close up of a black cat with green eyes sitting staring upwards

Can Cats See Ghosts And Spirits?

Cats have been thought to offer protection from negative forces since ancient Egyptian times. The ancient Egyptians believed that cats were gods that could travel between the living and the dead and bring protection to their households. 

These days many people believe cats offer protection from negative energy, occult powers, and curses – black cats are thought to offer the most protection, but all cats are thought to offer protection due to their astral aura in some circles.

With such strong ideas circulating since cats moved in with mankind, it is not surprising that many people believe cats have special powers and may be able to see ghosts and spirits. And then, whether you harbor such beliefs or not, there is the way your own cat behaves. 

You may not believe in auras or cat gods but when you catch your cat staring intently at a wall or chasing something that isn’t there it is easy to see why many believe cats do see ghosts and spirits! 

close up of an Egyptian Cat Statue

The Skeptic – Super Senses At Play

The skeptical will point out that all you are witnessing when you see your cat acting strangely by staring at a wall or focusing intently into the corner of a room is a cat’s amazing super senses at play. These super senses include their amazing eyesight and extraordinary hearing.

Do cats see more than humans? They do. In two separate ways. First off in low light levels, the cat’s eyes are far better than humans. Their eyesight is adapted to hunting under the cover of low light. The structure of their eyes differs from humans. Their retina has far more rods than ours meaning they can see as much as we can but in only one-sixth of the light we would need. 

The second way their eyesight differs is that they can actually see light that is not apparent to human vision. Scientists have identified that cats can see light in the UV spectrum. When people ask “why do cats stare at nothing” it may be that cats are staring at something obvious in the UV range – it is just not something we can identify in our visual range.

Did you know that a cat’s ears can hear a mouse’s footsteps 10m away? And they can hear mice squeaking from 20m away? Skeptics will point out that when your cat is watching a spot intently they may be focusing in and localizing on noise you can’t hear – the squirrel running across the roof, the mice in the walls, the neighborhood cat walking across the yard…

The skeptical will advise you that super hearing and seeing things we cannot is all that is going on when our cats begin to behave strangely.

The Believer – Weird Reactions 

Cats don’t accrue a mystical reputation over thousands of years without there being something in it – no smoke without fire so to speak! 

Whilst the skeptics might have a good point that cats have superb senses that can pick up on everyday, normal situations that humans cannot, they miss the point that it is not the detection of the unseen but the reaction to it that many owners find notably strange. 

In a recent survey, 25% of cat owners said they had seen their cat growling or hissing at an empty space within the previous four weeks. Many more reported seeing their cat follow an invisible presence around a room with their eyes. Cats don’t growl or hiss at mice in the walls! What are they seeing or hearing?

Check out this video of a cat acting strange – hard to put this down to a normal explanation, are they facing down the supernatural as the ancient Egyptians believed?

Or this one that shows similar, odd, cat standing action :

Neither of these reactions is what you might call normal behavior, hence the belief that something untoward is going on.

Maybe they are using their reputed sixth sense? Sixth sense might not be just about seeing ghosts and spirits, it can be sensing the return of homeowners before they arrive home or foreseeing events. Check out Oscar the hospice cat. Oscar developed a reputation for predicting death and offering comfort to those soon to pass!

A skeptic may say he could smell death coming on the patients or that statistically, a hospice has so many people pass away that carers are just misreading the situation. Alternatively, it could be a straightforward demonstration of the sixth sense.

If cats have a sixth sense maybe this is what they are plugging into when they react strangely for no good obvious reason!


Personally, I believe cats do see and sense things we cannot and that is because of the unusual reactions they tend to have in seemingly normal situations. Maybe they can see in UV but why react in such a strange manner?

I am reminded of an incident in my youth. Some relatives had a cat. The cat was a fairly placid girl. They had been living in an imposing, old house for a number of years. The house was generally full of light and airy, but when alone it was hard to shake off the feeling of being watched. 

One dark, winter evening I was passing from the sitting room to the kitchen and had to pass a dining room. The dining room was in pitch darkness with heavy curtains pulled over a set of french doors to the rear and a single door ajar onto the hallway. As I passed, the cat nonchalantly walked into the room through the narrowly opened door. Immediately on entering the room she began grumbling and wailing and then sped back out from the room puffed and fluffed up. I rushed to enter the room expecting to find something, anything that could provoke such a reaction – nothing, pitch dark, checked the windows, nothing….very odd. Had she seen something in the empty, unused room?

Or my own cat. We had been living in the same house for years. We had learned and become familiar with its creaks and groans. On one occasion whilst dosing on my chest she suddenly came to full attention from sleep, took up an inquisitive, alert stance, and then moved into a full hissing stance at the sound of boards creaking on a landing outside the room we were in. Only herself and me were in occupation at the time. I had never seen such a shift in outlook in her before or since and her reaction immediately led me to assume we were not alone. I rushed to investigate the landing to find nothing.

It is the strange reactions from pets whose characters owners know inside out that turn cat owners into believers when the question of whether cats can see ghosts or spirits comes up.

What about you? Have you seen your cat behave strangely, out of character, or in ways that just defy rational explanation? Maybe they are seeing ghosts and spirits – good and bad…