Cats are intelligent, independent, playful, and amusing. At times, they can be snuggly companions, at other times, they act more like creatures from the great beyond. Some helpful hints on feline behavior include encouraging cats to engage in active play. Cats need to amuse themselves by pouncing, stalking, and chasing things. These cat habits are somewhat expected. You see the same behaviors when watching lion cubs at the zoo. Other feline activities seem to have no explanation. For example, cats may run frantically across the house right before settling down to stare at the wall. You might be wondering if staring at the wall is a normal behavior for cats. Could a cat staring at a wall be a sign of a medical problem? Could it be a sign of the supernatural?
Cats Have Keen Vision
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.
Cats can detect even the most subtle motions. A 2014 study found that cats can see some wavelengths of light that are invisible to humans such as ultraviolet light. 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.
Cats Can Hear Things That You Don’t
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.
Cats Have Mysterious Brains
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.
When Your Cat’s Wall Staring Is A Problem
Does your cat ever stare at the wall in between episodes of seeming mania? Your cat might paw at something in the air before taking off down the hallway, only to return an instant later and screech to a halt at your feet, skin rippling and tail twitching. This may be a cat or kitten behavior referred to as hyperesthesia.
Some other signs of this syndrome include the following:
The cat aggressively attacks its own tail.
The cat’s pupils are enlarged.
The cat meows or howls loudly.
The cat is sensitive to touch.
The cat frantically grooms itself, focusing on the base of the tail.
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 behavior. If this behavior 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.
If your cat is pressing the top of its head against the wall without moving for significant periods of time, the behavior could be a sign of a serious medical condition, called head pressing. This odd activity is not the same as head butting. A normal cat may repeatedly butt its head against a wall, corner, piece of furniture or person. Head pressing on the other hand involves simply holding the top of the head firmly against a hard surface for a long time. If you’re concerned with your cat’s head pressing, you should make an appointment to speak with your veterinarian.
What Should You Do When Your Cat Stares at The Wall
Some cat owners are worried that they aren’t giving their pets enough attention, leading them to go crazy and fixate on things that don’t really exist. If you have the same worry, you are probably much too attuned to your pet to withhold stimulation. Cats that aren’t properly stimulated may become depressed or aggressive. Bored cats may overeat, obsessively groom themselves, attack your furniture, or mope around the house. However, staring at walls is not a symptom of poor stimulation.
If you really want to bond with your cat, you can join in on the behavior; we won’t judge. Put your ear against the wall to show your cat that you’re listening too. You can move a flashlight beam against the wall to give your cat something else on which to focus. Proper cat care involves addressing your pet’s need for instinctual play. You won’t harm your cat by letting this normal cat behavior continue. Sometimes, cat habits just don’t have an explanation.