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Can our pets see ghosts?

I once heard a joke about how cats stare at nothing while dogs bark at nothing.

I forget the punchline.

But about seven years ago, I adopted an adorable, fluffy white kitten who became a beautiful, fluffy white cat.

This cat will, on a regular basis, suddenly turn and stare at the flight of stairs leading to the bedrooms. Her eyes will widen, and often she looks terrified. The worst is when she tracks whatever it is with her eyes, as “it” moves into the kitchen or towards the front door.

Did I mention my front door makes a lot of strange noises? As if it has a multi-chambered iron lock from medieval times clanking into place at 4 a.m. I have an ordinary deadbolt.

About three years ago, I adopted another kitten. It wasn’t long before she was staring at the stairs as well, also with terror in her eyes. She too appears to watch whatever it is as it makes its way to the kitchen or the front door, usually simultaneously with my other cat.

Do they just happen to stare at the same spot? Is their obvious fear brought on by some delusion?

Or are they seeing something I can’t?

It’s been scientifically proven that cats and dogs can see things humans can’t, including stripes on flowers or patterns on the wings of birds.

The secret behind their super vision is UV light. Cats, dogs, and other animals can perceive this type of light while we can’t.

Add senses of hearing and smell that are far superior to ours, and it’s not a stretch to say our pets are able to detect plenty of stuff we’re not. Some scientists now believe that a pet’s ability to predict the death of her owner could actually be the result of the animal detecting chemical changes within the body.

The internet is full of stories like mine. Apparently cats staring at something on a flight of stairs is quite common. Do spirits like to spend all their time hanging around a staircase, or is there some other reason felines are drawn to stairs?

Sometimes I wish I could see through their eyes.

But most of the time I’m very glad I can’t.

Have you ever suspected your pet has seen something supernatural? Do you think dogs and cats can see ghosts?

Photo courtesy of Darmom

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31 Comments

  1. I have often thought about this myself, Holli. I have owned a few cats over the years, and there have been times when they would sit and look at empty spaces for minutes on end. I always told myself that they were looking at bugs flying around (thinking that they were seeing ghosts would have kept me awake at night, lol). 🙂

    Reply
    • JH

      Good strategy. And perhaps there are bugs that are always on my stairs, but I’m not sure that makes me feel much better!

      Thanks for commenting, Mark. Always good to see you here.

      Reply
    • we had a border collie that would lie at the bottom of the stairs and just stare up there. If the kids took him up there, he would just stand trembling and stare into the bedrooms on either side. And it they didn’t take him down right away he would piddle on the floor.

      There were lights turning on (mostly kitchen) when no one was there, I sometimes heard voices of deceased people, in the back hallway etc.

      This was an old house, but no-one had ever died there before, just our shepherd dog, that the border collie replaced. And I was the only one that this ‘spook’ ever bothered besides the dog.

      Strange, but true!!!!

      Reply
  2. Having cats in my household for many years, I’d say they definitely see (and hear) more than we do. I guess it wouldn’t surprise me if they could see ghosts.

    Reply
    • JH

      Sometimes it would be nice to be able to communicate with them, even though most of the conversation would probably go like this:

      “Feed me.”
      “But you just ate.”
      “I don’t care. Feed me again.”

      Reply
  3. They can tell when bad weather is coming. If not a ghost going down your stairs, they might see a draft.

    Reply
    • JH

      So they can see my hydro bills steadily increasing…now that *is* scary!

      Reply
  4. I trust the animal kingdom. If I’m hearing bumps in the night, or day, and the cat is still snoozing on my legs, I know I’m fine. But, when he suddenly gets up and tears around the house like he’s possessed, that’s when I get a little worried, or check of cat nip!

    Reply
    • JH

      Ah, sounds like a case of the kitty crazies. There’s no accounting for those, and no cure either, I’m afraid.

      Reply
  5. Actually, I think that’s the joke (“cats stare at nothing, dogs bark at nothing”). An interesting aphorism…

    Reply
    • JH

      Hmm…clearly no writer was responsible for that lack of punchline!

      Reply
  6. I do believe that cats at least can see ghosts. If had cats my whole life and have seen them act strange while starring at the wall/ceiling and following something.

    I’ve got a story for you:

    When I was a teen, I lived in this apartment. My bedroom always gave me bad vibes. I always felt that maybe someone died in my bedroom. Or something bad happened there. At night, with the lights off, I’d always look into the corner at the foot of my bed and I could swear that it seemed darker over there, Except moonlight should’ve reached that corner. One night, while I was reading, my cat was sitting on the other side of the room and she looked at that spooky corner and would slowly move her head to the corner above me. She kept doing this, as if following something. Right then, I knew that my suspicions about that corner was right. Something was there.

    Reply
    • JH

      Ooh, that’s super creepy, Chrys! Thanks for sharing. I love it when people share their own experiences and stories here. <3

      Reply
  7. I think they do see something because they can see more than we can and sense things. We can learn from them. I have seen my dog look to the hallway( where there are stairs) and at times, growl and our cats have looked at the hallway and seem to be following something. When I first moved into my home, my ex was working until past 9pm. I was sitting having a glass of wine watching a bad Marilyn Monroe movie and my other dog Katie( in doggie heaven now) was with me. I suddenly heard footsteps coming for the back hallway coming towards the tv room. I thought my ex was home but knew it was too early, I looked at the tv…kissing scene going on so that was out. I thought someone broke in and was ready to throw the wine in their face. My Katie also heard the footsteps as her ears perked up and she was also looking at the doorway but just when we were to see the person, the footsteps stopped. Katie got up and looked around the corner and walked away. I….feeling like WTF just happened, got up and found my girl in our library looking around. Very strange.

    Reply
    • JH

      Oh, that’s really spooky, Birgit. Footsteps are not a good thing to hear when you’re home alone!

      Thanks for sharing your story.

      Reply
  8. OMG That would scare the shit out of me. Maybe you need to set up a camera and record while you’re sleeping and see if anything manifests. =D

    Reply
    • JH

      I can only imagine what the cats would do to the cameras. They do value their privacy.

      Reply
  9. yeah, i think they can. we dogsat a yorkie that went ballistic and barked at corners for whatever reason. our chuihuahua does it too at our new house. she’ll go off and chase nothing.

    Reply
    • JH

      That’s really interesting…and creepy. Is it an old house?

      Reply
  10. Animals definitely can see things we can’t, and stories like yours and some of my own experiences make me think that ghosts might be some of those things. I’m with you, though. I’m not sure I *want* to be able to see what they see.

    @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

    Reply
    • JH

      Oooh, that’s a tease, Sam! Now I want to know what your own experiences were.

      Reply
  11. My dog, Max, stares off into space. I’m sure he is listening the neighborhood, or maybe something happening in town. It’s only a few blocks away.

    I hate to say it, but I’m sure your cats are seeing something–monster, ghost, or another dimension. Sounds like investigating may lead to another book. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

    Reply
    • JH

      Gee, thanks Anna. Perhaps I’ll send them around to your house next? 😉

      Reply
  12. I can see both those cats conspiring against you. “Hey, you’re the new guy here, so let me fill you in on a game I like to play.”

    Yeah, I’m sticking with that explanation. The other freaks me out.

    Reply
    • JH

      😀 Ha!

      Interestingly enough, I do have a third cat–the oldest–who has never shown any interest whatsoever in the stairs.

      Reply
  13. There is a great mystery novel, THE COLD DISH, that has a modern Wyoming sheriff being given the Cheyenne Rifle of the Dead (the Sharps Buffalo Rifle which killed Custer.) The spirits of the dead Cheyenne from the Little Big Horn are believed by the modern Cheyenne to haunt that rifle … and the Owl feathers hanging from it occasionally move without any apparent wind.

    The sheriff brings it into the home of the woman he is drawn to since it is priceless. She insists he leave the rifle by the front door. As she talks on the phone, he sees her huge dog peering at the rifle as if seeing something invisible to his eyes. Then, he notices that the Owl feathers are moving on their own.

    It is veers from a straight-forward to a haunting finish as …. Well, I won’t spoil the ending should you want to read it. But the ending will stay with you long after you close the book. THE COLD DISH by Craig Johnson.

    Reply
    • JH

      Wow, that sounds like a great book, Roland. Very original and eerie. I’m going to add it to my TBR list, and I’m not just saying that. I’ll let you know what I think.

      Thanks for the recommendation!

      Reply
  14. Sometimes the tortoises will stare at the wall. I’m pretty sure there’s nothing there, but they kind of look like they’re watching a movie. 🙂

    Reply
    • JH

      Hmm…can tortoises see ghosts? That’s something I never, ever considered. But why not?

      Reply
  15. One cat staring at the same spot in the house and tracking something invisible with her eyes is strange.

    TWO cats doing it is downright creepy.

    Reply
    • JH

      I know, right? Thanks for commenting, Diane! It’s good to “see” you.

      Reply

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