Why Do Cats Stare At The Wall? What Is so Interesting About The Wall Kitty!

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Why do cats stare at the wall or stare at literally nothing? Cats often sit and stare at walls due to their keen senses, as they may have heard or seen something that has piqued their curiosity or hunting instincts, which isn’t noticeable to humans 

I can’t count the number of times I caught the cat staring at the wall or into space. Sometimes at night he would stare out into the yard, so much so, that I would go outside to investigate, thinking that the cat was looking at a burglar (yes, I’m a scaredy cat). There was never a burglar.

He was more likely to be looking at an insect or some movement that caught his eye.

Cats’ vision and hearing are more acute than ours in different ways. Maybe he was checking out something important to him, like a moth not a burglar.

Reasons Why Cats Stare At The Wall
Is It Normal For A Cat To Stare At The Wall?
1. Vision Is Related To One Reason Cats Stare At Walls
2. Hearing Is Related To One Reason Cats Stare At Walls
3. Head Pressing Against A Wall – Get Veterinarian Advice
4. Hyperesthesia Syndrome – Get Veterinarian Advice

Is It Normal For A Cat To Stare At The Wall?

Just like dogs, cats have different personalities. 

Sometimes I think that non cat owners think that all cats are the same, but it is not so.

Some cats never stare at walls, or show a remote interest in staring at walls.

a cat sitting and looking at a wall
White walls are so interesting!

1. Vision Is related To One Reason Cats stare at Walls

Your cat may be looking at something on the wall that you are unaware of, no matter how hard you look.

When we see the cat sitting seemingly obsessed with something on the wall, we wander over to have a look. We tend to have a quick glance and see nothing.

The cat, however, might be looking at that tiny, almost undetectable bit of spider web, a reflection or even a tiny insect.

Cats can’t necessarily see in the dark as the popular saying goes, but their sight is six times better in low light than humans.

Cats have a much higher concentration of rod receptors in their retinas compared to humans, which allows them to see in low light conditions more effectively than humans. For example, in a dimly lit room where a human might struggle to see anything, a cat could comfortably navigate and spot small movements, such as the tiny scurrying of a mouse 

The structure of cats eyes is discussed in more detail in this article in the MSD Veterinary Manual.

Households with more than one cat report that one cat will be staring at the wall as though his life depends on it, whereas the other cat pays no attention at all.

a cat staring at a blank white wall
What is on the wall kitty?

2. Hearing Is related To One Reason Cats stare at Walls

When the cat is staring at the wall, it is a possible and plausible theory that he is hearing some noise from within the wall cavity that we simply cannot hear.

Cats have an acute sense of hearing. We may not think this is true as they often choose to ignore us, unless there is something in it for them.

Come to think of it, my family is a bit like this too.

This research studied the hearing range of domestic cats. The results were as follows

The behavioral audiograms of two cats were determined in order to establish the upper and lower hearing limits for the cat. The hearing range of the cat for sounds of 70 dB SPL extends from 48 Hz to 85 kHz, giving it one of the broadest hearing ranges among mammals. Analysis suggests that cats evolved extended high-frequency hearing without sacrifice of low-frequency hearing.

As an approximate comparison, a human’s hearing range is typically 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Cats have far better hearing than humans.

a close up of cats ears

Catching the soundwaves-Swivel! Swivel!

What are Conditions That Need Veterinarian Attention?

3. Head Pressing Against A Wall

Cats do like to headbunt or headbutt, and this is a harmless activity. However, head pressing against a wall requires medical intervention.

This article discusses headbunting and the clear difference between head bunting and head pressing.

This article gives more information about the medical condition that occurs when the cat presses its head against the wall.

This is entirely different from sitting still and staring at the wall.

The article has sound advice, but as always, ask a veterinarian if you have immediate concerns.

Does Your cat Knock Things Off Tables?


close up a cats head

4. Hyperesthesia Syndrome

Although not specifically related to why do cats stare at the wall, this syndrome does correlate with the cat showing signs of unusual behavior and it may include staring into space.

Rather than exhibiting one unusual behavior such as staring at the wall, it is usually characterized by a group of behaviors that are not normal for the cat and may include:

  • Excessive grooming
  • Staring into space
  • Salivation
  • Vocalization

For in-depth information, this article from Cornell University – Veterinarian Medicine gives information that is helpful for anyone worried about unusual cat behavior.

As much as we would like an easily explained answer, it appears that there isn’t that one thing, that causes wall staring in cats.

It is impossible for us as humans to relate to the acute hearing and night vision that cats have.

Other Common Cat behaviors Explained

Read more…

multiple cats looking at a computer

If only we could put ourselves into the cat’s shoes for a few minutes, we would probably have many more cat behavior answers

vector - two cats reading

Even when we appear to be sleeping, we can hear e
verything you say!
why do cats stare at  the wall - pinterest image

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