Most cat owners can attest to the mysticism of these beautiful creatures, but nothing drives that point home quite like catching your kitty staring off into nothingness.
Well, that, and the fact that they seem to be able to gaze at said nothing for extremely long periods of time.
The truth is, however, that this is neither unusual nor anything to do with the supernatural.
Cats simply have extraordinary senses of sight and smell and can see and hear things that humans can’t.
Why do cats like to stare at nothing?
Catching a cat staring likely means they have detected movement or motion of some kind, such as a tiny bug that is invisible to the human eye. Coupled with this is their astute sense of hearing. Staring in a particular direction may also indicate that a cat has detected a sound inaudible to humans.
How Good My Cat’s Eyesight Is
Technically, a cat’s eyesight is much blurrier than that of a human, as they are nearsighted.
However, they are far better at detecting changes in light and small, subtle motions. They also have a wider vision field than we do.
The reason for this is that cat eyes are vastly different from human eyes.
There are photoreceptors in the retinas of eyes called rods and cones. Humans have more cones, whereas felines have more rods.
Rods are responsible for motion detection, low-light, as well as peripheral vision.
The prevalence of rods in cats’ eyes makes it possible for them to detect even the tiniest motion and small changes in light and shadow.
Therefore, when a cat is found staring intently at something that appears to be nothing, there’s an excellent chance that it has noticed an insect, a shadow, or a flurry of movement that is simply invisible to its owner.
Given how curious cats are, they may stare at this mystery presence for a long moment. This phenomenon is what makes us think that cats stare at nothing.
How Well Do Cats See At Night
The only thing more unnerving than cats staring at nothing during the day is cats staring at nothing in the dark.
Cats have excellent low-light vision, and although they can’t see very well in total darkness, they can certainly see a lot better than humans in low-light situations.
This has to do with their pupils. The clever design of their eyes means that their pupils can fully dilate in near darkness, which allows the maximum amount of light in.
Compared to humans, they only need one-sixth of the light we need to see, particularly at dawn and dusk.
What A Cat’s Hearing Have To do With Its Staring
In addition to their keen eyesight, cats also possess extraordinary hearing.
Their range is relatively small and similar to that of humans, but the difference is that cats can hear high-pitched sounds far better.
Comparatively, humans hear in the range of 64 to 23,000 hertz, whereas a cat’s hearing range is from 45 to 64,000 hertz.
This means that cats can hear up to five times better than humans and at far greater distances. They can also detect very slight variances in sound.
For this reason, and as is the case with their seeing abilities, cats may be staring into nothing because they hear something that their owner cannot hear.
Often cats stare in the direction of a particular sound because they are trying to figure it out.
They may be listening to echoes from the neighbor’s house, water flowing through pipes, or the rustling of leaves and grass outside.
This could be to gather information or try and sense if there is danger around.
When A Cat’s Staring Becomes A Concern
If a cat displays intense, focused staring, sudden pupil enlargement, agitated tail motions, loud meowing, and uncontrolled urination, it may be suffering from hyperesthesia.
This behavior is noticeably different from their usual, languid staring and should be fairly easy to recognize as signs that a cat is in distress.
It’s best to get the cat to a vet straight away when you see any of these symptoms. They may be suffering from stress or seizures.
Frequently Asked Questions About Why Cats Like to Stare At Nothing
Why does my cat stare at me?
Cats stare at their humans for a few reasons. Staring and meowing is usually an indication that they want food or attention, or both. They may also stare at you to express affection. Staring is a form of non-verbal communication, and this is true for cats too. If a cat is staring at a human with its tail hanging low, it may be feeling threatened or afraid.
Does my cat recognize my face?
Cats do not recognize their owners by their faces. Rather, they recognize them by scent, sound, and touch. Even though they may not be able to pick us out from a line-up, our cats definitely know who we are when we are around them.
Do cats like it when we talk to them?
Studies have shown that cats do indeed like being spoken to and that they can recognize their owner’s voice and respond to it. This does, however, depend on tone and volume. A cat will not enjoy being spoken to in an overly loud voice or a harsh tone.
As most feline parents know, a cat’s stare can speak volumes and is one of their most essential means of communicating.
While it might be a little creepy, a cat’s gaze can tell us a lot about how it feels or if something is going on in its environment.