For some years now, it has been claimed that cats could sense electromagnetic fields (EMFs), based on current and some previous studies

Within the last two decades, internet, telecommunications, and wireless technologies have become an essential part of our lives. We are all, including our pets and entire ecosystems, immersed in an ocean of electromagnetic waves generated by the technologies we use every day, which are nothing like the natural electromagnetic waves produced by the earth, that are characterized by positively influencing our bodies and all species. 

Current electromagnetic radiation levels are estimated to be, at least, 100 to 200 million times greater than they were just a century ago, and, as we have mentioned multiple times, thousands of studies reveal that all biological systems are affected at a cellular level by the exposure to this type of radiation (EMFs), causing long-term cumulative health effects.

According to Animal Wellness Magazine, the homeostasis within our bodies – and those of our dogs and cats — is dramatically affected by these increasing EMR levels, with negative consequences on health. But much more than the facts we know regarding health, could cats really feel electromagnetic fields? According to existing studies, they can’t. Still, there are some theories and studies that affirm there’s a strong relationship between EMFs and some reactions in a cat’s body.

Do cats have magnetoreception?

Cats can and will always be able to find their way to their homes no matter how far they get lost. Many types of animals can also do this; some animals, such as the seabirds, navigate through the use of the sun or stars. However, other animals navigate through the use of the Earth’s magnetic field. Some types of animals, such as sea turtles, use the Earth’s magnetic field to find their way through the vast space of the ocean. 

Magnetoreception or magnetoception allows some specific animals to be able to detect the Earth’s magnetic field in order to perceive direction, location, or altitude. This type of behavior has been observed in many types of organisms and migrating animals, such as birds and sea creatures. However, studying this behavior is quite difficult and there isn’t any good evidence yet that implies that cats may have this ability with EMFs. This should be a subject for study in the near future.

EMFs and a cat’s brain: a study

An experimental biological study published in August of 1973, named Effects of modulated very high-frequency fields on specific brain rhythms in cats, shed some light on what may happen to untrained and conditioned cats who are exposed to low intensity, very high frequency (VHF) electrical fields, and amplitude modulated at biological frequencies.

For this study, a series of cats was operantly trained to produce specific transient brain rhythms following periodic presentations of a light flash stimulus. The specificity of the frequency of the modulation was tested on another group of untrained cats.

The results indicated that low-level VHF fields, amplitude modulated at specific frequencies, produce marked effects on conditioned specific brain rhythms. These effects can’t be attributed to the conditioning procedure, since the results started to diverge from the two controls only after the imposition of the fields.

The innumerable tests conducted within every session and the sharp contrast in the EEG between correct versus incorrect responses strongly suggest genuine biological transduction in the central nervous system. 

A cat’s audition and microwave radiation

Another study performed two years later confirmed that just like pulsed microwaves of high peak intensity and low average power induce a hearing phenomenon in man, electrophysiological studies on cats indicate that pulsed microwaves interact with mammalian auditory systems in a manner similar to that of conventional acoustic perception. A possible mechanism of microwave interaction is the acoustic energy release from rapid thermal expansion due to power absorption in the gross structure of the head.

“The phenomenon manifests itself as a clicking, buzzing, or hissing sound depending on the modulatory characteristics of the microwaves,” a similar study claims.

More studies are needed to unravel this relationship

According to the existing studies, cats are not able to perceive electromagnetic fields; or at least not in the way people believe. Their excellent orientation could be attributed to conditioning, as well as their sense of smell and auditory system, which let them clearly identify familiar odors and sounds characteristic of their surroundings.

However, studies affirm that a cat’s hearing may be affected by microwave radiation, deteriorating their capacity to hear clearly, similar to people who suffer from tinnitus. Additionally, there seems to be a clear influence between EMF exposure and some reaction in cats’ central nervous systems. These reactions were also found in studies with other mammals and rodents. 

As a conclusion, first of all, we need to understand the mechanisms involved in the biological reactions in cats as well as in other pets. However, the common point between all biological species when exposed to EMFs is the disruption of cellular activity in terms of electrical potential and oxidative stress responses.

The ramifications of those first common reactions in each species vary depending on multiple factors, for that reason, it is important to note that more studies are needed in order to determine the full relationship between biological reactions and EMFs, and not only in cats, but in several other species and ecosystems. In the same way, it is worth having an electromagnetic filter at home so that everyone, including our pets, is protected.