Have you been curious to know the mystery behind those long, intent stares of your cat; his or her gaze fixated at some point on the ceiling or window; but when you try to follow the trail of the cat’s sight, you see blank space?
That is indeed one of the spooky parts of having a cat. In this article, I discuss 5 possible reasons why our cats are obsessed with these fixated stares into apparent nothingness.
If you’ve had a cat for quite some time, you will be familiar with the mysterious stares of your cat at nothing in particular. While this has given rich spooky content to writers of fiction, fantasy and horror, it will do us better if we stick to the science behind these possibly spooky actions.
Cats might stare into apparent “nothing” but they actually see things even in the ultraviolet spectra. So, basically, cats stare things that we are physically incapable of seeing.
While there aren’t many things known about the strange, quirky behaviours of cats, we actually do have some studies that suggest why cats tend to fixate over a point in the room or anywhere in general where there’s only empty space.
Here Are 5 Curious Reasons That Justify The Mystery Stares
1. Cats can see in the UV region of the spectrum of light.
We’re not sure whether cats can see ghosts. However, we do know that cats have a sharp sense of sight. They notice things that humans don’t.
For example, your cat may notice the sun reflecting off of a dust particle or your cat may see a small spider making its way along the crevice where the carpet meets the wall.
These sensory experiences may seem insignificant to you but they’re a big deal to your cat.
As studies have shown, cats can actually see in the UV spectrum too! Which is why when you find your cat staring away at “nothing”, you have no reason to be spooked. They just tend to see more than you do, that is all!
Cat eyes have more light-sensing rods than humans, this gives cats the ability to see even when the light is dim meaning that they may perceive reflections and glints of light that you can’t see.
2. Cats also have better hearing!
Cats have better hearing, and not just better than human beings, but better than most mammals, including dogs!
Sometimes, you inspect the empty corner in which your cat has imposed himself voluntarily and don’t see anything moving. What may look like your cat staring at the wall may actually be your cat listening to something that you can’t hear.
Many people have detected rodents in their walls or in their attics after their cats would sit in a specific spot and seem to stare through the plaster.
Your cat isn’t necessarily a pest control expert, however. Cats can hear creaks that your house makes as it settles, or whistling noises within your air ducts.
So, when you see your cat fixating over a point, there is a chance that they’ve heard that tiny insect long before it arrived.
3. Cats have episodic memory.
Cats’ memories may work in a similar way to the memories of humans and dogs, who are able to remember details of past experiences.
Cats’ brains have been a very interesting subject for research for a long time now. And even though scientists don’t understand it completely, it’s been found out that cats have episodic memory just like humans, and are able to retrieve and utilize both “what” and “where” information from a single experience.
4. Curiosity mixed with predatory instincts makes them fixate over spots.
Cats are very curious, and when they are focusing at something for a long time, it may be a sign that they are trying to figure something out. Like where the source of noise or light is coming from. And, of course, they try to detect any danger as well.
Researchers don’t completely understand the cat brain. Experts know that cats are highly curious creatures. A sensory stimulus that causes a dog to simply sniff and look away may hold a cat’s attention for hours.
So when your cat stares at a wall it might be trying to figure out what’s going on with the movement it sees or the sound that it hears. Cats may also stay still if they feel that they’re in danger. They’ll move again when they perceive that they’re safe from the threat.
Cats are also trained to focus on prey. Even though your cat is far from wild, it has inborn hunting instincts. In the wild, stalking prey helps a cat survive.
Stalking allows felines to sneak up on their targets without being noticed. When your cat stares at the wall, it may be stalking a potential victim that you can’t hear or see.
While veterinary neuroscientists continue to make progress in diagnosing and treating many feline afflictions associated with the brain, some conditions remain a mystery.
Such is the case with hyperesthesia syndrome, a bizarre disorder that can affect cats of all ages, although its onset most often occurs in mature animals.
The word hyperesthesia basically means an increase in sensitivity. If you have a cat with this syndrome you will probably be well aware of what is meant by this.
These cats act as though they have pain from simply being petted, especially along their lower back. Their skin seems to twitch as if they are irritated just by the air currents passing over them.
Experts aren’t sure what causes feline hyperesthesia. It could be caused by stress, abnormal brain waves, electromagnetic signals in the brain, seizures, or lesions along the spine. It also might be normal cat behaviour.
If this behaviour accompanies your cat’s wall staring and is becoming a problem, you may want to have a veterinarian perform a complete examination.
You can also minimize stress by maintaining a regular routine, playing with and exercising the cat regularly, and addressing any aggression between your cat and other pets.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do cats stare at nothing?
But it is a lot, because cat’s senses are so keen. Their eyes are especially attuned to movement, so a glint of sunlight off a dust mote can transfix their attention until they are sure nothing is going to move again. They are also listening, waiting for any squeaks or rattles that might indicate prey.
Why does my cat just sit and stare?
Often, she’s staring because she wants something to eat and believes that if she stares into your eyes, she can somehow control your mind and force you to do her bidding. … Cats do this for several reasons, such as keeping an eye out for predators.
What does it mean when a cat stares into space?
Rachel Barrack — a veterinarian at Animal Acupuncture in New York City. “When cats appear to be staring into space, they may actually be detecting subtle motion, as their vision is much more acute than ours,” Dr. Barrack said.
Should I stare back at my cat?
Cat owners are often encouraged to slowly blink or wink their eyes (e.g. sleepy eyes) when directly looking toward their cats. This sends a message that you are not a threat and they should not be alarmed. However, cats always prefer their owners using their peripheral vision to look at them rather than a direct gaze.
What Do Cats Think of owners?
Part of the appeal of cats is that they are independent creatures. Yes, they live with us and we feed and care for them, but often, they decide when and how they show us affection. It’s clear that cats bond with humans, even choosing favourite people, but what they actually think of humans is still somewhat a mystery.
While this might have come as bad news for all the cat parents who would love them a good conspiracy theory to think of whenever their furry baby sits and stares into space, for spook risks like myself, it was a huge relief knowing that my cat isn’t having another worldly conversation with someone from the spirit realm in my living room!
If you want to know more about strange cat behaviours, do check out my articles:
Does your cat stare into abyss of nothingness too?
What do you think goes on in their little minds when they do so?
Is it curiosity? Or predatory instincts? Or is this reasoning hokum and there actually is a friendly Casper out there talking to the furry felines?
Let me know what you think about this in the comments section!