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Why Do Cats Stare at Walls? 5 Reasons for This Behavior

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By Nicole Cosgrove


As every cat owner knows, cats are capable of strange behaviors, but these are partly why we love them so much! From sleeping in uncomfortable positions in questionable places to climbing the seemingly unclimbable, these strange and mysterious behaviors are part of what makes cats so endearing.

One mysterious behavior that you may have noticed from your feline is staring at a wall for no apparent reason. Most people get rather frightened or at least concerned at this behavior, but there are actually valid reasons for your cat doing this—and no, it’s not a ghost! Read on for five reasons that your cat may be staring at the wall.

The 5 Reasons Why Cats Stare at Walls

1. Cats Have Highly Sensitive Ears

Cats have incredible hearing ability, and while their hearing is about the same as humans on the low end, they can hear high-pitched sounds around 1.6 octaves above humans! These are sounds at frequencies that we cannot hear and aren’t even aware exist. Your cat may simply be hearing something that we cannot perceive with our own senses.

This could be anything from noisy pipes or electrical noises or possible rats or insects running around inside the walls. The sounds could also be coming from the other side of the wall, like neighbors talking or cars driving. Again, they may simply be hearing something that you cannot and are staring at the wall in an attempt to find out where the sound is coming from.

chartreux cat eyes_LucasBouillon_Pixabay
Image Credit: LucasBouillon, Pixabay

2. Cats Have a Keen Sense of Sight

Cats cannot see as many variations in color as humans can, but they still have a keen sense of sight, and their sight in low light and darkness is far superior to ours. In fact, cats have a reflective layer behind their retina that enables them to see using roughly 1/6 of the light that humans need to see. They also have a slightly wider field of view, at 200 degrees compared to our 180 degrees, enabling them to see more around them too.

With these highly sensitive eyes, cats can easily see things that we don’t notice. This could be small insects, light reflections, and moving shadows, some of which we may not even be able to see at all. Your cat may be seeing movement on the wall that you cannot notice.

3. Hunting

As any cat owner knows, cats are expert hunters and have a ton of patience when it comes to tracking down and stalking their prey. Cats will often sit still for long periods of time staring at their prey before striking, waiting for the exact right moment before making their move. This could be why they are staring at the wall—they are simply waiting for the perfect moment while hunting something down.

In the wild, there is a high risk of starvation if a cat waits until they’re hungry before hunting, so they will usually take any opportunity that presents itself for food, regardless of hunger. A moth, beetle, or lizard are all fair game for cats, and these creatures are often found running around on walls.

Image Credit: katya-guseva0, Pixabay

4. Medical Issues

In some cases, your cat staring at the wall may be an indication of a medical issue of some kind. This is especially possible if you have an older feline, as senior cats commonly develop cat dementia or feline cognitive dysfunction. Cats with this condition are easily confused and may simply just be staring at the wall in a daydream-like state.

Another possible medical issue is feline hyperesthesia. This condition can cause cats to go from aggressive grooming, loud meowing, and enlarged pupils to blankly and calmly staring at the wall. The condition has only recently been recognized, and vets are not 100% sure what causes it, although it is likely linked to stress or anxiety. If your cat is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s best to take them to a vet for a checkup immediately.

5. Cats are Mysterious

Cats are simply mysterious animals, and much of their behavior cannot be explained. Cats are known to freeze when they are trying to figure something out, and it may look like they are staring at the wall but are actually deep in feline thought. Cats are also highly curious animals, and a scent or sound that a dog may give only a fleeting glance at may hold a cat’s attention for hours! All cat lovers know that cats are capable of strange behaviors, and staring at the wall may be for one of the mentioned reasons or something that we could never begin to imagine.

black bombay cat sitting on grass
Image Credit: xiclography, Pixabay

Final Thoughts

Cats do strange things at times, and staring at the wall is just one of them. Luckily, there is usually no reason to worry, and your cat is probably on alert for something that you have not noticed. Cats have far more sensitive hearing and sight than us, so there are things that can hold their attention that we are not aware of.

From high-pitched sounds to subtle changes in light, cats are far more keenly aware of their surroundings than we are, leading to behaviors that seem outright weird to us mere humans!

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Featured Image Credit: Galexia, Shutterstock

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