2001-Fri Feb 23 15:23:07 EST 2018
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In addition, cats actually do have a sixth sense, but not in the paranormal way that people usually use that phrase. If you've ever seen your cat sniff something and then sit there with a kind of goofy open-mouthed expression, you've seen something called the flehmen response. The cat is using the vomeronasal organ in the roof of its mouth, which is like a second nose.
"They use it for social smells," says Bradshaw, "for analyzing and maybe even storing away the smell of other cats."
Bradshaw says it's unlikely that the cat knew the fire was dangerous and was trying to sound a warning. He suspects that Zoe's attention was drawn to the high-pitched noises made at the start of the fire, because that type of sound is irresistibly attractive to cats.
"As far as a cat's concerned, that is a really interesting thing that's going on there," he says. "Cats' ears and cats' brains are primed to respond to these very high-pitched kind of crackly sounds. They almost can't give them up."
Bradshaw describes an experiment where cats were trained to go down a T-shaped maze with food on the right and an interesting crackly noise on the left. A rat learns this quite promptly, but it was much more challenging for cats. "The cats found it really difficult to learn," he says. "They kept wanting to go left because the noise was so compelling."
So why did Zoe go and fetch her owner? Well, we all know what happens when a cat wants to be on the other side of a door.
"They are very inquisitive animals," he says. "Anything that changes in their home territory, they want to find out what's going on. And if there's a locked door in-between, they'll try to get through — or try to get someone to let them through."
The natural abilities of cats are amazing, but their super hearing and smell probably won't convince Maron that his other story is so easily explained. His wife recently had a baby, and two or three days before she went into labor, Zoe started behaving oddly.
"Zoe kept bringing up presents, like her toys from the basement, a squeaky mouse and a ball of yarn that she loves playing with, and leaving the presents in front of the baby's room. She did that for two or three consecutive days."
Man says that Zoe often drops toys in front of him and his wife, but this was different. "When we got home, we'd see presents every day in front of the nursery. It's weird, like she knew something was going on."
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