroundings and react accordingly.

Out of all the cat’s talents, their knack for sensing incoming storms has piqued the interest of both feline enthusiasts and scientists.

Although scientific studies are rare, the word on the street is that cats have a sixth sense when it comes to detecting storms.

But, can cats sense storms coming? 

Yes, cats can sense approaching storms because their acute senses help detect changes in barometric pressure, temperature, sounds, and other environmental cues. 

The History of Cats Sensing Storms

the history of cats sensing storms

Experts agree that the concept of cats sensing storms has its roots in Norse mythology.

Hounds and wolves frequently accompanied Odin, the Viking god of storms.

Black cats became symbols of impending storms because they were believed to belong to witches who flew on broomsticks during lightning strikes.

A storm characterized by high winds (the dogs) and heavy rain (the cats) is what the expression “raining cats and dogs” refers to.

A satirical use of the phrase by Gulliver’s Travels author Jonathan Swift in the 1700s is more likely to be the true origin of the statement, however entertaining the backstory may be.

He imagined elitist nobles gravely worrying that it would “rain cats and dogs.” The idiom suddenly became popular.   

Can Cats Sense Storms?

do cats possess storm-detecting abilities

Now, the real question is, “How can cats sense thunderstorms?”

The fact is that cats, like many other animals, have impressive innate abilities that allow them to predict and prepare for upcoming events.

This is true for weather changes that precede and accompany storms and thunderstorms.

The sophistication of their senses plays a major role in this capacity.  

Fact: In Britain, particularly in Wales, it was believed that rain was probable if a cat was busy washing its ears. 

Behavioral Changes in Cats During Storms

behavioral changes in cats during storms

Cats often alter their behavior in predictable ways when a storm or thunderstorm is on the horizon.

Some cats become more friendly toward their owners when they feel anxious or stressed.

You may also notice some of them trying to hide in the house until the danger passes.

Similarly, anxiety and stress in cats can cause them to pace, meow, and generally be restless.

These shifts in behavior during storms reflect natural reactions to the altered environment and attempts to deal with the increased dangers that come with it.

During these moments, cats will feel more at peace if they are in a tranquil and safe environment. 

How Can Cats Sense Storms and Bad Weather?

how do cats sense storms

If you agree with the fact that cats can sense storms and bad weather conditions, you may be wondering how exactly they manage that.

Here are some of the possible explanations:

Sensitive Hearing

Cats’ hearing is phenomenal, significantly superior to that of humans, and this is supposed to help them sense storms and pressure changes.

Cats can pick up sounds from 48 to 85 kilohertz, although the human hearing range is only 20 to 20 kilohertz.

This means that cats can detect the distant, low-frequency rumbles of an approaching thunderstorm long before we do.

sensitive hearing

The thing is that cats have hearing five times more sensitive than ours.

For instance, they are able to recognize the faint pattering of raindrops on a roof or window as a precursor to a storm.

A change in the chirping of birds or the buzzing of insects could be an indicator of an incoming storm, and their excellent hearing allows them to pick up on such subtle variations. 

Sensing Changes in Barometric Pressure

sensing changes in barometric pressure

Like most animals, cats are much more sensitive than humans to changes in barometric pressure.

Barometric pressure, often known as atmospheric pressure, is the pressure exerted by the atmosphere due to its mass.

The atmospheric pressure varies as the weather does.

The barometric pressure drops dramatically just before a storm. Because of their heightened sensitivities, cats can detect these differences. 

An Important Consideration

Cats’ responses to pressure fluctuations include fleeing the area or acting in an unexpected manner.

If you have ever arrived home to find your cat cowering under the bed or in a dark corner, they could be sensing a storm.  

Fact: A sign of impending bad weather in colonial America was a cat sitting with its back to the fire or sleeping with all four paws tucked under. 

Sensing Changes in Static Electricity

sensing changes in static electricity

An increase in atmospheric static electricity is a common effect of thunderstorms, and experts believe cats can sense that.

A possible explanation for this sensitivity is that the insulating characteristics of cat fur cause it to react to increased static levels in the environment.

If your cat’s fur has ever stood on end or you have seen it acting anxious during a storm (by, for instance, pacing or hiding), the increased static electricity may be to blame. 

An Important Consideration

Static electricity’s discomfort could encourage cats to seek safety, highlighting their natural inclination to avoid danger.   

Sensing Changes in Temperature and Humidity

sensing changes in temperature and humidity

Changes in both temperature and humidity are common during storms and thunderstorms.

Cats may not be as attuned to these shifts as some animals are, but they can nonetheless pick up on the abrupt changes that occur just before a storm.

Cats may be able to detect changes in the weather, such as a decrease in temperature or an increase in humidity.

Some cats might act differently, showing signs of anxiety, restlessness, or a desire for a safe place to hide

Fact: Cats are not as sensitive to changes in humidity and temperature as other animals are, but their instincts allow them to detect the early warning signs of an impending storm. 

Sensing Changes in Wind Direction and Speed

sensing changes in wind direction and speed

Cats can sense the slightest variations in wind speed and direction because of their exceptionally sensitive whiskers.

The wind tends to shift visibly when a storm approaches.

Whiskers function as fine sensors for cats and allow them to detect these little differences.

Cats can predict the arrival of a storm by detecting subtle shifts in the air currents around them.

This heightened awareness allows them to take appropriate action, such as seeking shelter or exhibiting restless behaviors.   

Recognizing Visual Clues

recognizing visual clues

Cats have excellent vision and can spot the signs of an impending storm.

They might see the skies getting darker, lightning striking, or see differences in human behavior as we get ready.

Their acute vision lets them see and respond to shifts in brightness, motion, and weather.   

The Role of Instinct and Evolution

Cats’ extraordinary storm-sensing abilities likely stem from their evolutionary past as solitary hunters.

To survive in the wild, cats require a heightened sense of awareness. When they hear the thunder, they know it is time to take cover from the oncoming storm.

Domesticated cats’ instinctive awareness persists, even if they do not use this skill as frequently.

It is a relic of their primitive impulses that causes them to do things like seek shelter or act uneasy before a storm. 

Helping Cats Cope with Storms

helping cats cope with storms

There are things you may do if your cat exhibits anxious or fearful behavior during a storm.

  • Provide them with a peaceful, comfortable place to retreat to in your home.
  • Provide soft caressing and reassuring words if your cat comes to you for comfort.
  • If your cat has extreme anxiety during storms, it is best to take them to the clinic.

Keep in mind that every cat is an individual, and the methods that work for one may not be appropriate for another.

If you want to help your cat through a storm, you will need to be patient and empathetic.  

Fact: Anxiety wraps that apply light pressure, and pheromone diffusers that emit relaxing scents may help cats feel better during a storm. 


Can cats sense storms? It seems they can. However, the precise methods by which cats detect storms remain unknown.

Still, their heightened senses and inherent instincts certainly play a crucial role.

When a storm is on the horizon, we know it is time to take precautions and respect the might of nature.

The same logic applies to our feline friends. We can aid them through potentially stressful weather situations by studying their behavior and offering them solace.