The Pet Whisperer

After a near-death experience, Shirley Scott claims she acquired telepathic abilities

Jessie Spaccia Illustration
Jessie Spaccia Illustration

What Shirley Scott is telling me is eerily accurate.

Scott, a pet communicator, has never met my cat, and the only two things she currently knows about Alice are her name and age, which I told the self-proclaimed pet clairvoyant seconds before.

Over the phone from her rural home in eastern Oregon, Scott (no relation) tells me, between slight pauses, that Alice loves being an only cat and the center of attention — the “queen” of her domain, as she puts it. This is true, I agree, and Scott’s words give me chills because I joke all the time that Alice is the queen of the house. Scott continues, telling me other thoughts that Alice is supposedly communicating to her telepathically. My cat also doesn’t feel like she’s 10 years old, more like an energetic 7. By this point, I confess, I’m feeling slightly giddy over what Scott is saying.

I later gush to coworkers and family about Scott’s insights. It’s then that I quickly return to reality as friends openly scoff, saying that simply knowing Alice’s age and that she’s an only cat would be enough to make educated guesses about her. The fantasy was nice while it lasted.

Scott admits she’s not always 100-percent accurate with her psychic readings of animals or people, and encountering skepticism is something she’s become very familiar with over the years. But to her, the nonbelievers don’t matter. “I don’t care if they believe if I can do it. It’s not about being right or wrong or trying to prove myself. I’ve proven [it to] myself and to my clients,” Scott says.

She recalls doing a reading about five years ago for a couple in Portland who wanted to know if their cat, suffering from stomach cancer, was in pain and wanted to die. Yes, their cat was ready to go, Scott told them. Later, the couple contacted Scott again to see if she could check on their deceased cat’s spirit to see how it was doing, and if it was happy. “The cat was telling them it could eat well now,” she remembers. “All this information was coming through about that it felt great, and it had been met with other cats when it crossed over, and [the couple] started crying because they’d had four other cats in their lifetime,” Scott tells me, adding she had no prior knowledge of the couple’s four past cats.

The first time Scott says she realized she could read animals’ thoughts was at a dog show in Moses Lake, Wash. While there, a woman approached Scott and said her dog, a Shih Tzu, would not behave properly in the ring, even though it had been extensively trained. Scott says she found out the dog was simply afraid of a hat one of the judges wore, and through her telepathy, she says, she was able to soothe the dog’s fears. It ended up winning first place.

Fourteen years ago, Scott, now 61, says she almost died after experiencing a severe allergic reaction to the artificial sweetener aspartame. After recovering, she says she’d acquired the ability to read people’s thoughts. She says her telepathy works like electricity, and she connects to subjects through the physical energy a person or animal’s thoughts emit into the universe.

“If someone calls and tells me their dog’s name and they’re currently thinking about their dog, I get in touch with that energy,” she says. The animal then “talks” to Scott using mental images, but “sometimes, I actually hear words from them,” she adds.

Besides telepathy, Scott believes experience from her past, such as a stint as a dog trainer for the Washington State Penitentiary’s prison dog training program, may have played a role in establishing her abilities.

Dr. James Ha, a Seattle-based, board-certified animal behaviorist and psychology research professor at the University of Washington, doesn’t buy into the idea of communicating with animals through supernatural powers.

“I have no issue with pet communicators — many are pure fakes — but many probably do know dog communication and language very well and are very sensitive to it,” Ha says. “Not everyone can see the subtle behaviors, and if you can, it gives you lots of clues, so maybe there is a natural ability.”

For me, for a moment, it was indeed comforting thinking I could know what goes on in the mind of my beloved cat, Alice. 

Pet communicator Shirley Scott hosts a workshop at the Body Soul Planet conference this weekend at the Spokane Convention Center, Oct. 5 at 3 pm. Visit

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About The Author

Chey Scott

Chey Scott is the Inlander's Associate Editor, overseeing and contributing to the paper's arts and culture sections, including food and events. Chey (pronounced "Shay") is a lifelong resident of the Spokane area and a graduate of Washington State University. She's been on staff at the Inlander since 2012...