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Can Cats See Ghosts? Feline Visual & Auditory Abilities Examined

Jeff Weishaupt

By Jeff Weishaupt

Tortoise Japanese bobtail domestic cat looks into camera lens

Does your cat often stand still and stare at the ceiling? Or have you caught them following something “invisible” most nights? Yes, we know, that’s frightening!

As scary as it may seem, it’s just what many pet owners believe to be true. Still today, no scientific study has confirmed that cats can see ghosts or spirits. So, what’s the truth?

Experts believe that cats have powerful night vision and hearing abilities, so they stay attentive and curious all the time. In fact, even a slight reflection or motion can convince the felines to follow and find their source. It may include ghosts, too; who knows!

If your cat also shows this awkward and scary behavior at night, this post is for you! Keep reading until the end to better understand why your feline seems startled out of nowhere.

Can Your Cat See Spirits and Ghosts?

Have you seen your cat twitching their ears in different directions? Or has your kitty woken late at night, only to walk downstairs as if following something?

Owners who believe in ghosts and spirits may consider these incidents related to supernatural powers. But in reality, it’s just your cat’s natural prey instincts and curiosity making them do these things.

However, history is full of occasions related to cats and their interactions with spirits. In ancient Egypt, cats were considered gods and worshiped by many. In fact, the cat’s death was considered a tragedy, and all the family members used to shave their eyebrows to pay tribute to the deceased animal. The ancient Egyptians used to believe that these cats could communicate with ghosts. Similarly, Buddhists assume that dead people are reborn as animals, preferably cats.

Many people also think cats can suspect negative energy around people and sense abnormal activities. This might be true if you have a strong belief in the presence of ghosts and have witnessed your cats doing the most unusual activities at the oddest times. However, the truth is completely different if you believe in scientific reasoning.

Golden Chinchilla British Shorthair cat looking up
Image Credit: yarm_sasha, Shutterstock

Why Do Cats Behave Like They Have Seen a Ghost?

Since very little evidence supports the notion that cats can see ghosts, we look into what science has to say. Cats’ senses are far different than humans’. They are more heightened to help them catch their prey and evade predators easily. That’s why sounds that may seem normal to you can be extremely excruciating for your feline friend.

Whether it comes to their eyesight, smell, or hearing abilities, cats may surprise you in more ways than you can imagine.

In a nutshell, a cat’s strong instincts are why these pets seem startled as if they have seen a ghost. In reality, they are just trying to figure out what that motion, reflection, or sound was.

Strong Eyesight

Do you consider your cat as a nocturnal animal? Don’t worry; many of us do. But in reality, these creatures are crepuscular, making them more active at dusk and dawn. That’s why they are known as low-light hunters.

It’s believed that cats have six times stronger vision in dim light than humans. This makes it easy for them to detect and follow their prey. Not only that, but this characteristic also helps them judge speed and distance with great accuracy. Cats also tend to spot any light changes, unlike humans. That is why most people believe felines can identify ghosts or spirits roaming around them.

Cats can also easily detect flickering produced by fluorescent light, unlike humans, who won’t spot any change. Since these pets are more curious and have stronger eyesight than humans, their awkward behavior makes sense.

When a cat’s eye catches a light or an object, they get curious and act erratically to learn more about it.

tabby cat at night
Image Credit: Mookmixsth, Shutterstock

Strong Hearing and Smelling Powers

Do you know that cats hear at a much higher frequency than we do? That’s due to their unique ear structure, which helps them spot a mouse scuttling in a far corner or a squirrel making efforts while climbing a tree. This explains why most cats wake up suddenly from a deep sleep. Their sensitive ears catch a sound that makes them curious, encouraging them to look for the source at night. You may see your kitty tilting or moving their head to hear a sound and focus on it properly.

Similarly, the smelling sense of cats is also 9 to 16 times greater than humans. Their secondary smell organ, Jacobson’s, helps them catch smells that a human’s nose can’t.

Does a Cat’s Whiskers Play a Role Here?

Another feature that makes a cat attentive and curious to act is their whiskers. Whiskers may look adorable on your furry friends, but they have a larger role to play. They help in increasing the sensory abilities of your kitty.

Even a slight change in air currents gets detected by these whiskers. Your kitty may also use them to measure the height and width of an enclosed area or find the prey’s location.

These heightened senses make our feline friends quite special. This is why they act differently to various environmental changes around us. So, instead of labeling them ghost detectors, appreciate their abilities to see, hear, and feel things that we can’t.

cat with long whiskers looking up
Image Credit: Jumpstory

When Should You Worry About Your Cat’s Behavior?

The chances of your cat spotting a ghost are quite narrow. Most of the time, it is something else that triggers their unusual behavior. Many cats remain calm and cater to their curiosity by searching for the thing that awakens their senses. But in a few cases, you may see your kitty acting aggressively and destructively around the house.

In that case, it is imperative to seek professional advice. Take your cat to a reputable vet and find the reason for this abnormal and dangerous behavior. Sometimes, your kitty may consider a situation unsafe and start worrying about what they might see. In that case, instead of stopping them from being a detective, calm them down and help them find the source of sound or movement they have been searching for.

Play your role by shining a flashlight in a dark corner or pressing your ear against a wall to hear what they might be listening to. You might also see your cat staring at a new family member for a long time. In that case, make sure that you calm your kitty down and explain how the guest isn’t a threat.

So, stay calm; your house is not haunted. It’s just your feline friend’s heightened hearing and seeing abilities!


Cats are one of the most adorable creatures on this planet. However, their strange behavior at night may leave you scared.

Instead of calling your cat ghost hunters or detectors, know they’re acting like this due to their strong senses. Appreciate their amazing abilities and let them feed their curiosity how they want.

However, if they start behaving aggressively out of nowhere, take them to a vet as soon as possible. It may not be the actual ghost in your house but an underlying health issue within your cat.

Featured Image Credit: Tetiana Chernykova, Shutterstock

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