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Is It True That Cats Protect From Ghosts & Spirits? The Myth Unveiled

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Blue eyed snowshoe cat

Cats have a deep connection with the occult and all things mystical. There are stories about black cats and witches on broomsticks, but do cats have protective properties when it comes to ghosts and spirits? If history is anything to go by, the answer is yes. According to the Blue Cross (a pet charity in the UK), 43% believe their pets protect them from spirits, and 25% of cat owners noticed their cat hissing at emptiness.

hepper cat paw divider

Cats in History

The deep connection between cats and the spirit world dates back to Ancient Egyptian times when Mafdet was first depicted. In the first era of Ancient Egypt (3100 BC to 2900 B.C.), Mafdet was looked upon as the protector of the Pharaoh and a ward against evil 1. The idea that cats protected against evil persisted in Ancient Egyptian culture, with Bastet (the second and most revered cat-goddess of the Egyptian religion) being worshipped well into the fifth century BC.

In modern times, cats were linked to the occult in a less than favorable way. Cats were seen as spirit familiars to witches in Victorian England and were often burned alongside their owners or just for fun.

In Japanese culture, the Kaibyō or “strange cat” is a supernatural entity in Japanese folklore which influences the public perception of the creatures. The Japanese perceive cats as lucky, and they have a strong association with the spirit world.

tabby cat with grey fur and green eyes sitting on owner's lap at home
Photo Credit: Uplight pictures, Shutterstock

Can Cats See Ghosts?

There is a common belief that cats are susceptible to the spirit world. Because of how keen a cat’s senses are, they often see or hear things that we don’t. This can be shown in how a cat will stop and stare intently at seemingly nothing in the doorways or corners of a dark room. This may be due to the cat’s whiskers, as these sensitive organs detect minute changes in air pressure and motion. They can also see ultraviolet (UV) light, which wasn’t known for a long time.

This may explain why cats stop and stare, but it doesn’t explain what they see. Cats are often alert and will react to movement within the home, which can be particularly jarring at night when you’re alone. A cat will stare at something and try to let as much light in their eyes as possible in the dark, often utilizing their tapetum lucidum to do so. The tapetum lucidum is a reflective membrane that sits close to the retina in a cat’s eyes, giving them their eerie glow.

Cats use this membrane to reflect any available light into their eyes to improve visibility, dilating their pills simultaneously. This gives a cat a spooky, ethereal gaze that seems as if they’re looking into a world that we cannot see.

black cat with glowing eyes in the dark
Photo Credit: Angeles Balaguer, Pixabay

Protective Natures

So, we’ve established that cats have a strong relationship with the spirit worlds and have excellent senses that can detect things that humans can’t. Does this all help cats protect their owners from ghosts and spirits?

Cats often protect their family and form powerful bonds with their owners. If your cat sees something they perceive as a threat to you, they may well go into protective mode and hiss, puff up their fur, or even growl.

Cats that aren’t sure what something is may stare intently before reacting aggressively. If this is done in an “empty room” or a dark corner, owners may believe that their cat is protecting them from something nasty and unknown.

There are stories of cats going above and beyond for their owners, as was the case for Tara, a cat who saved her little human (a toddler) from a dog attack. Tara chased the dog away, who had latched on to her 4-year-old best friend’s leg and was beginning to drag him down the driveway. Tara was an ordinary tabby cat, yet she showed such bravery that she received numerous awards for protecting the boy.hepper cat paw divider

Final Thoughts

Knowing how bonded cats are to their owners, it is not hard to imagine that cats would protect and ward off spirits and ghosts within the home. In fact, 29% of pet owners in the UK believe their pet has seen a ghost or supernatural presence, and half said it happened more than once. Furthermore, knowing how cats were revered for their protection in many cultures across thousands of years, it’s very easy to believe that cats protect their families from things that go bump in the night.

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Featured Image Credit: Carole, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

Authored by

Nicole is a lover of animals of all sizes but is especially fascinated with the feline variety. She’s the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese, and works every day so he can relax in the sunshine or by the fire. She’s always had a cat in her home and has spent countless days with others, observing behaviors and softening up even the grouchiest of the lot. Nicole wants to share her kitty expertise with you so you and your cat ...Read more

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