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Talking to cats? The rise of the ‘pet communicator’

Permata Adinda

The Jakarta Post

Cikarang  /  Wed, March 3, 2021  /  02:12 pm
Talking to cats? The rise of the ‘pet communicator’

Anggie supposedly communicating with an animal. (Courtesy of Margiastoeti/Margiastoeti collection)

A post on social media sharing the testimonies of pet owners who had used an “animal communicator” recently caught my attention. The self-professed communicator seemed to have accurately described the pets' habits, the owners' activities and personalities and even details about the building they lived in—even though the communicator and the clients never met in person. 

It felt suspicious, and I doubted its legitimacy. But, I thought, as a 25-year-old mother of four cats myself, why not give it a try?

I reached out to Margiastoeti, who usually goes by Anggie and operates on Instagram as @dr_anggie_. She said she had been working as an animal communicator since 2018 and had also been a medical doctor for 25 years.  

The 49-year-old said I could ask my pet three questions for Rp 150,000. She asked for a picture of my cat, its name, age and sex.

I decided to try her service on Ogura, a 1.5-year-old black and orange striped female cat with a white underlying coat who has lived with me since birth. Although she is physically healthy, the cat’s behavior has been worrying lately. She prefers to be alone, refuses to play with the other cats in the house and spends most of her time sleeping. She will sleep from morning to evening undisturbed—waking up only to the smell of food—before going back to sleep. 

Questions the writer sent to the Questions the writer sent to the "pet communicator" by WhatsApp. (JP/Permata Adinda)

I asked Anggie if Ogura was bored around the house and if I had provided enough toys. I also asked if she could tell Ogura that everyone in the house loved her. Anggie said she would get back to me once she finished making contact with the cat. I was quite nervous and didn't expect much.

To my surprise, the first thing Anggie asked once she got back to me was, "Is your mother sick?" She said Ogura was projecting a mental image of my mother lying in bed. She was always sleeping, Anggie claimed, because she was concentrating on trying to heal my mother. Anggie sent me her “transcribed conversation” with Ogura.

Anggie: Why are you always sleeping?

Ogura: I have to help my mother get better, so I sleep. (Anggie’s note: I think she is trying to absorb her sickness).

Anggie: But your mother seems fine.

Ogura: Hmmm. (Anggie’s note: She’s asking me to confirm your mother’s current condition with you).

For almost a year, my mother had been suffering from acute gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which sometimes made it difficult for her to breathe. But she was recovering and getting better every day. I told Ogura through Anggie that she didn’t have to worry. 

Anggie claimed she passed my message on to Ogura, telling her, "You can help your mother, but you also have to take care of yourself because your family loves you." To which Ogura responded, "Okay."

The descriptions of me and my sister that Anggie said she had received from Ogura through a mental image of a thin girl who was supposed to be me were accurate. The cat apparently said, "Don't frown too much or you'll get wrinkles. Eat more so you'll stay fit." There was also an image of my sister sitting on the floor holding her phone while eating snacks. My sister does, in fact, work in her bedroom at a floor table and keeps snacks in her room.

Ogura also apparently told my mother to stay healthy because, "If you are sick, then who will give me food and pet me?"

From cats to snakes

Anggie told me she first learned to communicate with animals in 2018. She was experiencing some issues with her pets at home and wanted to solve them by understanding her animals better.

Anggie insisted that communicating with animals was neither strange nor superstitious. Having been a doctor for years, she claimed she had developed an ability to communicate with human patients in an unconscious state and had often helped pass their messages on to family members. 

"Sometimes, I can communicate with a coma patient when I am in the ICU," Anggie said. 

Anggie has been a general practitioner for 25 years and claims to be able to help pets communicate with their owners.Anggie has been a general practitioner for 25 years and claims to be able to help pets communicate with their owners. (Courtesy of Margiastoeti/Margiastoeti collection)

She claimed it only took her only three days to learn to communicate with animals. "Communication is conducted at a subconscious level. It is similar to a casual chat between two people. I can hear them talking, or they can share images from their memory."

Besides cats and dogs, Anggie also claims to communicate with rabbits, snakes and turtles. Her clients consult her mainly about their pets' eating, sleeping and bowel habits. There have also been cases of pets getting sick or becoming suddenly aggressive.

Some pets have peculiar requests: a snake that asked to eat only white mice with no black dots on their fur, a cat that refused to eat because its bowl was not being cleaned regularly and a dog that asked for a pink bowl.

"There was one time a client consulted me about their dog who had trouble sleeping at night. [The dog] responded by showing me a picture of itself. 'It's your own image,' I said. It turned out [the dog’s] cage was positioned in front of a mirror, and the dog was scared of its own reflection."

She said animals have their own personalities, just like humans. "Take Ogura, for example. When I told her that your mother seemed fine, she gave the impression that I didn't believe her. It's just like humans, who can get offended when someone doubts them," she said. 

"Do not take your pets for granted. They understand and pay attention to us."

Belief or doubt

Areispine Dymussaga "Aga" Miraviori and Tomo Hartono have also consulted with an animal communicator. Aga adopted Kobra, a 4-month-old domestic male cat with black stripes and light brown fur. Kobra initially would not clean himself after he urinated or defecated. 

"The communicator told me to check Kobra's mouth and tongue area in case of fungal infection," Aga said. Tomo noticed Kobra was starting to lick himself clean a few days after the session.

In addition, the communicator told Aga that Kobra liked to be carried around in the house. This aligned with Aga's routine of holding him while she was cleaning the house. "I sensed that he liked it. It turns out he really does."

Aga and Tomo sought the help of an “animal communicator” to learn more about their cat.Aga and Tomo sought the help of an “animal communicator” to learn more about their cat. (JP/Permata Adinda)

When asked if she was convinced by the communicator's answers, Aga said she was not entirely sure. "If I told you I believed it, you and the readers would laugh at me," she said. "But at least there is a chance that Kobra understands that I have tried to communicate with him. It helps me feel I have a closer connection with him."

Jimmy Pangihutan, a veterinarian practicing at a pet clinic in South Tangerang, said he was familiar with the practice as many of his fellow veterinarians were also doing it. He said the practice was related to animal behavior studies but lacked a scientific basis.

"From the perspective of veterinary study, a practice has to go through several academic processes before it can be included in the curriculum. Animal communicating has not been put into the curriculum. Therefore, the services cannot be offered at the veterinary clinic," Jimmy said.

Jimmy urged the practitioners not to intervene with medical diagnoses because he had encountered clashes between the information provided by animal communicators and the diagnoses of veterinarians. "A person or communicator should not misuse their expertise to diagnose. There have to be clear boundaries."

Anggie claimed the practice was based on science. "We communicate through alpha waves in the brain. There are different ranges of frequency for each type of wave (beta, alpha, theta and delta)," she said. 

"But some people are still skeptical, and that is okay."