Can Cats See Through Glass?
Questions About Cats

Can Cats See Through Glass?

Most pet owners will be familiar with the sight of cats staring through windows. This often happens, whether they are on the outside looking in or seeking to plot an escape.

Cats can see out of windows. Whether a window has single or double-glazing, cats love to watch the world go by. This is an important source of mental stimulation for cats. They may look completely relaxed, but their mind is whirring. They’ll be memorizing the lay of the land, and any potential hunting or food sources.

This begs the question of why some cats seemingly struggle to understand glass. It’s not an uncommon sight for a feline to collide with glass and windows. We will be looking at the complex relationship between cats and glass.

Why are Cats Drawn to Windows?

It’s normal for your pet to be attracted to a window or glass door. Most cats will contentedly spend hours in such a location, but why? There are many reasons for this, which include:

  • Condensation forms on windows, and cats love to lick condensation.
  • Curtains flank many windows and glass doors. Your cat will see curtains and blinds as great opportunities to climb, claw, and chew.
  • A window that is cracked open will bring a light breeze into a room. Perfect for cooling off a cat on a summer’s day.
  • Flies and other airborne bugs hang around windows. Cats have fun hunting insects.

Of course, it’s an opportunity to stare out of a window. Cats have no trouble seeing through transparent glass, and love to watch the world go by. They can intimidate potential intruders, and learn where any potential prey is located.

Why Do Cats Stare Out of the Window?

A transparent window can provide entertainment for cats. Have you ever observed your cat watching birds, chirping, and meowing?

This is because they can see this potential prey. It’s far from unlikely that your cat may grow frustrated at their inability to ‘catch’ birds.

Your cat understands windows, at least to an extent. They may not understand what a window is for. Your cat believes that they should be able to come and go as they please.

This invisible barrier is a source of irritation. All the same, they do realize that they cannot make their way through it.

Of course, this will not prevent your cat from trying. They will often paw at the glass, trying to get at what is on the other side.

If they catch a glimpse of their reflection, cats may even attempt to fight themselves. This is because felines do not recognize themselves. They assume that another cat has entered their territory, and needs to be promptly banished.

It’s not just prey that cats are keeping an eye out for, though. Felines would make fantastic heads of a Neighborhood Watch, as they’re the quintessential nosy neighbors.

They’ll keep an eye on other pets, local children, and perhaps more importantly, you. Your cat wants to know when you are coming home so they can greet you. Or feign indifference, of course, if that’s your pet’s style.

Eventually, cats will grow weary of windows. Felines rely on their ability to smell and hear far more than their eyesight. As Live Science explains, although cats can see through glass, cats are very nearsighted.

This will lead to your pet eventually losing interest in the outside world. If they can’t smell prey, or hear it coming, it grows dull. Unless something or somebody approaches the window, your cat may not even be able to see! This will lead to your pet seeking alternative entertainment.

cats staring through windows

Will My Cat’s Claws Scratch My Window?

It may be a source of concern to find a cat growing excited at a window. Anybody at the receiving end of a scratch knows how sharp feline claws can be. Does this mean that a curious cat will do permanent damage to a window?

Thankfully, the average window is considerably tougher than your cat’s claws. This makes it unlikely that they’ll do any permanent damage. This may be why your cat engages in such behavior; they’re giving their claws a workout.

This doesn’t mean that you should ignore any clawing at a window, though. It’s possible that your cat will get stones or dirt trapped in their paws. These could be swallowed during grooming, and cause potential internal issues.

You should also look at why your cat is scratching the glass. Is it borne of anxiety, or overexcitement? Both of these mental conditions should be investigated.

Can Cats See Through Tinted Glass?

Feline vision is different from that of humans. While we see a wide range of colors, cats only have access to a handful. Wired has some fascinating images that explain how your cat sees the world.

Blue, green and purple are prominent shades in a cat’s vision. Red, orange, and pink, meanwhile, tend to blur into gray. This means a cat may initially struggle to differentiate a red-tinted window from a white wall.

With this in mind, why would anybody consider bringing tinted glass into their home? In some cases, it can calm a cat down.

If your pet grows excitable at the window, then tinted glass will block some of their stimulation. Alternatively, you could consider a tinted film, which is much cheaper than replacing the glass.

This should only be considered if your cat endangers themselves in their exhilaration. If they are having a good time, leave them to it. Some owners may also want to consider tinted glass for safety reasons, though.

Cats can see through transparent glass. If your home has sizable glass doors, this can become dangerous! If your cat is sufficiently worked up, they may charge headlong into a glass door.

Why Do Cats Run into Glass Doors?

The main reason is nearsightedness – coupled with a feline’s tendency for over-excitement. If your cat glimpses movement in their peripheral vision, they’ll react.

They could lead to them chasing prey at a rate of knots. As your cat can only make out blurry details from a distance, they won’t notice a glass door. This will just end one way.

Cats can also run into glass doors while playing. If you’re throwing a ball, or using a fishing toy, do so in open space. It’s easy for your cat to focus all their energy and attention on a game. This means that they’ll always be at risk of colliding with transparent glass.

Most cats bounce back from such an incident with injuries to nothing more than their pride. Your pet is likely to shoot you a look that says, “I meant to do that.” All the same, head injuries should not be taken lightly. Here are some of the symptoms of head trauma:

  • Inconsistent pupil size and rapid eye movement
  • Head tilting to one side
  • Trouble moving
  • Inexplicable bleeding from the nose or ears
  • Seizures and loss of consciousness

If you have any reason to suspect that your cat has a head injury, see a vet. Further scans and tests may be necessary.

Is Glass Furniture Safe Around Cats?

Glass furniture, such as tables, can be a great way to cat-proof a home. While cats often scratch at wooden furniture, glass is largely safe from their talons. Glass is typically tougher than claws.

Cats and glass tables also open the potential for mirth. It’s unlikely that they’ll be heavy enough to break glass, but it is possible. What’s more likely is that your cat will perch upon the glass. This makes for a hugely amusing visual image from beneath. Check out BuzzFeed for funny examples.

Perhaps more importantly, glass tables are usually round. This is great for cats, who often dart around a room at speed. A lack of sharp edges means that they’re less likely to injure their head.

If your cat seems to struggle with the idea of transparent glass, consider some kind of tinting. Cats can see through glass perfectly well, but this doesn’t mean that they understand it.

Keep an eye on your pet’s relationship with windows and glass doors, for their protection. Watching through a window is fine. Scratching, or charging, however, are warning signs of potential danger.