Photographs from the Cat Experiments

In the early 1950’s, while he was working at the Duke Parapsychology Laboratory, Dr. Karlis Osis conducted two experiments with cats.  I didn’t study these experiments, and what I know of them I got from Gaither Pratt’s book, Parapsychology: An Insider’s View of ESP. In the first experiment, the cat was offered two “equally attractive food pans,” while the experimenter, “screened from the cat’s sight, decided on some random basis which should be the ‘correct’ pan for each trial.”  (More below.)


The experimenter (Osis) “concentrated upon having the cat make the same choice.” The results were “not spectacular,” but still better than chance. The problem was Osis couldn’t say whether it was ESP in the cats or “some essential psi element which the experimenter was contributing to the man-cat relationship.”

So they (Osis and Esther Bond) set up a second experiment, and this time neither experimenter knew the correct choice. One pan had food and one didn’t. A fan was installed to blow the scent of the food away. This experiment didn’t provide striking results either, in fact even less than the first experiment, but there was some evidence of ESP.

Not to be critical, but these experiments sound pretty crude today. I imagine better experiments could be conducted now. Rupert Sheldrake has done a lot of work with animals, which he has written about in his book, Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home, And Other Unexplained Powers of Animals (1999).

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