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Why Do Cats Stare at Walls? 6 Reasons

Is there a ghoulish ghosty hovering in your kitchen corner just beyond your sight? Some people believe that cats are staring at spirits when they fixate on a wall that seemingly has nothing of interest to offer them. But the truth is your kitchen is not haunted (well, probably not, anyway). So why do cats stare at walls?

You might even start to wonder if your cat is autistic, seeing as it loves to hyperfocus. But chances are it’s one of the reasons below that’s causing your cat’s intense interest in the walls around your home. 

So why do cats stare at the wall? Let’s get into the ins and outs of this peculiar behavior.


Image by Ivan Jevtic from Unsplash


Why do Cats Stare at Walls? 6 Reasons

We may not understand it, but hey, cats have a reputation for being a little (or a lot) mysterious. Let’s demystify this habit piece by piece as we delve into the reasons why cats stare at walls. 

1. They Can Hear What You Can’t

That’s right, their ears perk up at sounds we don’t notice. It’s not unheard of for cat owners to discover a nest of rodents or raccoons behind a wall their precious pet was focusing on, believe it or not. 

If it isn’t crawling critters they’re catching wind of, they may hear a familiar sound like a family member’s car arriving home. Or they could simply be trying to understand an unknown sound and figure out what it is. 

Either way, it’s pretty harmless behavior. If you want to distract them from potential noises, a cat toy is definitely the way to go.  


Image by Chaiyaporn Atakampeewong from Unsplash

2. They Can See Better Than You

Much better, to be frank. Their peripheral vision alone is 200 degrees compared to our 180 degrees, and they can see ultraviolet light as well as other wavelengths that we can’t. They also have more rods in their eyes, a.k.a. the cells responsible for helping us see better in the dark. 

So perhaps they’re watching dust particles floating through the air, or a tiny insect buzzing around lazily. Sometimes what they find interesting is all but unseen to us.

Up closes view of green-eyed black cat wearing a red collar shrouded with plants.

3. They’re Having a “Moment”

The brains of our kitty companions are wired differently from ours. Sometimes they experience somewhat of a reboot where they freeze mid-action and appear to be working something out. 

The adorable and ultra-Instagrammable blep can occur during one of these spaced-out moments. But get your phone camera out quickly if it does, because it won’t be too long before your cat shakes it off and continues with their day as though nothing happened. 

bengal cat with green eyes stares at camera

4. They’re Not as Young as They Used to Be

Age gets the better of us all, even your sweet kitty. If they’re entering their twilight cat years, they may begin to suffer from cognitive decline. This means they can become confused or disoriented, which causes them to stare mutely into space. 


Image by Steve Smith from Unsplash

A trip to the vet will help assess the rate of decline and how you can make your elderly feline friend more comfortable. If nothing else, a comfortable bed will provide soft support while they stand their wall-assessing vigil. 

5. They Might Have Hyperesthesia

Essentially, it’s when an area of the skin becomes highly sensitive, and the discomfort and anxiety can cause them to space out and stare. 

Not even vets know what causes hyperesthesia syndrome, although they’ll want to run extensive tests to rule out anything else before they diagnose it. Other symptoms include skin rippling, sensitivity to touch, loud meowing, excessive grooming (particularly at the base of the tail), and enlarged pupils. 

So far, it’s believed that reducing your cat’s anxiety can help control hyperesthesia, so that means establishing a routine and avoiding overstimulation. 

6. Head Pressing? They Might be Seriously Ill

This isn’t your everyday staring-into-oblivion at the wall—I’m talking intensity to the point where they’re going right up to the wall and pressing their forehead against it and not moving. 


Image by Thomas Bormans from Unsplash

Head pressing can indicate brain tumors, poisoning, metabolic disorders, or infectious disease. But there will be other telltale signs too. Other symptoms like seizures, disorientation, compulsive circling or pacing, and excessive vocalization commonly accompany this behavior. This necessitates a vet visit ASAP. 

Don’t get it confused with headbutting, though, which has no other symptoms and is a normal action to establish scent marks and territory. 

What Should I Do if My Cat is Staring at the Wall?

Typically you have nothing to worry about if you catch your kitty enjoying a lengthy no-blinking competition with random walls around your house. It’s fairly typical cat behavior, so it isn’t a problem most of the time. 

White Khao Manee cat with different color eyes.

It may indicate that they need some more enrichment in their lives and other stimulation around the house to interest them and keep their minds and bodies occupied. You can encourage them to play with you or an engaging toy, or set up a bird-watching station outside a window that they can stare at instead. 

If you notice that they keep staring, though, it might be time to check for other symptoms that you might not have picked up on before to rule out any illness-related issues. Especially if you notice those stares turn into head presses. 

If in doubt, visiting the vet is never a bad idea. They can either put your mind at ease or help you figure out a plan to see to your pet’s issues. 

grey-cat-staring why do cats stare at walls

Image by Khristian Tambur from Unsplash

Wrap Up on Why Cats Stare at Walls

Is it a bug? Is it a brain freeze? We may never know exactly what captivates our kitty’s attention in the boring walls of our home. It’s just one of those aspects of cat behavior that comes hand-in-hand with being their owner and getting to watch them enjoy their daily lives. 

It may also be a subtle indicator that a vet visit is on the cards, so while you shouldn’t obsess about it, keep an eye on it. As your furry companion engages in staring contests with the wall, maybe pay attention if it’s the same spot over and over—you might just find something living there! 

dark ginger maine coon cat stares are maine coon cats friendly
Maine Coon

Ever wondered why your cat tries to bury their food? Find out here.

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