Do you ever catch yourself staring off into the distance when deeply reflecting on something? Your brain is just too busy organizing all the thoughts you have swirling around in your head, and it doesn’t care about looking at something interesting. Your eyes settle on something boring like a chair or the top of a shelf.
It makes you wonder if your cat is experiencing the same thing when you catch them staring off. You can’t count how many times you’ve walked into a room to see your cat staring at a wall. Is your cat lost in their thoughts of catnip, their favorite toy, or wondering when they will get their next treat?
While we may never know the real reason why our cats decide to have a staring contest with the walls, we can think of some logical reasons why this occurs.
Reason #1 Picking Up Sounds
Our cat’s sense of hearing is pretty amazing when compared to humans. Cats can hear much higher sounds than humans and even dogs! Cat’s ears are also specially designed to pick up sounds. Just like when you turn your head to get a better sense of where a sound is coming from, our cats can turn their ears in the direction of a sound.
If you ever see your cat staring off at the wall, pay attention to their ears. You can get a good idea of if they are listening out for something by seeing if their ears are turning. Additionally, if your cat has their eyes halfway (or all the way closed), this may indicate they are focusing on listening rather than seeing.
If this is the case, your cat may simply be facing towards a wall, but they are really trying to listen to a sound that caught their attention, especially if the sound is a high one we cannot hear ourselves. Your cat may also be using the wall as a reflector to help them hear a sound better.
Reason #2 Sniff Test
Just like hearing, cats’ noses are marvels at picking up scents. To help you imagine how strong a cat’s sense of smell is, they can have up to 200 million odor sensors in that cute button nose. Whereas humans only have a measly five million.
Just like hearing, your cat may have caught a whiff of something tantalizing to their nose – or maybe something a little stinky. They may be in the perfect position for full sniff access, and that happens to be by a wall.
You may notice your cat staring off more if you have brought new furniture, rugs, or even a new animal into the home. All of these things can change the odor in a room, and your cat will certainly try to figure out what that new smell could be.
Reason #3 Boredom
If your cat doesn’t seem to be utilizing their hearing or sense of smell while staring off at the wall, they may be a little bored. Cats need plenty of mental stimulation, and you can help keep them focused on things other than the wall.
Cats are curious by nature, and keeping their attention focused on toys or puzzles can help keep them out of trouble. Of course, every cat is different, and you may find your cat enjoys playing with a wand toy rather than a food puzzle.
While we don’t want our cats to be bored, we also don’t want to overstimulate them by having too many options. You can place some boxes around the house with small treats or catnip so your kitty can find fun surprises as they explore box to box.
Treat mazes are great to leave out when you are away from home. Your cat will be occupied with figuring out how to obtain a tasty morsel you have tucked away. Interactive and self-moving toys will also keep your cat busy when you are away from the office.
Reason #4 Health Issues
While we never want to think about our cat being sick, prolonged staring at a wall or other inanimate object could be a symptom of an issue.
Pay attention to what your cat does before and after the wall-staring episodes. If you see they engage in behavior like yowling loudly, aggressively grooming near the base of the tail, or attacking their own tail, these could be symptoms of feline hyperesthesia. If your cat suddenly stops these behaviors and then stares at a wall like they are in a trance, this could be further evidence of the issue.
Feline hyperesthesia is characterized by muscle contractions that your cat is unable to control. While it is rare, it is still important to bring awareness to this issue. If you suspect this to be the reason for your cat’s behavior, try to document your cat by recording them so your veterinarian can see it.
Look To AskVet for Pet Advice
It’s fair if you have concerns if your cat has been looking at the wall too much. If this is the case, look to AskVet for advice. We are a membership program focused on your pet’s lifestyle and wellness, so they can live a longer and happier life and give you peace of mind.
Anytime you have a question or are looking for suggestions to help keep your kitty busy, schedule a virtual session with a Certified Pet Lifestyles Coach™ who can help you with decoding your pet’s behaviors.
Contacting AskVet is a great way to troubleshoot so you can know if your concern warrants a visit to your veterinarian or if you can simply change up your cat’s routine.
Joining AskVet is easy, and you gain access to 1:1 pet coaching and 24/7 vet support. Not to mention access to the AskVet Clubhouse, which puts you in touch with other pet parents who are likely experiencing the same cat conundrums you are. You can trade stories, advice, and of course, share all the adorable kitty photos.
Don’t keep staring at the link – give it a click and see how AskVet is there for you and your pet.
Do Cats Hear Better Than Dogs? | Virbac
Mental Stimulation for Cats | Baypath Humane Society of Hopkinton