I can’t tell if my roommate’s cat hates that we’re home all the time now, or if she hasn’t even registered the change. Like many people waiting out the pandemic by leaving my apartment as infrequently as possible, I’ve been spending more time than usual with my furry four-legged friend(?). Admittedly, though, saying we’re “spending time together” is generous; these days she mostly sits in the tub and screams for no reason. Perhaps she knows we’re living in New York, the city with the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in the country, in which case her screaming is completely justified, and I might join her for a tub-holler soon.
Obviously, I’ve been thinking about my roommate’s cat too much.
The good news is that I’m not alone. Social media timelines are, anecdotally, 80 percent pet content now (the other 20 percent is divided between horny-on-main thirst traps and Meltdown May-related chaos), and many animal shelters are fresh out of pets to adopt.
But since this cat is one of only a handful of living beings I interact with anymore, not knowing the workings of her inner life has become unacceptable to me. And so, I asked professional pet psychics to weigh in on how our companion animals are reacting to the COVID-19 pandemic. Do they understand what’s happening? Are they as freaked out as we are? And why does my roommate’s cat always, always, always scream in the tub?
Do pets — cats and dogs specifically — know we’re experiencing a pandemic?
Kate Sitka, Spirit Medium and Animal Communicator: Speaking in generalities, most pets don’t have a context for understanding a pandemic. Their world is their home and people. They’re usually quite tuned into their people, and if there has been a change in routine or their human’s stress levels, they will certainly understand the change, though they might not know exactly why.
Claire Radwanski, Animal Communicator: The short answer is yes, they know. We’re all connected energetically, and they’re able to pick up on the vibrations of the pandemic and the energy of fear and worry that’s with so many people during this time. On more intimate terms, our pets pick up on how their owners are feeling. They will know when something at home feels different.
Carrie Kenady, Pet Psychic: Yes, I believe that cats and dogs do know that we’re experiencing a global pandemic. I believe that they’re in tune with what their owners are thinking and feeling at all times. They’re in tune with the collective consciousness of the globe and with the spirit world, so they possess more knowledge than we usually give them credit for.
Laura Stinchfeld, Animal Communicator and People Medium: Yes, most of the animals I speak with understand that there’s a pandemic. Via telepathy, animals pick up our thoughts, feelings in our bodies and images in our minds.
The animals are constantly asking me if they themselves can get sick, how many people are dying or how to tell their people to feel and think more positively. Mike, a Labrador in California, shared, “You know how the world is in turmoil right now? I have noticed that the people who open their hearts and share love are the ones that teach others to share love. What happens is they share love and not diseases.”
If housepets do understand there’s a pandemic, how are they sensing that?
Jennafer Martin, Intuitive, Reiki Master and Empath: Pets, particularly mammals, are naturally empathetic, and they sense things through observation, sensory input, feelings and through energy/vibrations they pick up through energy centers, or chakras, in their paws.
Sitka: For many other animal companions, who have a greater contact with the outside world, they have an acute awareness of the differences they see and hear about from other species. For example, dogs and certain species of birds can develop relationships if it benefits them both — crows like to team up with dogs, especially if the dog can help them get food. If there is a pre-existing relationship with a dog who has more freedom, and a wild species who has unlimited freedom, then that dog can have access to information like the widespread reduction in human activity, and the results of that in the natural world.
Stinchfeld: They can figure out the situation in the world by observing our different habits. They notice people are washing their hands, cleaning the home more frequently and wearing face coverings. One corgi in Australia told me, “I want to wear a bandanna around my neck. I notice that people who aren’t wearing face coverings are getting nasty looks. I want to fit in and help people feel safer.”
Would knowing about the COVID-19 pandemic be distressing for them?
Kenady: Animals don’t fear illness or death in the ways that humans do. That’s not to say that they wouldn’t be devastated if their own human died — they grieve as much as we do — but they don’t fear death like most humans do. They see global events from a 30,000-foot view, as everything in karmic balance with everything else.
Stinchfeld: Animals are very similar to people in that some easily pick up the anxiety and fear of the environment in which they live, while others are more naturally optimistic. But while people can definitely stress out their animals, I’ve found that animals tend to be grateful-feeling and positive-minded.
My horse Jubilee gave this advice, “Don’t think about the coronavirus. If you do, it will be all you think about. Instead send love to the people who are most at risk. If you can’t hug people, find a horse to hug or another animal. If you worry, you will get sick. I know this because it happened to me once. Don’t judge what’s coming next before it comes. Create your future now with your dreams. When you do that, you’ll be amazed at how great your life is.”
Can pets detect illness, specifically something like the coronavirus, when someone they live with contracts it?
Martin: Yes, they can sense many physical and emotional changes. Dogs can be trained to alert their humans when blood sugar or cortisol levels are off to avert medical emergencies. And most pets will understand intuitively if you’re under the weather, which is why they’ll stay by your side as a comfort measure.
Stinchfeld: I’ve heard that animals can detect the coronavirus, but I haven’t heard any of my clients’ animals talk about this. Because many people’s immune systems can combat the virus, the animals may think the coronavirus is the same as a cold or the flu and therefore may not feel the need to alert their people.
Kenady: Absolutely. They will literally go to that exact spot in your body that is ill or in pain to heal it. When I had ankle surgery a few years ago, both my cats wrapped themselves around my ankle and told me they were “working on me.”