Animals, such as cats, are way more sensitive to chi, spirits, etc; than us humans are. He probably wasnt channeling a spirit, maybe he just felt the prescense of one. This ability is called Clairsentience.
Clairsentience is less common in adults, because most of them choose to ignore the paranormal side. In children, clairsentince is quite common.
For more tips on Clairsentience please contact me :).
Hope this helps!