Forecasting Kitty?

2014-03-02 18:39:00.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

He’s not sleeping, he’s observing the weather.

Last shift, I read an article on NPR entitled, “What We Might Learn From Snoring Weather Cats.” The article was based on information contained in an 1883 book entitled Signal Service Notes, Issue 9. (The US Army Signal Corps was a predecessor to todays National Weather Service; to learn more about how the US went from the US Weather Bureau to the National Weather Service, you can click here). The short article peaked my interest, so I downloaded the full copy of the book to my tablet and have been reading it this shift week. The book is filled with popular weather proverbs and prognostics, some very true while others are…questionable. One of the questionable ones is a section dealing with proverbs/prognostics relating to animals. There are proverbs/prognostics for beavers, cattle, pigs, squirrels, wolves, and, wouldn’t you know it, cats.

The section on cats was of interest since we have a resident cat up here by the name of Marty Kitty. Since we have a cat and we see foul weather up here frequently, what better place to study these various proverbs and prognostics. So, the proverbs/prognostics the book lists are:

When cats sneeze it is a sign of rain.

The cardinal point to which a cat turns and washers their face after a rain shows the direction from which the wind will blow.

If the cat is bathing in the sun of February, it must go again to the stove in March.

When cats are snoring, foul weather follows.

When cats are washing themselves, fair weather follows.

Cats with their tails up and hair apparently electrified indicate approaching wind.

It is a sign of rain if the cat washes their head behind their ear.

Cats clean table-legs, tree-trunks, etc, before storms.

When a cat scratches itself, or scratches on a log or tree, it indicates approaching rain.

If sparks are seen when stroking a cat’s back, expect a change of weather soon.

When a cat washes their face with their back to the fire, expect a thaw in winter.

When cats lie on their head with mouth turned up, expect a storm.

Cats purr and wash…before rain.

This week I have been trying to observe Marty to see if any of the proverbs/prognostics listed are true. So far my observations of Marty Kitty are inconclusive. I rarely hear him sneeze, he is always bathing and is facing all directions when cleaning, he always sun bathes, I rarely hear him snore, even though we have humidifiers, he always seems to have static (electrified as they say), and he always sleeps on his back, good weather and bad. So, if these proverbs/prognostics are true, they do not hold true for cats on the summit of Mount Washington, Home of The Worlds Worst Weather. But they are something to think about and possibly observe elsewhere.


Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

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