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  • Writer's pictureCat Ward


Have you ever found yourself wondering if your pet can read your mind? Ever had a moment where your pet just seemed to "know" something without there being any possible way for them to do so? It turns out there may be a reason for that!


The word Telepathy has its' origins in Greek- from the words "tele" (meaning distant), and "pathos" or "patheia" (meaning feeling, passion, perception, experience). Telepathy literally translates as "distant feeling". The word was coined by F.W.H. Myers, one of the founding members of the Society for Psychical Research, in 1882, and it means "the transmission of information from one person to another without using any known sensory channels, and without interaction between those people".

Telepathic experiences have been reported, and researched, for a long time- but are humans the only living things capable of telepathy?


Dr. Rupert Sheldrake is a renowned biologist, author of over eighty technical papers, and fourteen books, including two that I've recently read- "Dogs that Know When their Owners are Coming Home", and "The Sense of Being Stared At"

In both of these books, Sheldrake shares some anecdotal stories of pet owners' unusual experiences with their pets, and why they feel they have a telepathic bond with their animals. Sheldrake also details experiments he's conducted over the years to test these claims, and speaking for myself I found the results both fascinating and amazing!

For instance, a commonly reported experience comes from cat owners. If you have a cat, you may have experienced this yourself. Have you ever booked a vet appointment for your cat, only to have the cat mysteriously vanish on the day of the appointment? (I've actually had this happen with my cat!)

Sheldrake did some research into this, by phoning all of the listed vet clinics in North London, to see if any of them had ever had people cancel vet appointments due to their cat vanishing. Out of the 65 vet clinics, 64 of them reported this as a common occurrence. The 65th clinic had this occur so often that they told cat owners to just turn up with their cat when they needed a vet!

Another common experience comes from dog owners, who reported quite frequently that their dogs knew when they were about to be taken for a walk, even if the walks didn't occur at a routine time, and without the owners giving visual or audible clues as to their intention- indeed, many owners reported that their dogs "knew" they were about to be walked, even when the dog was nowhere near its' owner at the time!

To test these claims, Sheldrake visited some of the owners and their dogs at their homes, and had the owners lock their dogs in an outbuilding, where the dogs were videotaped continuously. In the main residence, the dogs' owners were instructed to think, at random times, about taking their dog for a walk, and to concentrate silently on that thought for five minutes before actually doing so.

In most of these tests, during that five minute concentration period, the dogs went to the door of the outbuilding and sat or stood near it, some with their tails wagging, until their owners came to collect them. The dogs did not wait by the door at any other time during the experiment.


One of the experiments Sheldrake was involved in which I found very interesting was one involving an African Grey Parrot called N'Kisi (pronounced "in-key-see"). N'Kisi is a remarkably intelligent bird, possessing a vocabulary of over 700 words by the age of 4. He has seemingly learnt the contextual meaning of words, and is able to use that understanding to make relevant comments. He speaks in sentences and his owner, Aimee, has now recorded over 7,000 different ones.

Aimee had begun to notice something unusual about N'Kisi's chatter, though. She had begun to notice that the bird often seemed to say things that referred to her thoughts and intentions without her having verbalised them, and that he also did likewise with her husband.

In April 2000, Sheldrake visited Aimee and N'Kisi at their home, and conducted an experiment. He isolated bird and owner from one another, by positioning them in rooms on separate floors of the house, with doors closed. Two synchronised video cameras recorded them both. Aimee was instructed to open a series of sealed envelopes one at a time. Each envelope contained a different photo. These photos were selected by a third party, who sealed them in thick envelopes and numbered those randomly, ensuring nobody knew what photo was in what envelope.

N'Kisi and Aimee

In each trial, Aimee opened an envelope and silently looked at the photo for two minutes, as the cameras recorded her and N'kisi. Three separate people transcribed N'kisi's comments, without knowing what picture Aimee was looking at at the time the comments were made. These transcripts were then compared in the synchronised video with the images Aimee was viewing.

In many cases, N'Kisi's comments were relevant to the images his owner was seeing. He was right far more often than would have been expected if he had been just talking at random. From 71 trials, he scored 23 "hits" where he made relevant comments, far more than could be put down to chance, and with a much lower than expected error rate. From a statistical point of view, it appeared that N'Kisi really was capable of reading his owners' mind!

Our pets are truly fantastic creatures- they provide us with unconditional love, and are our constant companions..but it seems perhaps they're a lot smarter, and may have far greater abilities, than we might realise! What do you think about this? have you ever had any strange experiences with your pets, where it just seems like they know something they have no way of knowing?

Share your thoughts and experiences in comments- I'd love to hear them!

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1 Comment

Bertil Hoberg
Bertil Hoberg
Dec 09, 2021

I have no personal experiences but I have heard that horses are able to sense things that we humans can not. I have read about horses refusing to continue walking, for instance. Not because of any other animal such as a snake.

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