Did You Know? (No.3)

Two dogs running through a field

breakthrough™ brings you a series of interesting facts about pets that you may not know about


No one will ever forget the terrible events that unfolded in Japan over Christmas 2011 -2012 as an earthquake and tsunami struck, devastating the Islands and claimed over 20,000 lives. Anecdotal reports of animals behaving weirdly in the days and weeks preceding a big seismic event go back hundreds of years, but this phenomenon has never been studied in any kind of methodical way.
Dog wants to play
Scientists have just published the results of an internet survey of 1259 ‘local’ dog owners and 703 cat owners, where they were asked about any observed strange behaviours over the days leading up to the quake, for example barking/meowing, becoming agitated and restless, trembling and trying to escape. The researchers came up with some intriguing findings.

Many cats and dogs became restless and agitated in the days leading up to the earthquake and the degree of abnormal behaviour observed by owners increased the closer they lived to the epicentre of the quake. In addition to changes in the behaviour of pets, the researchers also found that the earthquake affected the milk yields of dairy cows. The milk yields of cows on farms within 211 miles of the epicentre of the quake fell significantly in the days leading up to the event.

Dr Robert Falconer-Taylor BVetMed, DipCABT, MRCVS
Centre of Applied Pet Ethology (COAPE)

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