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Do Cats See Ghosts? How to Tell If Your Cat Sees Spirits

Layne is interested in energy work and exploring the often unexplainable.

Do cats see ghosts?

Do cats see ghosts?

Can My Cat See Spirits in My House?

At 10 PM exactly every night my cat goes from sleeping to erratically staring at the ceiling, yowling, and acting as though something is chasing her (sometimes she does the chasing). She will go from staring one minute to frantically zooming around chaotically, hissing at inanimate objects, and panting. Then, she returns to her usual grooming and resting spot like nothing ever happened.

I grew up in a fairly haunted house and we had a lot of spirit activity in our home and still do (see my other article "5 Signs Your House Is Haunted"). A few individuals have died in my house, so it's not surprising that there has been spirit activity here for many years. After experiencing a lot of encounters myself, I've always wondered if cats can see ghosts. From what my cats have demonstrated throughout the years, they seem to pick up on spirits.

10 Signs Your Pet Sees Ghosts

  1. They suddenly startle for no reason (arched back, fluffy tail, wide eyes).
  2. They stare at absolutely nothing for long periods of time with an unbroken gaze.
  3. When there is an unusual noise at night, your cat is next to you simply watching.
  4. They are always on a mission (disappearing and reappearing).
  5. They meow, hiss, or growl relentlessly at random things (like closed doors).
  6. They have a favorite spot they return to to investigate regularly.
  7. They get scared randomly and hide without any obvious trigger.
  8. Their eyes follow movements in erratic patterns when nothing is there.
  9. You sense that there is something in the house, and your cat behaves accordingly.
  10. Your house is knowingly haunted . . . and you have a cat.

Cat Chasing a Ghost

Why Cats Can Sense Things We Can't

Most of us know that reports of cats seeing ghosts are mostly anecdotal: On one side of the spectrum we have the non-believers, and on the other side of the spectrum we have the believers.

Cats have twenty-four vibrissae or whiskers which send information to their barrel cortex (similar to the visual cortex of the brain). Because of this, felines can essentially create a 3D map of their environment—they can also use their vibrissae to sense air movement.

Felines, with these additional gifts, may be able to detect things that we humans are insensitive to. So, should you live in an active household, your cat may very well be picking up on things that you aren't.

Can Cats See Things We Can't?

Humans and cats have very different gifts when it comes to vision. Humans are gifted with an array of colors and detail during the daytime, and cats are gifted with the ability of night vision but lack daytime detail. Objects that are slow-moving to humans, however, may look stationary to felines.

Cats have the advantage of high rod receptor concentration but the disadvantage of low cone receptor concentration (so high detail in low light but muted colors). They have a wider visual field compared to humans, but their visual clarity is less than that of a human (humans have 20-20 vision; compared to 20-100 to 20-200—so felines are nearsighted).

Cats see similar to a color-blind human. They can see shades of blue and green but reds and pinks are confusing. However, cats only need 1/6th the amount of light that people need to see due to their tapetum, which gives them the advantage of enhanced night vision abilities.

A comparison of the colors humans and cats see.

A comparison of the colors humans and cats see.

Human vs. Cat Eyesight Advantages and Disadvantages

HumansCats

Sensitive to red, green, and blue.

Blue and gray or similar to dogs (cannot distinguish between red, yellow, green, and orange.

Day vision

Peripheral and night vision

180-degree field of view

200-degree field of view

6-8 times more rods than humans (good for low light)

10 times more cones (color receptivity)

Elliptical eye shape

Less night-vision capabilities

Larger cornea and tapetum (gathers light)

Can see 100-200 feet away sharply

Can see 20 feet away sharply

How Cats See the World

Do Cats Hear Things Humans Can't?

Cats have mobile ears (they can be pointed in the direction of a sound to locate its origin). Cats can also detect ultrasound in addition to high-pitched sounds. Why is that? They have a special chamber that extends their hearing to a full 8-octave range. They can, therefore, hear up to 64 kHz—1 octave above the range of dogs.

Why Are Cats so Weird?

While data remains inconclusive and primarily relies on anecdotal evidence, it is known amongst animal lovers that cats are indeed sensitive. They can read a person without even having to get near them. Cats will shy away from people they dislike, and approach people they like. Similarly, they are very good at assessing situations and energy.

I've always been a believer in the spiritual world, and I have also seen my cats and animals act in weird ways. I believe that they are acknowledging energy that perhaps I can feel but cannot see—and I'm fairly sensitive.

I feel as though animals are protectors. I feel safer when they are around—they sense every little movement, hear every bump in the night and shift in the house. If you are someone who is sensitive to spirits, the paranormal, or even suspect you may be living in a haunted house, you are lucky to have a feline companion. Cats make for wonderful protectors.

Normal or Abnormal?

If your pet is acting erratically, it is important to have your vet do a regular exam to rule out any neurological issues or illness that might be causing him or her to act out.

Can Cats See Ghosts?

Sources

  • Feline Vision
    A series of photographs tries to capture the world as cats see it, with both their better night vision and exceptional ability to capture peripheral motion.
  • Wikipedia
  • How Cats Hear YouTube
    Cats’ sense of hearing is incredible! Learn all about it from John Bradshaw, author of Cat Sense.

© 2018 Layne Holmes

Does your cat see ghosts? Share your stories here!

Tammany fields on July 18, 2020:

Our cat often meows and runs behind the t.v. or behind doors and does like a backflip kinda thing. She runs through the house and stairs at the ceilings and especially in our bedroom. She also puts things in her food bowl things we have no idea where they came from. When whatever it is she is seeing becomes really bothersome, she growls and hisses in a very unusual sound pattern, not like her general tone. She stairs at objects for long periods of time.

brian from uk on June 08, 2020:

I have a little bit of a story when I was a young kid I used to stay at my nans for the summer holidays the one night her cat started staring at the corner of the wall in the living room the light was on all of a sudden it's fur stood up with its back hunched up in an attack position it's eyes wide open it started growling and hissing almost spitting at something we could not see to the cat it must have appeared as danger I've heard that cats protect there owners I wonder if this is why the Egyptians worship the cat as stone statues appear in there the writings and pictures

brian from uk on March 27, 2020:

Yes theres is a spectral vision is much different to human vision they also have a third eye like us like all mammals but unlike us they are not ego driven like us i loved my cat and i miss him unfortunately he got killed at an early age

Layne Holmes (author) from Bend, Oregon on October 14, 2019:

Thanks for sharing that Silas777! Indeed, cats do a great job of keeping habitats rodent-free. Interesting that they were so feared because in some cultures they are great protectors. Cheers to our cats!

Silas777 on October 14, 2019:

The Romans believed that cats were satan-worshiping witches in disguise, so killed all of them(real mature!)! But when the Black Death came along there were no cats to protect people,so the Romans died and their empire gone.

Layne Holmes (author) from Bend, Oregon on June 26, 2019:

Thanks for the read Lora—I am eager to read yours—"Our Spiritual Connection With Cats." I most certainly agree with your statement about dog protectors and cat protectors. Cats have such a spiritual sense. They have always come to my aid to communicate something to me and they certainly keep the air "clean." The cat vision comparison really interested me because I always assumed they saw more vibrant colors than we do . . .

Lora Hollings on June 24, 2019:

You did a wonderful job on a very interesting topic, Layne. I've always known cats have amazing senses, more keen than ours and their intuition on picking up things that we cannot see or feel is extraordinary. My cats have always amazed me with their cat extrasensory perception! The graph was very helpful in explaining the differences between cat and human vision and I really enjoyed the videos too. As I stated in my article, Our Spiritual Connection With Cats, "Dogs are the protectors of our bodies while cats are the protectors of our spirit when we sleep—coming to our rescue or aid if there are any harmful spirits that we may encounter in our dreams." Thank you for a great article on our feline companions.

Layne Holmes (author) from Bend, Oregon on June 24, 2019:

Hi Lizabeth—I do believe they are our protectors. They see what they can't. Thank you for sharing your story. Mine is sleeping by my feet right now.

Lizabeth on June 24, 2019:

2 nights ago, I had a very uneasy night. I felt uneasy and heavy. It was late in the night and out of no where my right leg began to sting. I turned on the light. Something unknown scratched my thigh. I had 1 single dark red scratch on my upper thigh. I tried to ignore it and pretend to sleep out of fear. My cat came to my bed and sat on my pillow. She licked my hand and face. She made me feel safe until I could fall asleep.

Brittany moyer on June 20, 2019:

My cat was going crazy he looked at the celling and the livening room celling and the kitchen celling and went crazy and never did that before and he does the same thing in my boys room to

Brittany moyer on June 20, 2019:

My cat keeps looking at my celling and my kitchen celling to and my kitchen light came on when we where sleeping and my live room light did the same thing and my cat was acting weird

Ellison Hartley from Maryland, USA on January 03, 2019:

It is reassuring having animals around. Even when mine do act a little spooked I'm not too scared knowing it's just family, ( at least I assume/hope it is) :-)

Layne Holmes (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 03, 2019:

Ellison, so true! It's really relieving to hear your home comes from generations of family . . . that makes it way better. Yeah, the science suggests cats are extra-sensory which all cat owners seem to know . . . my parent's house definitely has some weird energy and our youngest cat totally loses it. It's reassuring to have cats and animals around!

Ellison Hartley from Maryland, USA on January 03, 2019:

This is super interesting. I like how you explain the science behind the possibility of cats having more of an ability to sense ghosts than we do. My cat has displayed almost all of the behaviors you mentioned so I think it is safe to say she sees things I can't. Luckily, I live in the over 100 year old house on our family farm, so I don't think they are scary ghosts, just relatives dropping by for a visit!