One of the first things Paris Hilton did when her beloved chihuahua Diamond Baby went missing on 14 September was hire a pet psychic. Then she went on to hire seven more. It sounds a bit ridiculous – surely if the first, second or third pet psychic couldn’t find Diamond Baby, the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh wouldn’t be able to do it either. But perhaps it’s unsurprising, given the hotel heiress’s love for her fur babies. She is rarely seen without one of them cradled in the crook of her arm.
Whether or not you believe clairvoyance is total hooey, Hilton’s determination to exhaust every avenue in her search – even the metaphysical – is highly relatable for most pet owners.
Kwok, from Hong Kong, is all too familiar with the scenario. When her foster dog Cosimo went missing in April 2008, she was desperate to find him. The then eight-year-old Lhasa Apso had come into her care just shy of three months before he vanished into the night, just before a “black rainstorm” hit the island. Kwok and her ex-husband, who was the last to see Cosimo as he had taken the dog on a walk without a harness or leash, searched in vain for days.
Kwok was devastated. It was then she was directed to use a pet psychic by the name of Rosina Maria Arquati. “She was so nice and very sympathetic. She asked me to send her photos of Cosimo,” Kwok says. Arquati told Kwok what she “saw” through the dog’s eyes. “Apparently he was inside someone’s house [which had] a bigger dog, and Cosimo was very terrified. I had no idea where that could be, but at least I knew Cosimo was safe.”
Later, Arquati suddenly got in touch with Kwok to say her meditation class had been focusing their psychic energies into helping her find Cosimo. Less than an hour afterwards, Kwok’s husband received a phone call from a woman who said she had the dog. She soon returned him safe and sound. It was “strange”, Kwok says. “I think the woman had found Cosimo and, seeing how cute he was, maybe she wanted to keep him. And it seems something made her change her mind. I would like to think it was Rosina’s psychic persuasion.”
Happy endings are rarely the case when it comes to missing pets, and pet psychics are not usually the answer. After all, Diamond Baby is still missing. But no one can begrudge an anguished owner for going to desperate measures to find a missing family member. Or, alternatively, attempt to communicate with a family member who has died. And yes, to most people who have them, pets are family members. Hilton has described her dog as “truly like a daughter to me”, and a 2022 Blue Cross survey found that the vast majority (95 per cent) of UK pet owners consider their pet part of the family. Going to a psychic after losing a loved one also isn’t as rare as you might think, with around a quarter of Britons having consulted one before. Why wouldn’t it also be the case for a missing pet?
It could be because pet psychics don’t have the best of reputations. There simply isn’t any evidence that humans can have a telepathic conversation with an animal, a skill some pet psychics claim to have mastered. Try as I might when I repeatedly implore my Bertie for answers as to why he won’t eat his dinner, it’s a very one-sided chat. Most people are also wary about the cost, with some pet psychics charging hundreds of pounds for their “services”, no matter whether they work or not. In the US, such services can range anywhere between $100 (£89) to $1,200, according to one report.
For sceptics like myself, the thought of a pet psychic conjures up images of Dr Dolittle nearly crashing his car because his daughter’s guinea pig spoke to him on their way to the vet. The idea that humans might be able to get actual answers from their pets’ vacant, yet irresistibly cute stares seems, well, ludicrous.
It’s how Paula Stewart, from Liverpool, felt when she thought about going to a pet psychic after her dog Mitzi died in 2021. “‘I’m usually a sceptic about these things, but I seriously considered it. I only stopped thinking about it when a friend used one and the results were laughable.”
She adopted her rottweiler-mastiff cross-breed dog in 2014, a year after her father died of cancer. Six years later, Mitzi was also diagnosed with cancer and died. “It was like losing my father all over again. I missed her so incredibly much, it was so intense at the time and I felt like I needed to talk to her and know she hadn’t been in too much pain.”
I’m still only human. I want to help, but there’s really no guarantee.
Stewart only turned off the idea after hearing a recording of her friend’s session with a pet psychic. The psychic had charged her friend around £200 and got nothing right about her pet. “It was so wrong, it must have been a stitch-up,” she says. “It really put me off doing it. I would still be open to doing it if I thought someone was reliable, but I’ve not been able to find anyone. I would proceed with caution because it can really cost you.”
But there are some pet psychics who genuinely want to use their abilities to help in an ethical way. Elizabeth Lee-Crowther, an author and pet psychic who appears regularly on ITV, says she often gets calls from owners who are sick with worry, but is careful not to make any promises. “People can become very vulnerable when they’ve lost a pet and it’s just not right to say, ‘Yes, I can find them for you,’ because the truth is I might not be able to,” she says. “I’m still only human. I want to help, but there’s really no guarantee.”
Lee-Crowther says she doesn’t mind when sceptics come to her as a last resort. “I don’t lead anyone on and it’s fine if they don’t believe me. Many people just want comfort, they’re desperate to find their family member, so why would I deny it to them just because they don’t necessarily believe in what I do?” She also doesn’t charge a fee to people trying to find their missing pets.
Ultimately, that’s the most valuable thing a pet psychic can offer: comfort. When all hope seems lost and grief is creeping in, having someone who understands what you’re going through can be incredibly reassuring. Not everyone gets it when a pet dies or goes missing. Hearing words like, “It’s just a pet, you can get another one!” can be a real punch to the gut. So receiving solace from a medium, even if it isn’t real, can be a powerful placebo.
Diane James, head of pet bereavement support at Blue Cross, says people are entitled to seek comfort from anywhere or anyone they think will help, without judgement. “So often when an animal goes missing, owners blame themselves,” she says. “There’s a lot of guilt involved, a lot of ‘I shouldn’t have done this’ or ‘I should’ve done that’. If going to a pet psychic can help relieve some of that guilt and they feel it’s right for them, then why not?”
Of course, if your pet goes missing, a psychic shouldn’t really be your first port of call. People often get into such a panic that they forget the more practical steps they can take. James advises contacting your local council to see if the local authority dog warden has picked up your dog as a stray. You should also call neighbouring local authorities in case your dog has wandered into other areas, as well as local kennels and charities.
Alas, if a happy reunion isn’t on the cards, there are plenty of other avenues to get support, whether it’s through family or through a helpline such as the Blue Cross bereavement support service. And if you do contact a psychic, who knows? A whole new celestial plane might reveal itself to you. Pet hopefully included.