As a cat parent, you might have seen your cat do some bizarre things once in a while, including staring at the wall, even though you don’t see anything there. Your friends say that your cat is looking at ghosts, but you say your cat might see a small bug because you don’t believe in spirits. Is there a scientific reason why your cat keeps staring at the wall?
Cats stare at the wall because they see a bug or a speck of dust in the light. Another answer might be that your cat has a medical issue called hyperesthesia that causes your cat to chase its tail or frantically grooming itself, including its tail. They might have heard something you didn’t hear.
Staring at the wall isn’t that bizarre for cats, as they are hunters and are most likely stalking their prey. Stick around to find out more.
Cats Might Be Staring at a Bug or a Speck of Dust
It is in a cat’s nature to stare down their prey and learn every move it makes, so they know how to catch it. They can track things that humans can’t, which helps them in the wild when they track food.
A tiny bug might have caught your cat’s attention, but even though you can’t see it, your cat can and is tracking it to where they can catch it. Or, they might see a speck of dust in the sunlight move to the wall. To your cat, that speck of dust might be something to kill. So they stare and watch to make sure it doesn’t move again. They must protect their territory from invaders!
While cats might not have the clear vision that humans do, they still have the uncanny ability to sense or see what humans can’t pick up on. You might think they are staring at the wall for no reason; they are actually tracking some tiny bug or speck of dust.
They Might Have Heard Something You Didn’t Hear
Cats can hear more than humans because they can turn their ears 180 degrees to hear everything going on. Their whiskers also pick up on the vibrations of everything that moves. There might be something behind the wall they picked up on that you didn’t hear. It might be a mouse, or it might be something else altogether. Cats will stare at the wall for hours if they detect something behind there, as it might come out at some point.
With their hunter ancestry, cats have retained much of their abilities and instincts, so when they stare at the wall, they are doing what thousands of years have told them to do. Their hearing is finely tuned to detect the smallest sound, and combined with their smelling abilities; they are ready to hunt down and catch their prey.
While some humans have very good hearing, cats are far superior in that arena, so if your cat is staring at the wall for some reason, pay attention. It might be alerting you to a threat. Well, at least a threat to your cat.
Shapes or Shadows On the Wall Attract Their Attention
Along with their hearing and smelling senses, their eyes are tuned to detecting the slightest movement. While they can’t see as well as humans can, their eyes have developed to follow the movement of anything, including shapes or shadows on the wall.
Try this with your cat: during a sunny day, move your hand or finger in the sunlight, making a shadow on the opposite wall. See if your cat follows the movement of your shadow. Chances are, they will be wide-eyed, ready to pounce.
Shadows from a bug might trigger their stare too. While they might not see the bug, they see the shadow from it and follow it to see what is making the shadow. Outdoor cats use this skill to catch birds, rabbits, and mice to leave at your front step as a present.
Shapes on the wall are a bit less likely, but if you have something taped to the wall and it falls to the floor, your cat will notice it. And because they are hunters, they know that it might happen again, so they will stare at the wall to catch the next thing that falls.
It Could Be a Medical Issue That Needs Attention
There is a strange medical condition in cats that make them stare at the wall, then have manic behavior, which might include:
- Chasing its tail non-stop, with aggressive attacks regardless of how much damage there might be.
- Your cat’s eyes are wide as if they are going crazy.
- Your cat is meowing loudly, and it is out of character for your cat.
- Whenever you touch your cat, it pulls away like it is sensitive to being touched.
- Your cat grooms much more than normal.
Known as feline hyperesthesia, the condition is caused by abnormal brain waves, seizures, or lesions along the spine. It could also be caused by too much stress. If you’re concerned that your cat has this, schedule a vet visit for a comprehensive check-up to rule this out.
Staring at the wall by itself is not abnormal behavior, but if it is accompanied by the other symptoms mentioned, then you might need to get your cat proper medical care. There might not be a treatment, but you can rule out any other issues with a check-up at the vet’s office.
Some Theories Suggest It’s Ghosts They See
There are some theories that suggest that cats are extra-sensitive to spirits or ghosts and stare at the wall because they see ghosts. It might your great-aunt Wanda coming back from the grave to warn you about a future event, and your cat is there to protect you.
There is no scientific backing for this theory, and your cat is most likely staring at a small bug or listening to sounds behind the wall. But some people insist that this is why cats stare at the wall. If this is what you believe, keep believing it. But know that there is very little proof that supports this theory and that your cat is doing something completely normal.
Is This Behavior Anything to Worry About?
Aside from any medical conditions that your cat might have, this behavior is nothing to worry about. Indoor cats get bored sometimes and will just stare at the wall for no apparent reason. It’s the same when you’re stuck at home, and you sometimes stare into space when you’re bored. Your cats are probably doing the same thing.
If the behavior comes with other behaviors and you’re concerned something is wrong with your cat, by all means, schedule an appointment to see your vet. They might help you rule out anything medical. Otherwise, this behavior is quite normal, and there is nothing to worry about.
Staring at a wall or staring at the floor is normal cat behavior that appears weird to humans. But if you think about it, humans have behavior patterns that might seem weird to cats. Cats might get just as concerned about you as you do about them. In fact, that is why cats bring you dead animals–because they are concerned that you aren’t eating right.
When you can determine that your cat is doing what cats do, you can relax a little and enjoy its company a bit more. After all, that’s why you adopted a cat, is it not?
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Pam is a self-confessed cat lover and has experience of working with cats and owning cats for as long as she can remember. This website is where she gets to share her knowledge and interact with other cat lovers.