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While John Michell has a brief break from this page, another living legend will be taking his place. Dr Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and the author of Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home, And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals (Arrow, £7.99). His website is: Jonathan Cainer

Archive for Thursday 27th November 2003 - Animal Instinct by Rupert Sheldrake

Rupert Sheldrake image Many cat owners are convinced that their animals can pick up when they are planning to take them to the vet. Jean Segal, in London, told me: "I was always most careful to give my cat no clues when we were due to visit the vet, but from the moment I got up in the morning she viewed me with suspicion. She was very wary of me, not her usual loving self, and as the time to leave home approached she would try to escape."

Cat Head image I heard so many stories like this that I made a survey of all the vets listed in the North London Yellow Pages. Sixty-four out of 65 said people often cancelled appointments because they could not find their cat. The remaining clinic had given up an appointment system for cats because cancellations happened so often. People just had to turn up with their animal. To avoid giving any clues, several people have even tried phoning the vet from work, but the cats still seemed to know.

Dogs, too, often sense when their owners intend to take them for a walk. No one thinks this strange if it happens at a routine time, or if the dog sees them picking up the lead. But some people have found that they if they just think about going for a walk, the dog will bound into the room eagerly, even if it is not at a normal time. In filmed experiments, we have shown that some dogs can pick up their owner's intentions to go for walks at randomly-chosen times, even when the dogs are confined to an outbuilding.

Pet telepathy is widespread. In my surveys of pet owners in Britain and America, 45 per cent of dog owners and 32 per cent of cat owners said their animal is sometimes telepathic with them. Many pets seem to know when their owners are planning to go on holiday, even before they start packing. And some seem to know when they are coming home, and go to wait at a door or window.

I would like to hear from readers whose pets seem to know who is calling on the phone, before anyone answers it. Email Rupert Sheldrake with subject heading: Rupert Sheldrake.

Rupert Sheldrake

John Michell would love to hear about your experience of any unusual or unexplained phenomena.
If you have a favourite mystery subject - from spontaneous human combustion to ancient Celtic ritual sites, write to John, suggesting a theme. And if you have any answers or theories about the mysteries John will be highlighting, he would particularly like to hear from you.

Email with subject heading: John Michell
Please note, we regret that due to time restrictions personal replies may not be available.

John Michell is a prolific author. Below are just two of John's books which might interest you:

The Rough Guide to Unexplained Phenomena
John Michell and Bob Rickard - A fascinating collection. Look up anything from urban legends to recorded unexplained phenomena - to the existance of ghosts. All presented in an organised, easy to follow manner, in related categories. A complete index and accompanying pictures with each entry. Excellent reference - excellent read.
Who Wrote Shakespeare?
Was the most famous poet and writer of all time a fraud and a plagiarist? Was Shakespeare the "upstart crow" described by Greene as strutting in borrowed feathers, or Jonson's "Poet-Ape" who patched plays together from others' work? John Michell's witty investigation of the theories and claims reads like a series of detective stories. By the end of the book even the most faithful disciples of the Bard will find themselves asking, "Who Wrote Shakespeare?"

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