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Animals

Can My Cat See Ghosts?

Have you ever walked into a room to find your cat staring at a wall?

Or maybe you’ve been spooked by how your cat seems to watch one particular corner with intense curiosity — seemingly following *something* around the room.

If this has happened to you — you’re not alone.

Cat parents all around the world have the same question: Does my cat see — ghosts?

To get to the bottom of this burning question, The Dodo spoke to Dr. Rachel Barrack — a veterinarian at Animal Acupuncture in New York City.

“When cats appear to be staring into space, they may actually be detecting subtle motion, as their vision is much more acute than ours,” Dr. Barrack said.

In fact, a 2014 study suggested that both cats and dogs see some spectrums of light that we don’t — like ultraviolet (UV) light.

Something else cool? Compared to human eyes, cat eyes actually have six to eight times as many light-sensing rods, which means they can see much more in very low light — which is probably one of the reasons why they tend to run around the house in the middle of the night having all kinds of adventures. 

While you might sometimes find your dog staring at a random corner also, it doesn’t happen nearly as often as it does with cats.

According to Dr. Barrack, the reason for that probably has a lot to do with the differences between dog and cat personalities.

“Cats — unlike dogs or other animals — are more curious by nature,” Dr. Barrack said. “This could explain their sometimes erratic behavior.”

So while your cat’s curiosity might drive you nuts sometimes — or in this case, make you think she can see into the beyond — she can’t really help it.

“I do believe that cats have remarkable capabilities, and we know that their senses are worlds stronger than our own,” Katie Armour, project coordinator for the MSPCA Boston Adoption Center, told The Dodo. 

Now, it’s important to mention that because of a cat’s curious nature — coupled with their ability to see these extra spectrums of light — they can think that things aren’t entirely safe when these flickers of light start acting up. 

“Not only are they capable of seeing and hearing things that we can’t — they have marvelous brains that work in ways we don’t fully understand,” Armour said. “When a cat is watching something that doesn’t seem to be there — or if they call out to us about this perceived presence — we should respect that not only are they trying to figure this something out — but they’re wondering if the situation is safe.”

To help your cat feel at ease when they start to worry about whatever it is they’re seeing, Armour suggests trying to investigate the situation with them as a fun bonding activity. “Shine a flashlight into that dark corner or press your ear against the wall to hear what they’re hearing,” she said.

At times, your cat might be staring not at “ghosts” but at you — which can also be a little disconcerting.

“If your cat is staring at you, it’s encouraged to slowly move or even blink to send the message that you’re not a threat,” Dr. Barrack said. “But chances are it’s also out of love.”

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